In a year that’s seen releases from the music world’s biggest artists, from Drake to Ariana Grande to Dua Lipa, as well as a number of highly-acclaimed projects from the likes of Anderson Paak, Blood Orange and Cardi B, 2018 has blessed us with a world of top-class music. Narrowing that world down to just 50 tracks proved difficult, with no stone unturned, and no genre ignored, but here you are – the best songs of 2018, as told by The West Review.
50. Loyle Carner – Ottlenghi (ft Jordan Rakei)
Loyle Carner’s return to prominence was worth the wait with this reflective new slow-burner single.
49. Paul Rudder & Hurlee – Don’t Let Love
Atmospheric progressive house from Paul Rudder & Hurlee.
48. Lou Phelps & Jazz Cartier – Come Inside (Kaytranada Edit)
Kaytranada flips are always a welcomed occasion, and in taking on Phelps’/Cartier’s Come Inside, he delivers the goods once again.
47. Japanese Breakfast – Dreams
Daringly covering The Cranberries’ iconic 1993 hit, Japanese Breakfast makes her rendition her own.
46. Peter Cottontale, Rex Orange County & Chance The Rapper – Forever Always
Best-known as close-collaborator of Chance The Rapper, Peter Cottontale also enlists Rex Orange County for this sleepy heartwarming hit.
45. Snakehips – Cruzin’ (ft St Rulez)
Sexy sun-kissed R&B from the genre-crossing duo’s 2018 Stay Home Tapes EP.
44. Jimothy Lacoste – Subway System
British breakthrough artist of the year. Jimothy Lacoste’s organic lo-fi sound could be the start of an entire movement, and Subway System is perhaps the best example so far. Did also have one of the videos of the year, until removed by TFL.
43. ASAP Rocky – ASAP Forever (ft Moby)
Lead single to ASAP Rocky’s long-awaited and highly anticipated-third album Testing, ASAP Forever was built around Moby’s iconic Porcelain.
42. MGMT – Me and Michael
Jaunty psych-pop single from MGMT showed a return to form, after five years away from the studio.
41. Flying Lotus, Thundercat & BADBADNOTGOOD – King of The Hill
Lead single for Brainfeeder’s forthcoming anniversary project, labelmate Thundercat and past-collaborator BADBADNOTGOOD lend a hand.]
40. Benny L & Shimon – Sharks
Deep, dark and hard-hitting, Sharks continues to enthral the DnB community with its sinister chill and driven baselines.
39. Bob Moses – Enough To Believe
Minimal meeting of sultry R&B and ambient techno; powerful yet understated.
38. Dennis Ferrer – Hey Hey (Mousse T’s House Masters Re-Rub)
A favourite among festivals across the summer, became a regular fixture within DJ sets from the likes of Honey Dijon and Idris Elba.
37. Tyler, The Creator – Potato Salad (ft ASAP Rocky)
More rap and out of line with the sound Tyler, The Creator carved out for Flower Boy, Potato Salad features some of his best bars in years.
36. Yves Tumor – Licking An Orchid (ft James K)
One of the industry’s most enthralling personas continues his rise with this trip-hop/indie drifter track.
35. Maribou State – Glasshouses
Underwhelming follow-up to 2015’s well-received Portraits wasn’t much to rave about, besides the album’s highlight – Glasshouses.
34. Llewellyn – San Junipero
Vast and airy with shimmering synths and well-polished methodical keys, Llewellyn’s breakthrough hit comes straight from the 80’s.
33. Hybrid Minds – Paint By Numbers (ft Charlotte Haining)
Breakthrough DnB act of the year, and quickly becoming the most in-demand producers on the scene, Paint By Numbers also had one of the year’s best videos.
32. Clairo – 4EVER
Funky lo-fi pop goodness from 2017’s breakthrough star, in 2018 Clairo continues her triumphant ascent.
31. Shy FX – Call Me (ft Maverick Sabre)
The only artist with two tracks within this list, Shy FX’s Call Me enlisted the soulful vocals of Maverick Sabre. Quickly became the opening track for Shy’s always-reliable DJ sets.
30. Rejjie Snow – Charlie Brown (ft Anne of The North)
Irish MC Rejjie Snow finally blessed us with his long-awaited debut album this year, and the surreal upbeat Charlie Brown was among the project’s best.
29. Shy FX – Roll The Dice (ft Stamina MC & Lily Allen)
Ever-establishing himself as one of the most important names in jungle history, Shy FX’s slurry of singles continue to be among the genre’s best. Who knew Lily Allen loved her dnb?
