Music discovery is an unrelenting and ceaseless quest, and the past year was no different for fans of any genre. As a 17-year-old and avid music appreciator, each year of my life is spent educating myself on the history of music, while also keeping up with new releases. What follows is a collective list of my 10 favorite songs I discovered in 2018, from both the past and the present.
- “Full Control” - Snail Mail
Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail displays an impressive sensibility of self-awareness and maturity, which I have adopted as a personal mantra: “I’m in full control/ I’m not lost/ Even when it’s love/ Even when it’s not.” The key to a great songwriter is to take limited diction, and arrange the words to be profound, simple and communicative. At the ripe age of 19, Jordan is on her way to mastering this art, and she’s not getting distracted by the music press deeming her the next “indie princess.”
- “Your Dog” - Soccer Mommy
“Your Dog” masters the duality of confidence and weakness, not to mention possessing one of the best hooks I’ve ever heard.
- “Lonesome Love” - Mitski
A short and charming vignette in which Mitski seamlessly confronts the nuances of romance. In a recent interview, Mitski explained that the majority of her catalog focuses on her love affair with music. In “Lonesome Love,” she questions the constant desire to be connected to music, even if that means becoming separated from everyone else in her life. The one case in which an all-consuming, overly emotional and controlling relationship isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- “Shallow” - Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
“Shallow” proves Lady Gaga’s talents by creating a track that can completely stand alone from any affiliation with “A Star Is Born.” Impactful and brutally honest, the song captures an image of restlessness and intimacy. My childhood pop-hero proved herself to the whole world, and 8-year-old-me beamed like a proud mother.
- “Wild, Wild, Wild Horses” - A. Savage
“Wild, Wild, Wild Horses” stays within the same musical realm: ambient noises, organ and a ticking metronome that somehow sound like the auditory equivalent of being wrapped in a blanket. Savage’s voice pours over his sparse canvas, speaking verse after verse of poetry that mean little, and so much, all at once. “Darling,” Savage calls out with an echo, “take your dress off slowly/ I still got one eye open.” You can feel me swoon. And a Rolling Stones reference never hurt anybody.
- “Me and My Dog” - boygenius
I resisted this EP from the supergroup comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus because of its unrelenting praise from critics. But I’ve lived long enough to see myself become the villain, as I declare this album to be nothing short of great. Introspective and eloquent lyrics spoken through flawless harmonies. I’m more of a cat person, which is proof of just how good this track is.
- “Shark Smile” - Big Thief (2017)
“Shark Smile” is a gorgeous composition that combines tragically beautiful lyricism with effortless vocals and sturdy, elegant instrumentation. It tells the love story of an All-American Bonnie and Clyde, outlaws of passion masked behind sentimental indie production and thoughtful characterization. The third verse begins with the line “Evelyn’s kiss was oxygen/ And I leaned over to take it in,” and that alone would have granted it a place on this list.
- “Tears Dry- Original Version” - Amy Winehouse (2011)
The tempo is slower and the instrumentation more sparse than the original, allowing the vocals to breathe as I think they were intended. The horns lead the intro, conjuring '50s R&B, before Winehouse’s voice plunges into “All I can ever be to you/ Is a darkness that we knew,” like the dip of a bird before flight. Winehouse acts as my best friend when needed; this song comforts me in its melancholy beauty.
- “Devil In a New Dress” - Kanye West (2010)
This is the first Kanye track to really click with me. I adore the song’s production that I’m sure was attempted with a perfectionist mentality since it came off of the meticulous masterpiece that is “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Kanye samples Smokey Robinson’s cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” one of my favorite songs and favorite voices. The juxtaposition of silky syllables under the brash, blunt rapping lured me in from the beginning.
10. “Into The Groovey” - Ciccone Youth (1988)
“Into the Groovey” is a humorous and demented take on the Madonna track. The distortion of bliss, evil and adrenaline the song conjures is undeniable, while simultaneously providing a perfect beat to dance to. The voices of Madonna and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore prove how two conflicting identities can work surprisingly well together.