Class of 2018 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

”Don’t you have anything better to do?”, people have been asking me, year in, year out.

Frankly, no, I don’t. Can you dig it?

What could be better than going through all your playlists from 2018 revisiting your own favourites, or digging through this year’s releases mining for lost gems? What’s better than narrowing thousands down to the top 100, feeling anxious about whether you left ones out that you in a month or so will regret were omitted? What’s better than talking to songwriters, trying to get their perspective on a certain track of theirs that you have grown to love?

Well, there you go. Very few things come even close to being better than that.

For the sixth consecutive year, here is the most unique year-end ”best of” list you may come across. The 100 greatest songs of 2018. Out of those, more than 40 of the songwriters tell the story behind their song, a personal insight shared exclusively for this very list.

Please honour them by reading their contributions while listening. Perhaps there’s a new artist waiting to be discovered? Or a track you like that you didn’t know much about? Suffice to say, whatever the approach; if you’re really, really interested in music, this is your goldmine.

Can you dig it?

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2018 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

100. IDLES ”Never Fight A Man With A Perm”
(from Joy As An Act Of Resistance)

99. TT ”Love Leaks”
(from LoveLaws)

98. Beach House ”Lose Your Smile”
(from 7)

97. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats ”Still Out There Running”
(from Tearing At The Seams)

96. The Vaccines ”Your Love Is My Favourite Band”
(from Combat Sports)

95. Holy Esque ”I Am The Truth”
(from Television / Sweet)

94. NAO ”Drive And Disconnect”
(from Saturn)

93. Courtney Barnett ”Charity”
(from Tell Me How You Really Feel)

92. Parquet Courts ”Total Football”
(from Wide Awake!)

citattecken ”The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era…”

91. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ”American Guilt”
(from Sex & Food)

”That song started in Hanoi. The reason I went to Hanoi was because I wanted to bring guitar back into it a bit more. The first two albums were written on guitar and featured mostly that instrument. On the third album, however, I leaned more on keyboards and piano since I was interested in taking apart old analogue synths and stuff. Because I was obsessed with the insides of the synth I ended up playing them a lot on the record.

On this one I wanted to go back to guitar. I think people who like Unknown Mortal Orchestra missed the guitar a little bit, I felt that was the case. So I was thinking of the most obvious influences, trying to get back to almost what I liked about guitar when I was a teenager. I didn’t play the guitar then but I was a big music fan as a kid. The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era and how I probably heard it all on these TV shows and movies about the Vietnam war.

Maybe if I went to Vietnam that would prompt some kind of inspiration for something heavy and guitar based. That worked better than I thought it would. The moment we arrived in Hanoi I thought it would be more modernized but it actually reminded me of a movie about Vietnam! It was really inspiring, it was the monsoon season, so we didn’t do anything touristy or fun. We rented a place through Airbnb from where we had to walk through a really messy neighbourhood to get to the studio. Each time we arrived there we were drenched in sweat, bedraggled from going through this crazy third world situation, but always inspired from things that we’d seen on the way; fishermen, farmers, stray dogs, people selling food and everything.

Walking home from the studio was a similar thing, but always night, people having picnics everywhere, strange tropical smells, burning incense and stuff. We were constantly talking about how stimulating everything was just to look at, so in the studio we felt that we had a lot to say. American Guilt was one of the things to come out of that. It was just fun to make music with the two other guys who were with me, my brother Cody who plays drums and Jake, the bass player. Often we threw these ridiculous references into the mix. For instance, at one point we were talking about Metallica and Jake was probably thinking that I was crazy, Metallica is normally not relevant when making an Unknown Mortal Orchestra record! But talking about the wrong references is sometimes very useful to me.

To me, the phrase ‘American guilt’ wasn’t me pointing a finger at the Americans, I’ve lived there for nearly ten years myself. If people in Mexico, Canada or wherever are angry at America they can use the song however they want, but the way I thought about it was that the longer I’ve lived there the more I understand it and get implicated myself as I get American. There’s a guilt that comes with it though, for instance all the tax dollars that go into the war machine. The more money I make, the more money I indirectly put into the war machine. At the same time I also feel in debt for all the great music that has come out of that country.”

– Ruban Nielson

citattecken ”I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’…”

90. The Tambourine Girls ”Jeanine”
(from Waiting For Pleasure)

”I guess it’s about love and doubt. I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’. I’m always amazed by people who can say things like that with such certainty. I don’t share her opinions, so I wrote her a love song. Our guitarist Nick[Weaver} came up with that guitar line the first time I took the song to rehearsal.”

