The Best Singles I Heard From 2018

Not long after posting my top ten albums of 2018 I came to a realization that I listen to a lot more current singles than entire albums in one year. Moreover, these singles are a lot more varied than the albums I typically listen to. It’s been my dream to expose the masses to media they haven’t seen or heard before. For that reason, I am making this new list which will be much denser. For the sake of time and to maintain a lack of redundancy I have omitted singles from albums that I’ve talked about in depth here already and I’ve also omitted singles I’ve talked about on my track reviews. So in alphabetical order by artist name, here are some of the finest singles of 2018.

“Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande

I’ve talked about my rather elitist thoughts about the music industry before, and I’ve made it a point to be contrarian on a lot of topics revolving around music in general. However, this year Ariana Grande blew me away with her powerful single about forgiveness in relationships. I like the precedent she’s trying to set after her split with Pete Davidson. It’s a good message for her largely adolescent fanbase, and aside from that everything about this song is nice to listen to.

“When The Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish

Something about Billie’s voice makes me so somber. I suppose that’s the most substantial reason for why I enjoy this song so much. I don’t think Its main purpose is to be melancholy but I feel like that’s Billie’s greatest strength. Despite everything she consistently delivers a fantastic performance on every song she’s apart of.

“Stuck” by Billy Lemos featuring Family Reunion

Billy Lemos and Family Reunion form an almost unbreakable pairing in this single. The easy listening guitar riffs from Billy Lemos and the vibrant coos from Family Reunion together create a fun, catchy track that’s sure to please the ear of any listener. It’s just a shame the song barely crack’s two minutes.

“Losing You” by Boy Pablo

It’s my current belief that nobody can make anything quite as catchy as Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz. His voice is so unique but it pops out perfectly on every track he puts out, especially this one. He juxtaposes dreary subject matter over such a happy go lucky instrumental it’s hard to tell where his heart is half the time. Regardless of how I’m feeling I always find myself singing along to it.

“Attics” by BOYO

“Attics” is the track you listen to when you want to wind down. Everything about it is mellow. It’s one of those songs you listen to when driving across the coast at night when no one else is on the road, or when you need something to lull you to sleep.

“This is America” by Childish Gambino

Donald Glover’s politically charged social commentary garnered more than just the attention of a few news outlets. It gained nationwide acclaim for its implications about today’s society. The fact that its catchy and easy to dance to seems to serve its overall purpose even further. Donald Glover knew he was making a hit as he created this track, and deservedly so. The world needed to hear it.

“Who Hurt You?” by Daniel Caesar

Daniel Caesar consistently releases some of the most beautiful singles I’ve ever heard. While he has yet to move to any new territory lyrically, he always manages to make his tales about failed love sound appealing. I suppose that’s the sheer power of his heavenly voice. The uncredited T-Pain cameo is also much appreciated. The collaboration is very fitting, as T-Pain has a song of his own dedicated to a stripper.

“overworld” by eugene cam

Eugene Cam is one of the greatest producers I’ve ever heard. He can turn any sound into something pleasing to listen to. This track is no exception. There are no lyrics, there is no deeper meaning, it’s just three minutes for you to be lost in sonorous sounds. In all honesty, that’s what every song should strive for.

“Break My Heart Again” by Finneas

This one is for the people who want to get lost in their feelings. “Break My Heart Again” is a saddening vignette about Finneas O’Connell’s brush with heartbreak. He’s gone on record saying that some of the lyrics are verbatim texts he’s sent to his ex-lovers, hence why you can hear iPhone key’s tapping at the beginning of the track. This is one of the longer singles on this list of sorts and it’s for good reason. Finneas takes his time on this track. His slow pace fuels the pain behind his words.

“Leave Me Alone” by Flipp Dinero

Flipp Dinero embodies most things I like about modern rap. Fast paced verses and production, vulgar lyrics, and little to no direction. One might call those weaknesses, but I always find enjoyment in the little things nobody seems to care about. His naturally raspy voice clears up a little bit as he sings the chorus very energetically. What you see is what you get. It’s a fun track and nothing else.

