100 Songs I Loved In 2018; with operating instructions
2018 was weird and good and bad and full of incredibly excellent music. One of my favorite things about this year in music was how much female artists dominated not just my own listening but much of the critical conversation and year-end accolades. Although the number of songs about how shitty the industry is belie the fact that there are still problems for women in music, it does feel like we’ve reached some kind of sheer quantity tipping point. Let’s do Hollywood next!
If you want these songs on one big Spotify playlist, that’s right here. If you wanna know more about the optimal listening conditions for every one of these excellent tunes / read an accidentally loosely autobiographical account of my year, that’s below:
Blue Fire — Air Waves. Play when you’re drinking rosé at home with all the windows open, and it’s just gotten warm after being too cold for too long and the blood in your veins seems to be the exact temperature of the air outside, and you feel a little bit like you’re floating.
Oh Baby — Alexis Taylor. Play when you’re playing with a favorite friend dog or a cool kiddo and your heart feels really big, and your cheeks hurt from smiling, oh and maybe you’ll make lemonade later.
Baby Only You & I — Anemone. Play when you’re waking up despite your greatest wishes to stay in bed for eternity, and you’re washing your face even though you’d rather be dreaming, and you’re putting in your contacts even though you miss your pillows, and you’re brushing your teeth and suddenly the corner turns and you feel ready for the day.
thank u, next — Ariana Grande. Play all the time, in every car ride (preferably with open windows), at every dance party, at least once during every work day, in your head whenever you’re frustrated or when you’re happy, to the point that you can summon it whenever you need it — which will be often.
Girl Goin’ Nowhere — Ashley McBryde. Play on the jukebox at a dusty dive bar, alternating your Lone Stars with waters, while you watch whatever old movie is playing soundless over the bar on a tiny square TV.
Hands On You — Ashley Monroe. Play when you’re allowing yourself a small private fantasy in the middle of a Monday.
Come Down In Time — Bedouine. Play when you are painting your bedroom forest green, organizing your tea collection, hanging gauzy sea green curtains in a window, re-propagating cuttings from your houseplants, or reupholstering anything at all in pink velvet.
Future Me Hates Me — The Beths. Play when you’re in that kind of bad mood that crosses over into a sort of manic joy, bouncing around your living room in fuzzy socks, determined to scare your bad mood out of the house at once.
Mama, You Been On My Mind — Bettye LaVette. Play when — and only when — you’re alone and your mind has plenty of time to traverse your memories and gather all the feelings this song is likely to stoke and hug them very closely.
Lake Michigan — Bob Schneider. Play when you’re packing for a vacation and thinking maybe you just won’t come back at all, so you pack at least two extra pairs of underwear and an enormous sun hat that you definitely will not find occasion to wear but that you enjoy pretending you could be the kind of person to wear.
Ruby — Buck Meek. Play when you’ve got headphones on in bed and you were reading a really good book but then you put it aside to just think about what you just read, and then let Buck’s voice crawl under your skin and set up a nice campsite somewhere in your chest and cook some veggie chili, and then kiss the one you love.
The Opener — Camp Cope. Play loud when you’re arming your fellow fighters in the upcoming civil war against the heteropatriarchy and white supremacy, vowing to eradicate the evils of systemic inequality once and for all, damnit, do we have time for a singalong before the fight?
Bodys — Car Seat Headrest. Play when you’re trying to work out a feeling and you feel like you might be able to actually shake and wiggle it out of your body if you living room dance hard enough, spilling your full-calorie coca cola on the linoleum in the process, shaking yourself so hard that you wonder if your head could be released from your body one day.
Best Life (feat. Chance The Rapper) — Cardi B. Play when it’s a really nice day in the middle of winter and you get to wear short sleeves and drive with the windows down and probably even stop for a margarita midday.
Party For One — Carly Rae Jepsen. Play over the speakers at the grocery store when the grocery store is LIT and there’s definitely gonna be some fluorescent aisle dancing.
More Of The Same — Caroline Rose. Play when you’re assembling a really good sandwich that you’ve made 1000 times so your mind gets to wander to, like, your latent dream of opening a deli or what it would be like to kiss the cute girl you saw at a party last week.
LOVEHAPPY — The Carters. Play when you’re really doing a lot of thinking about marriage and what it means to you.
Heaven — Clairo. Play over the prom scene in an indie movie about people who all have bangs and wear sheer fabrics and there’s a couple teenagers in love who dance as if their torsoes were actually superglued together.
Disco — Colleen Green. Play when you have a daydream that you live near the ocean and you’re running an errand in your hot pink convertible, and you’re gonna buy lavender soda on the way home.