– Simon Relf

89. Charles Bradley ”I Feel A Change”
(from Black Velvet)

88. Jonathan Wilson ”Living With Myself”
(from Rare Birds)

87. Thievery Corporation ”Voyage Libre (feat. LouLou Ghelichkhani)”
(from Treasures From The Temple)

86. Thee Oh Sees ”Enrique El Cobrador”
(from Smote Reverser)

85. Courtney Marie Andrews ”May Your Kindness Remain”
(from May Your Kindness Remain)

citattecken ”After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea…”

84. Josh Rouse ”Salton Sea”
(from Love In The Modern Age)
”The idea came to me when we were on tour and we were driving from Phoenix and Los Angeles. We crossed by a sign that gave directions to Salton Sea and I said ‘ooh, that would be a great name for a song!’. I had heard about the place but I didn’t know too much about it so on that drive I watched an hour-long documentary about the Salton Sea on Youtube, narrated by John Waters, the filmmaker. That’s how the title and the song idea came about.

The story is all fiction. After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea, but when they arrive they realize that it’s not what it used to be. Colouring geographical locations sometimes inspire a song. When you’re listening to a song you want to take people to a place sometimes, you set the scene like a movie.

I think I did the music a few years back, I kind of had the melodic idea but no lyrics for it. That’s how songs work sometimes, it just came together that way. With the keyboard it sort of went in a Cure direction. They have a song called ‘A Forest’ that we used to do a cover for and rhythmically it takes its cues from that song.”

– Josh Rouse

citattecken ”I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’…”

83. Lera Lynn ”What Is Love (feat. Dylan LeBlanc)”
(from Plays Well With Others)

”I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. He’s an excellent guitarist and singer and writer and I’m so glad we finally got the chance to write. When we sing together, something really cool happens where you can’t distinguish who’s who. This song is dear to me, as it explores how one cannot love another without first loving themselves, which we all know is a life-long pursuit.”

– Lera Lynn

82. King Tuff ”Psycho Star”
(from The Other)

81. Ought ”Disgraced In America”
(from Room Inside The World)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

Class of 2012 – Årets bästa album och låtar!

2012 var det nya 1980-talet. Förvisso har tendensen funnits i flera år, men i år var den tydligare än någonsin tidigare. 80-talet har funnits där som en vakande ängel, vare sig man ägnat sig åt Pacman-rock som Bright White Lightning, C-86 som The Fresh & Onlys, collegerock som Twin Shadow, Madonna-pop som Kimbra eller fullständig Hipnosis/Vangelis-rip-off som Chrome Canyon. Och varför inte?

Återvinning i musik är intet nytt. Hur ofta refererar inte jag själv och andra till The Beatles? En popgrupp vars karriärs första stapplande steg gjordes med Carl Perkins och Chuck Berry i bakhuvudet. Alla härmar någon. Jag själv härmar väl också någon, medvetet eller ej. Men en sak är säker, passionen är precis lika brinnande. Säkert också för de flesta artister av idag.

Jag har gjort en mastodont-spellista på Spotify med ”alla” album som gavs ut under 2012. Vi hittar minst lika mycket 60-tals-, 70-tals- och 90-tals-influerad musik där. Så det där med ”nya 80-talet” kanske bara är min egen illusion. Whatever.

En årssummering är som alltid omöjlig att göra rättvis. Alltid missar man någon som man inte skulle ha missat. Alltid vill man ha med fler än man har. Vissa upptäcker man i bästa fall långt in på nästa år, i sämsta fall…tja, aldrig. Här nedan har jag listat några av mina favoriter i olika kategorier, kategorier som självfallet är anpassade för att få med så många album som möjligt. För satan vad mycket bra musik som har gjorts under 2012!

Eftersom jag också värnar hårt om det klassiska blandbandet har jag samlat årets ”bästa” låtar(200+) i en lång spellista. Den ska jag snurra så mycket jag orkar tills nya grejer börjar strömma ut 2013, kanske ännu längre.

ÅRETS POP: Jessie Ware Devotion
Mer experimentiell än mainstream. Mer mainstream än experimentiell. Helt perfekt balans mellan de båda ytterligheterna. Och då blir det väldigt, väldigt bra.

ÅRETS ROCK(Manlig): Jack White Blunderbuss
Visade än en gång var skåpet ska stå och hur begåvad han är. Varierat och definitivt aldrig tråkigt album.

