My Favourite Albums Of 2018

Where to even begin with 2018 and music? It's been a jam-packed year to say the least. From rap stars taking over, to the return of old favourites, from new inventive sounds that sounded so wrong they were right, to representation, diversity, beautiful storytelling and musical madness every second of every day. 2018 has been such an exciting year for music.
But, saying that, music just seems to get bigger, better, crazier and more absurd every year. As we near the end of another 12 months, it still feels as though we've only experienced the tip of the iceberg in terms of what music can add to our world. This year, we went through a roller coaster of emotions whilst listening to our favourite artists and took new songs and sounds to our hearts. We sobbed on our bathroom floors to songs that so painfully yet sincerely explained how we were feeling but we also raved in nightclubs (I say 'we' but I mean 'you,' not 'me') to feel-good anthems that transported us to a happier dimension and stole away our blues. However, one thing remained a constant, and that has been, just as it has done every other year up until now and as it'll continue to do forever, music was there for us. Even when society was falling apart, our families were torn, our hearts were divided, our governments were chaotic, our streets were unsafe and our communities were split, music united, strengthened, held and uplifted us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce over my favourite records of 2018. From pop to country, to band members gone solo to lesser known artists, from girl power to sounds never heard before, my 'favourites' list is certainly a mixed bag.

Artist: Camila Cabello
Album: Camila
Release date: 12th January 
Favourite songs: Into It, Consequences, She Loves Control
It is October 2016 and I'm watching Fifth Harmony in concert, experiencing a night of ultimate badass women power and funky pop songs, shaking my booty without a care in the world. Fast forward two years and I've just watched Camila Cabello open up for Taylor Swift on the reputation Stadium Tour as a soloist. Camila Cabello released her hotly anticipated debut solo album this January and let's just say it kick started an incredible year for her. From releasing her single Havana, a song no one around her believed in except her, to garnering up over a billion music streams and having her record played by adoring fans worldwide. This album contains the perfect balance of feel-good songs that make me want to dance on the beach and tragic love songs that make my heart shatter. Camila truly is an exciting talent and I am eagerly awaiting her next release.

Artist: MUNA 
Album: About U: One Year On
Release date: 9th March
Favourite song: I Know A Place
To commemorate the one year anniversary of their debut album, About U, band MUNA blessed the world with an acoustic version of the record. I actually watched them record this whole thing via a livestream they did, which was super interesting to get an insight into their recording process. This whole mini-record makes me feel so indescribably warm and fuzzy inside. It is so soft, so pure, so effortlessly wholesome and undeniably magical. The emotions in every lyric are even more evident as the songs are completely stripped back to mere guitar sounds and passionate vocals. Being able to listen to one of my favourite ever songs, I Know A Place, in acoustic form is particularly special.

Artist: Kacey Musgraves
Album: Golden Hour
Release date: 30th March
Favourite songs: High Horse, Rainbow, Wonder Woman, Butterflies, Oh What A World
I love country music and Kacey Musgraves is the epitome of all the great things about it. You'd struggle to find a bad song of hers, especially on her album Golden Hour. She makes country music cool. She gentrifies it by slipping modern ideas into traditional arrangements and combining the two to create a musical force to be reckoned with. Not only does she have an angelic singing voice, but her lyrics are progressive, relatable and heart wrenching. Golden Hour is such an endearing album, from start to finish, and it is one I'll be keeping in my collection forever. It's gentle, it's inventive, it's absolutely stunning and takes me on a journey which explores both the concepts of love and humankind as a whole.

Artist: Hayley Kiyoko
Album: Expectations
Release date: 30th March
Favourite songs: Curious, What I Need, Sleepover, Let It Be
I don't think it'd be an understatement for me to say most of the world's population were waiting for Hayley Kiyoko to release her debut album. In 2018, it finally happened, resulting in a snowball effect that led to worldwide success, chart domination, mainstream award show acceptance and all the good things she deserves for making the world a better, more loving place with her music. After being a fan for quite a while and constantly listening to Hayley's older songs and EPs on repeat, hearing a full body of new work from her was so exciting for me and I have taken every song into my heart. I love how creative she is with her sounds, her concepts and her ability to break down barriers and show that music should unite, not divide. 

Artist: Janelle Monae
Album:Dirty Computer
Release date: 27th April
Favourite songs: Make Me Feel, Pynk, Don't Judge Me, So Afraid
Janelle Monae took 2018 by storm and, would it be dramatic to just call it 20JanelleMonae? Upon the release of Make Me Feel, the first single from this album, I was drawn into her incredible, crazy universe and hanging on the edge of my seat 24 hours a day, dying for some new Janelle music. This album is one of those I just physically cannot describe. It's beyond words in every way. It is so perfectly crafted, so brilliantly written, so expertly mixed and faultlessly produced in all possible ways. I am in love with this album, its meaning, I am in love with Janelle Monae and how free in my own skin her music has the power to make me feel. When I listen to Dirty Computer, I feel empowered, rejuvenated, represented, strong and fierce. This album has zero low points but a thousand highs. It is one of the albums of the year, for sure.

