Though this past year has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, 2018 has consistently delivered some killer songs. In previous years my number one song of the year was obvious, it would spark something within me, ignite a fire that would keep burning all year. This time round I’ve had that same feeling about half the songs on my list!
10. Opia Bloom – Side By Side
A very late addition to this list, which just proves why end of year lists should be saved until the actual end of the year. Otherwise you’d risk missing out on full-blooded indie anthems like this. The slick musicianship, the infectious hook, the energy and reckless abandon of it all, what’s not to love?
9. Guns For Gold – Unravelled
Give this one chance to grow on you and you’ll be amazed just how much power it holds. There’s just so much going on, growing from understated origins through to a gripping climax. By the end the caterwauling guitar and soulful vocals are so passionate they sound on the verge of breaking point.
8. Orla Gartland – I Go Crazy
The fact that the biggest bop of the year only made it to number eight feels criminal, but then that’s just how impressive this year has been. It’s such a glorious earworm of a track. Just listen once and before you know it Orla will be singing on repeat in your head. It’s only a matter of time, a matter of time…
7. Rich Krueger – The Gospel According To Carl
Lord, they don’t make them like this anymore. Trends come and go but a good story can last a lifetime, and Rich is one hell of a storyteller. This soulful tale of a crooked salesman seeing the error of his ways has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. It’s a track that I’ll find myself coming back to for a long while to come, and that’s the gospel truth.
6. The Howl & The Hum – Don’t Shoot The Storm
Who else but The Howl & The Hum could write a song about gun control based on a ridiculous true story of hillbillies opening fire on a hurricane. Not only does it perfectly sum up how absurdly brilliant this band is, but it’s likely the most fun you can possibly pack into just two minutes of music. Bravo!
5. Cristina Hart – House Of Tears
When was the last time you heard a debut single this good? To sound so confident and accomplished on a first release is nothing short of miraculous. With such lush instrumentation and Cristina’s astonishing vocals, it just illuminates your whole world like the break of dawn after a cold and lonely winter night.
4. The Martyn Crocker Band – Everything They Want And More
Of course, this year hasn’t been all good times. If we’re honest in many respects it’s been an absolute clusterfuck. It’s hard to make sense of all that is going on in the world, and sometimes all you can do is keep on keeping on. This track is an anthem for everyday struggles. It burns with frustration at the broken system, but still has enough infectious hooks to give you the drive to push forward towards what will hopefully be a better tomorrow.
3. The Family Crest – Never Gonna Stop
Deep down everyone wants to hear the words “let’s go on an adventure”, and this song is the perfect soundtrack for one. It has the kind of inquisitive energy that makes you long for the horizon, to try something new with people you love. It lifts your spirit and makes you feel like anything is possible. Even if fabulous adventures seem out of reach, listening to ‘Never Gonna Stop’ is enough to make the everyday feel extraordinary.
2. Coheed and Cambria – The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)
A very close second place, just missed out by a hairs breadth. Even Coheed’s fiercest critics can’t deny that they excel in two ways; writing wickedly addictive hooks, and writing songs that feel grand and ambitious. With a swell of strings, a soaring sing-to-the-heavens chorus, and some of their best drums to date, ‘The Pavilion’ brings the two together in spectacular fashion. It’s up there with their very best work.
1. Hozier – Nina Cried Power
Exactly the kind of song I was hoping Hozier would have written in his lengthy absence. So soulful and inspiring, the verses full of meaning while the chorus overflows with feeling. And what a stroke of genius to include the legend that is Mavis Staples, she still sounds incredible and their two voices together are just a match made in heaven. For me, ‘Nina Cried Power’ is the song that best captures what 2018 was all about.