ÅRETS ROCK(Kvinnlig): Aimee Mann Charmer
Precis när vi undrade om hennes låtskrivarmusa gått i ide bevisade hon motsatsen.

ÅRETS ROCK(Grupp): The Walkmen Heaven
Rock och rock. Indierock. Vad du vill. Oerhört bra var det.

ÅRETS AMERICANA(Manlig): Justin Townes Earle Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
Eftersom Ryan Adams för omväxlings skull tog albumledigt i år och 2010 års stjärnskott Dylan LeBlanc inte förmådde upprepa succén med debuten var det glädjande att Justin Townes Earle mer än fyllde luckan.

ÅRETS AMERICANA(Kvinnlig): Tift Merritt Traveling Alone
Ensamt, ödsligt och vackert.

ÅRETS AMERICANA(Grupp): Beachwood Sparks Tarnished Gold och Calexico Algiers
Jag kan bara inte sålla bort den ena eller den andra av Beachwood Sparks indiepedalsteelcountry eller Calexicos Tex-Mex.

ÅRETS FOLK: Neil Halstead Palindrome Hunches
Gjorde allt det jag hoppades att James Iha skulle göra men inte riktigt lyckades med.

ÅRETS POWERPOP: Kurt Baker Brand New Beat och Duncan Reid Little Big Head
Jag klarar inte av att välja bort någon av dom här heller. Duncan Reids första karriär med London-punkarna The Boys var sedan länge över när Kurt Baker föddes 1987, men båda är lika rotade i samma ljuva typ av Twilley/Petty/Costello-powerpop.

ÅRETS GARAGE: Japandroids Celebration Rock
Fyrverkerierna som inleder albumet är rätt signifikativa för hur det känns att lyssna igenom låtarna på det.

ÅRETS REGGAE: Jimmy Cliff Rebirth
65 år men inte en tanke på att pensionera sig. Tack för det.

ÅRETS R&B(Manlig): Cody ChesnuTT Landing On A Hundred
Retrosoul med Marvin Gaye-vibbar.

ÅRETS R&B(Kvinnlig): Kendra Morris Banshee
Min personliga favorit från i år. Hon blir förstås inte den megasuperstar i världen som jag vill, men för mig är hon det ändå.

ÅRETS SVENSKA: Vera Vinter Idyll
Stora Lappträsks finest gjorde glesbygdens och hela Sveriges bästa visrock.

ÅRETS SVENSKE: Love Antell Gatorna Tillhör Oss
Mångsysslarens stora solodebutstriumf.

ÅRETS SVENSKAR: Mando Diao Infruset
Tog 1800-talet in i 2012-talet. Och det är så här dom ska låta i framtiden.

ÅRETS SYNTDISCO: Bright Light Bright Light Make Me Believe in Hope och Van She Idea Of Happiness
Fegt, jag vet, men vissa dagar älskar jag brittiska Bright Light Bright Light, andra dagar australiensiska Van She. Båda albumen var skapade med maskiner av människor. Mänskligheten vann.

ÅRETS HOUSE: Vitalic Rave Age
Fransoserna var allt det som trendigt överskattade Swedish House Mafia inte är. Lika bra dom lägger ner. Just det ja, det gjorde dom ju.

ÅRETS INSTRUMENTAL: Chrome Canyon Elemental Themes
För att göra den perfekta korsningen mellan italo-synth á la Hipnosis och soundtracket Vangelis gjorde till Chariots Of Fire krävs det en riktig entusiast av vintage-synthesizers. Som New Yorkaren Morgan Z.

Lyssna på spellistan: Facit 2012 – Årets bästa album!
Lyssna på spellistan: Facit 2012 – Årets bästa låtar!

PS. Några(eller en väldans massa…) honourable mentions: Lost In The Trees, The Shins, Alabama Shakes, Michael Kiwanuka, Two Gallants, The Fresh & Onlys, Rufus Wainwright, Best Coast, Beach House, Donald Fagen, Frank Ocean, The Beauty Room, Jens Lekman, The Tallest Man On Earth, Two Door Cinema Club, Soap&Skin, Allo Darlin’, Great Lake Swimmers, Allah-Las, Lars Bygdén, Admiral Fallow, Rhett Miller, The Avett Brothers, Lightships, Paul Buchanan, Patterson Hood, Dexys, The Mountain Goats, Chairlift, Dent May, Twin Shadow, First Aid Kit, The Helio Sequence, Kimbra, Lee Fields & The Expressions, The xx, Pet Shop Boys… DS.