Artist: Troye Sivan
Album: Bloom
Release date: 31st August 
Favourite songs: Bloom, Animal, Plum, What A Heavenly Way To Die
Looking for the perfect pop album? Honestly, listen to Bloom by Troye Sivan. This album is so warm and includes such wonderfully upbeat songs about life, love and self discovery. Listening to this record, from start to finish, is such an intimate experience, with the joyous, lighter songs creating the perfect party for one and making me feel as though I'm the only person in the world, but the isolation makes me happy, and then there's the more sombre songs, which may lack in positivity but certainly not in feeling, with more stripped back tunes like Animal holding such immense power and taking over my entire being when I listen to it, giving me chills and making me feel every word in ways I've never felt words before. This album is more than it's music, though, being accompanied by stunning, vibrant, revolutionary visuals bursting with life. This album really is blooming lovely. 

Artist: Kelsea Ballerini
Album: Unapologetically: Deluxe Edition 
Release date: 26th October
Favourite songs: Legends, In between, Roses, End Of The World, I Think I Fell In Love Today

Kelsea Ballerini put out Unapologetically in 2017 but graced us with a deluxe edition, which includes extra songs, this year. I absolutely love everything about Kelsea Ballerini and I think she's a beautifully inspirational figure on the country music scene. Unapologetically was her second album and the deluxe edition made me fall in love with it all over again, ten times harder. Perhaps it's considered cheating to include this in my 'favourite albums of 2018,' when the majority of it was released last year, however, I carried this album throughout the whole of the year and a revamped release of it gave every song a whole new meaning. This album is a triumph and is evidence that Kelsea Ballerini is wise beyond her years in both her character and songwriting. The whole thing is a masterpiece with outstanding stories and many songs that wouldn't seem out of place on a movie soundtrack. The way she writes about both being so blissfully in love but also finding herself and taking ownership of who she is, are everything. 

Artist: Little Mix
Album: LM5
Release date: 16th November
Favourite songs: Wasabi, Strip, The Cure, Monster In Me

For me, everything Little Mix, ultimately, comes down to girl power, and their fifth record is no exception. When you strip LM5 down to its core, it's shining with female body positivity, supportive friendship, growth through challenging times and learning to love yourself in spite of society's restrictive expectations on what a woman should do, be or look like. LM5 is a fierce album brimming with 'I literally couldn't care less what you have to say about me because I love myself too much to take any notice' songs, as well as gorgeous songs about being in love with both a significant other but also with your friends. The album has both songs that make me want to dance like nobody's watching all night but also want to curl up in front of a fire with a blanket and mug of hot chocolate. 

Artist: The 1975
Album: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Release date: 30th November
Favourite songs: Love It If We Made It, It's Not Living (If It's Not With You), The Man Who Married A Robot, Mine, I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)
I have no shame in arguing that this album is one of the best albums of the past decade, not just the past year. I think The 1975 are one of the best, most fascinating bands of our time and, for me, coexisting with them is so exciting. I'm just captivated by them, in love with their lyrics, their boldness, their shameless experimentation and also their ability to completely reinvent themselves with each new record whilst, simultaneously, not changing at all and sticking by their roots. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is a masterclass in both music production and songwriting. Whether it's a song about the shocking sorry state of our world, drug addiction or just being hopelessly and head over heels in love, The 1975 throw their all into every aspect of it, they don't do anything halfheartedly, and this album is a real representation of how talented they are as artists. This album is electric, it's terrifying, it's solemn, it's bleak, it's colourful, it's brilliant, it's all the things imaginable and not wrapped up into one to create a genius record that observes our society and the relationships we have formed. Oh, and I think that Love It If We Made It is one of the best songs of all time.

Honourable mentions:

Artist: Keith Urban 
Album: Graffiti U
Release date: 27th April

Artist: Sugarland
Album: Bigger
Release date: 8th June

Artist: Christina Aguilera
Album: Liberation
Release date: 15th June

Artist: Liam Payne
Album: First Time
Release date: 24th August

Artist: Hozier
Album: Nina Cried Power
Release date: 7th September

Artist: Kodaline 
Album: Politics of Living
Release date: 28th September

Artist: Robyn
Album: Honey
Release date: 26th October

What were your favourite albums this year?

Love, Emily

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