Best singles of 2018, third quarter edition

I’m not ranking these yet, but these are the singles that have driven me mad in 2018.

Jessie Ware – Overtime
Cassie – Don’t Play it Safe
Laura Jean – Girls on the TV
Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi ft. Juicy J – Powerglide
Lana Del Rey – Mariners Apartment Complex
Ariana Grande – Thank You Next
Tamia – Leave It Smokin’
Doja Cat – Mooo!
Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne – Burning Man
Aya Nakamura – Copines
Ravyn Lenae – Sticky
Let’s Eat Grandma – Hot Pink
Arctic Monkeys – Four Out of Five
Kacey Musgraves – Space Cowboy
Roselia – R
K. Michelle – Crazy Like You
Ella Mai – Boo’d U
Hayley Kiyoko ft. Kehlani – What I Need
Ariana Grande – Breathin
Travis Scott ft. Drake – Sicko Mode
Shaun – Way Back Home
Red Velvet – Power Up

Singles 11/9

We showed Carly Rae Jepsen’s first single little love this week, while a Travis Scott track that has benefited from airplay won me over (I didn’t even cite “Sicko Mode” in my brief review last August). I’m taken with Julian Axlerod’s theory: Scott’s a huge dumbass who has somehow “stumbled into a series of minor masterpieces.”

Click on links for full reviews.

Travis Scott ft. Drake – Sicko Mode (6)
Marie Davidson – Work It (5)
Nile Rodgers & Chic ft. Craig David & Stefflon Don – Sober (5)
Jimmie Allen – Best Shot (5)
Lauren Jauregui – Expectations (5)
Carly Rae Jepsen – Party For One (4)
Hello Pro All Stars – Yeah Yeah Yeah (4)
Lauren Alaina – Ladies in the 90s (4)
For King & Country – Joy. (1)
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life (3)
Lukas Graham – Love Someone (1)

Singles 11/2

I tried mightily but heard no single except Tori Kelly’s collaboration with Kirk Franklin that outranked Goddamn Drake.

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Tori Kelly ft. Kirk Franklin – Never Alone (6)
Bad Bunny ft. Drake – Mia (6)
Drake ft. Michael Jackson – Don’t Matter To Me (6)
The Struts ft. Kesha – Body Talks (5)
NCT 127 – Regular (4)
HRVY – I Wish You Were Here (4)
Tim McGraw – Neon Church (4)
Alessia Cara – Trust My Lonely (3)
Twenty One Pilots – My Blood (3)
Ben&Ben – Maybe The Night (3)

Singles 10/26

At last. Those of us who feared Jessie Ware had embraced the blandishments of adult contemporary have “Overtime” to comfort us. An estimable singer of mid tempo material, Ware is on fire when she gets dance material. One of this quarter’s best songs.

In other news: yes, you read that Thug-Elton credit right.

Click on links for full reviews.

Jessie Ware – Overtime (9)
S.H.E – Seventeen (6)
Sigrid – Sucker Punch (6)
Young Thug ft. Elton John – High (6)
Halsey – Without Me (6)
The Chainsmokers ft. Kelsea Ballerini – This Feeling (4)
Purple Disco Machine – Dished (Male Stripper) (5)
Little Mix ft. Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me (3)
Charli XCX ft. Troye Sivan – 1999 (3)
Little Big – Skibidi (1)

Singles 10/19

My 7 for Pistol Annies’ first single in five years reflects my loyalty — it’s okay. Better is Ariana Grande’s single, her best yet from an estimable album.

The Gaga-Cooper single inspired sharp crosstalk, as usual.

Click on links for full reviews.

Ariana Grande – Breathin (7)
Pistol Annies – Got My Name Changed Back (7)
Got7 – Lullaby (6)
Leslie Grace, Becky G, & CNCO – Díganle (Tainy remix) (6)
French Montana ft. Drake – No Stylist (4)
Diamond Platnumz x Lava Lava x Mbosso – Jibebe (4)
Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar – Mona Lisa (4)
Lil Mosey – Noticed (3)
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow (3)
Rita Ora – Let You Love Me (3)
NF – Lie (1)
Sigala, Ella Eyre & Meghan Trainor ft. French Montana – Just Got Paid (1)

Singles 10/12

On the surface the acoustic folk rock of Big Thief’s lead singer and Robyn’s electronic banger are a study in contrasts, but in Adrianne Lenker’s “Symbol” I hear a yearning for the politics of dancing as quietly as Robyn longs to hide away with her honey.

Adrianne Lenker – Symbol (7)
Robyn – Honey (7)
Zere – Girl (7)
Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water (6)
Nina Nesbitt – Loyal to Me (6)
Low – Disarray (4)
Mac Miller – Self Care (4)
Alesso – Remedy (2)
Khalid – Better (1)
Joji – Slow Dancing in the Dark (1)
Gord Bamford – Dive Bar (1)

Singles 10/5

Some of the year’s best writing addressed “Venice Bitch,” and even the skeptics contributed thoughtful bits. Most of my colleagues were equally skeptical about Nicki Minaj’s latest single, one I embrace increasingly without hesitation; it sounds great on the radio. I wish Sunmi would join her on Y-100.

Click on links for full reviews.

Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch (8)
Sunmi – Siren (7)
Nicki Minaj – Barbie Dreams (7)
The Boyz – Right Here (6)
Mariah Carey – GTFO (5)
Lil Uzi Vert – New Patek (5)
Broods – Peach (5)
Ray Blk – Run Run (5)
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Blueberry Jam (4)
Kija – Potpis (4)
Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho (3)
Machine Gun Kelly – Rap Devil (1)

Singles 9/28

The comments section in the Silk City-Dua Lipa boasts a fascinating conversation between several writers regarding the presentation of Dua’s ethnicity in her most recent musical contexts. I would draw a line between this exchange of views and what we wrote about the horror of Hozier’s well-intentioned collaboration with Mavis Staples. Acknowledging his limits as a white longhaired Irish soul boy, Hozier has Staples sing, “Power has been cried by those stronger than me” as an apology, but the mangling of English (how do the strong cry power?) dishonors her. We’ll never get it right, the track implies, even when we try. So I turn to Aya Nakamura.

Click on links for full reviews.

Aya Nakamura – Copines (8)
Julia Holter – I Shall Love 2 (7)
Silk City ft. Dua Lipa – Electricity (7)
Pale Waves – Eighteen (7)
Denzel Curry ft. JPEGMAFIA and ZillaKami – Vengeance | Vengeance (7)
Idles – Great (6)
Avril Lavigne, Ashley Tisdale & G.E.M. – Trophy Boy (5)
Kanye West & Lil Pump ft. Adele Givens – I Love It (3)
Annalisa ft. Mr Rain – Un Domani (3)
Carrie Underwood – Love Wins (3)
Eminem ft. Joyner Lucas – Lucky You (3)
Hozier ft. Mavis Staples – Nina Cried Power (0)

Singles 9/21

Since the early 2000s Dierks Bentley has released at least one track that pricked my ear. Unusual for a country artist his album tracks are often stronger than singles: play the title track from The Mountain after washing the gormless “Women, Amen” or “Nothing On but the Stars,” identified by critic Brad Nelson as an uncanny American Music Club homage.

Click on links for full reviews.

Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne – Burning Man (8)
Perfume – Let Me Know (7)
Polycat – I Want You (7)
Freya Ridings – Lost Without You (6)
Girls’ Generation-Oh!GG – Lil’ Touch (5)
B Young – 079ME (5)
Hardy Caprio ft. One Acen – Best Life (5)
Trippie Redd – Taking a Walk (4)
Joyce Manor – Think I’m Still in Love with You (4)
Marshmello ft. Bastille – Happier (4)
LSD – Thunderclouds (2)
Jason Derulo x David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye (1)

Singles 9/14

Doja Cat sounds like a delightful person, so it’s no surprise she does better when singing and rapping about farmyard animals in the week’s most memorable track. In one of those serendipitous moments in which The Singles Jukebox specializes, “Mooo!” rubs up against Cardi B and Kehlani’s “Ring” and its homoerotic undertones.

Click on links for full reviews.

Doja Cat – Mooo! (8)
Cardi B ft. Kehlani – Ring (7)
Old Dominion – Hotel Key (6)
Lele Pons – Celoso (6)
Tessa Violet – Crush (4)
Jess Glynne – All I Am (4)
Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – Promises (4)
Regi ft. Jake Reese – Ellie (3)
Train ft. Cam & Travie McCoy – Call Me Sir (2)
Isaac Gracie – Running On Empty (2)

Singles 9/7

I may have misinterpreted, per Joshua Kim’s comments, A$AP’s intentions in “Potato Salad” — the rapper is “flipping the complaint.” Perhaps. I know it’s his best track since 2015, certainly the track I’ve played most this week. Azealia Banks complicates efforts to dismiss her with terrific tracks like “Treasure Island.” Keep your eyes on Ella Mai, who sneaks into material as fleetly as a burglar.

Click on links for full reviews.

Tyler, The Creator ft. A$AP Rocky – Potato Salad (7)
Azealia Banks – Treasure Island (7)
Janelle Monáe – I Like That (7)
Ella Mai – Trip (7)
Maren Morris – Rich (7)
Zico x IU – SoulMate (7)
Loren Gray – My Story (5)
H.E.R. ft. Bryson Tiller – Could’ve Been (4)
Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett – Goodbye Summer (4)
Skylar Spence – Carousel (3)
Janet Jackson x Daddy Yankee – Made For Now (3)
Brett Young – Mercy (3)

Singles 8/31

Travis Scott’s label sensibly releases his okay album’s best track, while Jake Shears and Paul McCartney write, as aging lotharios are wont to do, unerotic sex jams. I raise my glass to Roselia, Red Velvet, and TVXQ.

Click on links for full reviews.

Roselia – R (8)
Travis Scott – Stop Trying to Be God (7)
Red Velvet – Power Up (7)
TVXQ – Road (7)
No Rome – Saint Laurent (6)
Alex Anwandter – Locura (6)
Tiffany Young – Over My Skin (6)
Cat Power ft. Lana Del Rey – Woman (5)
Jake Shears – Big Bushy Mustache (5)
Paul McCartney – Fuh You (5)
Zayn ft. Timbaland – Too Much (3)
Parcels – Tieduprightnow (3)