Well everyone, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for all the best and worst lists to start pouring out. Last year, I did all my year-end lists over three weeks. I did lists for books, albums, TV shows, and movies. For each of those, I did a best, worst, and most disappointing list. This year, I’m changing things up a little.
For starters, I’m getting rid of the most disappointing lists. This is largely because I don’t have enough books, albums, movies, and TV shows that I feel truly disappointed me. As such, I’ll just be doing worst and best lists for each and including all my most disappointing media in one mass post.
I’ll also be altering my qualifications as needed for a book, album, show, or movie to make a list. In the past, I’ve restricted my choices to things that came out during the year in question or aired something new during the year. Since I’ve been more focused on consuming media based on my interests and not necessarily what’s hyped, this doesn’t always include newly released media. As such, my restrictions are pretty much going to be based on whether I read, watched, or listened to a piece of media willingly at some point during the year.
The final change is a new addition to my year-end lists: the best and worst songs of the year. There will be some restrictions in order for a song to make this list. The song had to have come out in 2018 in some capacity, whether as a single or on an album (even if it had been released previously the year before). Furthermore, I had to have made a conscious effort to listen to the song. It can’t just be a song I heard in passing or someone else was playing while I was in the room or the car. I had to give the song a legitimate chance of my own volition.
This means you won’t find any songs by XXXTentacruel or 6ick9ine. Or Marooned 5. Basically, most of the popular artists I don’t like will not appear here because I refuse to listen to them when given the choice.
Now, in no particular order, here are the best and worst songs of 2018:
The 5 Worst Songs of 2018
This song may just have the honor of being the worst song I’ve heard all year. Look, we need feminist anthems— especially the young girls among us. But lines like “I’m fanning myself/I’m stanning myself” don’t inspire anything but cringing. The song uses notable historical and literary women to help promote their message. The problem is that what’s being said has nothing to do with who these women were or what they did. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake because she was a woman with great military prowess. Obviously, that meant she was a witch. What does that have to do with self-esteem?
Again, it’s important that artists write songs to promote self-esteem in our youth. But this one misses the mark on every count. I’ve never even been able to listen to the song all the way through. The furthest I’ve gotten is through the first chorus— once. This mess of a song is not only the worst on an already disappointing album, but the worst song Little Mix has ever released. In trying to make a point about self-love, it misses the point of the very women it purports to channel. Hopefully this is Little Mix’s rock bottom, because I can’t bear to see them be any worse than this. Otherwise, I’ll be like Joan of Arc— rolling in my grave.
I’ve never liked Camila. I’ve always maintained she was the worst thing about Fifth Harmony. Her voice has always reminded me of a child’s— that is, if you were to fry that child’s vocal chords in a deep fryer. But people keep hyping her up, so I keep wondering if I’m missing something. It is due to this (and the fact that I actually like “Havana”) that I keep giving her chances she doesn’t deserve.
Truthfully, I’d regard this as an average pop song, if it weren’t for the pre-chorus. Camila’s voice as she squeals out “Just like nicotine/Rushin’ me, touchin’ me” and so on is like nails on a chalkboard. I shudder just thinking about it. Why, when there are far more talented singers, do we keep giving her hits? Not only are her lyrics painfully cliché (ex. “Never Be the Same,” “Consequences,” etc.), but her voice is just plain painful.
You know why “Havana” worked? Because it was a breath of fresh air amongst the humdrum of modern pop and Camila only uses her lower register. I won’t pretend I know anything about notes and octaves, but I know what sounds good. And Camila hitting a high note doesn’t. The sooner the general public throws in their lot with a better singer, the sooner I’ll be able to hear again. But alas, my ears will probably never be the same.
If any song on this list is a stretch, it’s this one. I don’t like most modern rap and have never liked a Lil Uzi Vert song. I never would’ve given this song a chance, if I hadn’t been making a playlist of songs people turn up to (in the whitest sense— singing at the top of our lungs) while in Vegas with my best friend, my sister, and her boyfriend. I added one special song for each person, and my sister’s boyfriend chose this. Seeing as he’s such a huge fan of Uzi, I figured I could give the guy a chance. The one thing I came away from the experience was this: long isn’t the same as good.
Yes, it’s more of that flaunt-my-riches and steal-yo’-girl shit too much rap is made of. It’s bad enough in a three-minute song. Nobody needs that for twice that length. Rolling Stone claims the song is “devoid of anything resembling traditional pop conventions.” That may be true, but it’s filled to the brim with current pop conventions. Because, let’s face it, Soundcloud Rap is what’s popular right now. Look at the Billboard charts of the last few years. The only thing “unconventional” about this song is that unbearable length. Next time Lil Uzi Vert writes a song, I hope he uses that new Patek watch of his to keep it under four minutes.
Hey, so, uh, what the actual, genuine fuck is this? From the production to the lyrics to the performances, this song is mind-boggling. Ariana, please never sing-talk again. You have a beautiful voice— use it. Pharrell, you made a lot of bizarre production choices on Sweetener, but none were worse than what you did on this song. Nicki, please just… stop. You and Ari are a match made in hell, exactly where the majority of your collaborations belong.
