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Hannah Browne's Best Singles of 2018

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With a staggering amount of music published yearly, we know there are far too many releases for the casual or even the avid music fan to listen to. Yet, as we head into the final weeks of 2018, it's time to look back on some standouts.

So, without further ado, here are ten tracks that I’ve spent real time with; which I love and kept coming back to throughout 2018.

Image Credit: Matthew Healy via Wiki Commons

1. The 1975 – Love It If We Made It

As the second single from The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, ‘Love It If We Made It’ attempts to hold onto the world in its entirety. As a vocalised observation on society and its endless fuckery, the Manchester quartet embed abrasive pop melodies within an analysis of police brutality through systemic racism, the plastic crisis, the death of refugees, Lil Peep’s overdose and the unlikely bond between president Donald Trump and Kanye West via Twitter. The single is as passionate as it is anthemic, as Healy rails at these issues over a stubborn beat. ‘Love It If We Made It’ suggests there’s always a way to keep going despite drowning in the earth’s collective misery, offering a tainted yet sparkling vision of 2018 modernity.

2. The Carters – APESHIT

Released with a video that (nearly) broke the internet, ‘APESHIT’ saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z's first feature together subsequent to Yoncé’s public journey in Lemonade. With her solo album exploring the many layers of black womanhood in America, ‘APESHIT’, which is filmed in the privately rented Louvre Museum, sees the Carters present themselves as mutualistic whilst borrowing inspiration from the art world. Ultimately, the track helps to define their vision of how men and woman relate to each other. The track itself is defiant and referential, calling out the Grammys and the NFL whilst remaining a club-worthy banger. Beyoncé notably stands out as if ‘APESHIT’ is her own, telling whoever’s listening to “Get off my dick”.

3. Maribou State ft Holly Walkers – Nervous Tics

Electronic duo Maribou State flourished this year with the vibey and brilliantly meshed ‘Nervous Tics’. A single all about the lowkey constant panic that underlies modern life, the vocals of long-time collaborator Holly Walker ooze seduction with a silky, free flow, adding a sexy twist to an otherwise 'nervous' track. Accompanied by a hazy and kaleidoscopic video, the repetitions are jarred and mirror the sonic contrasts that exist within ‘Nervous Tics’. Artistically finessed, ‘Nervous Tics’ is a triumphant, technicolour track. 

4. LANY – Thru These Tears

‘Thru These Tears’ was LANY’s first offering from their second album Malibu Nights, which Paul Klein unintentionally wrote in two months. As their rose era came to an end and the moon era began, the track shows LANY at their most powerful and vulnerable. Klein frames ‘Thru These Tears’ as a broken inward talk in such a way that it’s still optimistic, singing, “In the end I’m gonna be alright / But it might take a hundred sleepless nights”. The band’s indie-cum-synth-pop sound is coupled with ambient vocals that offer a more upbeat earworm, but when taking away the masquerade of a shimmering pop anthem, it’s still LANY. ‘Thru These Tears’ is a toe-tapper that’ll have you confused whether to dance or cry in perfect unpredictability.

5. BROCKHAMPTON – 1999 WILDFIRE

After saturating the market with rap bangers last year, ‘1999 WILDFIRE’ is like nothing BROCKHAMPTON have done before: a subtle R&B-tinged single which further transcends pre-conceived notions of what a boyband and a collective of visionary artists are capable of. From its opening, ‘1999 WILDFIRE’ is reminiscent of early 2000s hip-hop, yet the track fully shines in the vocal breakdown that follows a series of rapid-fire verses. The very antithesis of what BROCKHAMPTON ‘should be doing’ as a group, the latter part of the track emits heavy OutKast and Justin Timberlake vibes to blur the lines between rap, hip-hop, pop, and R&B. Ultimately, ‘1999 WILDFIRE’ evokes the warmth of nostalgia whilst maximising the member’s talents alongside off-beat drums and a background of flute melodies.

6. HONNE ft Tom Misch – Me & You

As the lead single from the electronic duo’s second album, Love Me / Love Me Not, HONNE’s collaboration with fast-rising producer/songwriter Tom Misch oozes feel-good.  Once opening with Neil Armstrong’s famous quote: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, ‘Me & You’ bursts into funky bass and guitar to lead a romantic dance track. Playing on the leap of faith that is falling in love, HONNE offer a spacey ‘head in the clouds’ visual as it’s video follows a group of Korean dancers serving similar choreography.

7. The 1975 – It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)

Another single released prior to their third album, ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ thrives on The 1975’s consistent contradictions of producing glistening yet slightly askew music. With a habit of saying one thing and meaning another, dark lyrics are paired with bright production of jangly guitars and an anthemic chorus. Despite the song’s jubilant aura, Matty Healy offers a heart-wrenching account of unrequited love and substance abuse as a coping mechanism as he sings: “All I do is sit and drink without you / If I choose then I lose / Distract my brain from the terrible news / It’s not living if it’s not with you”. ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ is endlessly nostalgic yet modern, painful yet joyful, human yet spiritual; as if one requires the other.

8. Jorja Smith – Blue Lights

Despite previously being released in 2016, ‘Blue Lights’ led the release of Jorja Smith’s debut album Lost & Found this year. Infusing R&B with her ethereal vocals, Smith sings “I want to turn those blue lights into strobe lights” as the track documents oppression and tiresome culture. The single aches with hurt, whilst Jorja remains a breath of fresh air with a unique emotive sound.

9. Childish Gambino – This Is America

Under both his Glover and Gambino monikers, Donald is a man that is undoubtedly worth talking about in 2018. ‘This Is America’ saw Gambino at the forefront of the discussion of blackness (and anti-blackness) in America, in a track oozing with duality. Built on the juxtaposition between jovial singalongs and menacing trap tendencies, he panders to a current ‘woke’ social climate in a statement about violence and gun control. The video turns this contrast into satire material, as a bare-chested Gambino dances through violent and wild scenes in a scattered warehouse. 

10. Ariana Grande – no tears left to cry

Her first single since the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, ‘no tears left to cry’ defied expectations as a garage-inspired beat masqueraded within Grande’s knowledge of pop melodies. The production is a vibrant celebration of optimism that acts as a sanctuary, as Grande sings “Right now I’m in a state of mind / I wanna be in, like, all the time / Ain’t got no tears left to cry”. She realises that previous setbacks would never abandon her pursuit of pleasure, thus deserting dreary ballads in favour of an infectious earworm. As Billboard’s Woman of the Year, both herself and the Sweetener album are striking in their optimism.




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