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Best and Worst of Entertainment 2018 Edition: The Lists Awaken


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And, lo, as if by a black magick, I emerge. Reborn atop the mount of cinder, ash, and coffee grounds. Charred and abandoned by both The Bachelor and Celebrity Big Brother. I’ve but a humble land to return, not a palace nor 3 bed/2 bath. Alas, though evermore I await the judgement of realtors and ponder the results of my credit score, I lie awake at night as I cannot in good health drift to slumber due to not only my possible sleep apnea but also my unfulfilled promise to complete this god forsaken list. My mind has been attacked - torn asunder by the visitations of my fellows as they harangue my meager subconscious. So, as I once did spake, the list will come as follows.






So, due to life ramping up and my schedule being jam-packed with things like “fruitlessly email publishers”, “stare blankly at a wall and contemplate life’s true treasures like family and love and wonder if I can pay my rent with those”, and “let’s find out if I’ll get sick from eating this thing”, I’ve unfortunately let this fall by the wayside - but! Nevertheless I made a promise and I intend to uphold it to the best of my mediocre abilities!


Sorry to Bother You may well be my favorite movie of 2018. It’s just about everything I want in a movie. I’ve heard criticisms of this, saying that Boots Riley didn’t really push the envelope enough and that this didn’t say as much as it thought it did, which.... I don’t really agree with. I think - especially for a writer/directorial debut - Riley did a really ingenious job of critiquing just about everything in our society at the moment without it feeling preachy or didactic. Lakeith Stanfield, hot off of Atlanta, continues to knock it out of the park with his comedic timing, body language, and some real screen presence. The supporting cast really kills it as well - especially Armie Hammer, doing what he does best by presenting a greedy corporate monster as incredibly charming and persuasive and making you think “yeah, you know what, this IS a great idea!”

I don’t want to say much of substance about this movie because I think it’s really important for anyone who hasn’t already seen it to go in as blind as possible, but believe me - it’s a wild ride from start to finish and you won’t regret seeing this. If you’re a fan of anyone involved in this movie (and, seriously - Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yuen, Armie Hammer, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover - who’s not a fan of at least one of them?) or if you’re a fan of Boots Riley’s music (and, if not, then get on that), you gotta check this one out.




My favorite thing with watching a movie or TV show or reading a book is when the writer can outsmart the audience. Patrick Rothfuss has this “children’s” book called The Princess and Mr. Whiffle where he sets everything up to be a very boilerplate story about a princess and her stuffed animal so that as you read it you think you know what’s going on, but because you’re focused on the words and the story instead of the pictures you don’t know that there’s actually a whole other story being told. I saw him present this at PAX East and he gave a little spiel afterward about how he thinks twists can sometimes be dishonest but that it’s also not the author’s fault if you don’t pay attention. Agatha Christie does this too. She deliberately leads the reader down multiple paths and she guides you through them at exactly the right time so that when you think you’ve solved it she pulls the rug out from under you and reveals that you missed something six chapters ago.

What’s all that to do with this movie? Well, it’s because it’s one of those. The script for this is airtight. I could go all day about this thing. John Cho is great in this, and while not totally surprising given how he’s really good in everything he’s in, I enjoyed seeing him in a more dramatic role where he can really show his stuff. This is all basically just his face for two hours and he completely sells it.

However, regardless of how well-acted a mystery might be, it lives or dies by the writing. If it’s not well setup, if the clues don’t make any sense, if the leaps in logic are too great, it all falls apart. This is near-perfect. Everything is in this movie for a reason. You’re discovering everything along with David and you’re feeling his struggle as he continues to hit roadblocks with the case because you’re hitting the same ones. I think the strength of this movie lies in the amount of empathy you feel as it progresses. Sympathy as well, obviously, because you want to see this man find his daughter, but the whole movie takes place on a screen. You and David are finding everything together, and you will see his face light up when he thinks he hits a break and you will see his face break as he hits a snag and you will feel it. I found this movie to be incredibly frustrating to watch, not because of cliched stupid writing when it came to the cops (as is typical of mysteries and thrillers) but because the writing is so smart and there’s still so little hope for him. You gotta get to watching this movie (which I think is also a writer/director debut, crazily enough).

Oh, yeah, not to mention there’s an alien invasion happening in the background done entirely through news headlines.

Not his fault you didn’t pay attention.




This has been praised up and down for close to a year at this point. Again, a writer/director debut, and, again, an instant hit. I’m on board for more Ari Aster from here until he screws up this third movie.

What else can I even say about this that hasn’t been said already? Haunting, chilling, thrilling. Toni Collete is astounding. Alex Wolff proves to be leaps and bounds ahead of Nat. The imagery and symbolism is all great. The marketing for this movie should be the benchmark for every movie moving forward because they were somehow able to not give anything away. Truly incredible on all fronts, and a shame that it got no love from the Oscars.




Ethan Hawke plays a priest at a small church who helps counsel an environmental activist, which in turn forces Hawke’s character to rethink everything he thought he knew about life. Instant hook for everyone, right?

This movie is challenging, honestly. I watched it, and it’s like Paul Schrader reached into my brain and grabbed a handful of goop from my “anxiety” section and splattered it onto a film reel. For my money, this movie was more unsettling than Hereditary. I’m still having a hard time grasping it or even forming a coherent sentence explaining this journey we go on with Ethan Hawke.

This is not a flashy movie. It’s very subdued. It’s much more character driven than plot driven. The looming threat of this mega-church is in the background of the film, but it’s really about how Hawke’s character confronts these ideas and how he decides to process them. As he battles cancer and continues to destroy his body, he needs to figure out what fight is worth fighting and how best to win this war that humanity is rapidly losing. A lot is done throughout the movie in terms of subtext and imagery and it won’t go down smooth. I think it’s a movie people need to see, if not for the relevancy than for Hawke’s incredible performance (and to think he could do this and Juliet, Naked in the same year). I recommend this to anyone that’s a fan of Ethan Hawke or a fan of being terrified about climate change.





Yet again with the writer/director debut! Bo Burnham has arrived on the stage.

I have been a fan of Bo’s since… I wanna say 2009? 10? His first Comedy Central special he did. I think it was just a Presents. I wasn’t a huge YouTuber so I never discovered him that way, but one day I just see this kid on Comedy Central and I’m floored that he’s ONLY FOUR YEARS OLDER THAN ME. Since that day, I’ve followed his every move. It was about damn time he got around to writing a movie.

A lot of the themes he explores here he began to explore in Make Happy, which I thought was really interesting. He’s given a few interviews on You Made it Weird, and I remember his most recent one (maybe a few years old at this point) he talks a lot about social media and the effect it’s having on society. This is something he’s very passionate about, and it clearly shows here as he delivers a gut-punch of a movie.

If you went to school - at any point in life - you will undoubtedly relate to this movie. Though bullying has changed and gotten less hands on, it’s still a reality kids growing up face. Hell, I think we all do. It’s not the classic bullying of “look at you nerd, you’re on a Spongebob website”, but more, like, societal pressure, I guess. Like if we’re not doing something cool and posting about it then we’re losers. And as much as we want to buck the trend and feel like we don’t have to post about everything we do because we think we don’t need that (at least I do)... it’s hard to actually do that and feel good about yourself because you see all of these people being constantly validated by everyone around them and there you are, in your room, alone. You need to validate yourself, and that’s really hard sometimes, and if you miss out on a party or a brunch then you get the feeling that you’re being left behind.

This is what that movie is about. The facade that we put up on social media because we’re expected to and how we think that our voice is important because we have a platform for it, and the person that we actually are when push comes to shove and we realize no one wants to hear what we have to say. You feel like you need to cry? Go watch this movie.




...And if you feel like you need to laugh? Look no further! I think I mentioned this in the Vice thread, so here’s my breakdown of it.

Man. What a movie. I thought this was brilliant. The power struggle in the days leading up to, and following, the death of Stalin. A movie about Russian history with no Russian being spoken. What else would you expect from Armando Iannucci?

The decision to showcase no Russian whatsoever makes this movie feel universal. This kind of crap is happening everywhere at all times, and people like this are running every country in the world - it just so happens that right now we’re focusing on Russia. I thought the exploration of how power can corrupt was done so much better here than in Vice - a movie that presented itself as being so much more important and clever than it actually was. With this? There’s no such pretense. It passes itself off as an absurd movie grounded in reality, and you can take it or leave it.

Two scenes have been burned into my brain since watching this a year ago. There’s a bit at the end where the movie gets real and cuts the bullshit and you can actually feel the tension and see the stakes being raised and you think it’s all fun and games because the rest of the movie has been a comedy but then something serious goes down and it’s gut-wrenching. As horrible as these people are, my stomach was still in knots as the ending was happening.

Also, there’s a slow-mo scene of Jason Isaacs throwing his jacket off and thinking of that always puts a smile on my face.


If you’re intrigued by the premise of Vice but don’t want to sit through it, or if you’re a fan of any of this cast (or Veep), then you need to sit down and treat yourself to this movie. It’s really incredible, and one of the best comedies of last year.




This movie is wild.




Wow. What a movie. I really love when the Coen Brothers can mix comedy with their nihilism, so this was such a treat. I don’t even really know how to review this.

If you’re unaware, this movie is split up into segments. Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Near Algodones, Meal Ticket, All Gold Canyon, The Gal Who Got Rattled, and the Mortal Remains. They all deal with some combination of facing death and pushing characters to their limit to see what they do to survive - if they’re all talk or if they’re a man of action, if they have the will to live, if they have any morals at all. Each segment is relatively short, aside from The Gal Who Got Rattled, which feels more like a short film than a segment of a longer movie, and they all breeze by (aside from The Gal Who Got Rattled, but I think that may have been done on purpose to really draw out her agony on the trek she was making).

I thought Ballad of Buster Scruggs was easily the star of the show. I could watch a whole musical western featuring him. I think Tim Blake Nelson did such an incredible job turning Buster into a sympathizing character while at the same time making it clear that he was a two-faced phony who knew exactly how to wheel and deal. James Franco and Liam Neeson both give stellar performances in the two follow-ups; Tom Waits is a delight; Zoe Kazan is rocky at best but can make you feel for her nonetheless. You’re really missing out if you haven’t seen this one yet.




I mean… a delight from start to finish, what else would you expect? This movie is something else. It’s so incredibly wholesome and joyous and never once makes you think anything is wrong in the world because you know Paddington is going to make you marmalade and everything will be okay.

Hugh Grant stole not only the movie with this performance, but he may well have stolen the entire damn year. He portrays the villain of the movie - a washed-up actor who has been relegated to commercials but is looking for his break back into the limelight. The best part? He’s just Hugh Grant. Almost literally. His apartment is covered in headshots of him when he was younger, and, well… they’re just all pictures of young Hugh Grant. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really something to behold.

Brendan Gleeson as the prison chef is amazing as well. The whole prison subplot is just so fun. Everything about this movie is happy and uplifting and it’s so sincere in all of it. You don’t even need to see the first one to understand the gist of this one, so there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to not go and see this movie and then subsequently show each and every one of your friends and spread the joy like marmalade on bread because that’s what Paddington would want.




In preparation for this movie I watched both The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred Deer and was left very concerned. I didn’t think I would like this at all, but I wanted to support a director that I thought was very unique and interesting and also wanted to see Emma Stone in a movie again. I had a suspicion that my biggest problem with Yorgos Lanthimos came down to his writing. The second half of The Lobster fell apart for me, and while I liked Killing of a Sacred Deer a lot more it still didn’t instill much confidence that The Favorite would be any good.

But I saw The Favourite anyway, and so here we are!

My biggest takeaway is that I was right. His writing doesn’t do it for me. Thankfully, he didn’t write this movie, and, as such, it’s one of my favorite movies from last year. His directing style is exactly something I want to see more of (where he goes in the exact opposite direction of the kind of genre he’s directing - so, for example, The Lobster, which is a romance, is done entirely in monotone) and it really works here. This feels like children playing royalty at times, as a way to heighten the ludicrousness of the whole thing. While Iannucci goes over-the-top in one way with his depiction of a power struggle (with everyone speaking English and with heavy English accents), Lanthimos goes in a completely different way (with the men running around like high school gossips and the women playing mental chess).

This has been getting a lot of well-earned praise, mostly for acting, and, man, are these performances something else. Olivia Coleman in particular is really great, but someone not getting much attention - Nicholas Hoult dressed up in this outrageous outfit, running around the castle spreading rumors and pushing Emma Stone into the mud was just so amazing to watch. His role is relatively minor (as are all the men) but he really put everything he had into this and clearly loved every minute of it.

There are some definite tells that this was directed by Lanthimos (I thought the fisheye lens shots were very much on-brand for him), but it’s also very much his most accessible movie yet because he didn’t write it. Whether you’ve seen his work before and didn’t care too much for it, or haven’t seen a lick of it and you’re not sure what to expect - you should see this.


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Before I start the final half of my countdown, let’s review my standings for each year-end list of the 2010s so far…

1. 2013

2. 2015

3. 2017

4. 2011

5. 2012

6. 2018

7. 2010

8. 2016

9. 2014

My final standing for the year 2018 in pop music is complex to say the least. While I thought the year somewhat felt like pop on autopilot for most of the way, it still manages to outperform other previous years. 2016, like the other year-end lists for the even-numbered years, had quite a slew of awful hits but some of its bad hits were at least more interesting to talk of more than the bad stuff of 2018, however. Then of course, the year-end list for 2018 is not without its own greats, as it managed to barely beat out 2010 because despite not having a very iconic set of hits on its list, its assortment of good songs were very strong. As for 2014, yeah…it still goes unchallenged for having the worst year-end list of the 2010s due to how disposable most of its selections were, it’s nothing really new. Given my pre-reboot Star Trek movie styled rankings for each of the 2010s’ year-end lists that should guarantee that 2019 might be very well above 2012 or even higher for me, right? Well, this year around, I want the quality of 2019 to feel like a bit of a surprise. I don’t want it to disappoint me, but I also want to see if it could end up being different in comparison to the quality of the other odd-numbered years.

Okay, back on topic of 2018. Forming my top 10 was more difficult than forming my bottom 10 as there were a lot of songs in which I wasn’t sure whether to keep or cut from the list proper. Some of my final choices are very diverse and IMO, most of the greatest hits from 2018’s year-end list are mostly hidden, underrated gems. Let’s finish this year once and for all…but first, I have to talk about some of the greatest hits of 2018 that did exceptionally well on the charts, but just couldn’t hack it…:

Honorable mentions:



“Chun-Li” - Nicki Minaj

Of all songs that were only close enough for the year-end list, this is the one that I was most upset to see not making it, because this is easily Nicki Minaj at her A-game. “Chun-Li” is an absolute banger as Nicki brings a lot of her energy onto the track. She provides a really hard-hitting flow and the production just simply bangs. The songwriting is pretty solid itself as Nicki compares herself to iconic female characters in fiction like Lara Croft, Storm, and of course, Chun-Li from the Street Fighter franchise.

Contrary to what I believe most others think, Chun-Li is not being paid tribute as a quote-unquote bad guy. Rather, the song is partly about Nicki comparing her own badassery to that of Chun-Li’s, as well as other characters of the like, which I can definitely buy. And I know some of you are already asking me, “Why praise Nicki Minaj when we already got Cardi B, who is miles better?” Well, you’re not wrong. 2018 hasn’t been a good year for Nicki Minaj personally, and she does seem like she’s trying whatever to avoid being completely replaced by Cardi. I also understand the similarities between her and Cardi, but at the very least, Nicki Minaj has some of her own attributes that make her distinct.

I mean, just look at a chunk of the male rap scene. I cannot tell apart a Lil Uzi Vert from a Trippie Redd. I cannot tell apart a 21 Savage from a Playboi Carti or a Rich the Kid. I even find Lil Baby and Gunna so indistinguishable from each other to the point where I feel like they could be the same person. Anyways, my main point is, at the end of the day, “Chun-Li” is still an infectious and punchy rap banger that shows Nicki at her most iconic.

“Apeshit” - The Carters

I was also disappointed to see that this one didn’t rack up enough points. How much do I really need to say about this song? It’s Jay-Z and Beyonce. When they’re together for a song, they are a force to be reckoned with. “Apeshit,” like the previous, is a banger all the way through. Oh, and the music video is absolutely stellar, check that out.

“Tell Me You Love Me” - Demi Lovato

Well…I have myself quite a dilemma here: not only do I dislike the one single that most others love from Demi’s most recent album, I really like the one single from the same album that most others hate. So, I’ll really have to explain myself. For all of those who don’t know, I didn’t like “Sorry Not Sorry,” and for a few reasons. Demi has gone through several past transitional phases in her style of music and “Sorry Not Sorry” just doesn’t vibrate to me as a song by Demi Lovato alone. In other words, it just doesn’t work for me at all. I feel like Demi’s vocals are overdone and whenever I try listening to it, I feel like she’s trying to be Christina Aguilera, Adele, Ariana Grande, or Kelly Clarkson, all contemporaries with a voice as big as hers. At the very least, Demi lets a lot of her personality shine on the song, but I’ve seen her accomplish it better on “Cool for the Summer” and “Confident.” On top of that though, I feel that Demi’s personality on “Sorry Not Sorry” was way too cocky for me to handle.

Now that I’ve said my piece on “Sorry Not Sorry,” let’s move onto “Tell Me You Love Me.” I get that it’s not as fun-personified as SNS or any of her other previous singles, but as long as Demi can accomplish in establishing her personal side, I can still take it. First of all, I am admittedly a sucker whenever Demi shows off her vulnerability. I think she does a solid job in expressing her vulnerability in not just trying to come into terms with a failed relationship, but also with her self-being. That brings me into mentioning the one particular moment in the chorus where Demi belts “you ain’t nobody ‘til you got somebody,” which is…a pretty common misconception as that line in particular is actually directed towards Demi herself.

One other thing about “Tell Me That You Love Me” that I’ve come to appreciate is its message, which is centered on self-love. At the end of the failed relationship, Demi’s songwriting strongly suggests for her own self is that all that she needs and loves is none other than herself. I’m also willing to admit that this song has its flaws, as it’s not one of the most coherent hits of this year. And even while I wouldn’t consider this as one of the absolute best hits of 2018, nor consider this as one of Demi’s best songs, “Tell Me You Love Me” still holds a special place for me.

“Sit Next to Me” - Foster the People

Billboard needs to allow more rock-to-pop crossovers like this. I’m glad that this managed to get as big as it did, but I’m still upset that this got outmatched by “Broken.” “Sit Next to Me” is a solid throwback blend of late 70s funk and early 80s synthpop. It’s not one of the greatest alternative hits, as I would’ve even spared this from my top 10 had it made the year-end list due to the “got your man outlined in chalk” line, but still, this is a mindless fun song from an indie rock act that had, sadly, already peaked all the way back in 2011.

“Candy Paint” - Post Malone

See? I don’t hate everything that this guy has ever put out. “Candy Paint” is one of those moments where Post Malone can overwhelm. The song itself is an infectious, charming, dream-like hip hop tune, to completely sum up on thoughts on it. As long as Post Malone continues to make songs like this and “Sunflower,” I would be more than willing to look forward to this guy’s music.

“The Way I Am” - Charlie Puth

While most of my honorable/dishonorable mentions are limited to songs that cracked the top 60, I’m going to cheat just this once to include a song that narrowly missed the top 60, a song in which that I think is one of Puth’s best singles from his sophomore album. Don’t get me wrong, I also like Puth’s collaboration with Kehlani in “Done for Me,” but “The Way I Am” packs more of a punch. This song in particular is a rare, well-written example of delving into some of the downsides of being a celebrity. As a song made by and for people who dislike being around the kind of people who are trying to get in their case, I appreciate this song for its narrative.

Aside from the subject matter, “The Way I Am” just sounds really good in general, from the swift and punchy guitar riff, to the catchy chorus, to Puth’s great control of his voice range. And just so you all know, this isn’t even the last time that I’m going to talk about Charlie Puth’s maturation from his previous and extremely inferior debut.

“Ring” - Cardi B featuring Kehlani

While I didn’t include Kehlani’s collaboration with Puth, I can at least include her collaboration with Cardi B that I wish didn’t end up getting caught between years. “Ring,” in Kehlani’s part, is a beautifully sung breakup ballad. Coupled with Cardi B’s rapid-fire verses, she adds some more emotion and feeling of vulnerability to the track. So, in short, the main highlight of this song is just how exceptional Cardi and Kehlani’s chemistry is.

“The Weekend” - SZA

While I’m still on the topic of songs being caught between years and R&B crossovers, here’s SZA: a powerhouse of an R&B vocalist. As simple as I should put it, “The Weekend,” is a sultry and dreamy R&B jam where, despite not completely showcasing SZA’s singing capabilities, her personality really shines through.

“ATM” - J. Cole

 J. Cole, as far as I should probably be concerned, is the type of rapper that radio has been sleeping on, yet has a very large and dedicated fanbase to dignify him as a hit-maker. Then again, J. Cole might be the type of hip hop artist who doesn’t want so much exposure from the airwaves. I have a feeling that J. Cole’s lack of impact on the charts might change this year with his most recent single having a fair amount of traction, and it will possibly give him another hit on the year-end list, but the point I’m making here is that one of his singles from his KOD album deserved better.

“ATM,” as it appears, is a song that pokes fun at how the rap/trap scene in general is so obsessed with money. J. Cole’s unleashes a lot of energy onto the song and provides it with a flow that coincides with the insanity that he portrays for the character depicted on here. I mostly got this perspective from the song’s music video, so I also recommended watching that.

“Killshot” / Eminem

After including one of Eminem’s deep cuts on my dishonorable mentions to prove that he’s still jumping the shark, “Killshot” proves that Eminem’s still got it in him. I do also like “Lucky You myself, but I have a bigger preference towards “Killshot,” as this particular song is a solid and vigorous diss against Machine Gun Kelly all the way through.

“Filthy” / Justin Timberlake

Hahaha…no, it’s not what you think. Still though, I have a pretty outrageous opinion on Timberlake’s disastrous lead single from his most recent album that’s enough to make me lose my critic card over. I mean, “Disastrous” is the best way to describe “Filthy.” This song falls apart in so many ways to the point where I can’t help but enjoy this song in such an ironic sense. Alternatively speaking, I am amazed by just how bad “Filthy” sounds. You got the guitar-driven fakeout verses, the repetitive “WAAAAAOOOWOMP. WOMP WOMP WOMP WOMP” beat, the dated production work that tries to sound like a thing of the future, the painfully unsubtle and clumsy songwriting, and Justin Timberlake’s weak key changes. Simply put, “Filthy” is a glorious mess of as song.

While it is a deep cut in Timberlake’s music career and I would only consider this top 20 quality in terms of ironic enjoyment, I’ve still wanted to give my own say towards “Filthy.”

“Greatest Love Story” / LANCO

Moving away from the pop and hip hop, let’s focus on the good country hits of 2018. “Greatest Love Story” was actually caught between years after already having charted during 2017, but it had a successful enough chart run and it is still worth a mention. The song’s title pretty much speaks for itself as it’s a nice, simple and charming narrative on the cycle of falling in love.

“Cry Pretty” / Carrie Underwood

This song’s poor chart performance speaks of the country radio’s heavier reliance on the male country scene, which is a shame because it’s hands down one of Underwood’s best songs since “Blown Away.” While this song peaked in the top 50, most of its chart run was actually spent stagnated in the TOP NINETY. “Cry Pretty” is a powerful ballad with a rock-edge comparable to 80s glam metal (and in a very complimentary way of making that comparison), backed by Underwood’s otherwise powerful vocals. It was just too good for country radio, what else could be said?

“Break Up in the End” / Cole Swindell

Hey, remember when this guy was a bro-country artist? He’s already surprised me before ages ago with “You Should Be Here,” but I didn’t expect that he would overwhelm me a second time. Anyways, “Break Up in the End” is a sincere yet melancholic love ballad that shows a good deal of vulnerability. Surely this wasn’t one of the only recent country songs to redeem artists like Swindell, as we also got a surprisingly great song from Thomas Rhett in “Marry Me,” but still, “Break Up in the End” is a very delightful listen.

“I Could Use a Love Song” / Maren Morris

I’m capping off the honorable mentions with one of the best that I’ve decided to save for last. To erase all that dread that Zedd had wrought onto his collaboration with this female country singer for good, I shall now talk of the positives that I have for one of Morris’ most remarkable songs. “I Could Use a Love Song” is a beautifully sung heartbreak ballad all the way through with a narrative that details the idea of needing a love song as a way to try to ease those feelings of anguish and be able to love again. It’s pretty simple, yet it’s also very effective.



Steel’s Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2018



As Cardi B’s star prowess on the pop charts is continuing to chip away at Nicki Minaj’s relevancy on the same chart, I feel like I have to be on her side, but at the same time, I don’t want to have a pick a side for either of the two. “Chun-Li” is fantastic while Cardi B has couple of good efforts that were worthy of making my list. What I’m trying to say here is that I needed to be that someone to make a statement that I enjoyed both Cardi and Nicki in 2018…

10. "MotorSport" / Migos, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B

I am very much aware that this is also a Migos song and given the general consensus of “MotorSport,” you’d think that I would already be saying “but this isn’t about Migos” as a way to justify my thoughts on this. Well, Migos does not overwhelm their two guest features, but still I think they are worth mentioning. Migos don’t do a bad job on this song at all by complimenting its luxury rap tone very well and they provide some creative wordplay in some moments.

…Now let’s get to the real meat of the song, that of course being Cardi and Nicki’s respective verses. They both easily overshadow Migos with their energy and their memorability. Nicki and Cardi equally provide the song with their own impressive bars. In other words, it’s a great example of star power utilization, earning it a spot on my top 10.




And while I’m still at it with controversial choices, here’s another, but it’s going to get personal from here…

9. "Let You Down" / NF

I know. NF can easily be defined as the poor man’s Eminem or the poor man’s Logic. Say what you will about him, but to me, his performance on this song is something stellar. Whatever excuse that I have for including this on my top 10, it is a clear and concise one. “Let You Down” was around during a convenient yet very unsettling point in my own life and hits me hard on a personal level.

For those who don’t know one of my irl stories from 2017, my parents separated that year as my father’s mental health worsened as time went on, his sense of morality included. NF’s father, as described in his song, is a complete sociopath who doesn’t want to try and negotiate over his and the rapper’s broken relationship. He’s always in a bad mood when NF tries to talk to him, he’s unapologetic and doesn’t admit that he was ever wrong, he always never listens to NF’s words even if his son says something that means that he wants to make things work, and yeah, the list goes on. What an A-hole, am I right? People who don’t have any strong feelings towards this song could very much wonder why NF would call himself a disgrace when it feels like he has no reason to blame himself for his father’s behavior.

Even if the self-loathing can feel like too much, I can’t help but feel that NF’s thoughts are very well justified. His narrative strongly suggests that his father was one of the only few people who were significant to him. He also details, at one point, feeling paranoid about his father in general, as do I. NF’s feelings come off as justifiable especially if you inspect his past personal life a little more closely. His parents divorced and he was in his father’s custody after NF’s mother was involved in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. And sometime afterwards, NF’s mother would then lose her life from an overdose. Another reason as to why I can easily push aside the needless self-deprecating tone of this song is because, of all those heartless characteristics displaying the kind of person NF’s father is that I’ve previously acknowledged, most of them draw a lot of parallels to my relationship with my own father.

Through all that I’ve said in my defense towards “Let You Down,” I’ll instantly point out that it is definitely not perfect. One glaring issue I have with the song is one in particular that most others have acknowledged: the vocal layering. I thought the pitch shifting at the beginning was subtle, but when it’s added to the mix with NF’s actual voice in the choruses, good God, he sounds like he’s possessed by a demonic Elmo puppet at times. In the end, “Let You Down,” is a very honest, relatable and emotional conscious hip hop song. It’s not “Because of You,” it’s not “Stay Together for the Kids,” it’s not “Wonderful,” but it is still a remarkable enough song in my eyes to warrant a spot on my list.



Sorry to all of those who were probably expecting “I Like It” to show up on my list, but I’m not too crazy about it. At the very least, compared to a slew of other hit Latin pop songs on the year-end list, it knocks them all out of the park and I have still chose to make room for one more song with Cardi’s name attached to it. However, this song, as some people have noted, isn’t as graceful as it was after a while…

8. "Finesse" (remix) / Bruno Mars and Cardi B

At first, this song was an easy lock for the top 10 for most music critics. Like some of Bruno Mars’ other hits, “Finesse,” and its remix to an extension, had kinda of a novelty. While the novelty didn’t have so much of a lasting impression for others, I still enjoy this song quite a lot. “I Like It” and its ode to Latin music was great, but giving the remix to Finesse” a spot on my top 10 goes to show much I’ve missed new jack swing and appreciate Bruno Mars for revitalizing its sound. And maybe if Bruno Mars seems to have learned all kinds of tricks that he could necessarily learn, we’ll never know if he’ll still deliver remarkably until he comes out with new material for his next album (not counting “Please Me”). If so, then that’ll be more of a justification for still ranking Bruno on my top ten lists.

However, there is one other particular minor flaw even I’ll point out: that being how the special guest feature easily overshadows Bruno Mars on the track. Cardi B’s verse on the remix is, in my opinion, the best that she has done over the course of year. She makes excellent chemistry with Bruno and the new jack swing production, as well as how I’ve likened her style and flow to that of the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC. Even while I technically wasn’t part of this generation of music, the remix to “Finesse” gives me a very nostalgic feeling in all of the right ways.