Not only is the song sonically a mess, but its message is muddled too. It seems like Grande is trying to address her comeback after the tragedy in Manchester, but there’s no sense of hope or vulnerability here. Other times, it seems to be discussing “wokeness.” But in relation to what? It’s disjointed and ugly, easily cementing itself as the biggest catastrophe of the year. The light may have come, but talent sure didn’t.
If I never hear twang again, it’ll be too soon. I’ve never been a fan of country. I’ve like a couple pop crossover artists, but never a full-fledged country star. This song— and, by extension, the artists— are somehow both and neither. Florida Georgia Line are the kings of bro country, a sleazy music trend that just won’t die. Bebe is a pop artist who has never quite been able to get her foot in the door. And then the fates aligned and brought us this titan of pop and country radio, a cliché-ridden song drowning in monotony.
The fact that this song blew up is a testament to how barren both the pop and country charts have been as of late. Despite Bebe’s heralding of the track as a trailblazer in pop-country crossovers, the song’s success is surely a fluke. It’s inane, generic drivel made for your average retail store’s playlist. It’s a shame that this is probably going to be Bebe’s one big hit. But given how lackluster the album was as a whole, Bebe’s pop music career probably just isn’t meant to be.
The 5 Best Songs of 2018
Am I biased? Maybe. But take notes, Little Mix. This is how you do a feminist anthem. These two belters conquer everything— from the suppression of women’s voices to how we’re constantly sexualized. It’s a power ballad of epic proportions with a music video to match.
Not only do these divas sound phenomenal separately (hell, Demi turns into a straight up saxophone at one point), but their harmonies are to die for. Moreover, both women are known for emoting. This song is no exception to that rule. Demi and Christina feel these lyrics with all their hearts. I’ve never been more disappointed by a song’s lack of commercial success (or an album’s, for that matter). But hey, now it’s nominated for a Grammy. Demi and Christina are living proof that you don’t need to fall in line with the industry’s standards to have success and make a difference.
When Demi said this was her most heartbreaking song to date, she wasn’t kidding. This ballad is raw, vulnerable, and heart-wrenching. Accompanied only by a piano, Demi exposes herself and admits to a recent relapse. She apologizes to everyone, including herself. It’s so powerful, shooting you right through the heart. I feel such empathy for her, knowing how much it must suck to be sober for six years only to relapse. But, if she did it before, I know she can do it again.
Even before Demi’s tragic overdose in July and subsequent rehab stint, this song packed a punch. I can hardly bear to listen to it, it makes me so verklempt. If any Demi song unequivocally deserves a Grammy, it’s this one. No matter how good this song is, I’m also glad to see Demi leaving it behind. I’m so glad she’s sober again, back to the healthy, inspirational person she was destined to be.
Spoiler alert, but Love Monster is definitely going to make my list of the best albums of 2018. I haven’t loved an album this much in a long while. Though I love every song on the album, none feel quite as powerful as this album closer. “Sound Like God” was made to be performed in a stadium, a veritable rock anthem. Five minutes long, this song is a journey onto itself.
Why am I okay with this song being length, but not the aforementioned “New Patek”? Because Amy’s song has more to say. It’s desperate and raw, an ode of longing for both the grand and the mundane. Amy fondly admonishes her lover for “fighting over [her] again,” reminding them that they’re “[her] best friend.” But she also wants to “have coffee in the morning/Make [them] laugh while [they’re] yawning.” It’s a journey in agony, whether a tender acoustic or a booming power ballad. As far as I’m concerned, Amy Shark does sound like god.
When people say “pop perfection,” they’re talking about this song. Musically, lyrically, and vocally, it’s a bop. After three EPs and a fantastic debut album, I can conclusively say this is Hayley’s best song to date. She talks about how she often falls fast, though she’s not ashamed of her feelings. So much of modern dating is about disguising how you feel, but Hayley’s not about that life. Vocally, this is her best performance on Expectations. Everything about this song is peak Hayley.
I also love this song for personal reasons. Hayley is an out and proud lesbian in my age group singing love songs about girls. As a lesbian, this means so much to me. Why do I hold this song in higher regard than her others? I refer you back to the previous paragraph. Besides, what can I say? This song gives me feelings.
Speaking of lesbian pop songs, did you guys know I love King Princess? At first, I was a little thrown off by this song. I’ve never really been a fan of the word “pussy.” But somehow this song makes it endearing. Possibly, it’s because of the subject matter. This soft alternative pop jam is about not being so good at this romance thing, but trying because your girl is so amazing. Maybe it’s because you can hear King Princess’ smile, as she sings this ode to her girlfriend. Or it could just be that the song has a nice bounce.
I see no reason why it can’t be all three and then some. King Princess is one of the most deserving rising stars in the business right now, and I’m so happy I’ll get to see her live at Firefly next year. If Amy Shark sounds like God and King Princess’ girlfriend’s pussy is God, that’s a sign that talented ladies like these are about to take over the music industry and this choir is singing hallelujah.
And there you have it! These are the songs I considered the cream of the crop and the steam of the slop in 2018. We are now off to the races!
What about you? What songs did you consider to be the worst of 2018? How about the best? Let me know in the comments!
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