blog2018

Opinion
James Pavel

 

20. Psycho – Post Malone

He makes the rise of Slim Shady seem like last page news. Where Slim was at least marketable because he looked like hundreds of other white kids looking for validation, Post Malone is an unremarkable, Amish-looking fella that could be mistaken for Weird Al if this was 20 years ago (which based on this year’s music, it felt like it was.) What Post has is undeniable flow – he walks the fine line with mumble rap and coherent rap so if he can keep the number of skittles in his grill to a minimum, he may have a long rap career ahead of him.

 

19. Sicko Mode – Travis Scott

If your head aint’ bobbin, get off your iPhone and pay attention. Travis Scott takes full advantage of Drizzy’s campfire heat and makes sure he puts out a banger while he has hip hop’s full attention with the King of the 6 on the track.

 

18. 99 – Barns Courtney

Sounding like Kings of Leon’s long-lost son, Barns Courtney puts out a non-cheesy throwback track to the caveman ages of 1999. It is a bit concerning how 1999 is being perceived by pop music now, as if it were some lost-oasis of the past that can never be retrieved. To refresh everyone’s memory, it was an era of shockingly bad music (Backstreet Boys, rap/metal hybrids), and an era on the verge of wild discoveries. Downloading music wasn’t thought of as stealing yet, and we were doing it by the boat load. It was a period where our greatest global concern was computers not being able to recognize the three zeros in year 2000, and everything would shut down for God knows how long – Now that I think about it, 1999 doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

 

17. Saturday Sun – Vance Joy

Banjo/camp fire music took a backseat this year, so it was either a pick up your busking gear and move on to the next train station or show some grit. Vance Joy has proven there is much more to his mojo than a Riptide or two and put out a song yearning for the heat waves of the West Coast and all the special women to be found along the way.

 

16. You Worry Me – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

It’s an old timey, crunchy rocker fitted for a blues can pub down the road. It sounds 100 years old, or at least 10, or whatever the year is that we can agree on that rock n’ roll officially died in the realm of pop culture. Rock n Roll will never completely die, but it is having a hell of a time discovering relevance in an increasingly complicated world that doesn’t seem to have time for a set of drums and a guitar.

 

15. Say Something – Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton

Bringing sexy back and helping people fall back in love with only a mirror took a toll on JT as his fourth solo album was unfortunately a flop. But with any great artists, there is always a diamond in the rough – That shiny rock was ‘Say Something’ a country song we all know Justin has been dying to do for ages.

 

14. OTW – Khalid feat. 6lack & TY Dolla $ign

You’re welcome – Drake. Gangster dudes singing their hearts out has been made globally acceptable by Young Money’s finest and now wise men such as Khalid are reaping the benefits. Enough about Drake and more about Khalid and his Uber driver anthem that gave all women confident that their distracted men were indeed just around the corner. The song wreaks of 90s RnB, to the point where you’re almost waiting for K-Ci and JoJo to belt out the final chorus.

 

13. Underline the Black – Metric

Their last album was a disaster. The magic of Metric seemed to have vanished somewhere in the Ontario Lakes, but then came the first single reminiscent of the hungry and tenacious days. The group played a set at the Danforth Hall in Toronto and immediately it was clear that fresh ideas had forged, and the new material would put the band back in Canada’s top five groups of the moment – ‘Underline the Black’ is one of the many gothic, sexy and near-perfect tracks on the transcending album.

 

12. Yikes – Kanye West

The most polarizing, bipolar, political pollster hanging from a Donald Trump flagpole of an artist was at his wildest and albeit, most concerning in 2018. He spoke 70 per cent crazy and 30 per cent genius this year and ‘Yikes’ would be an appropriate response to that sort of divide –

“Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too
I’m a pray for him ’cause he got #MeToo’d
Thinkin’ what if that happened to me too
Then I’m on E! News”

-Most definitely the 30 per cent genius portion.

 

11. Saturdays (feat. HAIM) – Twin Shadow

The most spoiled day of the week receives yet another tribute. If Saturday isn’t your favourite jour then quit your day job immediately, especially with Twin Shadow singing its praises. The way Shadow and Haim’s voices unite with such familiarity, it’s a surprise the sisters haven’t pitched adopting him as a late comer to the brood.

 

10. When we Drive – Death Cab for Cutie

Nobody’s lyrics matter more to a song than Ben Gibbard’s. It’s his fault that since the beginning of time, he has made every word of his feel like 80-pound weights on our hearts. Where other bands take the subject of a road trip and make a mockery of the event, Gibbard can give perspective on how to sit in a car with one person for hours, even days, represents a special kind of affection. The ability to remain silent, to appreciate the quiet moments and the stressful moments, are all noted by Death Cab for Cutie.

