- 03 Dec 18
A huge Irish contingent feature on our list this year, while Childish Gambino's timely 'This Is America' takes the top spot.
It seems to be common practice now for the best musicians that good music will go hand-in-hand with auteurship. This was the case for American hip-hop and soul artist Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, in 2018.
Having made minor in-roads as a rapper in the early 2010s, he reinvented his sound on 2016's Awaken, My Love! - a masterful psychedelic soul and funk album - before dropping the song that 2018 badly needed back in May.
'This Is America', a heady fusion of sinister-sounding trap music and ebullient afrobeats, went right to the heart of America's contradictions. It lyrics speak to those who "just wanna party", but live in a world where "police be trippin'" and gun violence is ever-prevalent.
The music video, directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Hiro Murai, was a work of startling genius. Following Childish Gambino as he dances through a warehouse while increasingly chaotic scenes take place all around him, the initial release led to much theorising and debate about the content. Gun violence, rioting and inter-communal violence were all implied, but there's also references to African culture in Gambino's moves, as well overtones of social class issues and police brutality. A pastiche of American culture, unspooled in all its chaos, the video demands multiple viewing. It was by far and away the most important release of 2018.
Closer to home, our Hot Press Annual cover stars Versatile showed Ireland they weren't too bad with a camera themselves. The Ringsend group combined outrageous lyrics and visuals to gave us their best release to date back in 2018, with the 7-minute long trip into the darkness known as 'Ketamine'.
Meanwhile, Hozier returned triumphantly and emphatically with 'Nina Cried Power', Saint Sister prepared us for their shimmering debut album with the beautiful single 'Twin Peaks', and Fontaines DC proved why they're the best thing going in Irish punk with their single 'Boys In The Better Land'.
That's all before mentioning songs from Dermot Kennedy, Sorcha Richardson and Hudson Taylor...
Here's our Top 20 Tracks of the Year. For the full list, by the Hot Press Annual here: https://shop.hotpress.com/collections/hot-press-annual-2019
1. Childish Gambino - This Is America
2. Gorillaz - Humility (ft George Benson)
3. St Vincent - Fast Slow Disco
4. Hozier - Nina Cried Power
5. Versatile - Ketamine
6. George Ezra - Shotgun
7. Janelle Monáe - Make Me Feel
8. Arctic Monkeys - Four Out Of Five
9. Saint Sister - Twin Peaks
10. Fontaines DC - Boys In The Better Land
11. Sorcha Richardson - Can’t We Pretend
12. Villagers - A Trick of the Light
13. Snow Patrol - Don’t Give In
14. Hudson Taylor - Old Soul
15. Dermot Kennedy - An Evening I Will Not Forget
16. Lana Del Rey - Venice Bitch
17. Sigrid - Sucker Punch
18. Picture This - When We Were Young
19. Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - Shallow
20. Dua Lipa - IDGAF