I spent a better part of the month going through about 40 albums released in 2018. As with previous years, my list usually comprises top 10 albums but this time around, after reviewing and shortlisting 21 albums, I couldn’t but end the list with Top 12 albums.
I need to make it clear about the criteria I used. I draw my list strictly from personal preference and experience with music. This list is made up of albums I could relate to, those that saw me through dark times, those that broke me and yet put me together still, albums with lyrical depth and obvious themes.
These albums gave me life in 2018. Take note of the worthy mention category, those albums are just as good as the Top 12.
12. Dan + Shay by Dan + Shay
Genre – Country
This self-titled album is the third effort from Country music duo – Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. It’s my favourite country music album of 2018. The album has a feel good dreamy flow that makes you think of the one who holds your heart. When listening to the album, I always picture myself on a road trip with the windows down, the air blasting into my face and the album playing at top volume while my mind travels through memories made with that special one.
Favourite Tracks – Speechless, Tequila, What keeps you up at night
11. Origins by Imagine Dragons
Genre – Electropop
I will always compare any new Imagine Dragon’s album to their debut album which was and still is a masterpiece. Sadly, none of their follow up albums has been able to meet same level of excellence. Origins feels like a continuation of their previous LP – Evolve, though in itself, Origin boasts of some memorable songs. I’ll say the band did well on this album, though it’s a typical Imagine Dragon sound, nothing new per say. Songs like Boomerang and Stuck hit home ‘cus this album came out at a time when I was struggling with moving on from a broken relationship.
Favourite Tracks – Stuck, Bad Liar, Boomerang, Birds
10. Bastian Baker by Bastian Baker
Genre – Country, Pop
I discovered Bastian Baker last year when I took a risk in downloading his fourth album. I was drawn by the album art and it was worth the data consumed. I remember the shiver that went down my spine when I heard Time. I sent the track – You Should Call Home to Kareem, this was his response – “I practically stood still in the office after listening to this”.
Favourite Tracks – Time, You Should Call Home, Another Day
9. Camila by Camila Cabello
Genre – Pop
I remember wondering how 2018 was going to be music wise, then Camila dropped her debut solo album fresh off her split from Fifth Harmony. The album started the year for me and gave a promise that the year was indeed going to be a good year for music. This was a good pop vocal album well deserving of its Grammy nomination for that category.
Favourite Tracks – Never be the same, Consequences, Something’s gotta give
8. Bridges by Josh Groban
Genre – Classical crossover
This album couldn’t have come at a much better time. I discovered the song Granted when I was dealing with a bit of quarter life crisis. I decided to get the full album and it was a blessing to me. I remember that time I almost cried listening to Bridge over troubled water (Simon and Garfunkel cover), not because of pain I was dealing with but because one of my best pals was going through so much and there really wasn’t anything I could do to ease the ache. If you are looking for up-lifting music, you should get this album.
Favourite Tracks – Granted, Bridge over troubled water, River, Bigger than us
7. Burn the Ships – For King & Country
Genre – Gospel Pop
What I love about this album is that it’s not your typical gospel album, but still it delivers messages that enriches the soul. The theme of the album focuses on moving on from the past. Forgetting your past and fighting on. One of my favourite lyrics on the album goes ‘Step into a new day, we can rise up from the dust and walk away, we can dance upon our heartache, so light a match, leave the past, burn the ships and don’t look back’.
Favourite Tracks – Burn the ships, Fight on fighter, Control, Pioneers
6. Only Love – Jordan Smith
Genre – Pop
I got to know Jordan Smith from his The Voice Blind audition, where he blew everyone away with his rendition of Sia’s Chandelier. He eventually went on to win the show. Smith’s vocals on this album is fire. The lyrical content is excellent and impressively, he co-wrote six of the twelve tracks on the album. The album track opener – Please and the closing track – Sleeve are sure to get your emotions stirred up. Only love is another stand out on the album, his vocals are sure to give you goose bumps. The vocal runs on Feel good is another exciting highlight on the album.
Favourite Tracks – Sleeve, Please, Find yourself with me, Only love
5. The Greatest Showman OST by Various Artists
Genre – R&B, Pop
The album was released early December 2017, but only gained traction early 2018 and went on to be amongst the top selling albums of 2018 (pure sales). Well, I’m also grouping this album with the re-released Reimagined version that had A-list artists cover all tracks on the album. Kelly Clarkson’s cover of Never enough is such a delight. Sadly, a wrong artist was chosen to cover This is me. A Christina Aguilera or Demi Lovato would have done the song justice than Kesha.