 

9. Delicate – Taylor Swift

The minute you think she must be certified crazy, she puts out a track that makes one wonder if she is the most relatable female artist around. Based on the mind games we saw from Ariana Grande this year, maybe Swifty ain’t so bad after all. She’s sexy, but never over the top, she is honest, but never to the point of overbearing – maybe, like so many other times in life, we must see beyond the exes, the whispers and decide for ourselves if Taylor Swift should remain the poster on our bedroom walls.

 

8. Uproar – Lil Wayne

Weezy pickpockets G-Deps 2001 semi-hit ‘Special Delivery’ and spits purple syrup all over the beat. Weezy is having a barrel of fun, despite the shit show getting this album out was. Whether he has been in a half-decade fog or refuses to allow contractual frustrations play into his music, fans proved they had not forgotten about Lil Weez in the grand scheme of rap. Weezy is the ultimate 6th man, every year he is the comeback player of the year as nobody as improved as drastically as he has as a rapper year after year after year.

 

7. Four stars out of Five – The Arctic Monkeys

The Monkeys finally made their experimental, acid album. It sounds a bit MGMT but with less weed, and more red wine and cigarettes. Turner transforms into the most eccentric hotel manager the hospitality world has come across, and he will be damned if the world doesn’t know how proud  he is of their near 5-star review.

 

6. A Good Night – John Legend

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend seem like the happiest couple on the planet. I can’t remember ever looking at a couple this way, so I can’t begin to imagine how Legend feels when he looks at his wife. We get a mild idea from this marriage proposal dance-athon, easily one of the most genuinely cool songs of 2018. John Legend doesn’t appear to have a negative bone in his body and is a refreshing example of a GQ dude that is proud to rock a wedding band and not sweat the coulda, woulda, shouldas.

 

5. Love it if we Made it – The 1975

It sounds like we are being yelled at for two straight minutes by an incoherent pretty boy, until the chorus drops, helping us realize we are hearing daunting fantasies read aloud. Some of them fluid vision, some dark reality, all notable commentary from some English lads not afraid to point out some of the deeply concerning and strange events that transpired this year.

 

4. Summertime Magic – Childish Gambino

Glover is the black Justin Timberlake, in the sense that he seems capable of everything that falls under the realm of entertainment. He can make you laugh, make you think, and most definitely, make you dance. ‘Summertime Magic’ was this year’s ‘Can’t Stop Feeling,’ a song put out precisely to enjoy the infinitely-long evenings in those precious four months.

 

3. I like it – Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin

With all the 90s nostalgia taking over 2018, it made sense that the Latino Heat movement came back in full force. This time it’s not Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca, it’s Cardi B blazing through with Bad Bunny & J Balvin, parking the low-riders and hosing down the year with Patron tequila on one of the biggest bangers of the year.

 

2. All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar feat. Sza

Two stars that went from nobodies to two of the biggest household names in the world in the span of a half-decade, put out the score to 2018’s most ground-breaking film ‘Black Panther.’ ‘Black lives Matters’ was one of the most prevalent discussions in 2017, and of course there is discourse that remains, but with the success of this super hero black movie it hopefully helped show that not only do they matter, but black stories resonate with Americans. The #MeToo movement will undoubtedly be forever linked with 2018, the year that enough was enough, but maybe it can dove tail with the story line that black musicians, black actors and a black movie dominated pop culture this year.

 

1. God’s Plan – Drake

He is as omnipresent in music as the CN Tower is in the City of Toronto. Drake Mania has surpassed Hulk-a-mania levels and it has been three years since this blog predicted its halt, and no such stop has happened. He even stumbled publicly this year with the news of a bastard child to be paired with a heavy serving of beef with Pusha T and the unpredictable Kanye West. But what Pusha and most definitely Kanye lack, is the charm of the 6 King. Drake smiles. Drake cares. Drake thinks he’s cool, but not too cool. He made a rap video about helping people. This hasn’t happened since Tupac. Fans forgive Drake for anything that they aren’t trained to think of as ‘real hip-hop’ because he has transcended every definition of what a rapper is and how they are supposed to behave.

Drake sees nothing wrong with the many hats he wears because in 2018 the ancient adage ‘You can grow up to be anything you want to be’ is most possible in today’s world. A white Jewish dude with face tattoos named Post Malone is one of the most prevalent pop stars there is. A TV show celebrity host with no political experience is the President of the USA. A drama teacher with a famous Dad is the Prime Minister of Canada. A man has never had an easier time becoming a woman and vice versa. With these incredulous moments all transpiring, is it a big deal that Drake chooses to be a wholesome basketball ambassador and then a violence-threatening gangster in the rap studio? He does not.

But don’t you dare give him all the credit because according to him, this is all God’s Plan.