Favorite Music of 2018

The sheer volume of music at our fingertips these days is overwhelming; it’s impossible to keep up with. Streaming services like Spotify are a blessing and a curse. They make a vast amount (almost all) of music accessible, create opportunities for creative playlist creation, and allow artists to reach fans easily anywhere in the world. All good things.

But there are downsides too. The Spotify experience, I find, cheapens music by spreading the listener thin. Because there is always so much great stuff to listen to, masterpiece albums often don’t get the attention they deserve. They get lost in the glut; enjoyed briefly before music fans move on to the next week’s discovery. The art of sitting with an album for a long time, because it’s one of only a few new albums you’ve recently purchased, is a dying art. Now everything is there all the time, and thus the magic of an album event is lost.

There is a massive amount of great music being made today (and plenty of mediocre music), so one person’s list surely only scratches the surface. But for whatever it’s worth, here are the 2018-released albums, songs, and cover songs (in our overwhelming and confusing musical present, the past has become an important inspiration) I enjoyed the most. What were your musical favorites this year?


  1. Beach House, 7

  2. Rivers & Robots, Discovery

  3. Lord Huron, Vide Noir

  4. Sandra McCracken, Songs From the Valley

  5. Aaron Strumpel, Mighty Refuge

  6. The Gray Havens, She Waits

  7. Kina Grannis, In the Waiting

  8. The Paper Kites, On the Corner Where You Live

  9. Great Lake Swimmers, The Waves, The Wake

  10. Holly Arrowsmith, A Dawn I Remember

  11. Robyn, Honey

  12. Charlie Puth, Voicenotes

  13. Víkingur Ólafsson, Johann Sebastian Bach

  14. Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

  15. Darlingside, Extralife

  16. Audrey Assad, Evergreen

  17. Damien Jurado, The Horizon Just Laughed

  18. Laura Veirs, The Lookout

  19. Liz Vice, Save Me

  20. JJ Heller, I Dream of You Vol. 2


Every year I keep a running Spotify playlist of good songs released that year. I’ve whittled down my “Best Songs of 2018” playlist to 100 songs, which you can listen to here. Below are the top 30 from that list… my overall favorite songs of the year.

  1. “Lost in Time and Space,” Lord Huron

  2. “Dive,” Beach House

  3. “Atlas: Five,” Sleeping at Last

  4. “Fool’s Gold,” Sandra McCracken

  5. “She Waits,” The Gray Havens

  6. “Kids See Ghosts,” Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West and Kid Cudi)

  7. “Baby Forgive Me,” Robyn

  8. “California,” Kina Grannis

  9. “Over Rainbows and Rainier,” Damien Jurado

  10. “For You Too,” Yo La Tengo

  11. “Pray For Me,” The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar

  12. “Your True Name,” The Radio Dept.

  13. “Pay No Mind,” Beach House

  14. “Just For Us,” Francis and the Lights

  15. “God Is Still Here,” JJ Heller

  16. “My Refuge,” Rivers & Robots

  17. “Eschaton,” Darlingside

  18. “Lover of My Soul,” Sandra McCracken

  19. “Watch Fire,” Laura Veirs and Sufjan Stevens

  20. “All the Stars,” Kendrick Lamar, SZA

  21. “For Now (Reimagined),” Kina Grannis

  22. “THE BLUES,” Toby Nwigwe

  23. “Pitch or Honey,” Neko Case

  24. “Sun on the Square,” The Innocence Mission

  25. “Hold Your Head Up High,” Darlingside

  26. “Drawn to You,” Audrey Assad

  27. “Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays,” Unknown Mortal Orchestra

  28. “Visions of a Different World,” Great Lake Swimmers

  29. “If You Know You Know,” Pusha T

  30. “God Save Our Young Blood,” Børns and Lana Del Rey

  31. “Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain,” The Paper Kites

  32. “The Man Who Has Everything,” Chance the Rapper

  33. “What Chance Have I Got,” Yo La Tengo

  34. “Love Together,” Holly Arrowsmith

  35. “Believe,” Amen Dunes

  36. “Auckland,” LANZ feat. James McAlister

  37. “Digressions,” Lizzy LeBleu

  38. “I Can Change,” Lake Street Drive

  39. “Drift Away,” Liz Vice

  40. “Oh What a World,” Kasey Musgraves

  41. “Grows Old,” Thirdstory

  42. “Attention,” Charlie Puth

  43. “Sleepy Eyes,” Elohim

  44. “Doesn’t Matter,” Christine & the Queens

  45. “How Seriously You Take Yourself,” Ski Lift

  46. “Let Go of Your Plans,” Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, feat. Madison Ryann Ward

  47. “Nina Cried Power,” Hozier feat. Mavis Staples

  48. “Shallow,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

  49. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” The 1975

  50. “Wanderer,” Cat Power

10 Favorite Covers of 2018

  1. “Moon River,” Frank Ocean

  2. “Africa,” Weezer

  3. “Vincent,” Ellie Goulding

  4. “Umbrella,” The Mayries

  5. “By Your Side,” Mat Kearney

  6. “Kansas City Star,” Kasey Musgraves

  7. “Halo,” Jono McCLeery

  8. “Pink Moon,” Rostam

  9. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Kina Grannis

  10. “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” JJ Heller