This year was a bummer, to say the least. Socially, politically, and economically, it was one of the worst. But luckily, entertainment kept this nation going when things were rough.
Musicians were the lifesavers. We got some hits this year that make me feel better about the future. When I was thinking back to all my favorite songs that made a difference for me personally, as well as ones that left their marks on the charts, it was actually hard to believe they were all from 2018.
It was a long, crazy, eventful, messy, beautiful year.
1. "Youngblood" by 5 Seconds Of Summer
As someone who has looked up to 5 Seconds Of Summer since middle school, I'm especially proud of "Youngblood" as a song, an album, and a new era for this band. I put them first on my list because of the way they rebranded themselves. They changed their whole sound, wrote with new people, and recorded what is easily their best work. Luke, Calum, Ashton, and Michael stayed busy the entire year as they went on two world tours and released a studio album, a live album, and two music videos.
2. "Speechless" by Dan + Shay
On the other side of the spectrum is a song that stole my heart, "Speechless." In fact, Dan and Shay's entire self-titled album stole my heart. I hadn't listened to much country music on purpose in a really long time, but when their album was released, it was literally all I played for weeks. This song brought on all the fuzzy feelings you can only get from an old love song. Their voices and lyrics are filled with so much passion and heart, which is impossibly contagious and fulfilling.
3. "APESHIT" by The Carters
This video. This song. This collaboration. Everything about these two and what they've accomplished in 2018 is mind-blowing. The "On The Run" tour is still one of the hottest things being talked about. Of course, anything Beyonce touches turns to gold, and Jay-Z is a musical genius, so it's no wonder. And this video? It practically broke the internet. AND THEY RENTED OUT THE LOUVRE!
4. "God's Plan" by Drake
It was obviously an insane year for Drake. Billboard has dubbed him the top artist of 2018 and "God's Plan" the top song. Nothing about that is questionable. "God's Plan" was on the Hot 100 Chart for 36 weeks, 11 of which were at the top. But as for the most important thing he's ever done? Drake says that was the video where he donated the million dollars from the production budget. Drake has proved himself to be an amazing person time and time again. He just continuously strives for greatness and he always exceeds it.
5. "In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes
Of the songs on this list, this one means the most to me on a personal level. I remember staying up to hear it, knowing it would be something special. But I wasn't prepared for the way it would connect with my soul like no song ever has.
Shawn Mendes is a storyteller and that's made all the difference. "In My Blood" is vulnerable and wide open in the most beautiful and personal way. His self-titled album marks the craziest, busiest, and arguably the best year of his life. He sang for Queen Elizabeth on her birthday, was nominated for his first two Grammys, did a festival run across the world this summer, sold out his first-ever stadium show in Toronto in a matter of minutes, and poured his heart out on an album.
And he just turned 20, so this is just the beginning. He knows exactly what it takes for him to get where he wants to go and he works harder than that to make it all possible.
6. "God is a Woman" by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande stole the last half of 2018. She's currently the most streamed artist and she's just getting started.
"God is a Woman" is a feminist anthem and the video backs it up. I'm so proud of where she's been, where she's at right now, and where she's going. I cannot think of anyone else who has grown more this year. I'm never not in awe of everything Ariana Grande is. She's got inner and outer beauty, wisdom beyond her years, and vocal range that makes me want to cry sometimes.
7. "Thank U, Next" by Ariana Grande
I would be mad at myself if I didn't put Ariana Grande on this list at least twice. Truthfully, there wasn't much stopping me from putting all 15 songs from "Sweetener" on here, along with both of her new singles.
This video was easily the most anticipated one of the year. She teased us with clips and photos for what seemed like forever before finally giving us a video that "broke" YouTube by beating the record for most views in a day before the full 24 hours were even up.
And, the song is ridiculous. She's so fiery and inspiring. She's teaching us all some valuable lessons and she used our favorite movies to do it.
9. "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5
This song and its video were refreshing. This year, the patience of all women was tested. By including inspiring women at literally every turn in the music video, it's bound to be remembered forever.
The song stayed on the Hot 100 for 30 weeks and is still getting an insane amount of airtime, so it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere any time soon.
9. "Better" by Khalid
For someone like Khalid, who is really just starting out, this year couldn't be better (no pun intended).
Khalid stuck out to me as someone to really focus on because of his energy. He's got a smile that could not get any bigger and he exudes so much positivity that it's actually ridiculous. As an individual, he's unstoppable.
He is constantly putting out new hits. And when he's not doing it for himself, he's featuring on someone else's. Aside from his own EP and touring, this year he's worked with Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Halsey and Benny Blanco, Normani, and Martin Garrix. The guy doesn't stop. He knows how big 2018 was for him, but he says things are only looking up.
10. "Connection" by OneRepublic
OneRepublic is a band I feel like everyone loves, but no one talks about enough. They're not only incredibly talented, but they're diverse, consistent, and versatile. They know when to update their sound and in the 13 years they've been a band, they've never done the same thing twice.
It would be easy for them to stick to what they know since they've been so good at everything, but they don't. Every time a new song, like "Connection," comes out, it sounds like a new band. And I have to give a lot of credit to Ryan Tedder for just being an overall genius. Because of the songs he's written and produced for OneRepublic and other artists, he's one of my musical heroes.
11. "Consequences" by Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello is such a bright light inside and out. She brings so much joy to the world through her music and personality. I'm incredibly proud of the individual musician she's blossomed into.
"Consequences" is a beautiful song with so much passion behind it. I can't help but feel every bit of its pain and love every time. Camila Cabello seems to feel emotions on such a deep level, and then she reflects that in her songwriting. She is another artist that experienced a major year supporting Taylor Swift on her Reputation Tour and receiving her first Grammy nominations.
12. "Psycho" by Post Malone
Post Malone is an unpredictable, wholesome, unstoppable, fearless musician. He's got this infectious energy and a heart of gold, but then his songs have a sort of savage attitude- like "Psycho."
You can't help but want to be his best friend because he's so unapologetically himself in the best way possible. "Beerbongs & Bentleys" is an album that never gets old. I'm still playing it like it's the first time, but eight months later.
"Psycho" and the other songs on the album fit every mood. It's accompanied me while partying, driving, and doing nothing at all.
13. "High Hopes" by Panic! At The Disco
"High Hopes" is filled with so much promise. It's empowering for dreamers like myself. It's the kind of jam I needed and I'm thankful that it was written so people can relate to it. And they obviously do, because it's Panic! At The Disco's biggest hit.
They're a band that knows how to stay relevant. They've changed with the times and bent genres to stay important. Brenden Urie is a powerhouse vocalist and a vulnerable, open writer which makes for a stellar musician. I'm grateful that they were a band when I was an anxious middle schooler, but I'm even more now as an adult.
14. "Make you feel pretty" by lovelytheband
I can never really grasp the way I listen to music. I know what I like and I follow that really closely. My interests have never been in the area of indie pop at all. But then I stumbled across lovelytheband at some point late last year and that changed.
My tastes are expanded and now this band is one of my favorites. Their sound is really cool and kind of cocky. It's funky and upbeat, but anxious and emotional at the same time.
15. "Boo'd Up" by Ella Mai
Ella Mai blew up almost overnight and everyone was talking about her this year and for good reason.
"Boo'd Up" is one of the more electric and interesting songs on the list. The first time I heard it I was honestly blown away by how original it was and the Recording Academy must agree since it's been nominated for a Grammy for Song Of The Year.
16. "I Like Me Better" by Lauv
This song is one part of a whole beautiful story written by Lauv. I had the pleasure of seeing him live this year and hearing all about what he's called "I met you when I was 18," an album about the girl he met when he moved to New York.
This song was especially great live and Lauv seemed to have bottled up all the energy in the world and poured it all out onstage during the performance. Music is in good hands with songwriters like him.
17. "3 Nights" by Dominic Fike
When I found this song I felt like I hit a goldmine of sound. Dominic Fike is what the future of music needs to sound like.
"3 Nights" is bold and vibrant. When I listen to it, I feel sassy, which is the only way I wanted to feel this year. Dominic Fike sounds confident throughout his EP, "Don't Forget About Me, Demos."
18. "Annabelle's Homework" by Alec Benjamin
Alec Benjamin is one of the best songwriters I've ever seen. His new album, "Narrated For You" provides beautiful imagery into his life. The album is a story and he tells it in such a clean and pretty way.
"Annabelle's Homework," is an innocent and sweet song. The way he uses words to paint a picture is something not a lot of new artists can do. He's another artist I have a lot of faith in.
19. "No Matter What" by Calum Scott
Calum Scott is one of my favorite vocalists, especially of 2018. And this song, in particular, is something worth listening to. Its openness makes it one of the best of the year. Calum Scott's debut album, "Only Human" is raw and real down to the last song.
20. "Hold My Girl" by George Ezra
I'm way too late to the George Ezra party, but I'm glad I made it. Hearing his voice is what getting cozy under a blanket and drinking hot tea would sound like. His songs all feel so calming, which was necessary for 2018.