The 50 Best Albums Of 2018

The year 2018 has granted us a lot of music. We’ve seen numerous albums, from newcomer debuts to veteran releases. However, with all that music released, there were some major disappointments in 2018 (especially from veterans). For example, Kanye West released “ye” to bad response. The response if anything, allowed 2018 to be the year of new artists. Take a look at Cardi B and SOPHIE, both relatively new artists released their debut album in 2018 to great success. Their albums made waves in the world of music. This was all taken up a notch with 2018 officially being the year that streaming numbers did make a difference. Streaming pulled Nicki Minaj’s Queen from the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 and let Travis Scott soar to new heights taking that slot. This year, we count down between the releases that made this year so special and pivotal in the age of streaming. Here are the 50 best albums of 2018:

50. Triathalon – Online

Release date: February 16th, 2018

49. Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E

Label: G.O.O.D. Music
Release date: June 22nd, 2018

48. Lotic – Power

Label: Tri Angle
Release date: July 13th, 2018

47. NAO – Saturn

Label: Little Tokyo
Release date: October 26th, 2018

46. Ryan Beatty – Boy In Jeans

Release date: July 20th, 2018

45. Jonghyun – Poet | Artist

Label: SM Entertainment
Release date: January 23rd, 2018

44. Rae Sremmurd – SR3MM

Label: Ear Drummer / Interscope
Release date: May 4th, 2018

43. Tommy Genesis – Tommy Genesis

Label: Downtown
Release date: November 9th, 2018

42. The Internet – Hive Mind

Label: Columbia
Release date: July 20th, 2018

41. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Label: Domino
Release date: August 24th, 2018

40. The Marías – Superclean, Vol II

Label: Partisan
Release date: September 28th, 2018

39. Playboi Carti – Die Lit!

Label: AWGE / Interscope
Release date: May 11th, 2018

38. Beach House – 7

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: May 11th, 2018

37. Sheck Wes – MUDBOY

Label: Cactus Jack / G.O.O.D. Music / Interscope
Release date: October 5th, 2018

36. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: March 9th, 2018

35. J.I.D. – DiCaprio 2

Label: Dreamville / Interscope
Release date: November 26th, 2018

34. Mariah Carey – Caution

Label: Epic / Butterfly MC
Release date: November 16th, 2018

33. Larry June – Very Peaceful

Label: The Freeminded
Release date: November 29th, 2018

32. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited

Label: 4AD
Release date: February 16th, 2018

31. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

Label: Atlantic
Release date: April 5th, 2018

30. IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Label: Partisan
Release date: August 31st, 2018

29. Smino – NOIR

Label: Downtown JV
Release date: November 8th, 2018

28. Kamasi Washington – Heaven & Earth

Label: Young Turks
Release date: June 22nd, 2018

27. CupcakKe – Ephorize

Release date: January 5th, 2018

26. Snail Mail – Lush

Label: Matador
Release date: June 8th, 2018

25. Travis Scott – Astroworld

Label: Epic / Cactus Jack
Release date: August 3rd, 2018

24. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Label: Polydor
Release date: November 30th, 2018

23. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

Label: G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam
Release date: June 8th, 2018

22. Against All Logic – 2012 – 2017

Label: Other People
Release date: February 17th, 2018

21. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want

Label: IPECAC
Release date: October 26th, 2018

20. Noname – Room 25

Label: No/Name
Release date: September 14th, 2018

19. Tirzah – Devotion

Label: Domino
Release date: August 10th, 2018

18. Low – Double Negative

Label: Sub Pop
Release date: September 14th, 2018

17. Saba – Care For Me

Label: Saba Pivot
Release date: April 5th, 2018

16. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

Label: Tan Cressida / Columbia
Release date: November 30th, 2018

15. Kali Uchis – Isolation

Label: Virgin EMI
Release date: April 6th, 2018

Last March Kali Uchis announced her debut album was coming out in April after performing one of singles on the album, After The Storm, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. After that the anticipation for the album grew more and more. Then after what felt like ages, Uchis released Isolation. It’s an album full of emotion and no skips whatsoever. Uchis takes on the journey of heartbreak, growth, self-love, and so much more. This album was beautifully constructed and honestly excites me for the next album. – Louis Cano

