Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 31st 2018
2018 actually produced some musical goodness
It has become regarded that a "music paralysis" hits most people by the time they reach 30, which basically makes us less susceptible to new music. I turned 48 in December of 2018, which means I am well past that date. However, I have to say, I have been enjoying new music for a while now. Maybe I'm weird (duh!) but, apart from a chunk of time in the mid-noughties, I have found myself finding good new music most years. Yes, a lot of that comes from old artists releasing new material, but there are some good new acts out there.
According to some advertisers, we apparently see this everywhere in 2018...
Which brings me to this column. Look, in my opinion, as far as commercial music goes, 2018 was not the best of years. I am not a fan of rap, hip-hop and modern r&b, which has been what's dominated the charts. When it comes to pop, if I like a song, I like it. My preference is for rock, though, and sometimes it seems that gets shunted to the back.
However, having said that 2018 was not the best year, it was not a terrible year. I found myself enjoying a lot of new music. As some of my columns from 2018 can attest to, there were some awesome albums released (in my opinion). And some really strong songs, obviously, come of that.
Okay, honourable mentions. Not a huge number, but a few: ''1969' (Kim Wilde); '1999' (Charli XCX and Troye Sivan); 'Zombie' (Bad Wolves); 'Connected By Love' (Jack White); 'Be Alright' (Dean Lewis); 'High Hopes' (Panic! at the Disco); 'Vicious' (Halestorm); 'Dancing On My Own' (Calum Scott); 'Rise' (Jonas Blue feat. Jack & Jack); 'Leave A Light On' (Tom Walker); 'Shallow' (Lady Gaga); 'Sweet But Psycho' (Ava Max).
Before I start, two more songs need mentioning. 'Always Heading Home' by Roger Daltrey from his As Long As I Have You album was a close call for this list. And, as I have said before, I don't include comedy songs in these lists, either, but a mention must be made of Bridie Connell's 'Royal Baby Song' from theTonightly Albumly. Comedy song of the year.
So… my list of the best of 2018! Only 2 rules: released or on an album released in 2018; one song per artist.
'Shotgun by George Ezra
A little bit of pop goodness by a singer with a voice that just isn't heard often enough in modern music – the bass singing voice. No high-pitched falsetto, just a smooth voice. The lyrics aren't too bad, either, but Ezra's voice makes this for me.
'No Erasin'' by Steve Perry
Former Journey lead singer, plus a solo hit with 'Oh, Sherrie', Steve Perry disappeared from the music scene. Literally. He did not record a thing for 20 years. Then came Traces, his 2018 comeback album (Christmas present!)… oh, man! One of the best albums of the year, easily, and this track is the stand-out song on it. Welcome back, Mr Perry; you have been missed.
'Age Of Man' by Greta Van Fleet
I heard about this band as a Led Zeppelin rip-off; however, I received the album anyway. Rip-off? Rubbish. They are fantastic. A bunch of kids (they're all younger than my niece!) who know how to rock and rock well. I only hope they keep this up, because I enjoyed this immensely.
'Lay It On Me' by Vance Joy
Vance Joy has a great voice and his lyrics are superb. A pop artist who, I think, transcends pop tropes and hits a level of musicianship that seems to cross age group barriers. This song is my favourite he has released, with his soaring voice leading into a percussion heavy chorus. It inspired me to get not only this album but one of his others (the one with 'Riptide' on it). EDIT: This song may have come out in 2017. The album says "2018". If I'm wrong... sorry. My bad.
'Making History' by RSO
Live version My favourite song of one of the very best albums of the year. This, the opening track, sets the tone. To quote my review: "The double-barrelled guitar attack is amazing, their voices complement each other and the whole is a perfect meshing." I still stand by that. The album should have done better.
'Molly O'' by Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa is the blues guitarist of the new era. His guitar playing is incredible and he knows his way around a decent lyric. He is the sort of guitarist who, 40 years ago, would have been idolised by everyone; nowadays, he is known but not enough. That is a shame. This song is just fantastic, with its driving beat, and it showcases not only his guitar playing but also his vocal chops. I've heard three songs from it, all great, and have ordered the album. Oh, and I love the line: "Suitcase full of redemption…"
'Alibi' by Bradley Cooper
Not a proper video
Who would have thought the latest remake of A Star Is Born would be so damn good as a film and produce the best soundtrack of the year? I was not a fan of Lady Gaga before this album; now I've gone back and listened to some of her output. However, the track of the album, for me, is this Bradley Cooper solo outing. There's another surprise – the actor can actually sing!
'Missin' Yo' Kissin' by Billy F. Gibbons
One third of ZZ Top released a solo album this year. Generally, one third of a band equals one third as good. Nope, clearly not. It has an early era ZZ Top feel to it, but who cares? This is the only track I've heard from the album, but it instantly became one of my favourite songs of 2018, with Gibbons' gravel voice giving a sense of weariness to the lyrics written, apparently, by his wife. A new ZZ Top album is in the works; on this evidence, it should be awesome.
'Quantum Flux' by Ace Frehley
Not a proper video Another great album, and this is my personal favourite from it. A long instrumental piece that sounds like prog rock meets glam, it shows that he was definitely under-appreciated and under-valued in Kiss. The whole album is worth it; this song is the best from it.
'Psycho' by Amy Shark and Mark Hoppus
From the brilliant Love Monster album, I was torn between this track and 'The Slow Song', but decided on this one because, when I was writing this list, it was the one I preferred. Next week, it could be the other way around. However, I made the rules, so I'll stick to them and this is the song I've picked. Again, to quote my original review of the album: "The lyrics are amongst the best, and the addition of Mark Hoppus is a perfect fit (…) remembering back to my own younger years, I can remember feeling just like this. ("I ask you 'cause I wanna to know / Not because I'm psycho / Just because I care a lot…" and I can think of several girls from the late 1980s I could have said this to…)" What a song, to make an almost 50-yr-old contemplate and rue his past stupidity.