Best Music Videos of 2018

2018 was another great year for music videos. Here are my favourites from the past 12 months (In alphabetical order)

Anderson Paak – Bubblin

A funny, well directed video set to the stand-out track from Anderson’s ‘Oxnard’ album shows what could happen if you find a broken cash machine.

Ariana Grande – God Is A Woman

Ariana’s ‘Sweetener’ was one of the best pop albums of the year, and the video for ‘God Is A Woman’ is one of the most visually stunning of the year.

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

The video for ‘No Tears’ encapsulates the carefree message of the song perfectly, and helped to set the mood for Ariana’s comeback.

A$AP Rocky – A$AP Forever

The video for A$AP Forever is full of simple, but effective visual effects that pair with the Moby sampling track perfectly.

Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over

Another example of simple but effective is this video for Billie Eilish’s ‘When the Party’s Over’ – with the black goop providing stunning imagery.

Blossoms – There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)

The Stockport lads bring ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ esque antics to Japan in this video, and crack out some great dance moves along the way.

Charli XCX & Troye Sivan – 1999

Charli and Troye take it back in this funny 90’s homage backed with one of the catchiest pop tracks of the year.

Childish Gambino – This Is America

One of the most instantly iconic videos of the year, ‘This is America’ is Donald Glover at his best.

Christine and The Queens – Girlfriend

Christine is back with this slick, well directed video with an effortless looking dance routine.

Father John Misty – Mr.Tillman

Mr.Tillman himself stars in this surreal, hilarious video for the best track from his latest album.

Gorillaz – Humility

A fun, summery video starring Jack Black perfectly fits the happy, inspirational ‘Humility’.

The Internet – Roll (Burbank Funk)

A simple, but well shot, smooth and groovy video for ‘Roll (Burbank Funk) fits it perfectly.

Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel

One of the best videos by a mile this year, Janelle at her best is bursting with creativity and talent.

Kali Uchis – After The Storm ft. Tyler, The Creator

A brilliantly creative, bizarre video starring Kali and Tyler makes the great ‘After The Storm’ even more memorable.

Kero Kero Bonito – Only Acting

Kero Kero Bonito usually have really creative videos, and this is no different, with its home video quality adding to the concept.

Little Simz – Offence

This snappy, nicely shot video for ‘Offence’ really captures Simz’ personality, and fits the song perfectly.

The Orielles – Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)

Northern Soul dancing aplenty in the video to one of the Grooviest tracks of the year™

Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes

Brendon Urie walks up a Skyscraper.

Troye Sivan – Dance To This ft. Ariana Grande

Troye and Ariana bring great outfits and show off their chemistry to this simple but lovely video.

Twenty One Pilots – Jumpsuit

A song as dramatic and tense as Jumpsuit already sounded like it was should a movie, and this video brings that level of production to it.

Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis – See You Again

Tyler and Kali strike again with a visually stunning video for ‘See You Again’.

The 1975- It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)

This is basically Matty starring in a short film, and shows just how creative the 1975 are being at the moment.

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The 25 Best of Albums 2018

25. Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

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The debut album from Hayley was one of the strongest pop releases of the year – with consistently good tracks and a really coherent, flowing tracklist and clean, shimmery production.

24. Spring King – A Better Life

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Sadly now confirmed to be the last Spring King album, A Better Life is more of what made their first record great but with amped up production and more variety and experience in the songwriting, making for a great indie-rock record.

23. Chvrches – Love Is Dead

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Now on their 3rd album, Chvrches returned with their poppiest album yet, showing they can still knock out some really strong synth-pop bangers with strong melodies and catchy hooks.

22. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really FeelImage result for courtney barnett - tell me how you really feel

Courtney again proves herself to be one of the best singer-songwriters in the world (definitely the best in Australia) with this album, with witty poignant tracks and great guitar hooks abundant.

21. Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

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Brendon Urie and co returned with an album full of massive hits with a big band flavour; brass and strings aplenty make this album feel like the biggest production they have ever had. The album almost sounds like a greatest hits collection with the amount of big singles on show.

20. MGMT – Little Dark Age

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The title track was one of the best songs to come out of 2017, and the rest of the album followed suit; quirky synth-pop tunes with lots of character and great melodies make this one of the catchiest albums of the year, and the relatable and relevant lyrics make it a great project, and revitalised MGMT.

19. Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer

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Following on from last year’s Pure Comedy was always going to be difficult, and while GFC doesn’t quite match up to the conceptual heights of the last album, this is still a brilliant collection of moody, witty tracks with the likes of Mr.Tillman showing Josh’s songwriting at its very best.

18. Brockhampton – iridescence 

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One of the strongest rap albums of the year, iridescence shows that Brockhampton are here to stay and really aren’t messing around. A varied but still coherent project that showcases all of the members of the best boyband on the planet.

17. Nick J D Hodgson – Tell Your Friends

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The debut solo project from Ex-Kaiser Chief Nick is a brilliant first effort with a selection of tracks that showcase just how good of a songwriter he is, with tracks like ‘Tomorrow I Love You’ sounding like it could have been a hit in any of the past few decades.

16. Twenty One Pilots – Trench

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Coming through with their strongest album yet both lyrically and sonically, Top have made a really thematically strong, coherent pop/rock/rap album and have perfected the sound that they have carved out for themselves over the past few years.

15. David Byrne – American Utopia

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With American Utopia, David Byrne has proved that he is as on the ball as he ever was, with hard hitting relevant themes matched to catchy, funky tracks full of his trademark wit and charm such as ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ and ‘Dog’s Mind’.

14. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears 

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Electro Duo Let’s Eat Grandma have really come through on their second album with a brilliantly produced project full of expansive, erratic but focused electronic pop songs. ‘Falling Into Me’ is an album highlight, it being an amazing progressive banger.

13. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

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A really varied, well produced album with a multitude of influences used to deliver clever and relevant social commentary about the state of the world with references to mental health, immigration and social media is the best project from Matty Healy and co so far by far, and it’s great.

12. Ariana Grande – Sweetener 

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Ariana really showed just how good she can be on Sweetener. The singles dropped from the album were consistently bettering the last, and the album did not dissapoint with amazing production from Pharrell on tracks like ‘R.E.M’ and those singles like ‘God is a Woman’ and ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ showcasing her amazing vocals and just general talent.

11. Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises

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Manchester goth-pop group Pale Waves have had one of the fastest rises in indie in recent years, and their debut album is testament to why they have shot up. Great, catchy songs with hard-hitting honest lyrics and 80’s inspired production and melodies that still manage to sound modern and cutting edge are bound to gain popularity. And it’s well deserved.

10. Gorillaz – The Now Now

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Much more focused than 2017’s ‘Humanz’ album, ‘The Now Now’ is the best Gorillaz project in a long time, with tracks like ‘Tranz’ and ‘Hollywood’ (which has a great feature from Snoop Dogg) showing Damon can still write a great pop banger, and ‘Souk Eye’ being one of the most beautiful songs he has ever written.

9. Anderson. Paak -Oxnard

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A really smooth, catchy funky album from Andy here is a late entry into this list, but with glistening tracks like ‘Tints’ with Kendrick and the amazing flows and production shown on tracks like ‘Who R U?’ means this is Anderson’s finest album so far, and one of the best of the year.

8.Christine & The Queens – Chris

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What difficult second album? Chris levelled up with a collection of sleekly produced groovy pop tunes that built upon the themes of her debut in every way, becoming more confident and explicit while still maintaining that charm that drew everyone to her in the first place.

7. The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment

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Perhaps the grooviest album of the year, Silver Dollar Moment is full of great, funky tracks with great story-telling lyrics and a real sense of fun throughout. ’48 Percent’ is one of the happiest, catchiest tracks of the year, and ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ has potentially the best bassline. Nice.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

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I’m so glad they decided to go off on one on their latest album, because it really worked. Alex took the Arctic Monkeys to the moon, with a concept album about a Hotel and Casino that proves that sometimes being as outlandish as possible does work. He did what he wanted, and it showed just how brilliant he can be.

5. Kero Kero Bonito – Time n Place

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Changing your sound after a breakout album will always be risky, but KKB made the right choice here on ‘Time n Place’, building on their original sound added even more layers to their personality, and matching the clever, upbeat tracks that tell great little stories with the more complicated production really makes this album stand out from their previous.

 

4. Teleman – Family Of Aliens

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At this point I just expect Teleman to be great, and thankfully they were. Bettering themselves yet again with their best album so far, ‘Family of Aliens’ is an album full of grooves and great melodies with really thoughtful lyrics full of heart that really get better with each listen. ‘Cactus’ is an absolute banger too.

3. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

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As soon as I heard ‘Make Me Feel’ from this album, I knew that Janelle was going to release one of the best projects of the year, and I was right, with ‘Dirty Computer’ being her strongest to date. The run of tracks from ‘Django Jane’ to ‘I Like That’ is incredible.

2. Kali Uchis – Isolation

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‘Isolation’ is Kali’s debut full studio album and in my opinion no other debut has shown as much promise. A cohesive, flowing album full of varied, lively tracks with great vocal performances and featured producers make ‘Isolation’ one of the strongest albums of the year.

1. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land 

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‘Merrie Land’ was the album that hit closest to home for me this year with its messages and themes; pairing that with the consistently brilliant songwriting from Damon Albarn and the great musicianship from the likes of Paul Simonon and Tony Allen, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

 

 

 

The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land review

It has been 11 years since the last album by The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully TGTB&TQ have not, and are as on the ball as they were back in 2007. 

Title track and opener ‘Merrie Land’ sets a haunting scene of a picturesque but broken Britain that is worth fighting for while at the same time asking if it’s worth the bother, with Albarn sounding already defeated.  ‘Gun To The Head’ is an album highlight for me, sounding like Parklife-era Blur mixed with Madness with its chanty chorus and oompa beat, but the melancholy undertone is still present despite the upbeat brass. 

‘The Last Man To Leave’ is one of the most inventive, intense and simply brilliant tracks on the album, and that Damon has ever done; Damon’s vocals sounding like a crazed preacher shouting about not wanting to leave and ‘liking the bed we’ve made to lie in’ while still carrying real, heartbreaking emotion.

The whole album plays out like a sad but hopeful love letter to the UK. The lyrics to ‘Nineteen Seventeen’ perhaps most directly hint at Brexit woes; ‘I see myself moving backwards in time today from a place we can’t remain … My heart is heavy because it looks just like my home.’ with other tracks referring to lines on maps and Windrush.

While this may seem a bit too in your face and preachy when written down, rest assured the whole project has that beautiful sad echo throughout it that only Damon at his best can bring, with his truly great songwriting helped come to life even further by the stellar line-up of Paul Simonon on Bass, Tony Allen on Drums and Simon Tong on guitar.

A few songs do sound very similar to each other and a bit one-note, with ‘The Great Fire’ being a bit of a low point for me, but these tracks are in the minority and the album still flows fairly well.

The themes in this album will hit home for those in the UK at the moment, but the messages of drifting apart and regret leave a lot to the imagination, and the meticulously crafted songs can be enjoyed by anyone. This is the perfect album for 2018.

98%

Gorillaz – The Now Now Review

I was quite worried when I heard that a new Gorillaz album would be coming so soon after the last, with the collab-heavy Humanz being released just over a year ago in April 2017. There was no need to worry.

A lot has changed since 2017 in the world of Gorillaz, with Murdoc currently in Jail and temporarily replaced by Ace, ex-traumatiser of the Powerpuff Girls. This has left 2D in charge of the music, and with the album we have got out of it I wouldn’t rush to free Murdoc.

Opening track and lead single Humility is a lovely, bouncy, summery song that features George Benson and is very catchy indeed; the song’s slick, shimmery production continues throughout the album and the quality of the tracks is consistently brilliant.

Second track Tranz is an album highlight, a complete contrast to the breezy Humility, it is a dark, groovy synth track that shows how varied and interesting a Gorillaz project can be without the need for an onslaught of features.  Hollywood is another groovy cut, featuring Humanz staple Jamie Principle and a great verse from Snoop that elevates the track. The half spoken/sung chorus really works well with the instrumental here as it’s not too over the top.

Another highlight on the album for me is Idaho. A country ballad of sorts, the track sounds amazingly peaceful and grand without being at all bland, being very simple on the surface, but with each listen you notice another little layer there.

Usually i’m not a fan of instrumental tracks, especially in an album context. Lake Zurich is just too much of a bop to ignore though, and instantly becoming one of the most memorable songs off the album.

The album closes with a trio of slower songs, each managing to sound different to the next, with One Percent sounding like a sad distress call from space and Souk Eye’s slow fade out xylophone giving me the feeling of the end of a great movie or gig that you don’t want to end.

This is the best Damon project since 2010’s Plastic Beach, and he has massively topped Humanz, which while I still enjoyed really doesn’t compare much to this.

96%

Best Three: Tranz, Idaho, Souk Eye

The 17 Best Music Videos of 2017

The 17 music videos below are my favourites from the year in no particular order!

Stormzy – Blinded By Your Grace pt. 2

A really heartwarming video that highlights the positive message that flows through the track; showing real community spirit and people coming together through the power of song.

Django Django – Tic Tac Toe

A fun, stop motiony video from Django Django, showing just how far some people will go for a cup of tea. Worth it though.    Directed by  John Maclean

Gorillaz – Garage Palace

A brilliant arcade inspired visualiser from Gorillaz filled with easter eggs for fans of the band for the intense Little Simz collaboration ‘Garage Palace’  Directed by Noah Harris

Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool

In this brilliantly directed video, Sunflower Bean play at a classic American school dance. Directed by Andy DeLuca

Glass Animals – Agnes

Dave from Glass Animals is in a big centrifuge singing the most emotional song from their 2016 album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ Directed By Eoin Glaister

Tayla – Coming Back Around

Tayla gets chucked around in a very nice car in this fun video for the insanely catchy ‘Coming Back Around’ Directed by Xiphi 

