2018 Songs of the Year

Story posted December 31, 2018 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Arts Staff

As 2018 wraps up, the CommRadio Arts Department will be taking a look back at the year in music. Here is the Arts Department’s top 10 songs of 2018.

10. Travis Scott - “Sicko Mode”

Possibly the most enjoyable song off of Travis Scott’s Astroworld, the three part song is comprised of a false intro by Drake who delivers a perfect pocket-pass to Travis Scott who scores on the “pick and roll” during the second part of the song with two verses showcasing his underrated ability to construct metaphors and double entendres. The second part of the song contains homages to The Notorious B.I.G. and Uncle Luke, clever wordplay about Stacey Dash and nice reference to Travis jewelry; the verses are broken up by Swae Lee and an homage to Big Hawke. The third part contains a bouncy beat provided by hottest hip-hop producer this year, Tay Keith, and reintroduces Drake. Drake reportedly sent his verse the day Travis sent in the project to be released was able to send some subliminal shots at Travis’ mentor, Kanye West. Some of the lyrics included Drake referencing the route he would reportedly have to take to get to Kanye’s house considering their proximity to each other. Drake also sent subliminal lyrics at Pusha T to continue their ongoing beef. These lyrics prompted a recent Kanye tweetstorm in which he demanded Drake apologize. After Drake and Travis share the chorus followed by a closing verse by Travis to conclude one of the most exciting hip hop songs in quite some time. - Jerome Taylor

9. Mitski - “Nobody”

Only Mitski can make a sad song so incredibly fun. On “Nobody,” the singer-songwriter explains her feelings of loneliness in such a crowded world. Mitski wrote the song while overseas, away from her family during the holiday season. Feelings of sadness inevitably crept in, and she broke down. It’s an emotion that everyone has felt at some point in their lifetime and the song feels like a deeper examination into Mitski’s personal life. Lyrics like, “I know no one will save me/ I just need someone to kiss,” show that the singer has experienced these feelings before. While the lyrics are heartbreaking, Mitski pairs them with a disco beat, creating one of the best songs of 2018. - Jenna Minnig

8. Cardi B - “I Like It”

“I Like It” is Cardi B’s second Billboard Hot 100 song, and made her the first female rapper ever to ever accomplish the feat of topping the charts twice. The song immediately catches the ear because of the sample of Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 song “I Like It Like That,” and the mainstream trap drums complement the sample perfectly. The song is Cardi’s most fun to date as she freely express her Latin heritage while showcasing Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Reggaeton artist J Balvin to the American music scene. This contains all the things that make Cardi special, including her charismatic delivery and her fun wordplay, “Eating halal, driving the Lam'.” Bad Bunny and J. Balvin’s verses add to the fun, even though most American listeners would not understand the Spanish lyrics. The song sounds like a party from start to finish and added to what was an amazing musical year for Cardi B. The song was absolutely unavoidable, as if anyone would want to avoid it. - Jerome Taylor

7. Kacey Musgraves - “High Horse”

Country music has been one of the most stale and formulaic genres of music for a long time now. Everything is fairly predictable, but when an artist in the genre tries something new, it’s easy for them to shine. On her single “High Horse,” Kacey Musgraves set out to and made one of the best pop songs of the year. The song is not a complete country departure with a familiar acoustic guitar floating in the background, but when the beat drops before the chorus, it is impossible not to dance. It is infectious and catchy in all the best ways. The rest of the album was not exactly like this song, but Musgraves on her single was able to show what can be so great about country music if left in the hands of a competent singer-songwriter and a good production team. - David Arroyo

6. Drake - “Nice for What”

New Orleans bounce music is fun; there is no other way to describe it. So when you take the number one pop star in the world and pair them with a fantastic New Orleans bounce track and a Lauryn Hill sample, you are almost guaranteed a number one hit. Drake’s “Nice for What” checks all the boxes and is an empowerment anthem for women. He hasn’t always been the best voice for female empowerment, but “Nice for What” virtually erases that past. The music video just adds to the fun, showing numerous powerful women strutting their stuff and showing out. These women are having a good time and Drake just knows how to set the tone for a fun filled evening, showing that even while Drake was taking some L’s in 2018, there were plenty of W’s piling up in his corner. - David Arroyo

5. U.S. Girls - “Pearly Gates”

Meghan Remy’s work on her musical project, U.S. Girls, is incomparable. That stands true with the track, “Pearly Gates.” The mix between hip hop and indie makes this one of the catchiest songs of the year, not only is this an incredibly upbeat hit, but also in its focus on the issue of sexual harassment. The whole song is based on Remy’s idea that a woman must perform a sexual act in order to enter into heaven. Remy’s entire album, especially this song, embodies everything it means to be a female in power, specifically in today’s modern times. - Jenna Minnig

4. Pusha T - “Story of Adidon”

If this year’s Drake and Pusha T beef was a boxing match, then “The Story of Adidon” was the punch that the world couldn’t stop talking about. The track comes as a response to Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle,” which was a response to Pusha T’s “Infrared,” which should be looked at as the left jab which set up the right hook that was “The Story of Adidon.”

The track will immediately grab people’s attention because of the cover art which is a picture of Drake in blackface, something Pusha T made clear was not a doctored photo. The lyrics on the track take aim at Drake personally, instead of his often attacked ghost writing. Pusha targets the failure of Drake’s parents’ marriage, his father more specifically, and Drake’s possible racial confusion due to his mixed heritage. That’s all before the forever-echoing, “You are hiding a child” lyric that told the world about Drake’s then-secret son. Pusha also targets the baby’s mother, Sophie Brussaux, who he claims Drake is ashamed of because of her past life as a pornographic star. To end the song, Pusha T sent one final shot at Drake’s longtime friend and producer, 40, and his battle with multiple sclerosis. Some say that bar was over the line; others contend there are no lines in beef. Whatever the case, the effect of “The Story of Adidon” still lingers as Drake has sent several subliminal lyrics at Pusha since and there is a rumored “career ending” diss-track that was supposedly recorded, and Kanye West just recently tweeted about the apology he believes he is owed for the strays that he has caught during it all. “The Story of Adidon” is the defining track for hip hop in 2018. - Jerome Taylor

3. Childish Gambino - “This is America”

When Childish Gambino’s “This is America” dropped following his SNL performance, the internet lost their collective mind. The song and accompanying music video were downright shocking on first viewing; it’s also a perfect commentary on American culture in 2018. Donald Glover touches on police brutality, gun violence and life as a black man in America. In the music video, while people die around him and chaos ensues, Glover and a group of people just dance through it all and have a great time. The track is a harsh criticism of America and, from music video to lyrics, is the best political track of the year. - David Arroyo

2. Ariana Grande - “thank uext”

If anyone can get through a rough year, it’s Ariana Grande. The singer put all her frustrations of heartbreak and loss into one of the best songs of the year. “thank u, next” isn’t a diss track. In fact, it’s just the opposite of that. Grande doesn’t sing about hating any of her ex-boyfriends, instead she thanks each of them for shaping her into the person she is today. She moves on and learns from each of her relationships, which is more than most people can say. Grande sings that she has moved on to someone new, alluding to the relationship she has found within herself. Not only did this track help Grande, it helps girls and guys all over who struggle to find peace in moving on from a relationship and learning how to love themselves. One thing is for sure, and that is that this catchy hit will not be left behind in 2018. - Jenna Minnig

1. Mac Miller - “2009”

2018 was the year of loss and addiction. XXXTentacion and Lil Peep both died tragically and it all seemed to culminate in the death of Mac Miller. After he died, the loss hit musical communities hard, including those around him who loved and adored him. For fans, it was all their worst nightmares coming to fruition. And in all of that, it allowed a true standout on his latest album, Swimming, to finally get the shine it deserved, painting a depressing picture of the beautiful life Mac Miller wanted to continue to live.

Throughout “2009,” Miller reflects on the life he is living, just wishing for a simpler time. “And sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route/ Instead of havin' demons that's as big as my house,” Miller raps. He speaks on the tremendous weight his demons were placing on him, but assured everyone that he was finding new ways to handle them and he no longer panicked during the hardest times. But these are the hard times that eventually killed him, painting the truly tragic reality for many people and families when it comes to drug addiction. The beautiful strings and mellow production allow Miller to take center stage; a stage everyone wishes he could continue to stand at the front of. - David Arroyo


Jerome Taylor is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jerometaylor91697@gmail.com.

Jenna Minnig is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email jennaminnigx@gmail.com.

David Arroyo is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email arroyodavid01@gmail.com.

About the Contributors

David Arroyo's photo

David Arroyo

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

David Arroyo currently serves as one of two General Managers for CommRadio. David is a former arts & entertainment director, social media director and editor for the station. He has produced for multiple Penn State sports while in CommRadio, has done play by play for Penn State sporting events such as football, basketball and volleyball and co-hosted and produced his own talk show. During the fall of 2017, David was an anchor, producer and reporter for the Centre County Report. David most recently interned at WPVI-TV, 6abc in Philadelphia during the summer of 2018. While at 6abc he was a programing intern and helped in the production of their weekly show “FYI Philly.” David has interned at B94.5 (State College) and Center City Film and Video (Philadelphia). Follow him on Twitter (@_arroyodavid) or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jenna Minnig's photo

Jenna Minnig

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Jenna is a General Manager of CommRadio where she manages the student radio station.

Jerome Taylor's photo

Jerome Taylor

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Jerome Taylor currently serves as one of two Arts & Entertainment Managers for CommRadio. He currently serves as a host for the department’s flagship radio show, “The Nittany Record Club.” He has also written several album reviews and has contributed to several lists that the department has produced. Jerome has also served as a beat writer and producer for several Penn State sports including, lacrosse, volleyball, and basketball. After graduation Jerome hopes to work in the broadcast journalism field covering sports or entertainment. Follow him on twitter (@ThatGuy_Rome) or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).