27 Best Songs From 2018

“Pristine” By Snail Mail

Song year: 2018

The first single from Snail Mail’s debut album Lush, “Pristine,” is an indie rock song acclaimed as an instant masterpiece, offering a clear creative progression for its vision while delving deep into the writer’s feelings. Even more impressive is that this was all done as the singer’s first experience with tight studio deadlines, where it’s easy for even experienced artists to slip up.

Snail Mail deserves serious acclaim for that achievement, and while “Pristine” may be the hit song, the entire album is worth a listen if you have the time.

“High Horse” By Kacey Musgraves

Song year: 2018

“High Horse” is a country song that goes straight for the jugular. In a genre where horses are mainly associated with cowboys, Kacey Musgraves focuses on another saying involving them and the people who think they’re so much better than everyone else. It’s bold, blunt, fearless, and emblematic of Musgraves’ up-front style.

Country music is a consistently popular genre but doesn’t have the same style of mass appeal as some of the other genres on this list. Country songs that break through the crowd tend to be outstanding works that resonate with many people, and Musgraves’ “High Horse” is no exception to that trend.

“thank u, next” By Ariana Grande

Song year: 2018

“thank u, next” (no capital letters there) is an unusual song mixing R&B, soul, and pop music together and showcasing gratitude for failed relationships. Here, Ariana Grande talks about the different things she learned from relationships, as well as her own strength, and Rolling Stone quickly moved it onto their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“Nervous” By Shawn Mendes

“Nervous” By Shawn Mendes

Song year: 2018

They say that confidence is attractive, but this slick soul-pop song shows how admitting to weakness can work out. It’s also an impressively relatable song because many of us aren’t nearly as confident as we like to pretend. “Nervous” is relatively short, coming in at less than three minutes, but it fits a lot of real emotion into its runtime.

“Love It If We Made It” By The 1975

Song year: 2018

Although ostensibly an electro-rock song, “Love It If We Made It” also mixes in several types of pop, a little disco, and some staccato for a memorable sound. Originally intended as a parody using tabloid headlines, the band eventually rewrote it as a look at social events. Today, it serves as an album highlight, while its psychedelic video version adds visual impact.

“Bassackwards” By Kurt Vile

Song year: 2018

Note the careful spelling in the title. “Bassackwards” is a slow alternative song, coming in at almost ten minutes. That’s well over twice the length of practically any other song on this list, and in a world where shorter songs are often more popular, that helps it stand out far more.

“Bassackwards” is a chill and introspective song, best enjoyed when you’re relaxing on the couch and feeling thoughtful. It’s also far slower than the energetic pop songs that otherwise populate this list, and the contrast between them is striking.

“Mi Cama” By Karol G

Song year: 2018

Karol G’s Spanish-language hit “Mi Cama” is a distinctively Latin sound. The song goes into one of the complexities of relationships: what happens when one former partner is happy while the other thinks they’re in despair? People are complicated, and so is the beat here, featuring bedspring sounds creatively remixed into the tune.

“Unless It’s With You” By Christina Aguilera

Song year: 2018

Love songs are a perpetual favorite on the charts, with Christina Aguilera serving as one of the queens of the genre. “Unless It’s With You” is the finale for its album, wrapping up the themes and focusing on the hope for a positive relationship and a wedding that’s based on real feelings, not just glamor, glitz, and crowds.

(But also, seriously, there are so many good love songs out there. Check out our list of 107 of the best for more.)

“Party For One” By Carly Rae Jepsen

Song year: 2018

“Party For One” is something of a self-care anthem and a highlight among a slew of such songs coming out in 2018. It’s relatively brief at just over three minutes, but its upbeat mix of dance-pop and synth-pop helps put the focus on the brighter side of things.

Unusually, although launched as the lead single for its album, “Party For One” isn’t part of the standard tracklist and appears mainly on the deluxe version of the album.

“Best Years of My Life” By Pistol Annies

Song year: 2018

The third track on the Pistol Annies’ Interstate Gospel album, “Best Years of My Life” is a country-style look at women trapped in dim and empty marriages, too tired to try and escape. It’s a strange mix of happy and sad, blending right in and taking an honest look at things that should be better.

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