Beauty and Essex by Free Nationals featuring Daniel Caesar & Unknown Mortal Orchestra

I had this song recommended to me a few days ago and in that short time span I’ve fallen in love with it. I understand I’ve already featured a Daniel Caesar song on here but can you really blame me? He has the voice of an angel. Yes, its another song about sex but Daniel Caesar has the uncanny ability to make it sound much deeper than that. For that reason alone, I believe everyone should listen.

“After The Storm” by Kali Uchis featuring Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins

Kali Uchis has such a graceful voice its hard to tell what she can’t sing over. This track makes efficient use of the musical stylings of the band BADBADNOTGOOD and Tyler, the Creator. The song feels retro but maintains that contemporary vibe most songs today hold onto. It’s incredibly nice to just sit back and listen to.

“Falling Down” by Lil Peep & XXXTentacion

The late Gustav Elijah Åhr and Jahseh Onfroy deliver us a powerful song from beyond the grave. Something about this song is so haunting but so intriguing at the same time. There’s a lot here that I don’t think was fully developed in the short career’s both of these rappers had. It’s sad to hear what could have been two fantastic artists have their career’s cut so short. At least we have something to remember them by.

“William” by Moontower

Moontower captures any kind of vibe they want to with their synth-infused rock anthem “William.” The track follows the protagonist aptly named William as he fights to gain the courage to find his unnamed heroine. A lot is ambiguous about the song but whats most salient is its excellence in musicality. It’s a track that has appeal for everyone.

“disappear daily” by Ollie MN

From the first line Ollie croaks to the meek scat singing he does at the end of the track the listener can hear the weakness in his words. The track acts as a love song and an ode to anxiety. There is such a strange casual nature that blankets the track that makes it such a unique take on what is normally bleak subject matter. It doesn’t help that the instrumental is so upbeat either but I suppose that adds to the overall allure of the track.

“I Don’t Love You Anymore” by The Honeysticks

This was my favorite song for a time. Something about the title caught my eye and from the opening drum beat, I was instantly hooked. Everything about this song is elegant. The soft, matter-of-fact way Ricky Montgomery delivers his words, the scat singing in the chorus offer the listener such an unusually enjoyable musical experience.

“Moving On” by Sarah and the Sundays

“Moving On” is the most generic kind of songs. It’s medium pace, it has a general instrumental, and it covers a pretty standard subject matter. Despite all that, it’s still one of my favorite songs of this year. I can’t put my finger on it, perhaps it’s the lead singers adolescent voice, or maybe the generic sound just appeals to me because it’s so universal. Regardless, its definitely worth the listen.

“One of a Kind” by Scott James

Scott James makes everything he says sound like a riddle. He sings with such a vulnerable voice but always pipes up midway through the song as if in every track he overcomes a difficult challenge. “One of a Kind” is a track best experienced alone. It’s unknown who Scott James is singing about in this track. Just that he worries about them dearly. That ambiguity is enough to make the track just that much more enticing.

“New Coupe, Who Dis?” by Smino featuring Mick Jenkins

Smino always makes good use of some of the most idiosyncratic beats I’ve ever heard. There are so many changes to flow of the track, and funny ad-libs the song is just a blast to listen through. Both Smino and Mick Jenkins carry their weight lyrically, which is a rarity for most duo rap songs.

“Speaking Of” by Souly Had

The final song I’m talking about here has especially hard-hitting lyrics. I had no clue there were so many flowery ways to describe heartbreak until I heard this track. It’s relatable in the most frustrating of ways. Time and time again there comes a song that you feel was specifically written for you. I’m almost certain that many feel that way about this track. Give this one a listen, its a gorgeous ballad.

My Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2018

It may or may not be a secret to some that I listen to a lot of music. I recently calculated how much I time I spend listening to music and I figured out that I’ve listened to over 150,000 minutes of music in this year alone. To put that in perspective that’s like listening to music nonstop for 104 days. This isn’t me trying to brag, I can already hear the tapping of keys spelling the words “weird flex but ok”, this is just me explaining that this admittedly arbitrary list was difficult to make. Regardless here I am 360 days into the year delivering what I believe are the best albums I’ve heard this year. But first, here are some honorable mentions in no particular order.