28. Gorillaz – Ascension (ft Vince Staples) [Nic Fanciulli Remix]
One of Humanz’s few highlights finds new life under a fiery techno-esque brand of electronica, courtesy of Nic Fanciulli.
27. Brame & Hamo – Roy Keane
Fast-becoming one of the most in-demand producers, Brame & Hano’s Roy Keane was among a handful of top-tier releases from the Irish duo.
26. Adriatique – Ray
Deep, minimal and soaring with beauty, Adriatique is part of a select few championing this new ambient techno sound.
25. Christopher Port – Me & My Heart
Haunting, evoking and deeply layered, Me & My Heart recalls Massive Attack’s Teardrop, infested with elements of Burial.
24. Anderson Paak – ‘Til It’s Over
Electro/hip-hop crossover, made famous by the Spike Jonze/FKA Twigs-assisted advert for Apple’s Homepod.
23. Thomas Bangalter – Sangria
One half of Daft Punk’s sinister contribution to Gaspar Noe’s equally-chilling dance-horror film Climax.
22. Degs & De:Tune – Poveglia
A perfect example of everything liquid drum and bass should be, Degs’ soothing vocals delicately croon over silky-smooth production.
21. Cerrone – Supernature (Climax Edit)
Also appearing within Gaspar Noe’s Climax, only in watching the film is to understand the magic of this track.
20. Neneh Cherry – Kong
Enlisting none other than Four Tet and Massive Attack’s 3D for production duties, Nenah Cherry’s Kong was a welcomed return to the fold.
19. Travis Scott – COFFEE BEAN
Expanding his sound for third studio album, Travis Scott’s percussively-measured Coffee Bean closed out his best project yet.
18. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Hunnybee
Sweet psych goodness from New Zealand outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra, appeared on decent fourth album Sex & Food.
17. Blood Orange – Chewing Gum (ft ASAP Rocky & Project Pat)
Appearing on the highly-anticipated new project from Dev Hynes under his Blood Orange alias, ASAP Rocky assists with a stellar guest verse.
16. Janelle Monae – Django Jane
Undoubtedly one of the finest hip-hop moments of the year, Janelle Monae’s long-awaited return couldn’t have been better than Django Jane.
15. Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Iteghane)
2018’s female DJ of the year, whose meteoric rise is no more epitomised by this sultry single.
14. High Contrast – If We Ever (Unglued Remix)
It takes a lot to remix a DnB classic like If We Ever, but Unglued’s take was a damn fine effort.
13. Kodak Black – ZEZE (ft Travis Scott & Offset)
Long-teased and finally appearing on Spotify a month back, Travis Scott and Offset features top off this tropical trap hit.
12. Drake – Nice For What
Once again Champagne Papi’s had a year many can only dream of, and Nice For What is just one of this year’s hits shining out as one of his best.
11. Young Fathers – In My View
Appearing on the Scottish trio’s most accomplished and well-rounded project yet, In My View was among the many highlights.
Disclosure – Where Angels Fear To Tread
When Disclosure burst onto the scene with their instant-classic debut album Settle, it seemed we’d been blessed with the next great electronic headliner. But after trading their fresh organic sound for an overproduced pop bore on their second album Caracal, coupled with a below-par live show, it seemed Disclosure had sold out.
But, the brothers returned in 2018 with another revitalised sound, unearthing dusty swing, soul and jazz samples, and turning them into a slurry of celebrated singles revered by fans and critics alike. When Angels Fear To Thread was the pick of the bunch.
Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
Producers: Max Martin, Ilya
Possibly the biggest pop star in the world right now, one who continues to elevate her sound and image. After an eventful, highly-publicised year in the spotlight, Ariana Grande continues to fight through the controversy and the criticism, winning over the vast-majority of the industry.
Quickly becoming one of the most influential women in the world, any number of Grande tracks could have made the cut, but it’s with No Tears Left To Cry that she announced her return to the studio with her strong fourth project Sweetener. And with the release of Thank u, Next, who knows where she’ll be by this time next year.
Pusha T – If You Know You Know
Producers: Kanye West
‘Wavin’ at rude boy, I’m waving at you boy’, ‘You could never do what I do boy’, ‘Your numbers don’t add up on the boards, that was ten years ago, if you know you know’.
Pusha T’s explosive opening track to incredible 2018 album Daytona was among the finest hip-hop moments of the decade. Sending shots off to the world’s biggest and most untouchable star in Drake, If You Know You Know kickstarted one of the true great rap beefs. It’s not often a track can impact the hip-hop community like this did, and it brought new meaning to the ‘rap battle’ with a furious back-and-forth ensuing, with debates still going on all these months later.
