The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2018

From my vantage point, this decade is proving to be wildly different from its predecessors.  For starters, this decade has yet to produce any radical, new form of music.  When you consider a decade like the 1970s, that brought us punk and funk and disco, where are our new genres of music?  Similarly, how sad has this decade been for music-inspired fashion?

Making matters even more odd, is that despite these tedious, tumultuous, tortured, tattered, troubled times we find ourselves in, there is relatively little protest music being made outside of the racial protests you find in hip-hop and rap.  When you think of the music of The Civil-Rights Movement, Vietnam, Thatcher's England, or the Reagan years, there were endless defiant songs that spoke truth to power.  Today, not so much.

Consider that in this era of endless and senseless school shootings, the definitive song calling out the violence is 1979's I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats.

These differences are not meant to throw shade on the music of the 2010s, but rather to highlight just how different music is today.  The digital revolution has allowed new artists to have the tones and textures of the past eighty years at their fingertips.  They can draw from our vast musical catalogue, internalizing and synthesizing these sounds into something organic.  Perhaps this explains the absence of new genres?

In this year's listing of The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2018, you will hear sounds that call to mind artists like Simon and Garfunkel, James Brown, The Clash, Prince, Curtis Mayfield, Chris Issaks, and Loretta Lynn.  One absolute highlight, for me, is the instrumental moment coming out of the breakdown of Caroline Rose's Soul No. 5, where her band sounds more like Elvis Costello & The Attractions than anything I've heard over the past four decades.

Interesting to note, two iconic artists, Chaka Kahn and John Prine, each secured spots in the top five songs of the year.  Chaka Kahn's Like Sugar, is a classic for the ages, with an infectious, hard groove that cuts to your bone.  John Prine's Knockin' On Your Screen Door is an Americana masterpiece by one of the greatest living songwriters, anywhere.

In terms of protest songs, they certainly exist.  This is best evidenced in Danny Nedelko by IDLES, a furious dose of ska-based indignation against anti-immigrant policies.  Joe Strummer or Terry Hall would be challenged to write a better protest song.

Yet what is most striking about in this year's list is the tendency of songwriters not to be angry, but rather sad.  These sad songs are often being beautifully composed.  Songs like Let's Dance by Spiritualized, Here I Am (I Am Alive) by Bonny Doon, and Sing To Me Candy by Papercuts represent this new version of a protest song, one that devoid of anger and rooted in beauty.

But more than anything, what I will remember 2018 for most are some of the great performances that were captured on these records.  The Song I Digged Most in 2018 is Fireworks by First Aid Kit.  In it, sisters Klara and Johanna Sönderberg allow their voices to riff independently over the song's soaring melodies to actually achieve a sensation of fireworks.  It is mesmerizing.

It is equally mind bending to listen to how tight Leon Bridge's band is on the soul song Bad Bad News.  Then there is Deafheaven, who's song Near is about as enchanting as any song I have ever heard from a hard rock band.

I plan to compile these songs in a mixtape over the next few days, before shifting my focus onto 2019.  I am not sure where tomorrow's music will be headed, but wherever that is, I hope we always retains some of the sad beauty that you find in the songs from this strange and fascinating year.

Here is the list:

1.  Fireworks by First Aid Kit

2.  Bad Bad News by Leon Bridges

3.  Danny Nedelko by IDLES

4.  Like Sugar by Chaka Kahn

5.  Knockin' On Your Screen Door by John Prine

6.  Near by Deafheaven

7.  Love You So Bad by Ezra Furman

8.  Soul No. 5 by Caroline Rose

9.  Hands On You by Ashley Monroe

10.  Count To Five by Rhye

11.  What's Chasing You by Marlon Williams

12.  Where We Are by Curtis Harding

13.  Tenderness by Parquet Courts

14.  How To Socialize And How to Make Friends by Camp Cope

15.  Way You Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe

16.  Here I Am (I Am Alive) by Bonny Doon

17.  Walking To Oman's by Fraser A. Gorman

18.  Sloane Ranger by The Essex Green

19.  Let's Dance by Spiritualized

20.  Cheap Date by Caitlyn Smith

21.  Sing To Me Candy by Papercuts

22.  Evan Finds The Third Room by Khruangbin

23.  Waiting With A Killer by The Breeders

24.  The Hype by Shopping

25.  We Got To Celebrate by Babert

26.  Friction by Shame

27.  Dark Days (Revisited) by Art d'Ecco

28.  Hunnybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

29.  Neon Moon by Cigarettes After Sex

30.  Love Of Mine by Bardo Martinez

Here are some of the songs I digged most from previous years:

Click Here to find my list of The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2017.

Click Here to find my list of The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2016.

Click Here to find my list of The 25 Songs I Digged Most In 2013.

Click Here to find my list of The 10 Songs I Digged Most In 2012.