FM! by Vince Staples

Vince Staples continues his discography with an album about summer that released in winter. FM! delivers everything you would expect from a Vince Staples album and then some. Vince still uses his sharp tongue to deliver some incredibly dense lyrical schemes that add to the overall enjoyment of the album. The small Earl Sweatshirt feature was also quite unexpected but equally as welcome. Give this one a listen if you haven’t.

God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty

If you read the article I wrote about this album earlier in the year you’re already well aware of what I think about this album, but just to reiterate I really enjoyed what this album means for Father John Misty. It is a step in the right direction and gives an unbiased look into the character Joshua Tillman has created.


Amine was one of the few artists from the XXL’s 2017 freshman list I wasn’t worried about. His debut album Good For You already proved he knew where he was going musically and his sophomore album has only validated that fact further. If you were somehow skeptical after listening to Amine’s first album I implore you to listen to ONEPOINTFIVE it is an incredibly original and impressive musical adventure.

ASTROWORLD by Travis Scott

I wasn’t much of a Travis Scott fan going into this album but coming out I knew I was hooked. Indisputably, the most fascinating part about this record is the features. Name’s like Drake, The Weekend, Quavo, Takeoff, and Kid Cudi are ultimately what sold this for a lot of people including myself. However, that doesn’t mean Travis Scott’s performance is weak. “5% TINT” and “COFFEE BEAN” remain my favorites from this record which solely feature Travis Scott. If you’re looking for an easy listening rap album this is definitely your best pick.

Cold Heart by Thirdstory

Singer-songwriter, R&B group Thirdstory blew me away this year with their debut album Cold Heart. A 44-minute ode to heartbreak, this album is definitely one of my favorites this year. I would advise you to get into Thirdstory fast before they blow up and everyone starts listening to them.

Now with those albums out of the way here is my official top ten. While I did listen to a lot this year there were some albums I wasn’t able to thoroughly get through before the year was over and for that reason, they aren’t on this list. There are definitely a lot of amazing albums that came out this year and fitting it to one short list was very difficult. Anyway, starting from number ten we have…

10. Existential by Makeout Reef

Existential takes everything that made Makeout Reef an amazing group and dials it up to eleven. After listening to this album I am convinced Makeout Reef owns the title of “garage band.” The gritty production, the constantly booming audio, the overall amateurish nature of the album is what makes it so unique and fun to listen to. At this point, I’m just waiting for them to get signed so they can continue to produce amazing music.

9. Suspiria by Thom Yorke

The soundtrack Thom Yorke created for Luca Guadagnino’s film Suspiria is a chilling masterpiece. It is an incomparable mess of sounds and tones thrown together into one big beautiful spectacle of audio. The few songs that are intelligible are incredibly cold and harrowing. It feels like there is a hidden evil lurking beneath the music just waiting for the right moment to strike. The striking imagery that is coupled with the songs are equally as abstract and communicate such strange motifs. I have yet to watch the film but I can only imagine how perfectly it fits Luca Guadagnino’s style of filmmaking.

8. ye by Kanye West

Kanye Wests short-lived eighth studio album ye displays two things about the titular artist. One: Kanye has really lost the ability to care and two: Kanye has still got it. The Life of Pablo was an incredibly disappointing mess with a lack of any coherent direction and a mishmash of conflicting ideas. On the other hand, ye is a fully realized piece of art that stays as long as it needs to in order to adequately fulfill its purpose. Each song is a cohesive vignette about Kanye’s concurrent struggles and allows the listener a constructive look at the enigmatic artist. It’s definitely up there with some of Kanye’s best work despite barely cracking 25 minutes.


Coming in at number seven is yet another album that heavily features the everpresent Kanye West. It’s difficult to say what hasn’t already been said about this album. Simply put, its a flawless display of the true staying power of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. These two have likely unwittingly created a classic that will continue to be spun into the distant future.

