Best of 2018,  Exclusive,  Reviews

Jon ALi Presents: The Top 50 Albums Of 2018!

My beautiful music lovers: We have (almost) reached the end of 2018!

This year proved once again to be a true test to the human psychique with the mess that is our current Presidential reality – but, luckily, in the midst of life’s many expected ups and downs this year, there was (thankfully) a ton of great music to help distract, heal and lift us up.

First up, I’m counting down my Top 50 Albums of the 2018! As per usual, this list was the quickest to make because I find it easier to rank my love for an album based on if I can get through the whole thing from start to finish without banging my head against a wall (repeatedly). WITH THAT SAID: That doesn’t necessarily mean I find album #19 any more or less tolerable than the ones before or after it so please save your trolling for someone who actually cares. The list reflects my personal taste, you know the person the blog is named after. I love music. You love music. We love music!

K, without further ado, here’s the list:

50. Fischerspooner – Sir
49. Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations
48. Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E.
47. Ella Mai – Ella Mai
46. Rita Ora – Phoenix
45. Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes
44. Little Mix – LM5
43. Rae Morris – Someone Out There
42. Paloma Faith – The Architect
41. Travis Scott – Astroworld
40. Sofi Tukker – Treehouse
39. J Balvin – Vibras
38. Empress Of – Us
37. Blood Orange – Negro Swan
36. CHVRCHES – Love is Dead
35. Nicki Minaj – Queen
34. Jess Glynne – Always In Between
33. The Aces – When My Heart Felt Volcanic
32. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
31. Twin Shadow – Caer
30. Toni Braxton – Sex & Cigarettes
29. Florence and the Machine – High as Hope
28. Lily Allen – No Shame
27. The Carters – Everything Is Love
26. Tinashe – Joyride
25. MNEK – Language
24. Khalid – Suncity
23. Christina Aguilera – Liberation
22. Camila Cabello – Camila
21. Black Panther: The Album
20. Goldilox – Very Best
19. Kali Uchis – Isolation
18. Ariana Grande – Sweetener
17. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
16. SOPHIE – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
15. Kylie Minogue – Golden
14. NAO – Saturn
13. MØ – Forever Neverland
12. Rosalía – El Mal Querer
11. Jorja Smith – Lost & Found

10. Janelle MonáeDirty Computer

2013’s The Electric LadyJanelle‘s sophomore effort – saw this multi-talented diva hone in on the sound she displayed on her debut The ArchAndroid, showcasing a playful-yet-wise mix of pop, funk and soul that rocked our world. Dirty Computer is a more versatile and ambitious move: an addictive master class in futurist freedom and pride, packed with a whole lot of substance, enlightenment and soul. Here Janelle continues to paint and play with all the different colors in her wonderful artistry. The triumphs outweigh her constraints of not wanting to miss out on another chance to enlighten. She’s not afraid of being herself, and the fact that she only continues to refine within that is what makes Janelle such a necessary presence in today’s musical landscape. Highlights: “Take A Byte,” “Screwed (feat. Zoë Kravitz),” “Django Jane,” “Pynk (feat. Grimes),” “Make Me Feel” and “I Like That.”

9. Years & YearsPalo Santo

On the follow-up to their fantastic 2015 debut, Years & Years – comprised of lead singer Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and synth player Emre Turkmen – returns badder, more unfiltered and more confident than ever before. Olly and crew are bleeding into each and every one of these songs, at times menacing, confessional and aggressive like on “Sanctify” and “All For You,” where they break free from a broken relationship with edge and a liberated attitude. Palo Santo pushes Years & Years to new and mature heights while refining their brand of pop excellence and increasing its production value. Highlights: Sanctify,” “All For You,” “Karma,” “Hypnotised,” “If You’re Over Me” and “Palo Santo.”

8. Mariah CareyCaution

From start to finish, Mariah‘s fifteenth studio album, Caution, creates a great “Portrait” of where the legacy of Mimi‘s career has been and where it is now. There’s a certain maturity in her tight vision that we haven’t seen in recent efforts like Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and The Elusive Chanteuse; thematically, Caution feels like a return to form. What really keeps the record feeling cohesive and modern is the lyrical content and sleek production – and all it took was 10 tracks. It’s the perfect example of quality over quantity. Caution is undeniably one of Mariah’s finest moments – her tightest, strongest and most cohesive effort since The Emancipation of Mimi. Highlights:GTFO,” “Caution,” “A No No,” “The Distance,” “Giving Me Life,” “8th Grade” and “Portrait.”

7. Tove StyrkeSway

I first noticed Swedish songstress Tove Styrke nearly four years ago when she released her dynamic, well-received sophomore album Kiddo. It’s no surprise to see how she has developed into a major international force since those early days. Her third studio LP Sway is a sure sign of her development as an artist: a restrained, sophisticated and fresh body of work showcasing her gorgeous angelic voice across an array of simple electronic arrangements, acoustic layers, heavenly harmonies and huge pop choruses. She may not have made the biggest noise this year, but she certainly has proven herself to be a more than worthy addition to the Swedish elite we have all come to revere. Highlights:Say My Name,” “Mistakes,” “On the Low,” “Changed My Mind” and “On A Level.”

6. Christine and the QueensChris

The sophomore slump can sometimes be nearly impossible to avoid, but with Chris, Héloïse Letissier managed to deliver a more than worthy follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Chaleur Humaine – which introduced her as a heartfelt, articulate queer artist and earned her a thriving following of listeners who felt she was singing directly to — and for — them. This time around, the French diva took on a bigger and dare I say “more accessible” approach, all while building upon her many strengths. The LP is a record brimming with ’80’s-esque grooves, intimate electronica, and a whole lot of soul baring. Christine is more confident than ever here, challenging both herself and her audience. An effortlessly eloquent, cool and intelligent listen from start to finish. She is the chameleon-like artist we deserve today! Highlights:Girlfriend (feat. Dâm-Funk),” “Doesn’t matter,” “5 dollars,” “Damn (what must do a woman do)” and “Feel so good.”

5. RobynHoney

While it may not have been what everyone hoped it would be, Robyn‘s first solo album in eight years proved to be yet another masterpiece from the Swedish Queen – a subtle, more restrained serve from a woman who has always thrived by rejecting pop music standards throughout her career. Honey is a cohesive collection of sophisticated and deeply emotional dance songs that come packed with slick melodies and intelligently written lyricism, bridging her previous work and with the rest of Honey‘s flowing numbers, which draw on the things that gave her the strength to recover during grief: her longtime friend and collaborator, producer Christian Falk, died from pancreatic cancer in 2014, and she separated from her partner, photographer Max Vitali (they have reunited since). Robyn continues to make the trends instead of following them, and with Honey, she enters the next phase in her legacy with some of her most emotionally satisfying and musically innovative music yet. Highlights:Missing U,” “Human Being (feat. Zhala),” “Because It’s in the Music,” “Honey” and “Between the Lines.”

4. Lady Gaga & Bradley CooperA Star Is Born: The Soundtrack

If you’d told me I’d be completely obsessing over a soundtrack a year ago, I’d probably laugh in your face. But lo and behold, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper‘s spectacular A Star Is Born, a film filled with full-fledged SONGS, all of which serve the story. Strip out the unnecessary dialogue interludes and the plot of A Star Is Born is still evident, as the music moves from the grungy Americana of Bradley‘s character, through his classic-feeling duets with Gaga, toward her cookie-cutter “Ally” pop, and then culminating with “I’ll Never Love Again,” the beautifully heartbreaking song where the two estranged lovers reunite. Each of these phases is expertly executed, particularly on the now staple-ballad “Shallow” where their sensibilities and chemistry are fused powerfully – I’m still not over it. All the songs just make sense to the narrative and on their own, and as a result, hold together well and amount to the soundtrack of the year. It’s a true gift to us all. Highlights:Shallow,” “Music to My Eyes,” “Always Remember Us This Way,” “Heal Me,” “I Don’t Know What Love Is,” and “I’ll Never Love Again.”

3. Lykke Liso sad so sexy

In today’s current state of high-gloss pop-stars, who are all about taking things to the next level, there is something about hearing someone like Swedish talent Lykke Li going slightly left with her sound that is very refreshing. This time around, she took on a more ambitious sound, enlisting husband Jeff Bhasker, T-Minus, DJ Dahi, Illangelo, Emile Haynie, Jonny Coffer, Kid Harpoon and Rostam Batmanglij, among others to complement her strengths. The LP is a record brimming with dark trap grooves, intimate electronica, and an unusual blend of pop and R&B. But, don’t get it twisted: No matter how new the sound may be for her, the Lykke Li heard on so sad so sexy is still a fearless and powerful one. In fact, she’s reached a whole new level of self-awareness and the lyrical craftsmanship, yeah, it’s better than it’s ever been. Are you really surprised though? Highlights:hard rain,” “deep end,” “last piece,” “sex money feelings die” and “bad woman.”

2. Troye SivanBloom

On the follow-up to his fantastic 2015 debut, Troye Sivan returns liberated, more unfiltered and more self-assured than ever before. As displayed on the cover art and promotional images for the LP – where Troye is seen flaunting his queerness front and center – his guards are completely down and his insecurities are completely visible for anyone willing to look and listen beyond the sexuality. Bloom is a gorgeous, intimate, soft, tender, sensual and supremely crafted listen from start to finish. An album for steamy, unfiltered romping. The shift is evident, Troye is here to stay. Bloom is it. The End. Highlights:Seventeen,” “My My My!,” “The Good Side,” “Bloom,” “Dance to This (feat. Ariana Grande)” and “Lucky Strike.”

1. Kacey MusgravesGolden Hour

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve totally been sleeping on Kacey Musgraves all these years. Thankfully, I’ve woken the fuck up and realized what I was missing all this time. Like most of Kacey‘s back catalog, her fourth major label LP Golden Hour revolves around some expected lyrical themes: boys, love, family, independence and varying levels of self-assurance, sadness, isolation and lust. But Golden Hour strives as a much bigger deal than anything she’s ever done before, it’s her “official” transition into a genuine mainstream pop player. It’s a honest, slow-burning and an extremely therapeutic body of work, in which Kacey‘s delivery is quietly confident throughout, blooming at its own leisurely strut, swaying between casual confessionals and songs about love. The very sound of Golden Hour is warm and enveloping, kind of like a setting sun – but the album sticks with you because the songs are so smart, clever and sweetly blissful. There are no mistakes on this album. Everything works and everything is perfection. Kacey Musgraves has knocked it out of the park with this effort and has perhaps cured my anxiety forever (or at very least, provided the perfect antidote). Highlights:Slow Burn,” “Butterflies,” “Oh, What a World,” “Love Is a Wild Thing,” “Happy & Sad,” “High Horse” and “Rainbow.”

Honorable Mentions: ZaynIcarus Falls, RhyeBlood, Emily WarrenQuiet Your Mind, leuanOver the Graden Wall, LauvI met you when I was 18, RalphA Good Girl, Bebe RexhaExpectations, Clean BanditWhat Is Love?, Sabrina CarpenterSingular Act I

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *