Best Tamil Songs of 2018 — Annual Tamil Music Round-up

It’s that time of the year when I make my annual music and movie lists. As you all know, I am just a music fan and lack technical knowledge, but this year I have roped in an expert to make some choices for me.

  1. Each song will have either of these three (or all) symbolic representations.

AC  Author’s choice (That’s me)
CC  Critic’s Choice (Vid Dev — A Carnatic Singer and composer. She blogs about Carnatic music and you can find some of her works here and here)
PC — Popular choice (Based on unscientific anecdotal references from social media, review and streaming websites)

2. The songs are in chronological order (from the date of the movie release), and this list is not a ranking.
3. The list consists of personal choices and also popular choices because I always consider that people’s choices should be given representation. 
4. The list includes songs of the movies that were released in 2018. Songs are an integral part of Tamil movies, and I consider a song is complete only if it’s part of the film (So don’t expect Gautham Menon movie songs on the list)

List of Best Tamil Songs of 2018

1. Guleba (AC) (CC) (PC)

Movie: Gulebagavali 
Music Composer(s): Vivek — Mervin
Lyricist: Ku.Karthik
Singers: Anirudh Ravichander, Mervin Solomon
Director: Kalyaan

Guleba is the ultimate dance number of the year. The groovy beats, hummable tune and a song that will make you shake your leg instantly. Prabhudeva’s 5 shot dance choreography is a treat to watch, and the song has more than 80 million views on YouTube. The song also spawned many cover versions and the live version with Prabhudeva and Shanthanu is a scream.

Official Video

Live version with Prabhudeva and Shanthanu

2. Mahanadhi (AC)

Movie: Nadigayar Thilagam 
Music Composer: Mickey J Meyer
Lyricist: Madhan Karky
Singer: Anurag Kulkarni
Director: Nag Ashwin

I usually don’t add songs from dubbed movies, but I had to make an exception for this epic. I loved the film, the background score, songs and above all Keerthi Suresh in this movie. Mahanadhi is a song that epitomises the extravagant life that Savitri lived — although the lyrics in Telugu might do more justice than Tamil, this song is on the list for the beautiful orchestration of Mickey J Meyer.

Thandaay Thandaay (CC)

Movie: Nadigayar Thilagam 
Music Composer: Mickey J Meyer
Lyricist: Madhan Karky
Singer: Charulatha Mani
Director: Nag Ashwin

A beautiful melody in Raga Kambodhi that starts in the most unassuming way but takes your breath away after the first minute.

3. Naanagiya Nadhimoolame (CC) (PC)

Movie: Vishwaroopam II
Music Composer: Ghibran
Lyricist: Kamal Hassan
Singers: Kamal Hassan, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Master Karthik , Suresh Iyer
Director: Kamal Hassan

When it starts with the Jadhi, you know it’s not a usual song like many other songs conceptualised by Kamal. A wonderful blend of western and classical traditions in Raga Desh is a musical treat.

4. Kalyana Vayasu (PC)

Movie: Kolamaavu Kokila
Music Composer: Anirudh
Lyricist: Sivakarthikeyan
Singers: Anirudh 
Director: Nelson Dilipkumar

The song became a runaway viral hit when it was released online. If the catchy tune is one reason, Yogi Babu’s antics were equally famous. But the song got into some controversy because Anirudh had used a commercially available beat composed by BeatsbyMantra. Two other songs namely, Sannan’s “Don’t Lie” and Chibz’s “Feeling me” had already used the commercially available beats for their songs. As of now, the official video is hidden on YouTube. Other music composers use commercially available beats, and that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying this viral hit of the year.

5. High on Love (AC) (PC)

Movie: Pyaar Prema Kadhal
Music Composer: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Lyricist: Niranjan Bharathi
Singer: Sid Sriram
Director: Elan

Although there is a popular view that this movie is a comeback for Yuvan, he has been a regular feature in my lists because he comes up with interesting composition every year. But this is a typical Yuvan composition that everyone expected and in fact the song was primed to be rendered by him. I think he also went with the ‘popular’ voice — Sid Sriram (Oh, I hate his singing). I sometimes listen to the song and skip directly when Yuvan sings Pyaar Prema Kadhal. The combined audio and video versions have garnered around 37 Million views so far.

