In My Ear – The 2018 Playlist

‘Tis the season for list-making! As a refresher, the ‘why‘ for this blog comes from a lifetime of loving music and an ever-evolving musical taste. But, the name and real inspiration come from annual versions of this playlist that I’ve kept for the last 8+ years. 

And, as I commented/snarked last year at this time, perhaps the only other people making lists in December more feverishly than my 6 and 4.5 yo children are music critics, pundits, and fans. Top Ten Albums! Best Album of the Year! Best Songs of the Year! Best New Artist! Broken out by genre and category! 

I’m on record as generally sucking at this sort of ranked list making, so I don’t really attempt it. But, I do spend time each December thinking about and collecting together songs, records, and artists that have stayed with me most over the course of the year. 

So, without further ado…..the list please!

Apple Music subscribers can listen here.

Spotify subscribers can listen here.

Below the fold, I touch on four themes that emerged for me in 2018. And, scroll down a bit further after that for the written playlist, extremely loosely organized in chronological order by release dates.

In My Ear 2018 – Themes 

  • Hip-hop and R&B are on fire — The most creative, eclectic, genre-defying, genre-manipulating, progressive music and musicians I heard in 2018 are from the hip-hop and/or R&B worlds. Not to mention, the sheer volume of output from artists of these genres–mainstream acts and more indie/underground groups– was incredible and, frankly, totally overwhelming. Hip-hop and R&B ain’t dead; they are vibrantly alive and kicking ass.
  • Veteran musicians; new sounds — A lot of veteran artists and bands are still playing music decades after they started, are still touring, and still releasing new music. And, some of my favorite releases this year were from veteran groups I wasn’t familiar with, but who caught my ear because they were trying out some new stuff. Damian Jurado and Frank Turner to name two examples. 
  • Introspection and speaking out  — Turns out, musicians are just as pissed off, concerned, confused, anxious, scared, fired up, beaten down, exhausted, and unsure of what comes next as the rest of us. And, all of those emotions are showing up in the music of 2018. In particular, I tuned into artists who were thinking deeply and candidly about themselves in the midst of this world around them (Mac Miller; SABA). Also, those who were speaking up/out, tackling real issues through their music, and, in some cases, just going hyper political (Childish Gambino; Will Hoge). 
  • Powerful new voices getting airplay — Women. LGBTQ artists. Artists of color.  The equity and diversity stats for the music remain grim at the macro level (the ones that ultimately count, i.e. who is making decisions), BUT there are a lot of diverse artists and producers grabbing headlines, streams, and audience/market share. 

In My Ear – The 2018 Playlist

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