You know what’s funny about this next choice? One of my favorite hit rap songs of 2018 is by someone who isn’t a rapper by any sort of definition…

7. "Lemon" / N.E.R.D. featuring Rihanna

It’s still not “Chun-Li,” but it’ll do. Pharrell’s production work over the course of 2017-2018 is hard to form a general opinion of. He can deliver with songs such as this and as well as another top ten contender, but he has also produced a couple of notable brain farts in “The Light is Coming” and “Sangria Wine.” My point is when Pharrell really shows off his knack for songwriting and musical creativity, he can provide us with such great music, with one of those examples of course being “Lemon:” a solid banger of a track.

Before I can describe my appreciation towards the song, let’s briefly talk about an act that I’m sure most of us didn’t expect to earn a top 40 hit, let alone a song on the year-end list. N.E.R.D. is an alternative hip hop/funk group (and no joke, they were also a rap rock act early on) with a very sizeable cult following. N.E.R.D. might’ve also ringed a bell for some of you who are familiar with their work on the soundtrack to the second SpongeBob movie. What makes the group’s contributions to the song stand out is their brand of style. Sure, the song is repetitive on certain parts, but they use repetition in such a dynamic fashion. Those several uses of “WAIT A MINUTE,” and the “bath bath salt, bitin’ speakers in the face,” bits work because of how memorable and catchy they are.

However, N.E.R.D. isn’t the biggest showstopper on here, as the group brings out quite an unusual surprise to the table: Rihanna rapping. That was what I meant when I said that this was one of my favorite hit rap songs in 2018 in spite of Rihanna primarily being a singer. In addition to that, Rihanna really nails her respective verse. She provides us with very creative wordplay, some remarkable bars, and moxie to boot. Overall, “Lemon” showcases N.E.R.D. and Rihanna at their A-game.




6. "God is a Woman" / Ariana Grande

I’m going to be honest about this choice for a moment. At first, I was leaning more towards “No Tears Left to Cry,” then towards “God is a Woman,” and THEN towards NTLtC again, before I decided on GiaW as my top pick for the best Ariana Grande from 2018’s year-end list at least. Truth be told, I do like NTLtC as much as the next guy and it is my most painful cut from my top ten. Ariana’s singing is remarkable, she sends a valuable message about hopefulness, and encourages us to stop dwelling on negative thoughts, as the song was written in the aftermath of the Manchester concert bombing. So while it does strike a chord on me for enough reasons, why did I make the decision to exclude it from my top ten? Well…it just doesn’t hold as much replay value for me compared to her other song and the percussion to me feels flat over the uptempo synths, after a few re-listens.

Because putting “God is a Woman” over “No Tears Left to Cry” is already a spicy meatball take on its own, I really have to explain myself for why it’s in my top ten. It’s only most usually described as a more polished version of “Dangerous Woman,” but it has given me more to say about it. While its guitar sounds packs a different kind of punch compared to those in “Dangerous Woman,” they still feel very complementary towards the song’s sexually provocative tone. On top of that, “God is a Woman” sees Ariana herself taking a step towards complete sexually maturity. Her voice is as impressive as ever, but the song really overwhelms with the added gospel-style vocal layers near the end to further establish her capabilities and the song’s religious imagery.

The song’s title may be controversial to several hardcore Christians, but as one should point out, Ariana was using her sexual provocation as a metaphor to suggest the listeners that she is so angelic and righteous that she makes us want to believe that God is a woman, and if it’s not already telling, I totally buy what Ariana is trying to convey here. While it’s not one of Ariana’s greatest, “God is a Woman” is yet another defiant spectacle in the singer’s catalog.




Why couldn’t you have made more spectacular songs like this for your Scorpion album, Drake?

5. "Nice for What" / Drake

I, much like almost everyone else, have a complicated relationship with Drake’s music. I mean, what was the last time that he made a song that I thought was really great? “0 to 100?” “Energy?” “Back to Back?” Anyways, most people can collectively agree that “Nice for What” is Drake at his best, myself included.

To start things off pretty strong, I absolutely love the Lauryn Hill sample and how Drake transforms it to give the song a powerful self-empowerment tone. Then there’s the songwriting, and as it should already be clear, it is an empowerment song for women. What really makes it stand out? In a pop landscape that’s usually filled with denser and interchangeable-sounding empowerment songs, “Nice for What” lets in a breath of fresh air as it manages to unleash some real power. While providing a clear and respectful message, the lyrics are also worth of note. Just about everything Drake says on the track really benefits for the song’s aspiring tone.

However, if there’s anything that’s really outstanding about the song, it’s the production work as well as Drake’s charisma. I like the bouncy production, but most of all, I really liked how energetic Drake sounds. Even though it’s beat out by four other songs on my personal top 10, “Nice for What” still served as a strong and worthy contender to it for its fun-personified sound and positivity.





Yep, I have two Migos songs on my top ten, but alas, I’ve been saving all this time to talk about what is arguably, and by far, the group’s best song: ….“Walk It Talk It!” …No, I’m kidding. It’s “Stir Fry.”

4. "Stir Fry" / Migos

“Stir Fry” is hard to provide commentary for because it doesn’t leave with me so many words, but shouldn’t that stop it from being this high up on my list? It has the production and flavor to distinguish itself from your average trap song, but its presentation is pretty simple to describe. Pharrell’s production work is really solid on here, but what really makes it sound so good is the fun that Migos bring to the table. Their result is a hook that is catchy as all hell, a great deal of charisma and stamina in each verse, and very melodic croons in some places to back it up.

Once again, my commentary for this song is minimal, but “Stir Fry” is the kind of song that doesn’t need so many words to describe how great it is. It is straight-up fun, simply put.




