50. “Kids See Ghosts” – Kids See Ghosts (Kid Cudi and Kanye West)
With Kid Cudi’s whispy and depressive incantations providing the perfect foil to Kanye’s acerbic bars, many will deem this the rap song of the year, but I will not go that far. Nevertheless, the spiritual title track by Kids See Ghosts is an ethereal and paranormal experience befitting of its artists.
49. “Allé Sauvage” – Beak>
Neu! updated and upended by an experimental hunger, “Allé Sauvage” is a seven-minute instrumental journey to the center of an unknown planet. Colored with synth-laden psychedelia, this cyclical loop—which slowly but surely crescendos—is the future of Krautwork if there is one.
48. “Washing Machine Heart” – Mitski
With infectious, perfectly-placed handclaps, a bouncy synth bass and mournfully-tinged guitar at the forefront, “Washing Machine Heart” is one of Mitski’s most sonically “fun,” but lyrically depressing moments yet.
47. “Yikes” – Kanye West
With the lone bright spot in what is otherwise the worst album of his storied career, Kanye West does not stray far from the drama with “Yikes.” Delivering controversial and confrontational one-liners after another, “Yikes” oozes with the rapper’s essence—delusional, self-righteous, but magnifying nonetheless.
46. “Hunnybee” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“Hunnybee” is a charmingly funky and sincere love letter to a daughter. The punchy drums and sultry bass make this bedroom pop and electro-funk hybrid a standout considering the lackluster energy that defines the rest of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest outing.
45. “Post-Millennial Tension” – Lost Under Heaven
Birthed from apathy and anger regarding the perpetual mess this generation finds itself toiling in, Lost Under Heaven’s lead single is a swooning and empathetic war cry to counter nihilistic passiveness. With minimalist piano keys blooming into lush explosions of orchestral grandeur, there’s no denying the earnestness behind this song.
44. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” – The 1975
Frontman Matty Healy subverts any doubt regarding his lyrical ability by profoundly using images of depravity, drug addiction and romantic love interchangeably against of course—delightful, ‘80s pastiche production.
43. “SICKO MODE” – Travis Scott featuring Drake
There ’s a reason to why “SICKO MODE” is played during every professional sporting event and in every car these days—and it’s not because of Drake. Travis Scott steals the show by taking full advantage of a sick beat and delivers his best verse since “Rodeo.”
42. “Uproar” – Lil Wayne featuring Swizz Beatz
Even with there being little-to-no lyrical depth or production complexity, “Uproar” deserves a spot among the best songs of the year for being a straight-up raucous banger as Lil Wayne masks flaws with a rapid-fire onslaught of simple but clever bars.
41. “Poem” – U.S. Girls
A dejected and heavily distorted synth-pop treasure enlivened by percolating synths, Meg Remy digs to the heart of humanity—asserting that we have all have a natural, unlearned moral compass, but also questions how it has grown into monstrous proportions.
40. “Just A Stranger” – Kali Uchis featuring Steve Lacy
On the surface about “gold digging,” this groovy number embraces feminine boldness and fierceness in the face of criticism. Kali Uchis, with accompanying vocals from Steve Lacey and nifty production from BROCKHAMPTON’s Romil Hemnani, devise a track oozing with neo-soul savagery.
39. “Country” – Porches:
With minimal ethereal synths and lyrics rendered vivid and abstract, Aaron Maine searches for peace within a time of transition and doubt on “Country.” Though its central theme ties in with rest of the album, this track, in particular, exudes a sense of release and euphoria rarely heard from Maine and his music.
38. “KOD” – J. Cole
A cautionary vivid tale about flipping and dealing drugs, the aptly titled track features a simple tight trap beat and one of the most contagious rap choruses heard in 2018. Though Cole’s latest album of the same name was a complete dud, this single managed to keep the Virginia-native relevant as one of the best pure rappers in the game.
37. “Miki Dora” – Amen Dunes
This song is named after the iconic Hungarian-born surfer from the ’50s and ’60s. Elements of reverbed guitar and synth meld harmoniously, and are brought to life by the very breath of Damon McMahon’s voice. McMahon wrote “Miki Dora” because he empathized with the polarizing nature of this antihero surfer. Though it is musically bright, McMahon’s lyrics soberingly reveal insecurities with which many can resonate.
36. “This is My Town” – Mark Kozalek
A complete stream of consciousness like most, if not all, of contemporary folk luminary’s work from the past 10 years, the song strays away from alienating its listeners by rejecting hifalutin language and opting for words of the everyman.
35. “Cherubim” – Serpentwithfeet
A frightful and ritualistic atmosphere even with its contradictory, angelic subtext, the song is helped by Serpentwithfeet’s incredibly impactful voice. It provides a sense of suspension amid the song’s hellish mix of looped grunts, heavy breathing and thunderous percussion.
34. “Dark Circles” – Bambara
Bambara keeps cowpunk alive with the smoky and gnarled “Dark Circles.” Strung along by Reid Bateh’s slight Southern drawl oozing with attitude and torment, this track is of its own cavernous world and at the center of it all is the rhythmic yet deafening drumming that kicks the song off.
33. “Comeback Kid” – Sharon Van Etten
Pulsating with serrated synths and snappy percussion, “Comeback Back Kid” sees Sharon Van Etten’s transformation from contemporary folk phenom into a keyboard- and guitar-wielding powerhouse, manifested in fullness.
32. “Disgraced in America” – Ought
A sweet and sultry art punk gem that brims anxiety, “Disgraced in America” slowly builds into disorderly proportions, mirroring the growing American dissatisfaction over the county’s current state—a common thread woven throughout a good amount of tracks on this list.
31. “Guest House” – Daughters
A perfect closing track to an album drowning in deep dark waters, “Guest House” is a demented and rabid moment of no-wave excellence. Pummeling guitars, clanging cymbals and Alexis Marshall’s incessant screaming of “Let me in” generate a sense of psychopathic torment.
30. “Pay No Mind” – Beach House
“Pay No Mind,” hearkens to the nostalgic waltz of Disintegration-era The Cure. Beach House injects its own flair to the downtempo, shimmering blueprint—including shoegazy reverb and of course, Victoria Legrand’s celestial vocal presence.
29. “Distortion” – Mount Eerie
A much noisier composition in the vein of Phil Elverum’s work under The Microphones moniker, “Distortion” picks up the cried tears left by Elverum’s last album, A Crow Looked At Me, and attempts to bring understanding to the concept of mortality.
28. “Licking An Orchid” – Yves Tumor featuring James K
Sweating with sensual imagery and sonic textures, “Licking an Orchid” is a romantically smooth, trip-hop-tinged track, driven by sweet guitar melodies and Yves Tumor’s vibrant voice.
27. “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” – Parquet Courts
An incredibly rhythmic and theatrical display of Parquet Courts at their best, this two-part stomper feels as groovy as it does fierce, and is equal parts political and comical.
26. “Where The Cash At” – Brockhampton:
A brief but absolutely fulfilling banger, “Where The Cash At” features a disorderly and brazen performance form Brockhampron’s most overlooked member, Merlyn Wood. With an incredibly unique voice and flow, Wood sounds panicked but confident as the deafening bass warps, oscillating in and out of perception.