best songs robyn Ariana Grande tyler the creator
Highsnobiety / Isné Bobo Nuyent

As this year winds down we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.

After another grim year for the planet, we can at least be thankful that enough artists are turning their sorrow into some seriously astute bops. Far from straying away from the political, the likes of Childish Gambino, Janelle Monáe and, even, Drake have used their platforms to translate today’s tepid climate through the only medium they know how.

Of course, that doesn’t mean 2018 was without its more carefree jams, whether it’s confidence builders from Cardi B, heavy flexing from Beyoncé and JAY-Z, real time relationship diagnosis from Ariana Grande, or metaphysical meditations courtesy of Earl Sweatshirt. It was hard not to find a sonic vibe to match your mood on any given day.

These were the 50 Best Songs of 2018:

50. Empress Of – “When I’m With Him”

It’s hard to believe that this song almost didn’t make it on Us because it is the definition of a bop. I love how Lorely Rodriguez switches from singing in English to Spanish between the verses as she outlines the dilemma of being trapped in an unfulfilling relationship. The emotional drama is very real. – Sydney Gore

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49. Mitski – “Nobody”

“Geyser” is my favorite track off Be the Cowboy, but “Nobody” is the heartbeat that keeps the whole project grooving. This has got to be the most upbeat Mitski song I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, but the lyrics stay true to her usual themes of isolation, loneliness, and detachment. She fully delivered with this single and I’ll never stop dancing the pain away to it. – Sydney Gore

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48. Snail Mail – “Heat Wave”

For me, Lush was THE album of the year. Snail Mail had an amazing build-up to the drop of this debut record and it did not disappoint one bit. I listened to this album non-stop all summer long as a method of getting over someone, and this song in particular deeply resonated with me as I went through the highs, lows, and everything else in-between. I’m not worried about the future of rock and roll because women like Lindsey Jordan are holding it up – Sydney Gore

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47. Drake – “In My Feelings”

Drake officially transcended beef when his single “In My Feelings” rose to #1 (a perch where it would spend the entire summer) six weeks after Pusha-T sonned him on the revelatory diss track “The Story of Adidon.” The song’s accompanying viral dance challenge became ubiquitous enough to be slaughtered by personalities like Ryan Seacrest. Producer TrapMoneyBenny’s blend of delicate R&B sensibilities and the party-starting exhortations of New Orleans bounce icon Magnolia Shorty made “In My Feelings” the perfect soundtrack to the hottest months of the year. – Danny Schwartz

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46. Jay Rock – “The Bloodiest”

Quiet and methodical, Jay Rock is TDE’s most reliable rapper outside of the Pulitzer Prize-winner. In 2016, he was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle crash. “The Bloodiest,” the triumphant-sounding opener from his Redemption album, cuts to the chase immediately. “Flipped off that bitch, milly rockin’ the wheel/ 200 thousand in the bank, straight to hospital bills,” he ferociously raps atop Jake One’s thundering drums with the expected vigor of someone seeking to re-energize and recoup. Rock opens up here about seeking absolution for more than just flipping a bike; “The Bloodiest” is the musical embodiment of a battle scar healing itself. – Colin Gannon

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best songs robyn Ariana Grande tyler the creator
Empress Of
Highsnobiety / Bryan Luna

45. Toro Y Moi – “Freelance”

Plucked from his upcoming album Outer Peace, “Freelance” is P Diddy’s favorite indie musician Toro y Moi circling back to sadness-imbued electro-funk like that of 2013’s Anything in Return. It’s a four-minute blissful getaway for any hour of the day. On the final verse, as sunny synths pop and house drums slap, Bundick slips into a slyly devilish flow, with a certain Frank Ocean springing to mind. The music, though, is undeniably Toro y Moi: sleek yet strange, danceable but thoughtful. – Colin Gannon

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44. Post Malone – “Better Now”

2018 was the year I became a Post Malone stan. I was unsure at first, but Posty’s rockstar vocal delivery on “Better Now” is one of the factors that converted me to full-on standom. Heck, his pipes are surely at least part of the reason this song is now officially Grammy-nominated in the Best Pop Solo Performance category. I can’t get over the combination of guitar strums, trap drums, and Posty’s impassioned voice. This breakup anthem has absolutely everything I need. – Bianca Giulione

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43. Playboi Carti – “Lean 4 Real” ft. Skepta

Playboi Carti’s atmospheric ode to lean is gorgeous with its sensual ambience and drawling bass, but what really elevates it is the contribution of English grime paragon Skepta, whose menacing contribution offsets Carti’s purposefully careless one. There aren’t too many rappers who can make the kind of casual elegance that Carti can, regardless of whose featured on the song. Here’s the latest example. – Trey Alston

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42. Poppy – “Time Is Up” ft. Diplo

“Time Is Up” is an effective crash course in Poppy’s “origin story” and everything that makes the singer such a fascinating and vexing figure to follow. It’s a killer piece of synth pop, with a deep, warm ‘80s bassline courtesy of Diplo, and Poppy showcases her superstar potential, gliding over it and offering apocalyptic premonitions with the lightness of someone singing about a wild Friday night. “Human history, pollution, and overcrowded cities/ That’s your legacy,” she sings. Looming climate disaster has never sounded so fun. – Grant Rindner

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41. Jimothy Lacoste – “Fashion”

Jimothy Lacoste is easily one of my favorite music discoveries of the year, and since it came out, “Fashion” has not ceased to bring me joy. Team Music even had a phase where any time we’d make eye contact in the office, we would inevitably start singing, “Looking like a milly, feeling like a milly.” Mr. Lacoste has created a veritable feel good anthem, reminding us all why we love fashion. As he so eloquently puts it, “Clothes is there, you might as well take advantage of it. It’s just fun, bro” – Bianca Giulione

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Playboi Carti
Highsnobiety / Rahul Gothaman

40. Mac Miller – “Self Care”

Mac Miller’s best records all had a centerpiece, and it’s hard to argue for anything other than “Self Care” on his opus Swimming. The song is a frank examination of his struggles with addiction and his May 2018 DUI, with Miller trying his best to confront his problems head on rather than evading them. “And you can find me, I ain’t hiding,” he sings on the hook. The track’s second half (informally titled “Oblivion”) is a blur of gorgeous synths and loving promises from Mac, capturing the euphoria of a powerful high and the creeping dread of the fast-approaching comedown through the metaphor of a relationship amid unrest (“Let’s go back to my crib and play some 45s/ It’s safer there, I know there’s still a war outside”). – Grant Rindner

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39. John Mayer – “New Light”

I am fully aware of John Mayer‘s musical legacy, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like the guy. Do I know him? Absolutely not, but for years he always rubbed me the wrong way. But when this song came out, there was no denying that a hit was on his hands. No I.D. really worked his magic here and the result is a bop for the ages. – Sydney Gore

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38. cupcakKe – “Cereal and Water”

It’s been a bit easier for me to live with the state of the world this year now that I know that people are finally starting to catch on to the brilliance of cupcakKe. Homegirl released two amazing albums this year – Ephorize and Eden – all while remaining fiercely independent. She’s free from the confines that being associated with a label can bring. “Labels offer me an advance, I’m too advanced, that shit is dead,” she raps on “Cereal and Water,” amongst bars about racism, people being complacent about rapists, suicide, absent fathers, and more. Every single word she serves up has a pointed purpose, and 2018 cupcakKe has paved the way for 2019 cupcakKe to finally achieve the rap domination she deserves and spread her message even further. – Bianca Giulione

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37. Kanye West – “Ghost Town”

Kanye West spent most of 2018 on self-destruct mode, his bizarre attempts to woo a spray-tanned demagogue completely overshadowing scrappy eighth studio album ye. Fortunately, the brilliance of “Ghost Town” managed to cut through the noise. It works so well because Kanye is able to poke fun at himself (“I talk like I drunk all the wine”) and take a backseat, letting Kid Cudi’s heartfelt growls and 070 Shake’s empowering lyrics take center stage. If you don’t feel the urge to sing along with the lyrics “I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed” then you probably died a long time ago. – Thomas Hobbs

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36. Rico Nasty – “Countin’ Up”

Few rapper-producer pairings work as effortlessly as Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats, and “Countin’ Up” sees the pair firing on all cylinders. The sparse synth melody and skittering drums feel like a 2018 reboot of some of Swizz Beatz’ best work with the Ruff Ryders, while Rico’s raspy growl turns stacking money into a bloodsport. The bars are among the strongest on her major label debut Nasty, with Rico positioning herself as the plug of all plugs and comparing loose-lipped snitches to R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, but all you need to hear is her barking “What?” confrontationally on the chorus and you’ll be hooked. – Grant Rindner

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Rico Nasty
Highsnobiety / Bryan Luna

35. Earl Sweatshirt – “Nowhere2Go”

“Nowhere2Go,” the first single from Earl’s sublime Some Rap Songs album, is teetering with so many ideas in two (!) minutes it’s difficult to crystallize the mastery at hand. The glitchy, propulsive production from experimental hip-hop artists Darryl Johnson and Ade Hakim is, by design, murky and unsettling; a perfectly nebulous soundscape for Earl. Depression, as he puts it, has preoccupied his mind with death. “Nowhere2Go,” however, produces a sliver of hope: self-belief dug out from deep within his psyche. “Tryna refine this shit, I redefined myself/ First I had to find it,” he drones. Earl found himself – and the spoils are generous. – Colin Gannon

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34. The 1975 – “Love It If We Made It”

As many artists are figuring out, it is no small task trying to craft a piece of music that directly addresses the garbage fire of our times without sounding overtly preachy, painfully corny or a combination of the two. The 1975 have truly captured lightning in a bottle with “Love It If We Made It,” the first – and by measure, only – song that comes remotely close to being an anthem for our era. Capturing the bombast and heart-on-the-sleeve earnestness of classic ’80s power pop and marrying it to a lyrical bricolage of the year in pop culture is huge, but the most devastating quality of all remains the piercing optimism of its titular phrase. – Jake Boyer

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33. Anderson .Paak – “Bubblin’”

A strong candidate for video of the year, “Bubblin” is a breakneck journey through the vices of a nouveau riche Anderson .Paak. The song is materialistic, but it’s also filled with raw emotion – after years of struggling, .Paak is giddy about his success, and you can practically hear him beaming as he raps “R.I.P. to times that I was broke.” The intricate string and horn intro, produced by AntMan Wonder and Jahlil Beats, gives the track forward momentum and makes the entire affair feel like the thrilling apex of a caper film, with .Paak barely eluding capture, money billowing in his wake. He did warn us that it’s hard to run in Gucci slides. – Grant Rindner

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32. King Princess – “Pussy Is God”

This song single-handedly cured my seasonal depression. Whenever I need a quick energy boost, I put it on blast and all of my anxieties settle down for a few minutes while I jam out. Something tells me that 2019 is going to be the year of King Princess and I am so excited to see what she does next. – Sydney Gore

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31. Lana Del Rey – “Venice Bitch”

“Venice Bitch” is just… a masterpiece. Miss Del Rey did not come to play on this one. It’s possibly her most psychedelic track to date, and at nearly 10 minutes long, you can truly trip out to it. Layers of guitar fuzz and crashing percussion come together to support Lana’s lyrics, proclamations that are more about evoking aesthetics than any specific meaning. It’s about Americana, California, love, Venice Beach, Norman Rockwell, ice cream. In a time when many people feel ambivalent about being American, or about the USA in general, I love that Lana refuses to let us forget all there is to love about it. – Bianca Giulione

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Charli XCX
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

30. Kilo Kish – “Elegance”

Kilo Kish quietly delivered one of the most hard-hitting, rock solid projects of the year with her exacting EP Mothe, and “Elegance” was its frenetic, beating heart. With a chorus that comes off as a futurist flip of old school Janet Jackson and synth lines that wheeze like buzz saws, this track utterly nails the very 2018 vibe of being too dangerous to fuck with. – Jake Boyer

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29. Charli XCX – “Focus”

Who knows if we’ll get a real album from Charli XCX anytime soon, but at least 2018 gave us enough spicy singles to subsist on. “Focus” embodies the high caliber Charli we have come to expect – saccharine sweet and a little bit cocky with serotonin-inducing beats courtesy of a PC Music affiliate, in this case A.G. Cook with the assistance of Jack & Coke. In this economy, with a ton of different stimuli simultaneously begging for our unwavering attention, getting 100% of someone’s undivided attention is the sexiest thing ever. I also loved the brilliance of the “Focus” / “No Angel” double whammy – focus on my love and you won’t regret it, but also I’m no angel, but I can learn! A true millennial icon, wearing her cognitive dissonance on her sleeve. We stan. – Bianca Giulione

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28. A$AP Rocky & Tyler, the Creator – “Potato Salad”

Tyler, the Creator is the lovable asshole while A$AP Rocky is the pretentious pretty boy. Their camaraderie on tracks shouldn’t work as well as it does, but here we are. “Potato Salad” is a freestyle over the beat for Monica’s 2003 single “Knock Knock,” but it might as well be their beat now, Deebo style. The two champions, with their opposing rap styles, come together for a syllable-twisting exercise in goofy punchlines and exhilarating lyricism. Nothing they say is game-changing; it’s all in the execution. You can practically hear the giggling in the studio. – Trey Alston

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27. Aminé – “Campfire” ft. Injury Reserve

What’s a girl got to do to get Aminé to whisper every word of this song in her ear? We love a supportive man who empowers women to flex hard. – Sydney Gore

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26. Tommy Cash – “Pussy Money Weed”

Nearly a decade after Lil Wayne’s song of the same name, our favorite Eastern European rapper Tommy Cash penned an ode to the holy triumvirate that low-key rules everything – pussy, money, and weed. The song opens with some sinister notes and inhalation of what is presumably marijuana, a fleeting cough, and then an onslaught of trap drums. It’s bliss. Although the self-proclaimed Kanye East had already garnered fame from his absurd music videos, “Pussy Money Weed” marked a major turning point for Cash. An extended version of the song soundtracked Rick Owens’ SS19 presentation, with Tommy himself making his modelling debut, opening the show like a pro. – Bianca Giulione

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Tommy Cash
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

25. Robyn – “Honey”

Almost two years have passed since we first heard “Honey” on Girls and six more since Robyn last released a studio album, but fans always knew that it would be worth the wait. With this pulsing title track, everyone’s favourite fembot has produced a dancefloor ballad that’s remarkably different than what we’re used to hearing from Robyn, switching out the euphoric hooks from “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing On My Own” for something more understated and yet no less exultant. This is Robyn at her most mature yet, teasing a lover with sweeping desire that shimmers oh so sweetly. – David Opie

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24. Nicki Minaj – “Chun-Li”

With her Barbie looks and cartoonish persona, it was only a matter of time before Nicki Minaj would channel the larger than life realm of video games. Chun-Li, Lara Croft, and King Kong are just a few of the badass icons who Nicki Minaj name drops on the lead single from Queen, which marks a welcome return to her mixtape roots. With dextrous wordplay and personality for days, “Chun-Li” served as a powerful reminder that we still need rappers like her, even if they sometimes paint themselves out to be the bad guy. – David Opie

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23. Lykke Li – “sex money feelings die”

Lykke Li managed to say more in a mere two minutes and 20 seconds than many other artists did in a full album this year. Anchored by a “bloop” that sounds like some sort of radar detection for feelings (it’s a Lykke Li song – the feelings are everywhere to be found), “sex money feelings die” incorporates snappy trap beats, atmospheric synth swirls, and Lykke’s words about an unraveling relationship. This was my anthem of 2018, on the low. – Bianca Giulione

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22. Tommy Genesis – “100 Bad” Remix ft. Charli XCX

Two of the baddest bitches in music came together earlier this year and it was nothing short of a blessing. I’m so glad Tommy Genesis and Charli finally found each other musically, because both of them saying “100 bad bitches” has the power to instantly put me in an invincible mood. I am a sucker for juxtaposition, and the contrast between the sinister beats and Tommy’s deceivingly smooth vocal delivery is like the most delicious salty-sweet chocolate covered pretzel. This is honestly one of the hardest songs of 2018, and certainly in my personal top 10. I was so devoted to this song, I purchased it instead of merely streaming it (we should all buy more music in 2019, just saying!). – Bianca Giulione

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21. SOPHIE – “Immaterial”

OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES was stacked with hits, but this Cecile Believe-assisted track is an absolute gem. SOPHIE went all the way off with the production and made something so catchy that it almost brainwashes me when it’s playing. We’re all empty inside, swallow that reality on the dance floor. – Sydney Gore

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Tommy Genesis
Highsnobiety / Rahil Ashruff

20. Troye Sivan – “Bloom”

At the beginning of 2018, Troye Sivan told The Guardian that “there’s power in living openly and truthfully, while also being gay,” something which he openly taps into here on the title track of his sophomore album. Not only is “Bloom” a sensual and downright catchy bop, but it’s also a tender exploration of sexual roles that flirts with the power dynamics of submissive eroticism. Coy yet enticing, this is exactly the kind of queer anthem that the world needed in #20GayTeen. – David Opie

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19. The Internet – “Come Over”

On “Come Over,” a euphonious highlight from The Internet’s excellent Hive Mind album, Syd sings unabashedly about puppy love. As sexually uninhibited as she projects herself to be, she is willing to reach a plutonic compromise in this case for fear of missing out. “Wake with the sunrise/ Sleep in it’s alright/ Ain’t even gotta sex,” her voice lilting with a deep-lying passion that can be temporarily set aside. Steve Lacy’s unmistakably sharp guitar licks — paired with Syd’s icy coolness — collide here to serve as a smooth statement of The Internet’s continued growth. – Colin Gannon

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18. Rae Sremmurd – “Powerglide” ft. Juicy J

I have yet to write my treatise on why Juicy J continues to be one of the most important figures in hip-hop, but alas, Rae Sremmurd’s “Powerglide” is the perfect exhibit of evidence to support my argument. Instead of berating the new wave of younger rappers for losing sight of what “real rap” is about, Juicy J decides to link up with them and absolutely crushes it while doing so. His bars here, which he delivers classic Juicy cadence, and most notably, the words “R.I.P. Lil Peep, I gotta slow down on them Xans.” It’s the perfect union of old school and new school, and most importantly, it sounds exactly like it should – like you’re powergliding through life. – Bianca Giulione

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17. Kali Uchis – “After the Storm” ft. Tyler, the Creator & Bootsy Collins

“After the Storm” is the “Hang in there, baby” motivational cat poster but scrubbed of kitsch. It is an earnest pep talk that avoids corniness on account of Kali Uchis‘ tight songwriting, her plush, airy vocals and BadBadNotGood’s production, which truly embodies the moment of clarity that comes at the end of a downpour. BBNG’s psychedelic, woozy melange of guitars and synths creates a world in which Bootsy Collins and Tyler, the Creator can both credibly dispense tokens of wisdom. Bootsy speaks in riddles; Tyler draws out an extended metaphor that fleshes out his status as Flower Boy, born from the rain. – Danny Schwartz

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16. Teyana Taylor – “WTP”

After hitting new heights of misogyny this year, it’s something of a miracle that in the midst of his Wyoming-fueled album fury, Kanye West created “WTP,” a back-to-basics voguing rave out that – to my knowledge – is the first and only time Yeezy has lent his talents to honoring queer ballroom culture. Teyana’s vocals are both grounded and stratospheric, while Mother Mykki Blanco’s lowkey guest turn provided the mantra that I said out loud to myself in the mirror more times than any other this year: “Save your tears hunny, you’re a mother fucking DIVA!” – Jake Boyer

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The Internet
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

15. Vince Staples – “Get the Fuck Off My Dick”

“Avant garde with this shit” may be the most subliminally self-aware description of his practice that Vince Staples has yet uttered. And it of course arrived in his most meta-stunt yet: the fake GoFundMe campaign turned viral news piece turned vicious standalone single “Get the Fuck Off My Dick.” Piano lines straight out of a slasher movie perfectly set the tone for some of his most razor-sharp dissections of fame yet: “You don’t know my pain, bitch, don’t act like you don’t know my name.” – Jake Boyer

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14. Janelle Monáe – “Pynk” ft. Grimes

Ladies, snap your fingers ’cause this one’s for you! Janelle Monáe made so many anthems for women on Dirty Computer, but there’s something extra special about this eargasmic collaboration with Grimes. Monae previously said that the song is meant to unite us all because it’s about “creation, self-love, sexuality and pussy power.” I salute her efforts and thank her for her service. – Sydney Gore

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13. Cardi B – “Get Up 10”

“Get Up 10” is a worthy successor to Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, as Cardi B spits with a raw intensity that brings listeners right into her world. The opening bars: “They give a bitch two options; stripping or lose” – hammer home just how great Cardi’s glo-up has been, forcing listeners to connect with her underdog story. From Biggie to JAY-Z, the very best rappers use cinematic storytelling to make you feel like you’re riding shotgun with them and have a real human stake in their story; “Get Up 10” is proof Cardi sits among them. – Thomas Hobbs

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12. Travis Scott – “SICKO MODE” ft. Drake

“SICKO MODE” perfectly encapsulates the theme park concept of Travis Scott’s brilliant ASTROWORLD, with the beat’s genius transitions giving off the same thrills of riding through the different rooms of a haunted house ride — just when you think you’ve finally figured it out, this track takes an unexpected turn. Scott is largely upstaged by Drake, who raps with a clarity and intensity that somehow makes falling asleep on a long-haul flight sound like the most exciting thing in the world. It’s a shame Drizzy couldn’t sound this inspired on Scorpion. – Thomas Hobbs

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11. Tyler, the Creator – “OKRA”

While we often require our favorite artists to evolve in order to continue succeeding, there is something to be said in the pleasure of an artist going back to basics with immaculate execution. “OKRA” would not sound out of place on Tyler, the Creator’s debut album Goblin from nearly a decade ago, but even in the midst of his spastic come-up, the Odd Future impresario rarely packed so many perfectly timed punches. “Tell Tim Chalamet to come get at me” is a kiss-off that is simultaneously radical in its simplicity and transcendent in its cultural capital – which in 2018, is something of a platonic ideal for those in the rap game. Only Tyler would make it sound this easy and smirk about it. – Jake Boyer

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10. Drake – “Nice For What”

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Highsnobiety / Josh Sobel

Rappers are often at their worst when they attempt to make songs for women. It’s usually steeped in misogyny and outdated ideals about what women have to deal with to keep a man, and double standards that expose their idiocy. Much needed in 2018, “Nice For What” is an ode to women without adding the weight of men to the mix. Drake celebrates women for what they go through and who they are, bringing their achievements to the light. It helps that the production, from Murda Beatz and Blaqnmild, is beautifully bouncy and includes a tenacious sample from Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.” It’s a magical, yet vibrant, song that manages to avoid cringe-worthy territory. – Trey Alston

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9. Lykke Li – “deep end”

best songs robyn Ariana Grande tyler the creator
Getty Images / Ming Yeong

Lykke Li’s so sad so sexy did not get half the attention it deserved, hence why we’ve included two of its tracks on our prestigious ranking. It’s hard to begin writing about “deep end,” because it’s such a simply brilliant take on how many of us experience love. It’s obsessive, it’s relentless. In one breath it’s exhilarating and shows us the depths of the universe – holding yourself underwater in the deep end of a pool – the next, it makes us feel like we’re crumbling into tiny pieces – going off the deep end, if you will. One of the many strengths of this song is how dramatic it is – from the expertly-deployed trap beats to the gently wailing guitar, waves of synths, and meticulous piano – and I don’t even have to mention Lykke’s voice. She didn’t have to go that hard – but she did. – Bianca Giulione

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8. Pusha-T – “If You Know You Know”

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Highsnobiety / Rahul Gothaman

Pusha-T sets the stage for DAYTONA masterfully, catching us up on his dope dealing exploits like a recap before a show’s season premiere and waiting until the perfect moment to unleash one of Kanye West’s best beats of the year. The instrumental is all hissing, fuzzy high end – especially the searing guitar and yelping vocal sample. It’s a storm that Pusha is perfectly positioned at the center of, an elder statesman with nothing to prove but plenty left to say. – Grant Rindner

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7. Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”

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Getty Images / Theo Wargo

As every Janelle Monáe fan knows, there’s never been a better time to celebrate life as an emotional, sexual, gender bender and it’s all thanks to the lead single from her third studio album. Channeling the spirit of Prince and every dirty diva before him, “Make Me Feel” is a funky ode to sex that combines sensual lyrics with a slinky bassline. Much like Monáe herself, there’s a fluidity to both the instrumentation and the accompanying video that cements the song as a bisexual anthem that fans will still adore in the year 2719 and beyond. – David Opie

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6. A$AP Rocky – “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” ft. Skepta

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Highsnobiety / Isabel Janssen

What could have been a standard banger about getting paid has become something much more profound. The beat is nothing short of exquisite, while Rocky is having barely-contained fun, and I assume Skepta is as well were he capable of delivering a single rap without a scowl on his face (jury’s still out on that one). On its own this track would already be one of the best cuts of Rocky’s catalog, but his union with Skepta is huge, big enough to take it to the next level; in our globalized world, these two signify a shift in focus of the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalries of yore into the great transatlantic trade-off of now. – Jake Boyer

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5. The Carters – “APESHIT”

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Getty Images / Christopher Polk

Really the only thing worth salvaging from the otherwise mega-blah EVERYTHING IS LOVE, “APESHIT” was one of 2018’s most reliably effective turn-up anthems, and a single worthy of joining the best of Bey’s repertoire to boot. The Pharrell and Quavo-produced beat is a monster, spearheaded by its tectonic plate-rumbling bass and its laser gun synth line cleaving to and fro like a pendulum. Consider this: it’s a track so good that JAY-Z can legitimately rap “tchoo” in imitation of an airplane like some juice box-addled toddler and it still slaps harder than just about everything else this year. – Jake Boyer

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4. Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake – “King’s Dead”

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Getty Images / Lisa Lake

The main takeaway listeners get from “King’s Dead” is that Future is nonchalant AF when it comes to commanding the vibe of a song. Kendrick and Jay Rock have one of the year’s best chorus to verse transitions throughout the track, but Future comes in for a hilarious spot that is at complete odds with what the other two have going on. The best part about it? It works. It works in the context of what’s happening at every complex juncture of this song, and it surely works in showcasing why he really is Future Hendrix. – Trey Alston

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3./2. TIE: Ariana Grande – “no tears left to cry” & “thank u, next”

best songs robyn Ariana Grande tyler the creator
Getty Images / Rich Polk

It is exceedingly rare for the in-house Highsnobiety Music team to reach a passionate disagreement over something, but our feelings regarding the 2018 output of Ariana Grande left us in open civil war. In one camp, we have Sweetener‘s lead single “no tears left to cry,” and the other, her recent dissection of exes “thank u, next.” I belong strictly to the former – “no tears left to cry” is not only a great house-inflected pop song; in my mind, it is the personification of pop in 2018, of being drenched in misery and embracing it in order to lick those falsetto notes of your diva-trill. That it comes from Ariana, who knows a thing or two about finding joy in the face of some serious damn trauma this year, solidifies its place as the ultimate happy-but-sad-but-still-happy jam. – Jake Boyer

While Music Editor Jake Boyer has posited that “no tears left to cry” was Ariana Grande’s song of 2018, and our number 2 song of the year overall, we, Sydney Gore and Bianca Giulione, Associate Music Editors, would like to take this time to respectfully disagree. Yes “no tears left to cry” is a bop, an unexpected take on the pain Ariana experienced after the attack at her Manchester concert in 2017, but it’s no “thank u, next.” It’s without a doubt the breakup ballad of the year, and probably the most Cancerian song Ariana has ever made. Thanking an ex is some high frequency vibrational shit we should all aspire to, and spreading positive energy in the aftermath of extreme heartbreak is the way forward. Ari’s not denying that she’s felt pain and deep sadness, but she’s teaching up all that every experience is a lesson learned, and that’s a beautiful thing. We were all more than satisfied with Sweetener, and then she went and dropped this one. She didn’t have to do that, but she DID THAT. It’s such a powerful feeling to have a shitty experience with someone in particular, or just in general, feel the anger or sadness, and then take a step back and say “thank u, next.” – Bianca Giulione & Sydney Gore

Listen here and here.

1. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”

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Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Not only was Childish Gambino able to deconstruct his horror and disgust at the actions of his own country and transform them into a commercial and critical success, he created the year’s most essential piece of popular music in the process, an extremely bittersweet swan song to a nation on the brink of collapse. In the end, it only took him three simple words to cut through the noise and force us all to watch and listen: this is America. – Cameron Cook

Listen here.

Stream all our picks in the playlist below:

Now, take a look at the Highsnobiety Staff’s most streamed songs of 2018 here.

  • Words: Trey Alston, Jake Boyer, Cameron Cook, Colin Gannon, Bianca Giulione, Sydney Gore, Thomas Hobbs, David Opie, Grant Rindner, Danny Schwartz
Music Editor