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Emily D'Souza's Best Singles of 2018

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We’ve had lots of musical gems this year, including disco-dance tracks, late-night-love ballads, indie-pop bangers and some seriously emotional, confessional lyrics. Here’s hoping that 2019 will be filled with more infectious, authentically disco-basslines and shameless bedroom grooves.  

Image Credit: Wiki Commons

1. Parcels – tieduprightnow

2018 saw the release of Parcels’ epic self-titled debut album. The pre-released single, ‘tieduprightnow’, is dominated by its bassline - wiggly, infectious and unapologetically commanding - something that Nile Rodgers could have quite easily written himself. The track is fortified with non-invasive, soft synth pangs and drifty vocals, rightfully allowing the bass to be the centrepiece. This banger is simultaneously other-worldly and a fitting tribute to authentic 70s disco that's re-establishing itself in modern day music.

2. John Mayer – New Light

John Mayer is back, debuting his "wavy garms" with the release of ‘New Light’. The track itself is equally as self-parodic as the video (which is so bad, it’s good) where Mayer friend zones himself, finally convincing his love interest to give him “just one night”. The soft-rock beats are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac harmonies that burst into a brilliant instrumental, underpinned by funky, syncopated chords and an epic electric guitar solo. Though Mayer allows himself to be seen in a ‘new light’ in the single, we are still assured that the old John remains through his iridescent, intricate guitar work.

3. Nothing But Thieves - Forever and Ever More

‘Forever and Ever More’ features on the Essex-born band’s comeback EP, What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way. The single reverts back to what Nothing But Thieves do best: pompy, grungy rock. The heavy hooks, and drums that refuse to be ignored, are filled with distortion and angst-fuelled energy, perfectly complementing Mason’s vocals. The track dips in and out of light and shade, allowing the choruses to retain their full force while the ending sees a surging crescendo build into cathartic climax.

4. Disclosure – Where Angels Fear To Tread

House duo Disclosure sample The Four Freshman’s ‘When I Fall In Love’ on a single which is easily comparable to Mint Royale’s remix of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. The sampled vocals invoke an immense sense of dreamy nostalgia met with catchy, clipped beats and a synth-soaked string backing. The vocals continually warp and give way to Disclosure’s house beat dominance. The track also pays homage to the song’s origins with a quirky piano improvisation at the end. ‘Where Angels Fear To Tread’ is refreshingly different, both in regards to Disclosure’s style and in the wider scope of house music.

5. Jungle – Heavy, California

Another year, another stellar disco-infused dance album from Jungle. ‘Heavy, California’ is a vivid, shameless groover with psychedelic undertones. Jungle have nailed the genre that sits somewhere between chilled and infectiously danceable, with their trademark soft yet soulful vocals allowing the groovy bass to flow through the track’s veins. The infectious qualities of the single are embodied in the accompanying choreographed music video – made up of nothing but body-poppin’, hip-groovin’ moves. If this track doesn’t get you dancing, nothing will.

6. COIN - Growing Pains

‘Growing Pains’ is a sugary-sweet single that dances amongst the struggles of being indecisive when transitioning into adulthood – the sing-along chorus chants “I can’t ever seem to make up my mind, what does that say about me”. A perky bassline and unique chord distortions that reverberate throughout the track fortify its relatable lyrics. Distortion allows the song to build into its climactic moments, both vocally and instrumentally. An undeniably catchy bop.

7. HONNE – Sometimes

Alt-electronic duo HONNE allow themselves to be romantically vulnerable in ‘Sometimes’, with its intrinsically reflective and, at times, self-critical lyrics, “Sometimes I’m scared of loving / And I don’t know what you’re worth / But that don’t mean I can’t learn”. The initial vocal distortion allows for the full hit of the bass and the starry synths that are so delicate they allow the track to transcend reality, especially when experienced live. A perfect soundtrack for late night romancing.  

8. Leon Bridges – Beyond

Leon Bridges is critically acclaimed for his command of gospel and soul that are interwoven into the DNA of his wonderfully old-fashioned sound. ‘Beyond’ is a beautiful slow grooving love song, infiltrated with soft acoustic chords and shimmering percussion. The stunning lyrics are what makes this song such a showstopper: “I’m scared to death that she might be it / That the love is real, that the shoe might fit”.

9. Tom Misch ft. GoldLink – Lost in Paris

Tom Misch’s second album, Geography, is a shining example of genre fusion – jazz meets soulful acoustics and R&B collaborations. ‘Lost in Paris’ has an infectious groove, with its delicate electric guitar riffs and keyboard pangs that cascade against the foundational bassline. Goldlink’s short rap is slick and smooth, bolstering the gritty saxophone solo and firmly grounding the track in its jazz influences.

10. Florence and the Machine – Hunger

‘Hunger’ has been one of the biggest singles of 2018 for me. Florence Welch allows herself to be honest with herself, and with us too, opening up about the ‘hunger’ that we all seek - whether it be love or sexual intimacy. A driving beat supported by strong piano chords underpins this unsatiable human desire, while her vocals are abundant with self-control and determination. Welch glides effortlessly up to high notes which make her emotional exclamations that bit more poignant. 

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