14. Rico Nasty – Nasty

Label: Sugar Trap / Atlantic
Release date: June 15th, 2018

Rico Nasty has been the most authentic female rap personality to jump on the scene since Cardi B in Love & Hip-Hop. Nothing shows this more than her debut mixtape under Atlantic amply titled, Nasty. Full of rage, personality, and energy, Rico keeps everyone on their feet. Nasty highlights the best of Rico, her gritty and powerful flow, relentless style, and loud character. What makes Nasty a standout from her peers is how well done it is. It doesn’t get anymore nastier than that. – Miguel Anderson

13. Julia Holter – Aviary

Label: Domino
Release date: October 26th, 2018

Jolia Holter’s Aviary is a fantastic Art Pop record that is filled with emotive lyrics and beautiful instrumentation. Throughout the 90 minutes of music on this album, Holter presents the listener with brilliant fusions of Chamber Pop and Jazz, along with a very personal lyrics dealing with love and heartbreak. – Thejas Varma

12.  The Voidz – Virtue

Label: Cult / RCA
Release date: March 30th, 2018

If I were to reimagine The Strokes as a more bold and electronic band the result would be The Voidz. On Virtue, Julian Casablancas doesn’t settle for what The Strokes has become in recent years. He lets The Voidz becomes a more daring and encompassing project. Virtue dabbles in a broad range of alt-rock genres and experiments with effects not yet seen on a Strokes album. At this daring capacity, Virtue lives its life on the edge, and that’s what counts here. – Miguel Anderson

11. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Label: MCA Nashville
Release date: March 30th, 2018

Golden Hour is an album that will make you appreciate life to the fullest extent. It’s relatable and outright beautiful. Kacey’s words make this album shine bright, especially when it’s paired with the light, delicate, and meticulously crafted instrumentation. The instrumentation, along with the raw story and emotive lyrics drive this album. Golden Hour is purely empathetic, to where she sings “Grandma cried when I pierced my nose” on “Slow Burn” to the last message of hope on the heart-wrenching piano-assisted ballad, “Rainbow.”


Some may detest this album because of the country label this album has, however Golden Hour veers past the stereotypical truck driver and misogynistic commercialized country we see at the Country Music Awards. We see Kacey insert a piece of herself into this album. Golden Hour is a pure example of how country is suppose to be done. – Miguel Anderson

10. Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Label: Republic
Release date: August 17th, 2018

In 2017, Ariana Grande was plagued with the misfortune of a bombing at her show, known as the Manchester attack. Since then, she has taken the time to develop emotionally and Sweetener was born. Here, Ariana is in a state where she is emotionally mature, reflective, and personal. By working with Pharrell, she was able to turn devastation into newfound reassurance, and it’s paid off tremendously. Ariana Grande sounds realized and refined on her most serious record to date. – Miguel Anderson

9. Denzel Curry – TA13OO

Label: Loma Vista
Release date: July 27th, 2018

Denzel Curry became the face of the bottle flip challenge with his song “Ultimate” becoming the soundtrack to it. The song was captured in almost every single video, and as a result, his skill was overlooked. Even I’m guilty of doing this; I pinned him as a “meme” rapper. When TA13OO released, it was definitely a shocker. This album sticks out as a highlight of the year because of how solid it is. Denzel Curry dabbles with the boldest and smokiest production yet. His wordplay is top-notch, and his flow doesn’t flee. At the heart of this project, is the brave experimentation. He doesn’t flee, but goes all in. Even when it’s something seen as soft, like R&B on “CASH MANIAC” or . He is confident

8. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Label: Transgressive
Release date: June 29th, 2018

This year, critics praised I’m All Ears for being a step forward for synth-pop music, and while it is, they are embracing it for the wrong reason. The album embraces the fundamentals of life. Through the eyes of two teenagers, one can expect what they say to be so pure and resonant. Whether what they say be about fun or heartbreak, they keep the same message throughout: to live in the present moment. A message especially needed right now to keep us from the hectic hustle and bustle of life. – Miguel Anderson

7. Pusha T – Daytona

Label: G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam
Release date: May 25th, 2018

Fresh out his hiatus, Pusha T proves himself still a force to be reckoned with as a solo artist and no longer just the other half of Clipse with twenty years in the game. A controversial picture of the beloved Whitney Houston’s filthy, drug infested bathroom is plastered on the cover which serves as a glance at the album’s themes: addiction, fame, luxury and loss. With Kanye West’s sonically complex production layered full with synthesized sounds paired with Pusha T’s smooth flows and haunting lyrics we’re sent down a spiral of pure organized chaos in the best way possible attesting G.O.O.D. music to be a rap powerhouse once again. – David San Miguel