No One Changes — Conor Oberst. Play when you’re thinking about how some people seem to make their best work when they’re at their lowest, and how you’re not sure how you feel about that tradeoff, but god damn the work is good, and you’re hoping that they get a nice dinner and a good night’s sleep tonight.
Need A Little Time — Courtney Barnett. Play when you’re at a bar by yourself with headphones and your dog and a really good book you’re not actually reading because you’re scrolling through Instagram and drinking a very cold beer with a lime.
Till Tomorrow Goes Away — Cut Worms. Play when you’re cleaning the kitchen and you’re on the home stretch and you just need a song that will push you through anything without letting you escape smileless or letting your shoulders and elbows stay still at your sides (they’ll be boppin’!).
Elvis Was a Love Affair — Dale Watson. Play when you’re driving from Austin to Memphis, specifically.
The Last Great Washington State — Damien Jurado. Play at night, after midnight preferably, but not when you’re drunk or anything, just when it’s calm and clear and you want something beautiful to fill your entire house and make your world feel like a place you’re lucky to be.
White Fur — Dear Nora. Play when you just looked at a photo of someone who makes you feel a certain kind of longing nostalgia almost like in another life you were their child or they were yours, you’re not sure which. Maybe, like, you were an abandoned kitten and they were your great dane foster mom?
Well Acquainted — Dick Stusso. Play when you’re pouring your whiskey with twice as much whiskey, but not really because you’re sad so much as because it’s really cold and you wanna be warm on the inside.
In My Feelings — Drake. Play when you’re at a dive bar with six to eight of your favorite women, and y’all have imbibed, and y’all are wearing your smallest outfits, and it’s hot because it’s summer and Texas, and your hair is looking fly these days, and you really feel like your hips are moving separately from your brain telling them to do anything at all.
Boo’d Up — Ella Mai. Play when you’ve had a really good date and y’all just got home ;).
Love You So Bad — Ezra Furman. Play when it’s a dance party for two: you and your dog.
Jesse — Frankie Cosmos. Hehehehe play when your dog’s name is Jessie and you’re teasing your fiancé about going to bed early, but also play it lots and lots all the time, because it’s a song that feels kind of like hugging one of your nicest friends?
Around You — Free Cake For Every Creature. Play when you’re making a mixtape for someone cute and don’t you dare tell me people don’t make tapes anymore, I believe that somewhere they do and that two cool girls with manic panic hair and big crushes on each other are each making tapes for the other and they’re both putting this song on it.
About You — G Flip. Play when you just started really missing some of the people you left behind in the city you definitely needed to leave and the only thing to do about it is to have a little dance party in their honor.
Baby — Gabriella Cohen. Play on any day when you’re wearing florals and maybe pink lipstick and the best smelling perfume you own and you’re feeling yourself and hoping to run into a cute acquaintance on the street (listening to this particular song will increase your chances of running into someone v cute by 50% or your money back).
Mayday — The Go! Team. Play when you’re all like “I wonder if that one band is still a band” and in fact they are, and they released an album this year, and it’s quite good! Play again whenever sluggish and needing not to be.
Oom Sha La La — Haley Heynderickx. Play when you’re in a grumpy mood and you don’t know why and all you really want is someone to yell at for no good reason at all and then for that person to forgive you and love you anyway.
Sugar & Spice — Hatchie. Play at a perfect picnic, polaroids bared.
Linda — Hinds. Play with your hand out of the car window, waving in the breeze, stressing out mom.
How Simple — Hop Along. Play while deeply processing something important and personal, allow the song to worm into your hardworking brain and turn its meanings around in your brain hands.
See You Around — I’m With Her. Play whenever you smell like cloves and citrus and maybe forgot about a flower you put in your hair when you were walking the dog.
(You’re Better) Than Ever — illuminati hotties. Play for someone whose hair color is starting to fade but it looks cool, like a perfectly faded Lisa Frank folder, and tell them how much you love them while you’re at it.
Pynk (feat. Grimes) — Janelle Monáe. Play when you’re trying to decide if you’re actually in love with your best friend at a slumber party.
O.K., Meet Me Underwater — Jay Som. Play with a bath, epsom salts, lavender essential oil, a sponge and almond scented Dr. Bronners, a really good new magazine, a glass of rosé, a vape pen, your hair pinned up on top because your neck gets sweaty, tomorrow’s to do list getting steamed out of your brain.
9/10 — Jeff Rosenstock. Play when you’ve got a letter to write someone who hasn’t heard from you in awhile.
Having Been Is No Way To Be — Jeff Tweedy. Play loud, with nothing else on your mind, just your ears and your head and your heart and Jeff Tweedy, who’s still so good after all these years.
Sativa — Jhene Aiko, Rae Sremmurd. Play when you’re deep in the fog.
Take It Home — feat. Sean Nicholas Savage — John Moods. Play when you’re just starting a long road trip to somewhere fun and you’ve stocked up with a big slurpee and some salty snacks and the pup’s in the back with her head out the window and the sun is rising right in front of this long stretch of road.
The Long Game — Johnathan Rice. Play when you’ve got friends over to play cards but first you’re going to drink a little bit of Pimms on the back porch and you just really want to play the kind of song that will make the right someone go “who is this?”
Me & My Dog — boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus). Play when you’re pretending that you’re trying not to be sad but really you just want to be really, really sad but feel less alone — this will do the trick for that one, friend.
Slow Burn — Kacey Musgraves. Play when you’re getting dressed for a night out with friends and you’re gonna play this song on repeat 20x times, actually, and then again when you get home and you’re laying in bed thinking about, like, everything.
Street Fighter Mas — Kamasi Washington. Play when it’s the actual apocalypse and you’ve got a bicycle and some really good headphones and a two liter of Orange Crush in the bike basket and you’re heading to find some other survivors and/or pizza.
Ghost Town — Kanye West. Play only when you refuse to wade into the discourse when you could listen to music you really love instead.
Peaceful Lake — Kath Bloom. Play when you’re sitting around daydreaming yourself onto a front porch you knew once.
Back Being Blue — Kelly Willis. Play when you’re scrolling through your ex’s new girlfriend’s Instagram and trying really, really, really hard not to double tap (Instagram, please create a lurking mode, thx).
Cómo Te Quiero — Khruangbin. Play as you’re preparing for your night by lighting 14 citrusy candles, 8 sticks of palo santo incense, and turning on three oil diffusers full of lavender.
Thru the Cracks — King Tuff. Play as the revelation hits you that you’re the same age your parents were when you remember them best, all big glasses and Jane Brody cookbooks and law offices full of thrilling office supplies.
Shallow — Lady Gaga + Bradley Cooper. Play when you are bawling your dang eyes out, you guys!!!!!
Mariners Apartment Complex — Lana Del Rey. Play while you’re lacing up your rollerskates for battle and facing the headwinds.
Bad — Lennon Stella. Play when you’re wishing he would have treated you bad.
Boys — Lizzo. Play while swiping right on the dance floor. :)
Sometimes I Wanna Dance — Lonnie Holley. Go back in time and play this over the time you walked through your whole neighborhood in the middle of a thunderstorm with your first ever boyfriend and a very wet floral dress and you felt like all the joy in the world had collected inside your chest.
Night Shift — Lucy Dacus. Play every time you wanna hear the best song of 2018, a song that will crawl under your skin and stay there, definitely forever.
Arrivals Chorus — M. Ward. Play when you happen to be up at sunrise and everything is bathed in soft, fuzzy pink and tangerine.
Gee — Massage. Play while you’re making lists of: all the things you really, really, really like, the things you’re gonna do this weekend, the veggies you need to buy at the grocery store, the people who should make toasts at your wedding, the birds you saw on vacation, and/or all the nicknames you’ve come up with for your pup.
Quiet, The Winter Harbor — Mazzy Star. Play when you’re in bed, as it has always been and still in fact is with Mazzy Star.
Me and Michael — MGMT. Play on the jukebox in your own personal San Junipero style afterlife, moments before running into your best friend and realizing you’re gonna spend eternity together and there’s a dance floor.
Aurora — Mineral. Play only while staring at yr Keds, obvi.
Nobody — Mitski. Play as the soundtrack to your New Year’s resolutions to absolutely refuse to let Twitter make you mad in 2019.
To the Boys — Molly Burch. Play as you’re assembling a very witchy slumber party with tea, incense, champagne (bear with me), floor pillows, sage, your best friends, and you’re gonna gossip about every single thing you can think to gossip about.
Too Lost in Love — The Molochs. Play at a bar where more people than not are wearing denim jackets with cool patches, and order a Lone Star tall-boy for me please, I’ll be there soon!
Tintin in Tibet — Mount Eerie. Play ONLY when you’re prepared for that big wave of cathartic grief to wash over you (but don’t let it drown you).
Another Lifetime — Nao. Play it for the ones you’ve lost (feel free to pour one out while they’re on your mind) and loved, and then go on and lead your best life in their honor.
Short Court Style — Natalie Prass. Play over a sunny afternoon when you’re surprised to have found yourself playing Kubb.
Barbie Dreams — Nicki Minaj. Play while assembling a list of your enemies, frenemies, and everyone else you have some shit to talk to — and allow yourself to fantasize that you could ever be as sharp-edged as Nicki’s shit-talking masterpiece.
Don’t Forget About Me — Noname. Play as the day is shuffling off you along with the bra you’ve been itching to take off all day, play when you’re pouring yourself a small glass of white, play while you’re unloading the dishwasher, play whenever you’re finally relaxing into your body and feeling like a bird that just flew 2000 miles back to her nest.
Pulled Up The Ribbon — Okkervil River. Play on your headphones when you’re setting out for the two block walk with a very good dog and the setting sun looks like someone spilled turmeric and mustard on a bright blue platter.
Tenderness — Parquet Courts. Play anytime you’re sitting but your upper torso is extremely free for the inevitable hard as fuck head and shoulder bopping that is to come.
New Birth in New England — Phosphorescent. Play when you are wearing a very cute new sweater and you just got a dope new haircut and the sun is shining on you like a campfire.
Come Back Baby — Pusha T. Play whenever you’re locked up in a world of misery and you need Pusha T to set you free.
Broken Finger Blues — Richard Swift. Play when you’re remembering Richard, one of the best ones, who we lost this year but who left us this perfect album and this gorgeous song. ❤
DI MI NOMBRE — Cap.8: Éxtasis — ROSALÍA. Play as the soundtrack to a dream where you’re a snake and all of your friends are the long grass where you make your home, wake up with your hips a little loosened up.
44 Teenagers — Sloan. Play for someone who’s like “wait, the band Sloan has a new album?” and be like “fuck yeah and it rules!!!”
Heat Wave — Snail Mail. Play when it’s so hot that you wake up naked and sheet-free and everything is sort of both miserable and horny as a result and you’re drinking about 20 different cold things every day and all the girls you see have butt cheeks hanging out of their denim shorts, which is delightful, and sometimes you actually do miss smoking.
Last Girl — Soccer Mommy. Play so often you memorize all the words so you can start playing it in the morning and singing into your hairbrush and, maybe, scream it at your dude or any nearby boy, much to their surprise and horror.
Villain — Speedy Ortiz. Play while painting the walls of your dream dollhouse the darkest black you can find, to match the pink furniture.
Body — The Spook School. Play to remind yourself that although a lot of things in the world right now seem supremely fucked up, the kids really do seem to be alright.
Middle America — Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Play over the scene in the movie where the kid is looking out a window and sees a guy on a horse and his parents fighting in the front seat kind of melts away at the novelty.
Discotheque — Sun June. Play in the deep background while making out on a green couch, hot tea cooling on the coffee table.
I Was A Fool — Sunflower Bean. OK go back in time once more and play this song when you’ve just had your first junior high heartbreak and you and your stuffed animals are holding a ritual involving burning all the love notes and polaroids that remind you of her.
Something For Your M.I.N.D. — Superorganism. Listen, I’m not gonna tell you to do drugs but you should listen to your song when your brain feels very expansive.
Crush — Tessa Violet. Play this song (and the cute video!) when all yr friends are over and you were gonna have a backyard party but instead you’re all piled up on the couch watching music videos and having lil mini dance parties and eating vegan sausages wrapped in crescent rolls.
Gonna Love Me — Teyana Taylor. Play it whenever you’re in the middle of a fight and you need to remember how much you love them and how good it’ll feel when you make up later and those big arms are wrapped around you.
Suspirium — Thom Yorke. Play while riding a Capital Metro 801 bus from North Lamar to downtown, watch the passing restaurants and homeless, feel both incredibly sad and incredibly calm at the same time in a way that you don’t really understand.
Cable Guy — Tierra Whack. Play you’d like to get whatever was stuck in your head out, because this tune will definitely replace it and stay stuck for like 2 weeks at least.
Dance To This (feat. Ariana Grande) — Troye Sivan. Okay, back to the San Junipero eternity: as you’re celebrating with your best friend all the other ones, all the people you ever called best, show up at the bar and y’all are all wearing your cutest things and hitting the dance floor, stat.
Your Love Is My Favourite Band — The Vaccines. Play over the “starting a band with your spouse” portion of your life movie montage (don’t worry if it hasn’t happened yet, it totally will).
Takes So Much — Waxahatchee. Play when you’re face down in your king size bed, stretching your tiny hands and dirty feet to all four corners like a starfish on the beach, doing nothing else but listening.
Last Man Standing — Willie Nelson. Play when you are feeling extremely grateful that through all the loss of the last few years, we still have Willie.
pollinate me — wished bone. Play when you’re sitting in a tree with your walkman listening to a mix tape, and this song is on it (again, don’t come to me with “people don’t make mix tapes” corrections, I’m living in my own world here), and you’re thinking that today might be the day you climb higher than ever.
One More — Yaeji. Play instead of the soundtrack to MarioKart, trust me about this one, the tempo is just right and you’ll slip effortlessly around every corner.
For You Too — Yo La Tengo. Play when things are feeling better every day.