6. Kekkatha Vaathiyam (AC)

Movie: Merku Thodarchi Malai
Music Composer: Ilaiyaraaja 
Lyricist: Ilaiyaraaja 
Singers: Ilaiyaraaja, Ramya NSK
Director: Lenin Bharathi

Merku Thodarchi Malai is an ethnographic study of the lives of people from the Western Ghats. There couldn’t be a better composer than Ilaiyaraaja to do justice to such a movie, and this song just floats like a breeze in the ghats. And lyrics made me think that I should write a post about the Ilaiyaraaja, the lyricist.

7. Kalavarame Kadhal (CC)

Movie: Tamizh Padam 2
Music Composer: N Kannan
Lyricist: Madhan Karky
Singers: Pradeep Kumar, Chinmayi
Director: CS Amudhan

Kalavarame Kadhal is the most underrated song of the year. A very Interesting composition especially the Pallavi and it’s not an easy song to sing. I loved the parody at the end of the song when they try to sing as if they are singing underwater. I think the song is underrated because it was part of a parody movie and I still love O Maha Ziya from Tamizh Padam Part 1. I also liked the Evada Unna Petha from Tamizh Padam 2 because it parodied all the love failure tropes used in Tamil movies. The songs are perfect parodies too if you understand the lyrics and the way they were rendered.

8. Naan Yaar (AC)(PC)

Movie: Pariyerum Perumal
Music Composer: Santhosh Narayanan
Lyricist: Mari Selvaraj
Singers: Vijaynarain, Ananthu, Santhosh Narayanan
Director: Mari Selvaraj

Naan Yaar should be the anthem of the anti-casteism. It’s not a complex tune, but the arrangements with beautiful sound mixing and some powerful singing from Vijay Narain, Ananthu and Santhosh make this song unforgettable. The reason why I said this should be the anthem of anti-casteism is because of the lyrics by Mari Selvaraj. Just listen, read and take it inside.

ரயில் தேடி வந்து கொல்லும் நான் யார்?
பூக்கும் மரமெங்கும் தூக்கில் தொங்கும் நான் யார்?
நதியில் செத்த மீனாய் மிதக்கும் நான் யார்?
குடிசைக்குள் கதறி எரிந்த நான் யார்?
தேர் ஏறாத சாமி இங்கு நான் யார்?
உன் கை படாமல் தண்ணீர் பருகும் நான் யார்?
ஊர் சுவர்கட்டி தூரம் வைக்க நான் யார்?
மலக்குழிக்குள் மூச்சை அடக்கும் நான் யார்?

English Translation

Who am I that trains chase to mow down?
Who am I that hangs dead from blossoming trees?
Who am I that floats up dead in rivers?
Who am I that died burning inside my hut?
The God your chariots refuse Who am I?
I drink water without touching you Who am I?
A village keeps me away with a wall Who am I?
I breathe my last in a shit hole Who am I?

9. Anthathi (PC)

Movie: 96
Music Composer: Govind Vasantha
Lyricist: Karthik Netha 
Singers: Chinmayi, Govind Vasantha, Bhadra Rajin, M. Nassar
Director: Premkumar

I had some serious issues with the movie and wrote an article of how 96 is over-romanticising the idea of love. You can check the article here. I do like Govinda Vasantha as a musician as I have been following his Thaikkudam Bridge. This song is strictly on the list because of the popular choice.

10. Pullinangal (AC)

Movie: 2.0
Music Composer: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Na Muthukumar
Singers: Bamba Bakya, AR Ameen and Suzanne D Mello
Director: Shankar

Although AR Rahman had three releases this year (Sarvam Thala Mayam has been postponed to next year), there is nothing memorable from him. This is the first time on the list that I have skipped a Mani Ratnam and Rahman combo movie. Even the critic (who is a Rahman fan) didn’t like any of the songs. Pullinangal is the only exciting composition that warrants repeated and patient listening. And brings back memories of Na Muthukumar and lyrics deserves respect. Just enjoy the haunting melody.

Last year’s list had as many as 20 songs and I couldn’t find any more interesting compositions this year. Most of them have similar tunes and sometimes you are unable to differentiate between songs.

Listen to these songs as a playlist