The Playlist

The Rundown

30. Travis Scott - 'Stop Trying To Be God'

Featuring first-class, muscle relaxant crooning from Kid Cudi and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, an appearance from the legendary Stevie Wonder on harmonica, and a vocal cameo from James Blake, who leads everyone in unexpectedly excellent hip-hop cameos, Travis Scott's ‘Stop Trying to Be God’ might not be the best ride at Astroworld, but it’s certainly the most intriguing. Oh, and did we mention it might have the best lyric of 2018 in “when you hustle, always make it fancy”? Truly iconic. -Oliver Primus

29. Kids See Ghosts - '4th Dimension'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018If 2018 was a reminder that brevity is making a rap comeback, then '4th Dimension' was the best trailblazer this side of Tierra Whack's Whack World. The song starts with a Louis Prima sample, but breaks out into the pop beats we fell for way back when on Man on the Moon. But, things wouldn’t be Kids See Ghosts without a healthy dose of psychedelia, which at one point goes full-on bad-trip with a snarling, evil voice. Cudi and Kanye each get one verse on either side, and that’s all the song needs to say its peace. Even the sample agrees: “I mean you only want two, two and a half minutes.” This is precisely what '4th Dimension' does before meandering off to Kids See Ghosts' next level of oddball acid rap. -Michael Cyrs

28. IU - 'BBIBBI'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018The catchiest song of the year also happens to be among the most confrontational. Korean singer-songwriter (not to mention superstar) IU, known to belt it the hell out, took a surprising, irresistible call-and-response vocal turn, almost more teasing than singing. While it’s layered in ASMR and boasts some of the most glittering, pop-sensible production the normally K-pop shy Korean star has yet embraced, she’s not mocking just anything. As she won numerous Album and Artist of the Year accolades last year for the entirely self-produced Palette, IU found herself at odds with the culture that obsesses over her, yet again. She’d just lost one of her closest friends in the industry to suicide, and she was forced to plead with fans and the industry alike to see its stars as people.

‘BBIBI’ extends her argument; it may boast yet another charming turn from the singer, but it’s all a deception. Check the video: do you see her smile? Once? IU dances and cavorts through a glowingly colourful world, yet her gaze never shifts from the camera, eternally deadpan. It’s almost uncomfortable. For those not fluent in Korean, or not curious enough to hit up a Google search, the message is easily lost, but make no mistake: IU has a bone to pick. 'BBIBBI' is the sound of gazing right into the abyss, only to emerge, having refused to fall in. -Chase McMullen

27. Parquet Courts - 'Total Football'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018As the first track on the polemic Wide Awake!, ‘Total Football’ reintroduced us to Parquet Courts in a post-Trump world, and needless to say they’re not happy about it. Nevertheless, in this societal call-to-arms, they sound more sprightly and expressive than ever; the guitars hold the line like a good blocker, the bass wriggles free of the pack and Andrew Savage’s lyrics throw the connecting pass for an early touchdown.

Although it features charged lines like “Only through those who stay awake can an institution be dismantled” and “Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology,” ‘Total Football’ still comes out as a frisky and fun kick-off to an album that consistently turns protest into squat parties without losing its edge. -Rob Hakimian

26. DJ Koze - 'Pick Up'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Disco never dies, it just hibernates. As signified by the virality of Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ in 2016 and to a lesser extent Pontchartrain’s ‘Lambrusco’ last year, it’s indomitable, receding into the background during the quilted winter months before gleaming into life when sun and sex and possibility reemerge. Disco is the summer, and DJ Koze's ‘Pick Up’ is the summeriest, sunniest, sexiest, discoiest song of 2018. The threadbare Gladys Knight sample at its core is warbled by delicate drums and elegiac strings, sad and happy and nostalgic and future-looking. It’s an approximation of over forty years of disco and house and yet utterly singular. More than anything else, it’s a smile. -Kieran Devlin

25. Vessel - 'Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Each track on Vessel's outstanding new record Queen of Golden Dogs is inspired by a different individual who has exerted a major influence on the artist’s life. It’s difficult to imagine quite what impact Paplu had; first conceptual acid house rave? Whatever the back-story, this track is a mindblowing stampede of future dance. A side note: the bonkers video appears to have been inspired by Pasolini and Ken Russell, with alternatively lithe and muscle-bound women licking quarries and contorting in theatres and stone boxes. Like the record, it’s a trip. -Nik Glover