6. BALLADS 1 by Joji

BALLADS 1 left a lot to be desired from the 88rising’s poster boy, Joji. Aside from being a bit scary to look at, the album is widely panned due to the sheer number of forgettable cuts. However, the one thing that saves this album and the reason why it places so highly on my list is the amount of absolutely flawless tracks this album boasts. The first six tracks are some of the best songs Joji has put out in his admittedly short career. The remaining six arents bad by any stretch but they certainly do leave a lot to be desired. The title of the album implies this is to be an ongoing series of albums Joji plans to release and if that’s the case, color me excited.

5. Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt is a true master of his craft. With barely any promotion, he has created one of the most standout rap albums of the year. With little to no features, bare-bones production, and Earl’s complex hard hitting lyrical prowess the album epitomizes everything that makes Earl standout among the other big names in the music industry. He has carved out his own place in the rap scene that only fits him perfectly, making him an irreplaceable part of the constantly evolving music community. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another three years to hear more of his musical genius.

4. No Doubt by Braxton Cook

I recently got into jazz this year and one of the albums I first listened to this year was No Doubt by multi-instrumentalist, Braxton Cook. I’m not sure what it is about this album that makes it feel so good to listen to. The lush texture of the vocals, the beautiful saxophone solos, perhaps the overall musicality of the album is what makes it so amazing. Braxton Cook simply understands music far greater than a lot of other artists out there and he makes that astonishingly clear in this record. I recommend this to all fans of jazz new and old, as well as people who are looking to get into the genre as a whole. It’s an amazing display of the genre’s musical shift into more hip-hop and R&B focused elements.

3. Tha Carter V by Lil Wayne

Allow me to begin this paragraph with an incredibly audacious statement, Tha Carter V has no bad songs. Yes, you read that last remark correctly. After listening to Lil Wayne’s fifth entry in the Carter series I almost immediately knew it was one of my favorites of the year. Starting with a heartfelt message from Lil Wayne’s mother followed by an amazing feature from the late XXXTentacion and ending with the especially powerful song “Let It All Work Out” which deals with the heavy topic of suicide. Every track has something new and interesting to offer that constantly pushes the inherent threshold the rap genre poses to most artists. The production is very creative on this album and Lil Wayne is able to seamlessly lead the listener through virtually any story he wishes to tell. I am now a massive Lil Wayne fan and I plan to listen back into his discography. This album is a definite must listen to anyone even remotely interested in the rap genre.

2. Year of the Snitch by Death Grips

Before I begin gushing about Death Grips’ newest masterpiece I’m going to admit something I’ve held onto for some time now. I used to have some pretty elitist sentiments about Death Grips. After the release of their fifth studio album Bottomless Pit, I thought that I could no longer be surprised by them. To me, the record was in some sense a victory lap for the trio. Sonically it was their most familiar record to date. It consisted of their usual fast-paced, visceral, experimental hip-hop that everyone had long since grown accustomed to. That’s not to say the album was bad, mind you. It was just predictable. Now allow me to eat my prior sentiments because Year of the Snitch is one of Death Grips’ most impressive, unprecedented, and engaging records to date. So much about this album calls back to what initially made me fall in love with the California-based trio. That lighting-fast, animal-like production, and lyrics give me chills every time I listen to one of the tracks off this LP. At long last Death Grips has come back to reclaim their position as the cornerstone of all experimental hip-hop.

1. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys

At last, my favorite album of 2018 is this genre-defying hallmark of an album by one of my all-time favorite bands. There is a vast amount lasting appeal in this album that has the power to draw in even the most exclusive of audiences. I can still remember the two-month bender this album took me on where the only thing I was able to listen to and talk about was this. It’s what inevitably lead to me to talk about this album on this website. That article remains one of my favorites one of my most popular. For good reason too. I put a lot of work into it simply because I was so enthralled by the album. Ask anyone who knows me, whenever “Star Treatment” or “Four out of Five” comes on in the car I will leave it on and sing it the whole way through. Artists spend their entire careers attempting to capture even a modicum of what Arctic Monkeys is able to accomplish in just one album’s runtime. The beautiful cosmic themes this album plays with and Alex Turners unbelievable vocal performance throughout the entire record barely scratch the surface of the boundless potential Arctic Monkeys displays in this record.

