Another year goes by. Another 12 months pass that have treated us to a very memorable, mixed bag of musical moments. Whether it’s been stars of our musical galaxy publicly exploding, before going on TV dressed as a giant bottle:
Or the tragic deaths of several of Music’s brightest young stars. Which prompted further, heightened awareness of self help and responsible usage of drugs, be them prescription or recreational.
There’s was drama and loss, BUT there’s also been excitement and A LOT of good music!
Before offering our recommendations, we thought we’d reel off some pretty special musical occasions and themes from this year that stood out…
Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Summer Album 2018 Series:
No matter what you think about pop culture’s king of controversy, there is no doubting the musical success he’s had in 2018. Especially with his label, G.O.O.D Music, and their series of 5 albums, all no longer than 7 songs (bar Teyana Taylor’s). Highlights from the series included a long awaited album from Pusha T as well as Kanye and Kid Cudi bringing out the best in each other on their mutual project Kids See Ghosts.
However, 2 of the biggest winners of the series were Teyana Taylor, who’s first album in 4 years was a beautiful and soulful reflection on love and sex, also, the man himself, Mr. West/Ye who was once again flexing his production muscles would also release his own incredibly personal album.
Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E. ( Label: GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings)
Continued Rise of Female Indie and Experimental Pop-Stars:
Without wanting to group several female musicians together on the basis of their gender and occupation… that’s exactly what I’m going to do. This due to the maintained lack of awareness of these incredible musicians in the mainstream until this year!
This year has felt especially significant for how much well deserved press and critical acclaim more low key female songwriters have gotten. All of Courtney Barnett, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, Mitski, U.S. Girls and Lucy Dacus have released tremendous albums. Whether it’s the examination of complex emotions in Mitski’s ‘Be The Cowboy’. Or the fantastic songwriting and combined strengths of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus in their supergroup boygenius’s self-titled ep.
Despite the reductive nature of the grouping of female musicians together, it has been an incredibly easy year to pick up a new favourite underground female musician. This is due to all the different talents and styles progressing so rapidly.
Mitski – Be The Cowboy (Label:Dead Oceans)
Beyonce doing Beyonce things:
No 2018 “year in music” retrospective would be complete without at least a brief mention of the year Beyonce has had. Given all the success she’s had since… well forever, it feels weird classifying 2018 as one of her most successful yet, but it’s hard to argue. An obscenely fruitful tour with her husband (Jay Z – for all who somehow don’t know) which also became the promotional springboard for their joint album under the name The Carters. Their album – Everything is Love – being critically acclaimed and (unsurprisingly) commercially rewarding, as well as the video for their single ‘Apeshit’ being shot in the damn Louvre!??
However, what has to have been the peak of her year came in the form of the most iconic show of her career. She headlined Coachella! After delaying the performance for a year, because of her pregnancy, she delivered THE best and most memorable live show of 2018. The set list was immaculate, the choreography was on point and she somehow made one of the world’s biggest festivals one massive Queen Bee party.
CLiKD’s 2018 Recommendations:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand now for 5 recommendations from this year that we feel you really shouldn’t miss out on.
The 1975 – A Brief Enquiry into Online Relationships
The 1975’s third album treats fans to a fantastically diverse album that pushes the band’s sound. With Frontman, Matt Healy’s, message of whole new political, emotional and conceptual bounds at the forefront. They play within the realms of Jazz and auto tuned pop, which acts as the perfect mechanism to backup Healy’s recent calls of The 1975 not being a rock band. Highlights from the project include the singles ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and the anthemic ‘Love It If We Made It’, as well as some beautiful slow burners including the track ‘Surrounded by Heads and Bodies’.
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Simply put, this is one of the best R’n’B/Neo-Funk albums of recent memory. Monáe puts everything on show in this masterpiece. From her beautiful harmonies on the albums opener ‘Dirty Computer’, to showing off her rapping ability on ‘Django Jane’. Her lyrical messages are clear ,yet poetic. They discuss everything from race, sex and politics to sexuality. Coming out as pansexual to Rolling Stone magazine (a day prior to the release of Dirty Computer) the album celebrates queerness and radiates sex appeal, few times more obviously than on the heavily Prince inspired ‘Make Me Feel’. It is a must listen!
Ariana Grande – Sweetener
Let’s cut the crap. Ariana has not had an easy year. Her long term ex-boyfriend Mac Miller was tragically found dead in September. She broke up with her fiancé, Pete Davidson, after a very public relationship. Now, his own personal struggles have become more public than ever. incidentally putting more public pressure on her. Not to mention she’s still recovering from the unforgettable events of the Manchester bombings last year.
In spite of all this emotional hardship, she has come out of this year celebrated as the incredibly strong and talented woman she truly is. The latest single from her, ‘thank u, next’, is still blowing up (and providing one of the best music memes of the year.) Her latest album, Sweetener, was one of the strongest pop albums of the year. Her beautiful voice shines through on tracks like ‘R.E.M’ and singles off the album including ‘God is a Woman’, ‘Breathin’ and ‘no tears left to cry’ have taken her success to whole new levels this year. Her work this year even led to her being crowned ‘Billboard’s Women of the Year’.
Sweetener is an impassioned album about love and personal strength (see the final track on the album ‘get well soon’.) We can only hope 2019 only brings more success for Ariana, along with an all round easier emotional time.
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
We all knew the sound of the universe was going to be epic and sublime. We didn’t know the beats were gonna hit this hard! Singularity is a complex, ambient, intimidating and immersive ride of an album. It takes you for an incredible journey through what feels like a new expansive and blissful civilisation. Tracks like ‘Emerald Rush’ and ‘Everything Connected’ manage to balance being awe-inspiring and danceable. ‘Feel First Life” with its choral vocals is divine and beautifully melancholic. ‘Echo Dissolve’ is a slow and brooding piano piece that is mysterious and has an air of vastness in its simplicity. Singularity isn’t a “simple” listen, but its progressions and payoffs make Hopkins’ hour plus long project an incredible listening experience.
The Internet – Hive Mind
Three years since the band’s much loved album, Ego Death, and having taken some time out to all focus on individual projects – most famously front-woman Syd Tha Kyd (or just Syd) releasing the highly thought of Fin. The Internet return with one of the smoothest and funkiest albums of the year. Given the talent on the band’s books, it’s no great surprise that the instrumentals and vocals deliver the goods, with the production also being pristine.
However, the songwriting and sequencing on Hive Mind has truly taken off. The tracks are more concise and hit harder than on Ego Death and the energy of the band is for all to see. ‘Come Over’ which is about… well, potentially coming over to a lover’s house is the modern love song we all need. It features one of the best bits of R’n’B songwriting of the year. The deep cuts also deliver, like the fantastic ‘It Gets Better (With Time)’. A beautifully written track with Syd’s sweet vocals sitting so nicely on top of Steve Lacy’s guitar and Christopher Smith’s simple and effective drums.
We hope you enjoy our personal recommendations and here’s to a new year that hopefully bring just as many gems!
By Lucas Galley-Greenwood