24. Cardi B - 'I Like It' (feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin)

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Reworking a classic into one of the songs of the summer, ‘I Like It’ showed us Cardi B's knack for a thirsty beat and snap-backs “I like texts from my exes when they want a second chance.” From brass horns to Latin-trap, this is a party of a track that always leaves you wanting more because she really does “run this shit like cardio.” -Lauren Mullineaux

23. Anna Von Hausswolff - 'The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018

‘The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra’ is one of the shorter tracks off of Anna Von Hausswolff's fourth album, Dead Magic, but is by far its most impactful. The usual gothic atmosphere is present but paired with strummed guitar and this thunderous chord that feels like it’s been ripped from Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Man With A Harmonica’ from Once Upon A Time In The West. It lends the whole track a rising tension that pays off in the track’s final moments as Hausswolff lets loose with a thrilling, cathartic wail. -Rob Whitfield

22. The Beths - 'Future Me Hates Me'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Pop gold on an exceptional album that is stuffed with so many standout tracks; the title track from The Beths' breakout abides by the loose template of all great pop-rock; riff, verse, verse, bridge, chorus, riff, verse, bridge, chorus, middle 8, chorus x 2. It’s delivered in that completely charming New Zealand twang that has infested popular culture over the last few years with its incessantly lovable bent. -Nik Glover

21. Lykke Li - 'Sex Money Feelings Die'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Lykke Li's return for 2018 came with a resulting bang as album so sad so sexy was lined with R&B influenced beats that sat below the emotional individuality and playfulness that we know so well of the artist.

‘Sex Money Feelings Die’ had everything we had seen from Lykke Li and more with a new-age modern twist. Repeating the melody hook line throughout the chorus, she gave us a catchy track that found itself caught in thought for a steady few weeks onwards. The new album was filled with the foundations of Lykke Li, but with a new sound that is sure to keep her at the forefront of innovative pop. -Thomas Harvey

20. Young Fathers - 'In My View'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018The harsh truths of a breakup are rarely expressed as well as Young Fathers do on the chorus to ‘In My View’: “In my view, nothing’s ever given away/ I believe to advance then you must pay/ In my view, love will never come my way/ So when I leave, you’ll be dancing on my grave.” It’s dramatic to a fault, but the earnestness of Young Fathers is anything but a liability, especially when they find so many new avenues to explore, from ‘G’ Hastings’ surefooted declaration “I wanna be king until I am” to the breathy, sharp flow of Kayus Bankole in the rapped portion, Young Fathers might not be able to pick up the pieces for you, but they can give them a new shape. -Brody Kenny

19. boygenius - 'Stay Down'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018When the three incredible songwriters that we know as Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus came together to form indie rock supergroup boygenius, there was no doubt that we were in store for an EP of haunting harmonised vocals in styles that are so similar yet different in personality.

‘Stay Down’ is one of the many wondrous tracks on the EP that created a painting of colours that builds and grows like the years moving along. With the instability of relationships and physical feelings discussed in this song - the topics of the album are heightened by the delicacy of their vocals and creations. -Thomas Harvey

18. Daughters - 'Satan In The Wait'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018At just over 7 minutes in length, Daughters' first release in seven years is only four minutes shorter than all 10 tracks on their 2003 debut album. The post-hardcore/grind sensibilities of their earlier work have shifted on this track to a slower, more complex, layered sound which has shades of Liars or Nick Cave with the almost call-to-arms nature of the lyrics and dramatic, ominous timbre of the music. Although the pace may have diminished, the ferocity that is the hallmark of Daughters’ sound remains as solid as ever. A thing of twisted, intense beauty from my album of the year. -Todd Dedman

17. Kali Uchis - 'After The Storm' (feat. Tyler, the Creator & Bootsy Collins)

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Kali Uchis' sugar-sweet pines of self-love and compassion are met by luscious lashings of G-funk and tinges of soul, making for one of 2018’s most intoxicating R&B tracks. Between wise and sultry contributions from Bootsy Collins and Tyler, the Creator, ‘After the Storm’ is in some ways a spiritual successor to Flower Boy's ‘See You Again’ (incidentally, one of 2017’s best songs). Accentuated by a performance from Uchis that’s both powerfully relatable and gloriously self-aggrandising, ‘After the Storm’ is one of the catchiest songs of the year and marks Uchis as one of pop’s most promising acts. -Ed Cunningham

16. Empress Of - 'When I'm With Him'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Latinx stars are beginning to finally get their due in the American music scene. The LA-via-New York indie darling, Empress Of, has always embraced her Latin American background; her first EP, Systems, was notably bilingual. Née Lorely Rodriguez, she put out a stellar new record titled Us earlier this year and the shining single 'When I’m With Him' was a standout. It sees love through clouded glass; perceptible but intangible. The emotion is both unrequited and misunderstood, as Empress Of bravely declares her insecurities in both English and Spanish. The accompanying clip marked her directorial debut, showcasing her creative and colourful clique in quinceñera garb. There’s no mistaking the intention of the video, or by extension the whole album: embracing a community as colourful as the art it produces. -Zoe Elaine

15. Camp Cope - 'The Opener'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018It’s rare that a song without a chorus can ignite such passion in fans, but on ‘The Opener’ Melbourne’s Camp Cope are so seething and vicious that it’s impossible to listen to it without feeling like someone’s clawing at your face – and the righteousness of the passion is intoxicating. Throughout ‘The Opener’ Georgia Maq lists the injustices and prejudices that the trio have suffered at the hands of the male-dominated scene that they grew up in (“all my success has got nothing to do with me/ Yeah, tell me again how there just aren't that many girls in the music scene”) and quickly outgrew.

Kelso on bass and Thomo on drums expand and contract with the ferocity of Maq’s voice, tightening up as she reaches the scorching peaks of her fury, in moments that leave you standing frozen with mingled awe and apprehension. Considering this year they’ve put out a beloved record on Run For Cover, toured the world, and multiplied their fanbase several-fold, Maq is more than justified in her cutting kiss-off “see how far we’ve come not listening to you.” -Rob Hakimian

14. Iceage - Pain Killer (feat. Sky Ferreira)

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018In a blare of carefully composed marching horns and slick electric guitars; Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s croon, understated, calm and assured, moans breathlessly of aligning a reliance on drugs with that of a helplessly devoted relationship. Accompanied by Sky Ferreira’s ever-impassioned wails, ‘Painkiller’ is a stratospheric and mauling track that grips its listener in an addictive vice of jazzy art punk and all the Iceage-isms we’ve become accustomed to. -Ed Cunningham

13. SOPHIE - 'Immaterial'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018The handclaps that morph into sharp electronic beats to open ‘Immaterial’ signal the arrival of one of SOPHIE's most satisfying tracks to date. It’s a gem of an infectious pop-song, but as this is SOPHIE, she’s not content to fit the mould. Instead, she distorts it, stretches it, and bends it out of shape until it becomes something entirely new. It’s vulnerable, it’s euphoric, and it’s exactly the kind of song we needed in 2018. -Lauren Mullineaux

12. Screaming Females - 'I'll Make You Sorry'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Bands don't usually come up with their signature song seven albums into their career, but Screaming Females, the fiercely DIY, Don Giovanni mainstays from Brunswick, NJ, are decidedly not slaves to convention. Even in its nascent form, as it appeared on the Hugs for Chelsea [Manning] benefit album last year, it was clear that ‘I’ll Make You Sorry’ was something special for the band. And beefed up for its proper album recording, it only got better.

A distillation of all their strengths - the guitar crunch, the virtuosic shredding, the simultaneously controlled and unhinged vocals, the earth-shaking rhythm section - combined with the sharpest, pop-savviest songwriting Marissa Paternoster and co. had ever struck upon. The song is simply irresistible; a chunky power-pop rabble-rouser with the most grin-inducing guitar solo of the year. Within the peppy, ear-wormy hook of a chorus, however, is hidden a damaged heart: “I once was in love before I knew you/ But I've given up/ I once was in love before you.” The price for inflicting that damage? It's all there, trembling with potential emotional violence, in that growled titular refrain. -Andy Johnston

11. Let's Eat Grandma - 'Falling Into Me'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018The word bizarre comes to mind when describing the imaginary world Let’s Eat Grandma have created around them, and we’re living in times where the fear of the unknown should not be pushed aside but, on the contrary, accepted and cherished. Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton, combined, are a force to be reckoned with and ‘Falling Into Me’ is a lush example of crafty pop music with a strong feeling of empowerment, togetherness, and friendship. -Francisco Gonçalves Silva

10. Beach House - 'Lemon Glow'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018With seven albums and one of the most prosperous careers to date, Beach House are a fine example of musical growth while remaining vehemently true to their creative gut. As transformation goes, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally approached their seventh album with an open mind and a "whatever feels right" kind of mood. Remaining loyal to their iconic organ-drum machine combo as a white canvas, ‘Lemon Glow’ gathers the Beach House coined sound with hints of luscious psychedelia, both being strong foundations to one of their best comeback singles to date. -Francisco Gonçalves Silva

9. Lucy Dacus - 'Night Shift'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018As the opening track and first song to be shared from Historian, ‘Night Shift’ reintroduced us to Lucy Dacus as a young woman who had reached the end of her tether. While on debut album No Burden she’d been humorous and self-deprecating, on ‘Night Shift’ she’s the kind of person who “feel[s] no need to forgive,” unwaveringly tells the object of her ire “you don’t deserve what you don’t respect/ Don’t deserve what you say you love and then neglect,” and ultimately decides “I’ll never see you again, if I can help it.” Between these lines though, there’s still plenty of self-doubt and hopelessness – after all, Dacus is still the kind of person who’ll “walk for hours in the dark feeling all hell.”

This ultimately leads her to the foolhardy plan, “you’ve got a nine to five/ so I’ll take the night shift,” a twinkling of that old humour in her voice as she lays it out. The decision is completely sold by the explosion of guitars that blasts through the song half way through, propelling her plans for revenge to genius level, despite the obvious flaws. As ‘Night Shift’ glides imperiously on fuzzed out guitars through its latter half, Dacus’ voice careens and twirls over the top in a falsetto previously unheard from her, sealing her reintroduction as one of this generation’s finest songwriters. -Rob Hakimian

8. Christine and the Queens - 'Doesn't Matter'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Riding on a swelling, negative space-heavy, synth bassline that feels like you’d be happy for it to go on forever, and an insistently upbeat, yet tough, drum machine pattern that sits at odds with the darkness of the lyrical content it underpins, Christine and the Queens' ‘Doesn’t Matter’ from her masterful Chris album, is, in simple terms, a pop song about personal crisis. “Cause the suicidal thoughts that are still in my head/ Give her that awful side-smile when I lay in bed” is a central lyric in a song that’s all about insistent self-destructive ideation of and the notion of outward appearances masking inner turmoil. After wondering aloud about whether there’s further to fall beyond the void, the beat slips away, and Héloïse Letissier breaks the fourth wall to implore the listener to “forget I said it,” she’s just soliloquizing.

Fuzzed out kick drum hits usher in a final section in which Letissier lets loose with her vocals, delivering a masterclass in harmonies while addressing a figure representing hope, who she implores to never come back so that she can dwell in her despair. It doesn’t matter if she believes in God, or if God even exists when all she feels is sadness. Sneaking dark sentiments past a listener’s defences via the medium of pop isn’t a new trick, but it’s totally in service to Letissier’s themes here. Before it’s even finished, you’ll have realised that ‘Doesn’t Matter’ has claimed its place amongst the pantheon of great sad, pop songs. -Andy Johnston

7. Pusha T - 'If You Know You Know'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Does Pusha T know how to start the damn show or what? For an album with wall to wall perfection in production, ‘If You Know You Know’ began DAYTONA sparsely; some clicks and that vocal sample all that lay between Push’s voice and bristling silence. Naturally, it’d shortly burst into that Kanye West thump, but that’s all it took: the less holy half of Clipse doesn’t need much to hit you in the chest like a semi-truck. He’d dig into darker, dirtier elements later in the record, but his wizened boasting set the stage for the short gasp that composed one of the year’s very best albums. -Chase McMullen

6. IDLES - 'Samaritans'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018“The mask of masculinity/ Is a mask/ A mask that's wearing me,” woefully screams IDLES frontman Joe Talbot on 'Samaritans'. If you are male living under a rock—bitterly in denial of the caustic reality that is toxic masculinity—allow these rowdy English post-punkers to convince you. Malignantly rattling off phrases commonly thrown at young men by their fathers like throwing knives: “Man up/ Sit down/ Chin up/ Pipe down...Grow some balls," Talbot renders 'Samaritans' as an unruly, spit-in-your-face punk rock burner aimed at subverting the malicious behaviour of men, while also encouraging them to talk about their emotions. Though self-deprecating and aggressive lyrically, a sense of triumph does pervade, allowing IDLES’ call for vulnerability to resonate deeply. -Kyle Kohner

5. Noname - 'Ace' (feat. Smino & Saba)

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018Room 25 is an introspective album, but don’t mistake that for isolation. On ‘Ace,’ Noname and the rest of the once-professed “Goat Trio” (Smino and Saba) cut loose over a blissful beat while still offering valuable insights about their roles in the hip-hop community, the hectic life of a touring musician, and how vegan cuisine should not be shaded. It’s an invaluable lesson no matter what year it is: When you can’t rely on anyone else, at least you have your friends. -Brody Kenny

4. Snail Mail - 'Pristine'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018What makes a new song perfect? Is it one which intuits sentiment, that latches itself unshakeably onto you, inducing itself into your personal canon? Or there’s the more puritan definition of a formal perfection, where the songwriting… clicks, each constituent part hitting the right spot at the right time. Snail Mail's ‘Pristine’ might well be both. The muscular chord changes and sensitive breakdowns are married to delicately weary romantic lamentations, refining an angst war on multiple fronts where the hooks are as resounding and burning as Lindsey Jordan’s desolate croon that “don’t you like me for me?” By any metrics you can shake at it ‘Pristine’ is an immutably perfect rock song. -Kieran Devlin

3. Yves Tumor - 'Noid'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018'Noid', an abbreviation for “Paranoid,” sees Yves Tumor pull from a deep-seated fear of law enforcement—speaking for not only himself but everyone he loves: “Sister, mother, brother, father/ Have you, have you looked outside?” Echoing the unnerving tone of Tumor’s words, 'Noid' contrasts a soulful sample of Sylvia St. James’s 'Grace' with gloomy bass, distressing guitars and faint yet profound screaming in the background. With Tumor mixing together manic variations of plunderphonics, psychedelic pop and even simpler alt-rock elements, 'Noid' swims in darkness and obscurity—it's a combination which overall, perfectly encapsulates Tumor’s refreshing, dystopian style of pop music. -Kyle Kohner

2. Deafheaven - 'Canary Yellow'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018This is what it sounds like when black-gaze and post-rock and other probably hyphenated hybrid genres are packaged into one 12-minute track. This is a glorious, uplifting mess and highlights a band still keen to experiment and push their sound into new territories to further confound fans and critics alike.

It begins with some descending notes, akin to the opening line of a nursery rhyme, before reverb-heavy guitar lines evoke a sense of a dreamlike, hypnagogic state which is pushed aside as the song bursts into more familiar Deafheaven territory of screamed vocals, a wash of distorted guitars and hectic drumming. The song twists and turns with crescendos followed by relative calm before everything comes crashing back for one final burst of chaos, all with a choral accompaniment towards the end. A bloody triumph. -Todd Dedman

1. Mitski - 'Nobody'

The 405's Top 30 Songs of 2018All throughout Be The Cowboy, Mitski presents each instrument with a pop clarity that could make Fleetwood Mac jealous. Chugging funk riffs detail the verses on 'Nobody', but don’t overcrowd the piano-driven beat. What does tower over the rest of the production is Mitski’s voice, which remains her best asset. She gets boldly close to your ears: “And I don’t want your pity/ I just want somebody near me.” In many ways Be The Cowboy was the antithesis to Julia Holter’s 90-minute opus Aviary. Where Holter extends her thoughts about falling in love to a 6-minute climax, Mitski tells you everything you need to know in a flat 3. Rarely does something so short encompass so much feeling. -Michael Cyrs