3. "Delicate" / Taylor Swift

If there’s definitely something that the success of this single proved for Taylor, it’s how much of an impact that she was able to leave by releasing a standout track from an album compared to her other singles that left us feeling divided over her career. “Delicate” has the staying power to boast. “Look What You Made Me Do,” while a #1 hit, didn’t leave as much of a lasting impression on the charts. “Ready for It?” got caught in-between years. “End Game” didn’t take off and left the charts in a smaller amount of time. Then of course, there’s “Delicate:” the underdog victor from Taylor’s Reputation album, and for very clear reasons. The respective album that “Delicate” is from entails the bad reputation that Taylor has been exhibiting. Reputation as a whole was hard to swallow. It had some genuinely good ideas and great-sounding tracks to prove Taylor’s competence as a pop songwriter, but they were in place with some botched attempts to establish the main narrative like her first two singles.

“Delicate” is a much better example of the narrative that Taylor is trying to tell for her album, and I’m going to explain why. First of all, the song easily differentiates from the previous three singles as the production is gentle and lingering towards dream pop while it is a lot less bombastic. And while the song does talk of Taylor’s reputation, “Delicate” is not focused on her relationship with the industry, press, and so forth. The sound matches very well with the song’s narrative, focusing on Taylor’s desire to make a new relationship work out. Second of all, in contrast to the song’s dreamy vibes, Taylor emotes in a way that feels real. That of course leads up to my third reasoning, as well as the main highlight: “Delicate” is one of Taylor’s most honest-sounding songs.

While “Delicate” is minimal in its production, Taylor’s songwriting and execution for it completely make it stand out, especially for how honest it comes off as in the final result. In other words, it’s a beautiful, well-written pop song from a very capable songwriter that made for a strong candidate for my absolute favorite hit song of 2018…but so did two other songs. So, how do they compete?




For my #2 choice, I’ve decided on a song from an artist that I can wholeheartedly say that legitimately surprised me the most over the course of 2017-2018. This is the story of a guy whose history on the charts goes back to 2015. Someone I’ve once dreaded since that time. Someone who has went from zero…

…to hero:

2. "How Long" / Charlie Puth

(Or in this case, the penultimate hero, but it sounds cooler without the “penultimate” part.) Considering from when I said my long piece on “Marvin Gaye” that I was immediately not going to expect great things from him, I didn’t expect this turnaround, but it happened. Charlie Puth went from making incredibly trite pop music to making absolutely great pop music. This wasn’t the first time where I felt like I was caught off-guard, though. I was surprised to see myself liking something from Charlie Puth since he released “Attention” in 2017 and it wasn’t until he released more songs from Voicenotes that I came into terms with the fact that Charlie Puth has truly matured in this direction he’s going with his music.

And you know what’s actually funny about this outcome? Charlie Puth could’ve actually made such great songs if he really wanted to, AND he did want to make songs like what he made on Voicenotes before his debut. So yeah, you know that cursed relic of the past that was Nine Track Mind? That wasn’t entirely his fault. He admitted that his debut record wasn’t very honest and he was pressured by his label, Atlantic, to make songs that they wanted him to make. His Voicenotes album was his way of saying that he did not want to make safe, imprudent love ballads like he did before. So, likewise with “Delicate,” the central reason as to why I’ve put “How Long” on such a high position is because of the sheer honesty that Puth has embraced.

When I’m saying that the song is good for its honesty, I’m just saying that towards the direction that Puth took, it really shows in the songwriting. “How Long” deals with Puth’s guilt over a relationship that he wrecked. He admits to having gotten drunk, he admits that he was wrong for the things he has done, and he admits to having been unfaithful. What makes this narrative stand out is that Puth is being apologetic about his actions, signifying that he has a good sense of morality while his significant other admits being aware of his shady behavior, signifying a good judge of character in her part at the same time. You know what I think is actually the main highlight, though? This is all being backed up a funky bass groove. As unorthodox as it may feel towards the tone of the song, it still benefits the song greatly on the other hand. The bass guitar groove just makes the song catchy and danceable in the process and upon the first time the riff plays, I already get hooked.

So, in the long run, “How Long” is a fun and well-written song about relationship struggles that dignifies that Puth has matured greatly as a musical artist.




As I said before, picking my absolute favorite hit song from 2018 was a tough process, with one song occupying the top spot before I would change my mind for another, and then back and forth. After giving this one particular song a few re-listens to dissect it more, I’ve ultimately decided that it would be it. Before I can reveal my #1, how can I best describe it? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a near-complete opposite of my #100, “Te Bote…”

1. "IDGAF" / Dua Lipa

I have my limits when it comes to breakup songs and/or kiss-off anthems. With the right attitude and with proper songwriting, anyone can make a song of either type work, but I’ll be pretty quick to loathe a song of either type for if it includes any of these factors from a variety that contains incredibly cliché songwriting, repeatedly playing the victim card, constant wallowing over a failed relationship, constantly nudging on the subject of the song, or just a flat out combination of some of the worst songwriting schemes for a breakup/send-off anthem like what “Te Bote” displayed.

Simply put, everything that the “Te Bote” remix did wrong in writing an effective diss song to an ex (or in its case, six exes), “IDGAF” did everything right in writing one. What makes “IDGAF” so different from the much more inferior song? Is it because it’s written by a female pop singer? That is not my point. But before I could make my points, let’s pull out a recent example of a diss song against an ex that is done right, and of course, we’re going to have to go back to Charlie Puth for just a moment. One of his songs, “Attention,” revolves around an ex of Puth’s who is trying to manipulate him into coming back into her life. Puth, directing towards the subject, ensures that he’s not buying into her schemes and that he knows she’s very much only doing it for attention, as he does not want to give her any attention. This is the kind of behavior that makes a good diss against an ex-lover, and the behavior that Dua Lipa displays on “IDGAF” is what really makes it work so well for me.

So, what points do I have to give to justify why “IDGAF” is my #1 best hit song of 2018? To reiterate what I’ve pointed out before, it’s a breakup and diss anthem in a lot of the right ways. Dua establishes her ex like he is constantly trying to get on her case. Dua defiantly proclaims cutting off her ex, further asserting that he is not worth any of her time and that she’s not going to give him any more attention. Indeed, Dua acts very bitter towards the subject of the song, but rightfully so. She takes the justice to acknowledge some of the pitfalls from the failed relationship to further establish her apathy towards her ex, like how he’s been unfaithful, getting drunk, playing the victim and, in her own words, “switch [his] position.” She does quite a lot to paint the subject as the bad guy and she does this without hurling insults that sound like “I’m so glad I’ve thrown you out and sent you to hell, you ungrateful bitch!” She doesn’t even try to victimize herself either. She stays defiant all the way through the song.

