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It’s that time of the year when we look at the calendar and proclaim, ‘I cannot believe almost half the year has gone by already?’ It’s also time for our wrap up of the music we’ve been listened to during the year. Below, in no particular order, are our favourite singles from the first six months of 2018. Enjoy!
This Is America effortlessly does in under five minutes what Kanye West has been bumbling around trying to do for the past few months: perfectly distilling the violent underbelly and sad truth about gun violence and racism in America. The song captured a mood and a moment in history, and debuted at #1 in both America and Australia. It is a natural extension of Glover’s excellent television show Atlanta, which deals with similar issues. It’s the video clip that takes things to another level: shocking, sublime, sad – and necessary viewing. The way the bodies are so thoughtlessly distinguished while the guns used to kill are handled with care is almost too tragic to bear. The sad thing is, this is America.
The most light-hearted we’ve heard Drake for quite some time, this breezy club song is built off a Lauryn Hill sample, and preaches female empowerment while also imploring them to “make that ass jump”. In true Drake fashion, this song knocked his previous single God’s Plan off the number one spot in the US – ending an eleven week streak. Highlighting girl power at its best, the video features a number of strong, successful women, including American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland, actress Rashida Jones, and comedian Tiffany Haddish, with director Karena Evans steering the project.
Bruno Mars is a master at aping various styles of music from the past so successfully that at first listen, Finesse sounds like a Teddy Riley-produced new jack swing track from the early ’90s. This song has so much swagger you could throw it on at a funeral and people would still start moving to it. The original version of the song first came out on Bruno’s wildly successful 2016 album 24K Magic, but the newly-minted remix, featuring a delightfully bratty cameo by Cardi B, gives it a fresh lick of paint and — dare we say? — even more swagger.
Dua Lipa had an amazing run in 2017, which has continued in the first half of this year. While this song was technically available in 2017, it has only been released as a single this year, so it counts as a 2018 hit as far as we are concerned. A crisp drum track and kiss-off lyric melds beautifully to create of the fiercest and best pop tracks we’ve heard in quite some time.
Camp Cope announced their second album in late 2017 with The Opener, a vicious takedown of males within the music industry, and their dismissive attitudes towards female musicians (it was also a not-so-veiled attack against vocalist Georgia Maq’s former boyfriend, The Smith Street Band’s Wil Wagner). How To Socialise and Make Friends is a different type of kiss off: more confused and tortured, but no less impactful. The line “he talks to the primary school kids through the fence” is troubling, and Maq paints a vivid picture of a flawed man within a first stark verses. Brilliant.
For a pop artist, Amy Shark found success relatively late, being 30 before she had any real radio or commercial love. She has certainly made up for long time, with a string of dreamy singles flooding radio and the charts alike. Her most recent, I Said Hi, is an attack on those male music industry people (seems to be a theme here) who wrote her off early in her career, only to clamber for her attention once she had made it on her own. The quality of this song bodes well for her forthcoming debut album, which is due next month.
A sexy, longing song about love and lust, Never Be The Same captures that intoxicating rush of sexual energy while also managing to be thoroughly PG. Cabello effortlessly slides from a lower register verse to a breathy falsetto and into a massive radio ready chorus in a way that screams ‘hit’ the first time you hear it, despite some rather avant garde production work.
Sitting halfway between a moody Twin Peaks soundtrack song and a Springsteen anthem, the excellent Stranger’s Kiss is a home run. The video clip is delightfully weird and strangely romantic, starring Cameron’s real-life partner, Girls’ Jemima Kirke as an obsessed fan of Cameron, who attempts to model her look after Cameron’s, slicking back her hair, flattening her breasts with tape and dressing identically to him. From there, things only get stranger. This song will be stuck in your head for weeks – as will Cameron’s dance moves.
Posted by Nathan Jolly | Main image: RCA Records
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