Alvvays – In Undertow

Alvvays get spacey in this dreamy video that perfectly captures the mood of the track. Directed by Joe Garrity

The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk – I Feel It Coming

This retro inspired video is relatively simple, but really effective – matching the mood and tone of the song perfectly. Daft Punk look really cool in capes too. Directed by Warren Fu

Dua Lipa – New Rules

This brilliantly choreographed and shot video surely helped to propel this track to #1 for two weeks earlier this year. Directed by Henry Scholfield

Gorillaz – Saturnz Barz

This beautifully animated video signalled the return of Gorillaz after 7 years, with Saturnz Barz being the first single from their latest album, Humanz. Directed by Jamie Hewlett

Kendrick Lamar – Humble

One of the best directed videos of the year, Humble features one incredible shot after the other, all perfectly fitting in with the track, which is a banger.

Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

This bizzare but brilliant video starts Macaulay Culkin as Kurt Cobain.

 

Paramore – Told You So

Paramore have had a great year, with After Laughter being their best album in a long time. ‘Told You So’ was my favourite track from that album, and it comes with this great video.  Directed by Zac Farro and Aaron Joseph

Lorde – Green Light

This year Lorde finally made a comeback after her 2013 debut Pure Heroine. ‘Green Light’ instantly became one of the biggest tracks of the year when it was released, and the accompanying video was bursting with energy. Directed by Grant Singer

Dutch Uncles – Oh Yeah

‘Oh Yeah’ by Dutch Uncles is an upbeat track full of hope, and this fun, roller based video is a real treat. Duncan can move. Directed by Nick Middleton

The Big Moon – Sucker

The Big Moon go all western in this funny, really well directed video for their great single ‘Sucker’. Directed by Louis Bhose

Wolf Alice – Beautifully Unconventional

Wolf Alice go all old school in this great video for Beautifully Unconventional. Directed by Stephen Agnew

Gorillaz – Humanz Review.

Gorillaz albums have always been about collaborations, with their previous album Plastic Beach featuring the likes of Lou Reed, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Gruff Rhys and Kano. Humanz is no different in this sense, with the album only having one track without a featured artist. They also tend to change their sound with each record while still maintaining

The first of these many features you hear on the album is Californian rapper Vince Staples, who dominates most of the high paced opening track ‘Ascension’, with Damon Albarn only popping up momentarily for a verse in the middle of the song.

Main single ‘Saturnz Barz’ with Jamie XX collaborator Popcaan is the first track on which you really hear Damon’s vocals used to their full potential, and they really do compliment Popcaan’s main verses well, especially towards the end of the song.

‘Momentz’ featuring long time collaborators De La Soul highlights why they work so well together, with the witty, slightly off-kilter verses from the hip hop trio making for another great track from Gorillaz and De La Soul.

Humanz has interludes scattered throughout it by Star Wars: Rogue One actor Ben Mendelsohn, and in my opinion they are a bit distracting from the flow of the album in places, with the majority of them feeling shoehorned in; one of them is a two second clip of him saying ”Elevator Going Up”. However there are a select few of these that do add to the album, with the ‘Non-Conformist Oath’ before Danny Brown featuring track ‘Submission’ working very well.

That track, featuring Kelela alongside Danny Brown, is one of the strongest cuts on ‘Humanz.’ Kelela sings the majority of the track before Danny comes in with some amazing bars at the end.

2-D and co. have always been ones to use upcoming or underground artists, like Kano back on 2010’s Plastic Beach, in their tracks alongside legends such as Lou Reed and Bobby Womack, and the inclusion of D.R.A.M, Benjamin Clementine and Kali Uchis alongside Grace Jones and Mavis Staples continues this tradition.

‘Andromeda ft. D.R.A.M. is another album highlight for me, with it being a melancholy track with beautiful vocals from Albarn as well as having a very catchy synth line throughout the song.

Following on from ‘Andromeda’ is ‘Busted and Blue’. A sad, beautiful ballad with a minimal, spacy backing track that continues the run of great tracks on the album that sadly comes to an end with ‘Carnival’ which just sounds jumbled and dull.

‘Let Me Out’ is a great example of how Gorillaz bring unlikely artists together to make a great track, with Mavis Staples and Pusha T featuring. However, following that is another lackluster track called ‘Sex Murder Party’ that, similar to ‘Carnival’, is just dull and would be better off as a B-Side.

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The album finishes on its strongest track, with Jehnny Beth from Savages and Noel Gallagher coming together with Gorillaz to make an upbeat anthem of hope and unity that brings the project to a close.

Overall, Humanz is very good. There are a few unnecessary tracks and interludes that slow the album down but when it gets going, it’s really, really good.

89%

Best 3: Andromeda, Submission, We Got The Power.