6. Rosalía – El mal querer

Label: Sony Music
Release date: November 2nd, 2018

If you aren’t yet familiar with the mega talented Rosalía then you need to wake up and get into her. This year she put out her second album, El Mal Querer which was highly praised by many. It all started with the first single, Malamente. Not only is the single stupid good but so is the visual for it. If there’s anyone who is doing real different stuff right now in music, it’s Rosalía. She puts her own twist on Flamenco and executes it so well. She tells us a story throughout the album about a person who goes through this toxic relationship. Each song has a set theme whether it’s jealousy, power, control, and much more. Definitely an album worth checking out. – Louis Cano

5. Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love

Label: Warp
Release date: September 5th, 2018

Straight static and distorted echos is what Yves Tumor represents in a way. He represents what is not fully seen, heard, or ever transpired, but still compellingly chaotic. However, somehow melody and musicality still appears in the untraceable mist that Yves prefers to surround himself in. He’d rather let his audience ponder and guess in the mystery. There are traces of broken jazz, groove, alternative rock, R&B, noise, electronica, and pure ambiance on Safe in the Hands of Love, but what forms from it is something utterly mesmerizing. The way Yves manipulates those genres as paints to create his own art is masterful. Safe in the Hands of Love is that masterpiece. – Miguel Anderson

4. Tierra Whack – Whack World

Release date: May 30th, 2018

The album is 15 minutes and each song is a minute. With that said, Tierra Whack didn’t have a lot of time to encapsulate every genre. However in that time frame, she did. She was able to bottle almost every sound from every genre and keep it under a minute without doing too much. No song sounds too short, overdone, overstuffed, or rushed. She keeps everything tight and simple. A feat other artists have yet to match on a smaller projects like EPs and mini-albums. – Miguel Anderson

3. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

Label: Atlantic
Release date: April 27th, 2018

Liberation for marginalized people comes in the form of not only a musical record but also an (E)motion picture with Janelle Monae’s masterpiece Dirty Computer. Monae celebrates the intersections of her identity through juxtaposing futuristic visuals of an oppressive dystopian society and dazzling pop beats – creating a world that serves as a macrocosm of what it means to be a queer, dark-skinned black femme. There is no mistake of Prince’s influence on Dirty Computer’s look and sound with the upbeat rhythms, synthesizer and bad ass attitude to every song. From start to finish, Janelle Monae keeps things stimulating, innovative and socially relevant with Dirty Computer. – David San Miguel

2. Mitski – Be The Cowboy

Label: Dead Oceans
Release date: August 17th, 2018

Sometimes we shut ourselves off from our emotions. We put ourselves in a vulnerable place and resent ourselves when we do. What Mitski does on Be The Cowboy is no different, but she lives on to tell her story of loneliness. That, itself is a challenge, and to make her despair accessible is even more challenging, but she does it. While at it, she brings her most emotive instrumentation and vulnerable lyrics yet to sing about the absence of love and the consequence of refusing to accept the void. She challenges her inner-thoughts while embracing her most troubling at the same time. Beauty is shown in those juxtaposes and what is developed is a record full of beautiful self-realization. – Miguel Anderson

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1. SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

Label: Transgressive / Future Classic
Release date: June 15th, 2018

SOPHIE is in the midst of recreating what an ordinary pop song should sound like. OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES executes itself to that changing landscape of sound. The album is pushing pop’s traditionally accessible sound to the extremes to the extent where sound is distorted and frayed. If anything, this innovation SOPHIE has captured on her debut, is bringing music and us, into the future. – Miguel Anderson

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The Future of Pop (Pt. 1)

(Written by Ashley Flamenco and Miguel Anderson)

Pop has been a dominating genre in the music industry for decades from the rise of stars like Madonna in the 80s to Dua Lipa now. The pop world is constantly and rapidly expanding with artists who are willing to go outside of the box and are unafraid to experiment, taking on new unique styles of the genre. It’s because of artists like Rina Sawayama that pop music is possibly better than it’s been in a long time. Charli XCX recently created a playlist on Spotify known as “The motherfucking future,” the inspiration for this article. Her playlist highlights artists from 16-year-old prodigy, Billie Eilish, to Indie star, Clairo, who she believes are all the future of pop music — and we definitely agree with her. We not only want to recognize some of the artists from her list but in addition discuss some that we feel are missing — here are the artists who we believe are revolutionizing pop music:

 