The song doesn’t just excel in its songwriting. The production work is marvelous as well, as the song is backed up by punchy guitar riffs and bombastic percussion to characterize the song’s raw power. Besides that “IDGAF” is just an all-around perfect pop song, there can’t be any more that I could say to justify why this song feels so special to me, right? Think about this for a moment: in a pop climate that we all currently live in where it’s filled with poorly written breakup and/or diss songs, we live in the same world where we got this song that did its job right and we allowed the same song to represent 2018’s list of its 100 biggest hits.

There’s truly a lot to get from “IDGAF,” so I ask the question, what did we learn from it? Do not give your ex-lover so much attention. Do not constantly dwell in the failure of a relationship. And most of all, do not paint yourself as a victim whatever chance you get. Be bold. “IDGAF” sets as an excellent example in writing a breakup or diss song, hence why it is my #1 favorite hit song of 2018.



Full rankings:


1. “IDGAF” – Dua Lipa

2. “How Long” – Charlie Puth

3. “Delicate” – Taylor Swift

4. “Stir Fry” – Migos

5. “Nice for What” – Drake

6. “God is a Woman” – Ariana Grande

7. “Lemon” – N.E.R.D. featuring Rihanna

8. “Finesse (remix)” – Bruno Mars and Cardi B

9. “Let You Down” – NF

10. “MotorSport” – Migos, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B

11. “No Tears Left to Cry” – Ariana Grande

12. “New Rules” – Dua Lipa

13. “This Is America” – Childish Gambino

14. “Pray for Me” – The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar

15. “Marry Me” – Thomas Rhett

16. “Young, Dumb & Broke” – Khalid

17. “Sky Walker” – Miguel featuring Travis Scott

18. “Havana” – Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug

19. “All the Stars” – Kendrick Lamar and SZA

20. “Powerglide” – Rae Sremmurd featuring Juicy J

21. “Youngblood” – 5 Seconds of Summer

22. “One Kiss” – Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa

23. “You Make It Easy” – Jason Aldean

24. “1-800-273-8255” – Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid

25. “I Like It” – Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin

26. “Call Out My Name” – The Weeknd

27. “LOVE.” – Kendrick Lamar featuring Zacari

28. “Feel It Still” – Portugal. The Man

29. “In My Blood” – Shawn Mendes

30. “SICKO MODE” – Travis Scott

31. “Love Lies” – Khalid and Normani

32. “Bad at Love” – Halsey

33. “Ric Flair Drip” – Offset and Metro Boomin

34. “Boo’d Up” – Ella Mai

35. “Natural” – Imagine Dragons

36. “Heaven” – Kane Brown

37. “Simple” – Florida Georgia Line

38. “Eastside” – benny blanco, Halsey, and Khalid

39. “What Lovers Do” – Maroon 5 featuring SZA

40. “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons

41. “Nonstop” – Drake

42. “Say Something” – Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton

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

44. “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” – Cardi B

45. “Wolves” – Selena Gomez and Marshmello

46. “One Number Away” – Luke Combs

47. “Trip” – Ella Mai

48. “Lights Down Low” – MAX featuring gnash

49. “Never Be the Same” – Camila Cabello

50. “Dura” – Daddy Yankee

51. “Plain Jane” – A$AP Ferg

52. “Mine” – Bazzi

53. “I Get the Bag” – Gucci Mane featuring Migos

54. “Tequila” – Dan + Shay

55. “God’s Plan” – Drake

56. “Back to You” – Selena Gomez

57. “Get Along” – Kenny Chesney

58. “Happier” – Marshmello featuring Bastille

59. “Big Bank” – YG featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Nicki Minaj

60. “No Limit” – G-Eazy featuring A$AP Rocky and Cardi B

61. “Perfect” – Ed Sheeran

62. “Bartier Cardi” – Cardi B featuring 21 Savage

63. “Mercy” – Brett Young

64. “X (Equis) – Nicky Jam and J Balvin

65. “Better Now” – Post Malone

66. “In My Feelings” – Drake

67. “Moonlight” – XXXTentacion

68. “Gucci Gang” – Lil Pump

69. “Outside Today” – YoungBoy Never Broke Again

70. “Look Alive” – BlocBoy JB featuring Drake

71. “Rockstar” – Post Malone featuring 21 Savage

72. “Psycho” – Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla Sign

73. “Too Good at Goodbyes” – Sam Smith

74. “Him & I” – G-Eazy and Halsey

75. “Lucid Dreams” – Juice WRLD

76. “Be Careful” – Cardi B

77. “Sorry Not Sorry” – Demi Lovato

78. “Taste” – Tyga featuring Offset

79. “Believer” – Imagine Dragons

80. “Mi Gente (remix)” – J Balvin and Willy William featuring Beyonce

81. “I Like Me Better” – Lauv

82. “Yes Indeed” – Lil Baby featuring Drake

83. “Plug Walk” – Rich the Kid

84. “Girls Like You” – Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B

85. “Whatever It Takes” – Imagine Dragons

86. “No Brainer” – DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and Quavo

87. “Meant to Be” – Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line

88. “Walk It Talk It” – Migos featuring Drake

89. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran

90. “Changes” – XXXTentacion

91. “Wait” – Maroon 5

92. “FRIENDS” – Marshmello and Anne-Marie

93. “Gummo” – 6ix9ine

94. “Freaky Friday” – Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown

95. “I’m Upset” – Drake

96. “I Fall Apart” – Post Malone

97. “SAD!” – XXXTentacion

98. “The Middle” – Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey

99. “Fefe” – 6ix9ine featuring Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz

100. “Te Bote (remix)” – Nio Garcia, Darrell, and Casper Magico featuring Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam, and Ozuna



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