Favourite Tracks – This is me, Never enough, Rewrite the stars
4. Bad Together by Rozzi
Genre – R&B, Pop
I love it when the message on an album is very clear and the songs have a flow, such that it tells a story. Bad together is one album that delivers perfectly on this. It tells the story of a relationship, from the start, through the bad times to the end of the relationship. This album was released after my break up. Having something I could relate to gave me comfort. My favourite track, Uphill battle felt like I was staring into a mirror the first time I heard it. Two things you can’t ignore on this album are Rozzi’s song writing prowess and her vocal talent.
Favourite Tracks – Uphill battle, Lose us, Bad together, 66 Days
3. A Star is Born OST – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Genre – Country, Pop, Rock, Folk
I played this album a thousand times, fell in love with it a hundred times over before I even watched the movie. This album is a masterpiece and one of the best Original Soundtrack Albums out there. The stand out song on the album – Shallow has won an Oscar, a Golden globe and two Grammy awards.
The only downside I’ll say is the addition of the dialogues from the movie to the album.
Favourite Tracks – Shallow, Heal Me, Before I cry
2. Look up Child by Lauren Daigle
Genre – Gospel
This album saved me. I found rescue and peace from this album during one of my most trying times of 2018. Going through tough/dark and looking for something to motivate you to keep going on, to not give up on yourself? This is the album for you. One thing that also stands out on this album is the song arrangement. The message on each track flows perfectly into the next, taking you to the next level of strength. I love how the songs go from you realizing you can’t do it on your own, to acknowledging Him as anchor and then the final surrender. The album is a journey to safety.
I wasn’t surprised the album won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and the stand out song on the album – You say won Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/song.
Favourite Tracks – You say, Everything I need, Love like this, Rescue
1. Only human by Calum Scott
Genre – R&B, mid-tempo Pop
Ever since I heard Calum’s cover of Robyn’s Dancing on my own, I was on the lookout for his debut album. His album was much more than what I wanted it to be. This is an album of love and well…it was kinda the unofficial OST of my relationship in 2018 (sadly that’s over now).
My mind always go back to good times when everything was rosy anytime I hear You are the reason and Hotel Room. Maybe I chose this as my best album of 2018 because of my sentimental attachment to it or well, maybe because Calum Scott has that voice that carries so much emotions you can almost feel them listening to him.
Favourite Tracks – You are the reason, Dancing on my own, Hotel room, Not dark yet
Birthplace by Novo Amor
Genre – Indie
Ever since I got this album, it has been my new go to album whenever I need to get lost in a trance. The album takes me to a place where I feel like I’m floating with nothing bugging my mind. Birthplace has same calming effect on me like Coldplay’s Ghost stories album.
Favourite Tracks – Sleepless, Anniversary, Repeat Until Death
WORTHY MENTIONS OF 2018
1. Simisola by Simi
I have overplayed this album so much Simi should be begging me for water to drink. One of the best albums out of Nigeria in 2018. The lyrics, track arrangement, production and of course Simi’s unique vocals makes for a complete work of art.
2. Sex & Cigarettes by Toni Braxton
The Best traditional R&B album of 2018 hands down!
3. 3 (The Purple Album) by Lukas Graham
This band forever gets us reminiscing on our growing up phase. Love someone is definitely a standout song on the album and one of my best songs of 2018.
4. Forbidden by Todrick Hall
This visual album is pure art. Everything about the juxtaposition of society in expressing his message about forbidden love is pure talent.
5. Ready (EP) by Ruel
I wish this was a full length album so we can be blessed with more of Ruel’s awesomeness.
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2018
1. Everything is love by The Carters
By every standard ‘Everything is love’ is a good Hip hop album, but like Uche said, how can two greats come together to deliver such an average album. I mean its Beyonce and Jay Z who have given us magic in the past like Crazy in Love, Déjà vu, Bonnie and Clyde, Upgrade u, Welcome to Hollywood and Drunk in love. I have always imagined their joint album would be explosive with several top Billboard Hot 100 hits. *sigh
2. Electric Light by James Bay
This is not the James Bay I fell in love with. I get he wanted to try another sound but sadly it didn’t work out well.
3. Glory Sound Prep by Jon Bellion
It feels like blasphemy having Jon Bellion on the list of Disappointing albums but damn, this album was a hot mess!
4. Cage to Rattle by Daughtry
Should I take this as a bad break up between Daughtry and Myself? I mean, their last two albums have not been all that, but this one was the final nail on the coffin. I actually forgot they released an album last year till I was making a list of albums I downloaded in 2018. Such a forgettable album.