Best Of 2018: Singles Through February 28th
1 – Never Be The Same – Camila Cabello – Well, well, it didn’t take long for Cabello to show her true colors, that “I didn’t put the Ed Sheeran collaboration on the new album because it didn’t fit” certainly lifted the veil with ease. She sounded so arrogant that it made her just a girl in the world pose sound beyond suspect. This single, from late 2017, leads off her debut album where she changed her, admittedly stupid, album title to meet the market, is so great though her diva in waiting act doesn’t much matter. The smart metaphor, love as addiction, chirps on the song as it delves itself into electronic desire. The performance on Fallon was epic, and I am frankly surprised it isn’t bigger.
2 – Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience – Parquet Courts – When the East Village Eye’s Leonard Abrams recommended these New York City 1980s post-punk 1980s sounding wannabes I thought his nostalgia buzz was off the charts. However, this twofer of half kilter rocker weirdness is a masterpiece of sorts, throwing in everything they have including background harmonies and guitars like chugging trains before bailing with a “This next one’s called “Freebird 2” “.
3 – Make Me Feel – Janelle Monae – When I saw her live I was a little disappointed in her over the top representation of middling r&b, but this Prince rip about the power pleasures of bi-sexuality is a great, er straight, banger.
4 – Moon River – Frank Ocean – Remember that 60 minutes interview with Henry Mancini when he regretted not having spent more time with his family (he would die soon after from the cancer that was ravaging him), that softness of his soul sounds like the sweetly sad drifter here. Frank gives the song, which Audrey Hepburn hadn’t missed with, a soulfulness and much less yearning than complete precision as he proved that computers have spirits in the machine.
5 – Alive (with Offset & 2 Chainz) – Lil Jon – What “Turn Down For What” taught us was that crunk is best when Lil Jon growls, and even if this isn’t crunk, even if it only really punches hard when Lil Jon takes over, when Lil Jon takes off the excitement explodes in way trap doesn’t.
6 – Drink ABout You – Kate Nash – The axis of power is Acting-Singing-Modeling, and Nash has aced two of them. As a singer-songwriter she is a UK Lily Allen phenom with a sense of place and language that provides humor and otherness for a US audience. This is a typical clever clever song… Ray Davies might approve.
7 – Walk in Circles – Grant-Lee Phillips – “St. Augustine said the wicked walk in circles and I thought, I have no problem with that. Sign me up with the witches then, if that means moving in step with nature – but let’s not go backwards.” This is the best slice of clangy folk meets classic rock, it’s like Byrdsy with a different type of singer.
8 – All The Stars (with SZA) – Kendrick Lamar – An echoey r&b track that finally finds a use for SZA where she isn’t emoting in a coma. The Kendrick verse is best for being a little calmer. Kendrick reminds me of Chris Stapleton, they both need a valium…
9 – God’s Plan – Drake – Drake is one of those guys that takes me time to warm to, I dismissed this Drake by the numbers at first, but after being unable to escape it for a week, it clicked. That “bad things…” hook is huge.
10 – Spotlight – Marshmello, Lil Peep – With every passing day the loss of Lil Peep looms larger than ever, Marshmello gives Lil Peep a simple place to sing the mainstream pop moment love thing “loving you is like a fairytale, I just can’t pick up the phone again…” mixes his message perfectly on this break up song.
11 – God Save Our Young Blood (with Lana Del Rey) – BØRNS – It is bizarre how the lo fi down beat Lana can go on to Borns song and steal it with such ease, this is a high concept, loud soft work, than a coupla minutes in Lana arrives for a verse and it flies.
12 – My My My! – Troye Sivan – Troye is like The Drums with an ear for the chart, and this is a gay moment which finds the attractive guy in complete seduction mode and with a chorus that ranks high “my,my,my, spend every night with you…” exactly.
13 – Love Is Poison – YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Well, he is in prison now so count YBNB another hip hop singer who should have maintained his poise, this sounds like a future history knowledge as he sings about the girl he hurt from a jail cell which is where he is now, six months after he released it… wow, talk about life imitating art.
14 – Summer’s End – John Prine – It’s been years since some new material from Prine, a man I love a whole lot less than you do and yet, if I can find the master a bore (I could find Leonard Cohen a bore as well), this song is a lovely mid-tempo call for a connection Americana.