Thank you for reading my top ten favorite albums of 2018. I hope you enjoyed reading my scattered thoughts about music. If you’re a loyal reader of this website or a first timer I appreciate you taking the time to read my stuff. I have a true passion for writing and I hope to continue writing for this website in 2019. I wrote a lot in just one year and I plan to widen my spectrum of topics and begin talking about more than just entertainment. For all intents and purposes, I am a jack of all trades, and I hope my website will reflect that sentiment soon enough. Thank you all again! I’ll see you in the next one.

Whiplash, as reviewed by a group of high school jazz students.

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Recently, I watched, jazz musician and YouTuber, Adam Neely’s video on Whiplash titled “Whiplash (as reviewed by a jazz musician)” which aimed to critically analyze the film from the lens of a jazz musician (obviously). As I watched the half-hour video I noticed a few areas where his analysis may have become a bit confused and because of that, I decided to create this article as a coupling to his piece. This is in some respects is a response to his video. There are moments where I will reference his video, and possibly discredit it, however that is not the complete purpose of this article. Neely is analyzing the film from his perspective and in no way is his interpretation of the de facto definition of the film. He doesn’t attempt to claim that anywhere in the video and you won’t see me try to claim that here either. With that disclaimer out of the way, I will now explain what exactly I will be doing.

I noticed in several interviews director, Damien Chazelle expressed that Whiplash was autobiographical of sorts. Much of the film was inspired by his experiences in his competitive high school band. With this in mind, I decided to interview five real senior high school band students who had seen Whiplash to better understand the relationship between the film and real-life school jazz bands. For the sake of privacy, only their initials will be used to differentiate between them, to negate any redundancy some answers won’t be used, and many responses have been edited in some way for clarity. These are high schoolers were talking about, and clarity is the last thing on their minds.

1. What’s your role in studio band and what instrument do you play? 

AA: I play trumpet, wind ensemble.

AS: I play trombone and baritone. I’m a mentor lead.

JB: I play saxophone and I’m lead alto in jazz.

BA: I play kit in the top jazz ensemble.

AM: First chair, top band. Alto sax and soprano sax.

2. Did you enjoy Whiplash?

AA: Yes, sir.

AS: Whiplash was a genuinely enjoyable movie, had some amazing acting.

JB: Yes, I enjoyed Whiplash, the plot was pretty basic but the characters really drew your attention.

BA: Yes, I enjoyed Whiplash very much. I think it’s a great film, everything from the technical finesse Chazelle displayed to the raw emotion Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons were able to convey absolutely floored me the first time I saw it: I had never seen anything like it.

AM: I thought it was a pretty good movie. I enjoyed the overall plot and I thought the casting was very well done. The soundtrack was also really enjoyable.

3. How realistic is Whiplash to real studio band?

AA: Not at all to any school band and I doubt a professional would even be that hardcore.

AS: It’s somewhat realistic. It gets a lot of the general ideas in but a lot of the slang and terminology used by jazz directors was used incorrectly or used way too much. Like when Fletcher kept saying double-time swing. No one ever says that.

JB: Whiplash to real studio band has some real aspects. Mostly the tactics he (Fletcher) used weren’t traditional to the real world. For example, you wouldn’t say 5678 you’d say 1 and 2 and 1-2-3-4 emphasizing beats 2 and 4.

BA: Whiplash definitely bent to the truth more than just a bit. I’ve never encountered a band director like Fletcher, I’ve never been in a jazz band that was run that tightly, and I’ve done my fair share of practice, but I’ve never gone to the extreme lengths, Neiman went through in the film for a chart.

AM: While I’m more of a classical musician than a jazz player, from what I’m able to tell they’re similar in a lot of aspects but slightly dramatized.

4. Would Fletcher’s attitude be accepted in a real classroom?

AS: His behavior would not be acceptable. It’s downright cruel and the methods our director’s use don’t involve ridiculing or screaming at musicians to get things right.

JB: Fletcher’s attitude would not be acceptable in a classroom in this generation at least because it would “hurt” people’s feelings. The tough-love sort of relationship is usually associated with (jazz) back in the ’60s-’90s.

BA: Fletcher’s attitude would definitely not be tolerated in a classroom. Everyone I’ve encountered in my years of playing music is generally really chill and down to earth people. I’ve seen my band director get mad, and we’ve annoyed him plenty of times by playing badly or goofing off, but he’s never gone anywhere near Fletcher’s level of animosity.

AM: By some students, yes, but not by all. It would weed out the truly dedicated from the recreational musician. Although the cussing and the insults would have to be way toned down, the idea of always expecting more improvement and never truly saying “good job” is pretty consistent with a real classroom setting.

5. Has it affected your desire to pursue band? Has it inspired you?

AS: It hasn’t changed my desires to pursue music in any sense, maybe even lowered it because throughout the movie you can see the way the main character’s ambition to be great becomes an obsession where he’s straight-up consumed by his art and shuts everything out to become great and that’s the scary reality of pursuing music as a career because you have to be dummy good to get anywhere.

JB: Watching the movie at first in middle school did inspire me to pursue music because I thought all of the charts were cool, although it scared me as a child, it made me want to push myself.

BA: When I first watched the film (middle school) I was heavily inspired by it, it made me wanna practice more. Over time the film’s novelty has worn off.

6. Do you see yourself in the main character; Andrew?

AA: A bit, cuz I need to be pushed to be successful.

AS: I don’t see myself in him mainly because my “career” in jazz is more of a hobby and with him, it’s his lifestyle.

JB: I do see myself in Miles Teller (Andrew) in that I’ve had similar experiences. Not to the extent of violence and cussing but the yelling, and abuse which lead me to push myself harder in music and become the musician I am today.

BA: No, I don’t see myself in the main character.

AM: I do relate to the aspect of always being hard on yourself and having ambition.

7. Are there any inconsistencies in the film that you noticed initially?

AS: Only real inconsistencies were the jazz terminology and instrumentation stuff but that’s mainly just nitpicking.

BA: A big marketing point of the film was Miles Teller having to take drum lessons for the film; while it definitely shows how smooth and organic everything looks, there are a couple moments where his playing isn’t anywhere near what’s happening in the soundtrack.

AM: Fletcher’s motives weren’t justified enough. While it was wrong to take his tactics to such extreme lengths, his motivation was only to forge the best musicians possible. That’s what any band director would want.

8. Do you like the way they portrayed jazz?

AA: Yeah, because the reason for all that craziness and emotion in the movie is (due to a) genuine passion for music.

AS: Overall the way jazz was portrayed wasn’t really supposed to be a “This is what jazz is!” type thing. It was a huge dramatization of the harsh realities of when art becomes an obsession and extreme lengths artists go in order to be one of the greats…. (however) some directors in jazz band can be like dictators when trying to (get someone to) be great.

JB: Yes, I like the way they portrayed Jazz, not so much, the unrealistic practice methods but the music like “Caravan” and “Whiplash” pertain to what you see most big bands play today.

BA: Portraying the world of Jazz as super cutthroat maybe wasn’t the best choice, but it worked for the film. I also appreciated the emphasis they put on how much you really need to practice to be “one of the greats” but again it took it to the extreme. It also disregarded some people that are just naturally talented at jazz and become great through sheer skill as opposed to chops.

AM: In general, yes. There’s passion ambition, creativity, improvisation, and grit. That’s what I love about jazz most, and I see it in sections of the movie.

I believe it’s clear that Whiplash was made by Chazelle due to his honest passion for music. Many of his original works have to do with music and two of them have a huge emphasis on jazz. I spoke to all interviewees personally and most of them told me they watched Whiplash at a very young and impressionable age. Is it correct to say that this film changed their opinion of jazz? Perhaps. Is it fair to say that this would ruin or manipulate someone’s opinion of jazz? I don’t believe so.

I believe many are aware of the tactics the industry must use in order to make a medium more interesting however, that’s not to say that jazz doesn’t at least sometimes feel like it looks in Whiplash. Everyone has an individual experience with music and depending on who you are, it may shape your life forever. I don’t think Neely should be worrying about how a movie about jazz makes someone feel. Instead, he should focus on how jazz actually makes them feel.

At the end of the day, perhaps we all must understand that it’s about the art itself, not what other people are saying about it.