As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018.
1. Pynk – Janelle Monaé
Janelle Monaé failed to release a track that was anything less than stellar this year, but ‘Pynk’ was by far and away the greatest. If you’re looking for a cry for unity among beings, an immaculate exposé of the construction that is gender and a beautiful ode to femininity, ‘Pynk’ is the song for you. It’s damn catchy as well.
2. God is a Woman – Ariana Grande
Another artist who had an incredible 2018, Grande had some great tracks and some less than so, but ‘God is a Woman’ lived up to its title. A ballsy female anthem that holds no punches, ‘God is a Woman couldn’t have been more poignant in a year where women found their voice. ‘God is a Woman’ also has one of the greatest hooks of the year, and the gospel influence at the song’s climax is arguably the year’s most goosebump worthy moment, leaving you believing that God truly is a Woman.
3. You Say – Lauren Daigle
From a more risqué portrayal of God to a more traditional Christian offering, Daigle’s ‘You Say’ is a gorgeous ballad that recognizes the comfort, hope, and self-belief that religion and God can provide someone. A straight-up piano ballad thy focuses the ear on Daigle’s vocals and lyrics, ‘You Say’ is a simple yet stunning track in a year full of complexity and boundary-pushing.
4. Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) – The Bleachers
A not so typical love song written by a not so typical pairing for a not so typical movie, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is the perfect soundtrack for 2018’s ‘Love, Simon’. Written by Jack Antonoff with frequent hit-maker Isley Juber and resident heartthrob Harry Styles, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is pure feel-good movie magic that is the perfect companion to a rom-com.
5. Not So Bad in L.A. – Allie X
Allie X has been consistently blasting out pop bangers over the past few years, but ‘Not So Bad in LA’ is easily one of her best so far. A searing satirical take on the city of angels delivered in a lazy, disinterested vocal with a touch of quirky thrown in, this is one for the ages.
6. Curious – Hayley Kiyoko
As representation takes hold of entertainment, LGBT artists have begun to rise to prominence. One of “20GayTeens” main breakthroughs was Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album’s lead single, ‘Curious’, is one of the reasons of why. The nonchalant way that the track doesn’t make a big deal of how it varies from the usual heterosexual break up bop is what sets it apart, but that infectious hook sure helps.
7. Sue Me – Sabrina Carpenter
It’s amazing how far a catchy hook will get you and ‘Sue Me’ is a perfect example of how a brilliant hook can elevate a track even further than where it already was. The sassy vocal of Carpenter perfectly matches the unbothered attitude this track adopts. From its screw you lyrics to perfect synth production, ‘Sue Me’ should have been a surefire hit.
8. Sanctify – Years & Years
Years & Years ‘Sanctify’ is one of those tracks that kind of seeps into your skin until one day you wake up and realise just how well the song is constructed. From those dark, skittish drums to the equally haunting vocal of frontman Olly Alexander to the clever wordplay of the lyrics, ‘Sanctify’ is an immaculate conception.
9. Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves
Speaking of clever wordplay, Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Space Cowboy’ dives right into that arena. One of country’s more experimental artists, ‘Space Cowboy’ perfectly showcases Musgraves’ ability to toe the line between classic country ballad and more pop-influenced moments, as she tinges the track with a little something more than just southern charm that elevates the track beyond being just another acoustic guitar moment that gets lost.
10. Moment – Blanche
Blanche is one of the most fascinating artists to ever come out of the Eurovision. All of her 2018 droplets could have made this list, but it’s ‘Moment’ that truly capitalises on what Blanche did on last year’s ‘City Lights’ and raises the level. Here, Blanche goes from sheer potential to full-blown pop star, with her emotive vocal adding dimension to the sensual clap-along beat of ‘Moment’.
11. Bloom – Troye Sivan
Troye Sivan is one of the finest pop artists to come out of this decade, and ‘Bloom’ is the perfect example of how he has matured since his debut. The tongue in cheek lyrics laced over the sweet as sugar synth is the perfect encapsulation of sexual liberation and Sivan’s own quirky brand. Also, it’s the use of metaphor is about as good as it gets, so that earns it points as well.
12. Venice Bitch – Lana Del Rey
Despite rarely varying her sound too much, Lana Del Rey somehow always makes it sound fresh and new. On ‘Venice Bitch’, Del Rey goes back to basics, singing lightly about her sugar baby antics while backed by an acoustic guitar. Oddly the track is nine minutes as Del Rey tacks on some odd psychedelic instrumental at the end that somehow makes the track even more endearing.
13. Party For One – Carly Rae Jepsen
One hit Wonder turned cult favourite Carly Rae Jepsen returned this year following her critical darling of an album, E•MO•TION, and she delivered. Although similar to much of her previous material, ‘Party For One’ is an anthem of self-love (of the very literal variety). The sexual innuendo here is half the fun but the bouncing beat is hard to ignore and when you put them together, you have another banger from Jepsen.
14. God in Jeans – Ryan Beatty
Although not technically a single, this was one of those tracks I just couldn’t ignore. A weird hybrid between rock, country, and R&B, ‘God In Jeans’ takes on the sexes up religion claiming that “God is real and he was sleeping in my bed last night”. The track is one of those perfect blends of genre that exists on a whole level of its own.
15. Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer
After a tumultuous few years, 5 Seconds of Summer blasted back to flying form in 2018, and ‘Youngblood’ was the anthem for that comeback. The track’s thumping guitar line gets the blood pumping like no other before letting the calm set in with the minimalistic approach to the track’s verses, resulting in a rollercoaster-esque banger.
16. Miracle – CHRVCHES
CHVRCHES ‘Miracle’ is another blend genres, here blurring the boundaries of big pop and generic EDM. The drop is arguably one of the most satisfying of the year, avoiding the pitfalls of unoriginality, instead of producing a drop that actually evokes a headband instead of a groan. The track’s boldness in its production, as well as the vocal performance, sets ‘Miracle’ apart in a field where it’s very difficult to even try and be original, never mind actually pull it off.
17. Crush – Tessa Violet
A triply little number, Tessa Violet’s ‘Crush’ just oozes summer. The track relies on very little production, with Violet sing-speaking over a sparking kick track until the song climaxes into a slightly less minimalist chorus. Violet also throws in some little effective samples on the bridge to add to the track’s cool edge.
18. 5 In The Morning – Charli XCX
Pop’s resident party girl, Charli XCX released some clunkers in 2018 but who cares when she also dropped her best bop since ‘Break The Rules’. A mix between the oddball production of Pop 2 and more classic pop hits, ‘5 In The Morning’ so arguably XCX’s most on brand track to date. She sings about how great her afterparty game is with her cocky vocal providing serious ‘fuck you’ vibes, ‘5 In The Morning’ is the perfect night out banger.
19. King’s Dead – Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake
Infinitely better than the Black Panther soundtrack’s lead single ‘All The Stars’, ‘King’s Dead’ is a stuttering star turn that showcases the talents of Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, and even the ever-mumbling Future. ‘King’s Dead’ does exactly what a great movie track does – standing on its own as a song while also elevating the motion picture it was created for.
20. Currency – Ivy Adara
As I said before, it’s incredible how far a catchy hook will get you. And that’s exactly why this track is here. Ivy Adara’s ‘Currency’ isn’t a slam dunk, in fact, the track isn’t all that great as a whole. But that hook is so good. Although the lyrics are a bit cliché, the production takes all the right cues and Adara gives off such cool girl vibes she somehow gets away with singing about such cliché topics such as dreams and rainbows to the point that she has you singing along with her.
Listen to all of our Top 20 Tracks of 2018 on our official Spotify Playlist here: