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YOUR HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: SONGS WE LOVED IN 2018

  • December 19, 2018
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YOUR HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: SONGS WE LOVED IN 2018

In January 2018 I resolved to listen to an album a day for the year, an earnest attempt at listening to more artists which lasted until mid June when it started to feel less like music appreciation and more like low-level hoarding.

As with all repeat practices though, spending the first 6 months of the year on such a strict regimen put me in the habit of pursuing new music, and making time and clearing headspace for it. And so – even after I stopped listening this way – I still ended up digging a lot of music this year!!

My grandma has one of those needlepoint canvases hanging on her wall, which is seared in my childhood memory and endeared with its Hallmark wisdom: “make new friends but keep the old…one is silver, the other gold”. Aww…aside from being probably one of the first things I remember reading as a literate human bean, this is my new mantra for listening to music. Find balance. Ebb with new musical discovery and flow with continued appreciation for what what you know and love and what has shaped you into a better bean.

So in a break with my resolution, and in turning a new leaf into a better and brighter 2019 (if we’re going to quantify these things) my year-end diatribe is not Ye Olde Albums of the Year list, but rather, SONGS from 2018 that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. And in another twist- since I am releasing this (barely) in time for the holidays – I have organized them into some kind of Christmas gift guide for You and Yours. So enjoy, and don’t forget to check out the playlist at the end which features all 9 songs and like 40 bonus tunes as well.

For the cool aunt/uncle/child at heart:

Young Thug – High (ft. Elton John)

Dang. I haven’t been this happy because of a song since Paul McCartney said “wildin” in 2016. In an age when millennials tend to get a lot of heat, there’s nothing more heart-swelling than to hear one of the greats not only praise, but collaborate with the younger generation. This particular joint effort came to life after Elton John revealed himself to be a Thugger fan in a 2015 Noisey report.
Young Thug doesn’t just sample ‘Rocket Man’, he unearths it in an entirely different genre and dimension; Elton John’s timeless double entendre soars perfectly on layers of reverb and an ever ethereal beat. Who’d have thought?
(For more on the subject of “intergenerational art appreciation”, check out this article and highlight of my year when personal fave Michael Nesmith announced his affinity for, I’m sure you guessed it, VAPORWAVE)

For the guy who always pulls out a guitar at a party:

SAN MARCOS – BROCKHAMPTON

For some reason I slept on these guys for a while. I’m pretty sure when I used to think “Brockhampton” was some middle class outdoorsman brand like Patagonia or Bass Pro Shops. I’m still not 100% sure who they are. But I got turned onto their music after I fell in love with the song “Summer” and then irridescence came out and thunderstruck my soul with its sheer pathos, and its impressive range of bangers and ballads. That said it’s hard to pick one song that represents the album as a whole. So I’ll go with “SAN MARCOS”, since I love me some existential yearning (“I want more out of life than this / I want more / I want more”), as well as reprise-heavy songs that make me want to sit around a bonfire and howl at the moon with a bunch of friends (think Kumbaya or “Tender” by Blur).

For that friend who daydreams about being in their own music video:

Natalie Prass – Short Court Style

This song is a definite contender for “earworm of the year”. By the second listen I might or might not have been doing syncopated “whoops” and probably had to watch my step to avoid skipping. But don’t stop at this song – the whole album is full of infectious, ivory-tickling tunes that range in complex lyrical subjects and interesting chord progressions.


For that friend who can’t ride rides at Six Flags because they get motion sickness:

Travis Scott – SICKO MODE ft. Drake

I’m by no means first to say that one of the coolest things that happened this year was that first beat transition in SICKO MODE (followed closely by the second, third, and fourth ones). I do ponder how many collective minutes we as a society have spent in the club waiting for the beat to drop when true satisfaction can obviously only be derived from scrapping the whole damn thing and making a thiccer, SICKER, beat in its place. So thank you Travis Scott for this perfect rollercoaster of a song summing up one gauzy, irridescent, aptly themed album. My only disappointment was that the music video didn’t feature any goblins or amusement park clowns, which was a missed opportunity because this song is spooky AF.

For the polyglot:
Moodoid & Wednesday Campanella – Langage

Aside from the shimmery almost shoegazey dream pop luster that always turns me into a smitten kitten on the dancefloor, this song drew me in with its strategically shifting vocals. The lyrics, which address the struggles and shortcomings of language, are sung in French, Japanese, and English. Moodoid is a French group fronted by Pablo Padovani – better known stateside as former guitarist of psych-pop band Melody’s Echo Chamber, who also released a great album this year.

For the friend who drags you to the club at 2am:
Tracey Thorn – Dancefloor

Is there anything cooler than the idea of Tracey Thorn dancing the night away at some club in 2018, really digging and feeling the music, and suddenly it hits her that the song playing is HER OWN? No, there really isn’t. That’s what this song is all about, and it turns out it’s just as infectious and dance-inducing as your most worn-out Everything but the Girl 7″. (Be sure to check out all the brilliant remixes as well.)

For the INFP:
U.S. Girls – Poem

Meghan Remy, the singular girl behind this DIY pop project, makes music that I love because it evokes nostalgia without directing that sentiment towards any one time or place; it feels reminiscent without being any degree of redundant. I love how this song is built off of a single robotic synth line, and gradually swells into something big and bold and anthemic- then fades away until nothing is left but that little lowly riff. *sheds tear*


For the night owl:
Against All Logic – I Never Dream

I say this not only because of the title, but because this is a song I love to listen to when everyone is asleep at night and I feel the creative bug stirring. As with all of Nicholas Jaar’s electronic work, this song is beautifully patterned and produced, and I highly recommend checking out the rest of the album.

For the person who sells themselves short:

Blood Orange – Saint

Dev Hynes makes music I would take with me into the wilderness, or onto a desert island, or out of a burning house. His music under the Blood Orange moniker frequently touches on spirituality and this album centers specifically on how this pertains to the black queer experience. I think this song is about reminding someone of their worth; it’s a celebration of life.

If you enjoyed the extremely cursory list above, check out my full year-in-review Spotify playlist, for which I unfortunately did not have time to write a detailed commentary. Tell me – what were YOUR favorite tracks in 2018?

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Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. ChrisRyanNYC.com won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

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