2018 was jam-packed with hit after hit. From Ariana Grande to Travis Scott and Drake, check out Us Weekly’s list of the 10 best songs of 2018!
10. Nicki Minaj, “Barbie Dreams”
Nobody is safe on Her Minajesty’s old-school dis track. Over a sample of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Just Playing (Dreams),” Minaj playfully takes aim at many of her rap counterparts, from ex-boyfriend Meek Mill (“Meek still be in my DMs / I be having to duck him”) to DJ Khaled and his dislike for performing oral sex (“Ain’t no fat n–ga telling me what he ain’t eating”). Well played.
9. Shawn Mendes, “Fallin’ All in You”
The pop-rock heartthrob conquered stadium anthems (“In My Blood”) and bluesy folk (“Where Were You in the Morning?”) on his self-titled album, but the real crowning jewel went largely unnoticed. Cowritten by Ed Sheeran, “Fallin’” is Mendes at his finest: an acoustic number about unexpected love that’s so, so perfect.
8. Robyn, “Honey”
The title track from the Swedish pop star’s latest record went through a major evolution. A club-ready early cut served as the score for a 2017 scene in HBO’s Girls, but the breezy final version wasn’t released until this fall. In the end, Robyn’s ever-changing labor of love paid off.
7. Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey, “The Middle”
The infectious earworm dominated airwaves for much of 2018. (It even appeared in a Target commercial!) During a summer where pop-country crossovers were all the rage — Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha’s “Meant to Be,” to name another — “The Middle” came out on top, thanks to Morris’ oh-so-beltable chorus.
6. Kacey Musgraves, “Space Cowboy”
The country star’s insightful breakup ballad may have the same title as ‘NSync’s ‘00 bubblegum jam, but don’t let that fool you. Instead, Musgraves uses it as a play on words: “You can have your space, cowboy / I ain’t gonna fence you in.” It doesn’t get more clever than that.
5. Travis Scott and Drake, “Sicko Mode”
The beat of the rap moguls’ mind-bending smash changes about 15,000 times. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly feels that way — and it somehow works. The topsy-turvy vibe is fitting considering Scott named his album Astroworld after a now-shuttered theme park in his hometown of Houston. The only thing that makes it even better is Drake’s verse, which is frankly better than most on his own 2018 disc, Scorpion.
4. Childish Gambino, “This Is America”
The switches between harmony and discord on Donald Glover’s political single are intended to be unsettling. Hidden behind a smile, the multihyphenate paints a brutally honest portrait of black America. It’s so much more than just a song or commentary on racism and violence — it’s art.
3. Lady Gaga, “Always Remember Us This Way”
Yes, “Shallow” was a moment in A Star Is Born. It even earned professional actor and amateur singer Bradley Cooper two Grammy nods. But “Always Remember Us This Way” is the best song in Gaga’s extensive catalog since “Bad Romance.” The piano-driven tearjerker makes Us wish that Ally wasn’t just a movie character. Luckily, Gaga is one hell of an alternative.
2. Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “I Like It”
The Bronx rapper’s take on reggaeton turns out to be the ultimate block party. Her effortless sample of Pete Rodriguez’s boogaloo classic paired with red-hot guest verses from Bad Bunny and J Balvin make this tune simply irresistible. It’ll be played for many summers to come.
1. Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”
After dropping an album mixed with surefire hits (“God Is a Woman” and “Breathin”) and disappointing duds (“Blazed” and “Borderline”), pop’s shining act came through with the best song of 2018. In a world filled with ever-cryptic Taylor Swifts and Justin Biebers, it’s refreshing to hear Grande explicitly name-drop her exes Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Pete Davidson and the late Mac Miller with grace while crooning about the importance of self-love. Bring on the next era, Ari.
Honorable Mentions: “Fall in Line” by Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato, “Nonstop” by Drake, “What’s the Use?” by Mac Miller, “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Maren Morris, “I Want Love” by Chris Stapleton and “Pray for Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar.