Hiley’s Top Ten Songs of 2018

God is a woman – Ariana Grande

“God is a woman” is a song that pretty much everyone is familiar with, and it had a top-ten peak on the charts in 17 countries. I think I love this song for the same reason that most people love it, because it is a ballad about the power of women. This song is lyrically so empowering (“he see the universe when I’m in company” and “when all is said and done, you’ll believe God is a woman”), and this empowering nature of the song is really compelling, especially in a pop song because in the genre of pop, very few songs actually serve to empower women. My personal favorite lyric in the song is “And boy, if you confess, you might get blessed,” mainly because of the religious symbolism. Aside from the raw lyrical power of the song, the harmonies in the final verse are insane, and Ariana’s vocals are sick. Also, in the music video she got Madonna to be the voice of God, which is so cool. This song made my list for top ten song of the year because it was a much needed addition to the pop music charts, with some of the best vocals and with such a refreshing, and empowering message.

I Go Crazy – Orla Gartland

The concept behind this song is so simple, yet the simple idea became something so wonderful. This song comes from the experience of when you tell a person you love them and they don’t respond back. This concept was executed so well, through both the lyrics and the production. Lyrically this concept is very present in the song, particularly in the chorus (“Three words, two hearts, one maybe”), and I think that the lyrics are where my love for this song originated. Also, the production of this song really helps to build up the concept of waiting for a response. There’s a pause before the chorus, which helps build up tension in the song, and again adds to the idea of waiting. Vocally, Orla’s performance is stunning, and lyrically the song itself is stunning. This song made my list for top ten songs of the year, because it’s really clever while also being really beautiful.

Priorities – Plested

Everything about this song is so thoughtfully done, from the production to the lyrics, every factor that makes up this song is wonderful. The piano is so simple, and it really accentuates his vocals, which are outstanding. I love how there is an added bass beat when the second verse comes in, this further helps to enhance his vocals and the lyrics of the song. I love the entire concept behind the song too, I think the whole idea of what to prioritize in a relationship is such a smart thing to write a song about, because everywhere people are struggling with this concept. Also, the way this concept is executed in the lyrics is beautiful, one of my favorite lyrics in the song is this lyric from the first verse: “You deserve, all of me, every piece, but my heart’s getting torn between places, California’s been keeping us waiting.” Also this song opens and closes with the same lyric (“What comes first, what I want, or what I need, cause recently they’re not the same thing”), which is one of my favorite things a song can do. This song made my list for top ten songs of the year because everything about this song is wonderful, and I’m just so in love with everything about this song.

Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket EP – Maisie Peters

I couldn’t choose just one song off of this EP to be on this list, so I put the entire EP on it. The EP only has six songs, but every song on it is beautiful. The first track, “In My Head,” tells a story of a girl still touched by the heartbreak of a past relationship, and she’s watching her ex move on. When listening to this song you can tell that all of the lyrics are carefully thought out, and they’re almost poetic in a way. My favorite lyric from “In My Head” is probably the lyric that inspired the EP’s name, “This dress too nice for a jacket, so I’m freezing.” However I’m also a big fan of the chorus, and the way it shows the heartbreak of the situation without losing the upbeat feel of the song. I love this song because it shows intense emotion and heartbreak towards the circumstances, but it’s also an upbeat song, and if you didn’t listen closely to the lyric you probably wouldn’t pick up on how heartbreaking the song really is.

The second track on the EP, “Details,” is beautiful and honest and raw. I interpret it as being about a relationship that has ended and the two are still friends, but once one meets someone new it’s awkward (however I have no idea if that’s what it’s really about). Lyrically and instrumentally this song is wonderful. The guitar is simple, yet still very complimentary to the song and to Maisie’s vocals. The lyrics are stunning and heartbreaking and truthful, they really capture a feeling of not knowing what to do about the situation. My favorite part of this song is hands down the bridge, the bridge is “Details” just shows a very honest moment for the writer, and it’s so vulnerable and beautiful (“Look I don’t think I want you to myself, but I know I don’t want you with anybody else, don’t think you wanna hear that either”). Also the chorus and the repetitive line of, “I’ll keep it all to myself, if you keep it all to yourself, and just spare me the details” is so beautiful and smart.

The third track off the EP is called “Enough For You,” this song is heartbreaking, but the story behind it is wild. This song originated with a story about a girl confessing her love for one of the co-writer’s driving instructors, and the driving instructor turning her down (it’s written from the perspective of the girl that confessed her love). The way they turned this pretty crazy story into a such a beautiful song is beyond me, and I think that is one of the reasons why I love this song. Also, the sound of this song is so interesting, it was made using a vocoder, which produces really unique sounds, and gives this song a really different feel than the other songs on the EP. However, again I think my favorite part of the song would have to be the lyrics, because they’re so heartbreakingly beautiful (“Poured out my heart, in the front of your car, kind of funny, now you don’t wanna see me, and I get it, no I really do, but I wish I was enough for you”).

The fourth track is “Architecture,” this song serves as both a love song and a goodbye song. It’s about the end of a relationship, that was wonderful and lovely, but it had to end for the best of both of the people in the relationship. This song really captures the lovely essence of the relationship, while also showing some of the heartbreak that comes with the ultimate end of the relationship. Lyrically this song is just so stunning, the main line in the song being “You built me up like architecture, boy you’ll break my heart, I’ll let ya, cause no one nowhere knows me better than you.” My favorite lyric in the song comes from the second verse, “Now your train ticket, takes my breath with it, but you’re the biggest and the brightest that this place has ever made, and I can’t ask you to stay.” This song is beautiful and I think in every lyric there is both happiness and sadness and I think the way this song captured both of those emotions is why I love this song so much.

The fifth track, “You to You,” is honestly one of the smartest songs ever. This song is insanely bitter about the way a past relationship ended (the idea of the song being I hope someone does to you what you did to me so you know how it feels). I think the way this song executes this bitterness and this whole concept is wonderful, and it really doesn’t hold back on any of the hatred (“I hope that you find someone that you trust, and you give all your darkest secrets up, and then I hope she breaks your heart in two, hope she does a you to you”). My favorite part of the song is definitely the bridge because it’s just so smart, and it really shows an understanding of the songs tone, especially with the opening line (“I know this song is bitter but my calls didn’t get through to you”). However, my favorite part of the bridge is definitely the end of it, “So I hope you think you’ve finally found the one, and then she f***s you over just for fun, cause then maybe you’ll realize what you do, hope she does a you to you.” Also the production of the entire song is just brilliant and really helps to enhance her vocals, I really like the background vocals in the bridge.

The final track off the EP, “Feels Like This” is such a magical song. This song is in its simplest form, a love song. It’s the best kind of love song, full of cliches and sappy lyrics, but still beautiful. I think my favorite lyric in the song has to be, “I’m hardwired to be with you,” it’s just such a simple lyric but it’s full of emotion. Also, the chorus is lyrically so beautiful and everytime I listen to this song I fall in love with it a little more (“When it feels like this, like a light came on, and you look at me, say I’m all you want, I’ve got everything at my fingertips, how can I resist, when it feels like this”). The piano is gorgeous and simple and draws a lot of the attention to her vocals, which are stunning. The harmonies in the second to last chorus are stunning, and the quiet in the final chorus that makes it almost acapella is so beautiful. Also, recently the music video for this song dropped and the music video itself is a work of art.

Django Jane – Janelle Monáe

This song is so smart and just so good. Every lyric has some sort of higher connection than you originally think. This song pays homage to a lot of female and black artists, and speaks to the power of specifically African-American females. The lyrical power of this song is insane, and everytime I listen to this song I find something new about it that is amazing. My favorite lyric in the song is hands down “Mansplaining I fold ‘em like origami, what’s a wave baby this a tsunami.” I also think the structure of this song is really interesting, because it doesn’t really have a consistent structure like most songs do, with a chorus or verses. The production is brilliant, my favorite bit production wise is when it gets quiet and she says “Who shot the sheriff, then fled to Paris, in the darkest hour, spoke truth to power?” This song made my list for top ten songs of the year because it’s one of the most clever songs lyrically that I’ve ever heard, and it’s just such a power ballad and I love it.

Psycho – Lauren Aquilina

This song was so unexpected of Lauren Aquilina, and I love it. Lauren Aquilina is the artist behind my favorite album of all time, and that album is full of sadder piano ballads, and this song is the furthest from a sad piano ballad. This song is definitely more of a pop song, and focuses on the idea of becoming a “psycho” because of the way a relationship went. I think the production on this song is so brilliant and it compliments the song very well (there’s this part where the lyric is “when you’re by yourself, you’re not alone” and after that there’s a small whisper that goes “hello” which is genius). Vocally, Lauren Aquilina has one of the strongest voices in the music industry, and the way she uses her voice and her tone differently throughout the song is also one of my favorite things about the song. Also, Lauren Aquilina’s lyrics don’t disappoint, even though this song is so wildly different than all of the music she’s released during her career. I really like the second verse and the bridge, and the chorus is brilliant as well. My favorite lyric from the song is “I’ll add her to the list of the girls you’re f***ing with.” This song made my list for top ten songs of the year because it was the singing comeback of one of my favorite artists of all time, and it every factor that goes into this song is just genius.

Superhero – Lauv

I love the story behind this song so much, and I think all together the song is such a beautiful work of art. The whole song is based off of a note that Lauv got at a show that read “I met a superhero, I lost her, I want her back.” This lyric is what opens and closes the song, which I really love because it feels like the song came full circle. While this song is lyrically pretty repetitive, I think the production changes as the song progresses and helps to break up the repetitive feel of the song. Throughout the song more and more production is added, which makes the song build from pretty stripped down to pretty produced, and then the song becomes pretty stripped down again in the final verse which sounds vulnerable and raw and it’s beautiful. The guitar in the opening of the song is beautiful, and I love how raw the first verse of the song is. This song made my list for top ten songs of the year, because it’s just a really beautiful song, and the way it was made really stands out to me.

Conversations with my Wife – Jon Bellion

This song is a work of genius. It tells a story about social media and about living in the 24 hour society we are living in today, but it tells that story mostly through religious metaphors and religious symbolism. Religious symbolism in music is one of my favorite things, so the digital Jesus metaphor and the constant religious references (“I dreamt I lost all of my faith, but you still prayed for me” and “I dreamt I fell in a lion’s den, but you still came for me”) make me insanely happy, while also contributing to the song. I also think that the digital Jesus metaphor is so smart, and that the comparison of how people view influential figures in today’s world to how people view the figure of Jesus is really striking. This song made my list for top ten songs of the year because I think lyrically alone it’s a really compelling song, but when you add his vocals and the amazing production on it, it comes together to make a really amazing song.

The Good Side – Troye Sivan

This song tells such a beautiful story through such heartbreakingly stunning lyrics. This song is about getting the good side of a breakup, and feeling bad because you’ve left the other person with the worse side of it. I love the structure of this song, the verses all start with the phrase “I got the good side of …” This structure also really allows the song to go pretty deep into what it’s talking about, exploring how he got the good side of the breakup, the good side of the other person, the good side of a new relationship, and the good side of life. This structure is only broken with the bridge, and the bridge also helps to break up the apologizing tone of the song with a more hopeful message (“I’m sure we’ll meet in the spring, catch up on everything, I’ll say I’m proud of all that you’ve done, you taught me the ropes and you taught me to love”). This song made my list for top ten songs of the year because it’s a really mesmerizing song lyrically, vocally, and structurally.

I Believe You – FLETCHER

I’m pretty sure every time I’ve listened to this song I’ve gotten chills. This song came out in March, in the height of the Time’s Up and Me Too movements, and it has a message about sexual assault. Vocally her performance is stunning, and the production really helps to enhance her vocals, however the main power in this song are the lyrics. The topic of the song is obviously very heavy, but the lyrics deal with that topic pretty delicately while also not hiding the message of the song (“It’s the room full of rumors and everybody’s staring/Did they tell you you were asking for it by what you were wearing?”). Even though this song deals with very heavy topics, it still has an uplifting message, seen in the chorus and the bridge (“Girl I believe you/Are you losing your mind thinking what would it take/To make somebody listen to you?/Me too” and “Did you know every battle that you’ve had to face/Is making you bulletproof?”). This song made my list for top ten songs of this year because lyrically it is one of the most stunning songs, and the message behind it is so powerful.