The 2018 Track of the Year

Ghost, “Dance Macabre” Lurking sneakily on side two of Ghost’s revelatory fourth album, “Dance Macabre” is not only a raucous depiction of dancing the night away in the face of impeding doom, but a pitch-perfect celebration of classic pop metal from the 1980s. Fitting somewhere between Also Nova’s “Fantasy” and Blue Öyster Cult’s “Dancing in […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #2

2. Robyn, “Missing U” “Can’t make sense of all of the pieces of my own delusions,” Robyn sings on her masterful comeback single, “Can’t take all these memories / Don’t know how to use ‘em.” In one sense, it’s the classic Robyn narrative that permeated such classic singles as “Dancing on My Own” and “Call […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #3

3. Billie Eilish, “You Should See Me in a Crown” After releasing a pair of viral pop singles, teenager Billie Eilish sent listeners’ jaws straight to the floor with the minimalist “You Should See Me in a Crown”. Equal parts hip-hop and avant-garde electronic, the track is dominated by producer (and Eilish’s brother) Finneas O’Connell’s […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #4

4. Lana Del Rey, “Venice Bitch” I’ve greatly admired the way Lana Del Rey flirted with novelty status, righted herself, and became one of the more enduring solo acts of this decade. Her concept and persona seem shallow at first glance, but again and again she finds new ways to experiment with her sound. At […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #5

5. Christine & the Queens, “Girlfriend” In one audacious three and a half-minute track Héloïse Letissier, as her alterego Chris, obliterates any and all gender norms on the stupendous “Girlfriend”. Atop an ebullient arrangement that’s equal parts New Jack, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson (lotsa jacks) Chris is the sexual aggressor, full of desire but […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #6

6. Grimes, “We Appreciate Power” It was a big year for Grimes, for all the dumbest reasons. Good for her for having some fun with Elon Musk, but in a year where a lot of her admirers – myself included – eagerly awaited the follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels, arguably the best album of the […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #7

7.CHVRCHES, “Graves” Of all the great tracks on CHVRCHES’ excellent third album, “Graves” is the one I kept going back to the most. Frankly I always enjoy it when the trio crank up their dance influences, and “Graves” is as good as a banger as I’ve heard from them. Curiously, for all the visceral power […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #8

8. Ariana Grande, “thank u, next” Man, pop music in 2018 was weird. Make no mistake, artists selfishly using their status to gain the upper hand in the court of public opinion is as old as songwriting itself (sorry, as brilliant as “Idiot Wind” is, Dylan pulled the jerk moves to end all jerk moves […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #9

9. Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse” As good as Kacey Musgraves’ country music is – and she’s the best contemporary country artist today – she is always better when she’s sticking it to the perpetually rigid mainstream country scene. Whether singing about tolerance, doing cute weed-inspired duets with Willie Nelson, or simply being a strong woman […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #10

10. Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel” Since Janelle Monáe got her start as a protégé of Prince, it’s hardly a surprise that her first single from the fabulous Dirty Computer album owes a great deal to ‘80s prince. From the rubbery synths, to the unabashed sexiness, to the intimate tone that evokes “Kiss”, the Prince […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #11

11. Kamasi Washington, “Fists of Fury” “I use hands to help my fellow man,” sing Dwight Trible and Patrice Quinn, “And when I’m faced with unjust injury / Then I change my hands to fists of fury.” Those original lines are from the main theme from the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, and Kamasi […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #12

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Party For One” You can always count on Carly Rae for some insanely catchy pop music, the kind of pop that doesn’t chase trends. Nah, the only thing Carly chases is the almighty HOOK. Her music is all about the pursuit of the perfect hook, and for all its minor faults (it […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #13

13. CHVRCHES & Wednesday Campanella, “Out of My Head” CHVRCHES made a strong 2018 even better by putting out a surprise single this past summer, in the form of a quirky little collaboration with Japanese electropop band Wednesday Campanella. Combining CHVRCHES’ trademark sound with a distinct J-pop influence makes the band’s music pop more effervescently […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #14

14. Zara Larsson, “Ruin My Life” With well over one billion streams (what’s that, ten bucks in royalties?) Zara Larsson is quickly ascending to pop star status, and her first single since 2017’s So Good sets the stage for global domination. There’s not much to the song – it’s textbook songwriting dynamics with cool skittering […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #15

15. Clutch, “In Walks Barbarella” For years now, Clutch’s entrance music has been Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers’ 1987 funk tune “We Need Some Money (Bout Money)”. It was only a matter of time before that funk ferocity showed up in Clutch’s own songwriting, and wow, did it ever explode on the groove rocker […]

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