Charli-XCX

Charli XCX

Today’s pop music is defined by innovation and fueled by breakups and partying. Charli XCX, one of the best musicians representing pop in this age, comes to embrace all three things. Over the span of her career, she has always been keen to adapting her style to the ever-changing taste of audiences worldwide. She’s come to understand what people like through songwriting for herself and others starlets such as Icona Pop, Camila Cabello, Blondie, and Selena Gomez. Now, from her experience, she is making her own pop. Her style has developed effortlessly since she came into the game, between synth-pop, rock, and now a mixture where electronic crosses with experimental, she continues to develop her sound that is full of pop sensibility and risks. These risks and experimentations, will further pop’s sound and make it more accessible to the general public. By opening the genre up to more sounds, she ultimately brings a bigger palette to pop music. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Rina Sawayama

Japanese-British musician, Rina Sawayama, brings an early 2000s nostalgia, maybe taking you back to the early days of Mariah Carey’s and Britney Spears’ careers, meanwhile transporting you to the future through her musical glitz. Her early 2000’s pop and R&B influenced music often touches on topics like (online) relationships, how the internet has changed our society, and the consequences that come with technology and social media in this age. “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome” off of Sawayama’s debut EP, RINA, particularly displays her fascination with these subjects, discussing how the line between falsehood and reality is often blurred due to apps like Instagram where people can easily paint untrue images of themselves (“Fiction/fact boundaries collide”). What’s so unique about Sawayama’s music is that not only does she implement styles that she loves from the past but she takes on a futuristic approach through both her electronic-pop sound and her insightful words about technology and its relation to social interaction in the modern world. – Ashley Flamenco

 

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88RISING

As the general interest in Hallyu and hip-hop rises, 88Rising, who has connections in both scenes, couldn’t have come into the spotlight at a better time. The group is simply taking advantage of all the fanfare. The group prides itself on being bold and eccentric, while keeping a style and sound that is consistently theirs. Their members include rap posterboy, Rich Brian; YouTube personality turned rapper and singer, Joji; colorful hip-hop quartet, Higher Brothers; sultry R&B singer-songwriter, NIKI; conscious and introspective rhymer, August08; and more who come together to make a loud statement with their music. 88Rising is the future of pop because they are already carving their own lane, boasting an inclusive community that not only welcomes Asians but all ethnicities and races as well. They’re always outspoken and willing to show their audiences something surprisingly new. Whether it be from conscious man August08 spitting thought-heavy rhymes or to the club party bangers of Higher Brothers or even to the fun and youthful Rich Brian, 88Rising is always something to look at. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Sky Ferreira

Sky Ferreira began gaining much attention in the music industry with the release of her EP, Ghost, in 2012, that includes her biggest hit to date, the drowsy, dream-like “Everything Is Embarrassing.” The following year, she released her debut, a 12-song pop-Rock gem titled Night Time, My Time. It’s been a lengthy five years since she’s last come out with original music however, with her small discography and fresh new sound, she still feels fairly new to the realm of pop and music in general. Ferreira has worked alongside producers like Dev Hynes AKA Blood Orange and Justin Raisen (who has worked with Charli XCX and Ariel Pink) to create her dreamy and almost grungy tracks. Electric guitar is the basis for most of her sound and it mainly provides the dark undertones in her music that result in her Rock style, something we don’t often hear being blended with pop. Early last month, Ferreira announced on Instagram that she will be dropping new singles soon and we are eager to see how her musical style has developed. – Ashley Flamenco

 

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SOPHIE

You can spot SOPHIE’s hyperpop industrial fingerprints everywhere in music. You’re bound to see her “hard-hitting” animated pop technique mimicked on every new pop, R&B, alternative, and electronic release. If you don’t see her style mimicked there, you’ll see her in the production credits of artists like Madonna, Vince Staples, Charli XCX, and Lets Eat Grandma. Her style of Pop is “high energy,” equipped with high-pitched vocals and punchy synths. Almost all of her songs sound like they came straight from a factory, giving them a very artificial and industrial feel. They play along the lines of enjoyable and utterly chaotic. One can argue that SOPHIE sounds like every other experimental pop artist today, however as SOPHIE does work closely with artists from A.G. Cook’s label, PC Music, SOPHIE doesn’t copy, she takes things up a notch instead, using thunderous bizarre sounds. She moves the style in an innovative way, fitting unconventionality to pop melodies and production that otherwise wouldn’t be there. As a result, her music is more lively and entertaining. Even hearing a single synth from her will send chills down your spine. – Miguel Anderson