DJ Koze – Pick Up
Producers: DJ Koze
Project: Knock Knock
DJ Koze quietly went about releasing one of the finest electronic albums of the year, in typically-nonchalant DJ Koze manner. And besides the Roisin Murphy and Jose Gonzales collabs, the album had some undoubted anthems. Blurring the lines between a multitude of genres and movements, from disco to house to techno, Pick Up was among the many highlights.
Rooted from French house, complete with lo-fi samples, subtle record noise and overarching disco vocals, Pick Up instantly resonated with the electronic music community. Pick Up continues to be held in high regard even after all its attention since release; but with Koze returning to London for a headline show at Printworks on NYE, the song has every right to keep on burning into 2019.
Cardi B – I Like It (ft Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
Producers:J. White, Tainy, Craig Kallman
Project: Invasion of Privacy
When an artists arrives with an international megahit of Bodak Yellow’s calibre, there are always question marks over wether they can retain the hype and the quality of their breakthrough moment.
An impressive album and other singles and features aside, I Like It was arguably Cardi B’s defining moment of 2018. Fusing the worlds of latin, hip-hop, trap and salsa, I Like It had hispanic vibes cut with hard-hitting baselines. And by topping off the track with two of latam’s most iconic figures, there’s no wonder I Like It became the phenomena is deserved to be.
Kink – Perth (Dusky Edit)
Genre: Deep house
Project: Playground Remixes Vol. 1&2
Released as part of Kink’s Playground Remixes compilation, which also featured cuts from Radio Slave and Matthew Herbert, Dusky’s rework of Perth shone out as one of electronic music’s tracks of the year.
Deep as they come, hard-hitting as you like, and with more punch than a school disco, the gritty production crossed with an onslaught of fiery synths were a match made in heaven.
Break – Last Goodbye (ft Celestine)
Genre: Drum and bass
Project: Another Way
With the release of his celebrated fourth album Another Way, Break has cemented himself as one of the driving forces of the DnB scene. Long-teased across the summer and into winter, the album’s opening track Last Goodbye was a collision of subgenres, recalling the glory years of Roni Size’s genre-defining jungle.
Every instrument and intricately-perfected element of production can be heard on Last Goodbye, with plucks of a guitar, toots of brass and chimes on bells all showcasing Break’s polished, expertly-refined production style. And with Celestine’s powerful soaring vocals on top, it’s not a wonder Last Goodbye is already being heralded as a classic within the DnB community.
Kanye West – Ghost Town (ft John Legend, Kid Cudi & 070 Shake)
Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Francis & The Lights
Kanye West has had an eventful year, which I’m not even going to bore us all again by talking about. But amongst the controversy, the drama, the never-ending publicity stunts, with the overarching question over politics, Kanye still managed to produce a total of 7 projects.
His own self-titled project Ye was hit-and-miss, showing both the brilliance and limitations of Kanye West. That being said, second-to-last track was one of the best examples of Kanye at full capacity in years. Soulful samples, densely layered, and meticulously curated, Kid Cudi, PARTYNEXTDOOR and 070 Shake stop by for some huge vocal performances as well.
Childish Gambino – This Is America
Producers: Donald Glover, Ludwig Göransson
What is there to say about a song as culturally significant as This Is America? Arguably one of the videos of this decade, and already a monumental piece of hip-hop history.
This Is America sky-rocketed the already-untouchable Childish Gambino to super-stardom, now headlining shows at London’s Wembley Stadium to say the least. It’s tracks like This Is America that overshadow the might of Eminem, tracks like This Is America show just how cutting edge the new breed of rappers are, how much hip-hop has changed, and just how influential and powerful it can be.
Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
The magnitude and context of the collaboration aside for now, Four Tet’s rework of Bicep’s Opal is a poetic encapsulation of both parties’ sounds. Impossible to pin down to one genre, the collision of glitchy tech production with dainty synths and throbbing baselines, are among the finest electronica the world has to offer.
A worthy candidate for song of the decade, let alone the year, for anyone connected to electronic music in 2018, Opal will have been an unbudging part of your year. Thanks to career-defining 2018s, both Four Tet and Bicep can unarguably be considered two of the finest electronic artists in the world. And after selling out multiple landmark shows at Printworks and Brixton Academy respectively, Bicep and Four Tet have collectively soundtracked the summer of 2018, and taken their stock to the realms of stadium-status. And Opal was the monumental meeting of minds.
Like these tracks? Peep a handy Spotify playlist featuring all these songs below: