The Top 100 Songs of 2018, Part Five: 20 – 1

Welcome to the show! The votes have been tallied (they were all mine), the jury (me) has decided, and the people (maybe like three of you) are hotly anticipating what’s to come. So, here we are. The top 20 songs of 2018. Of course, don’t forget one, two, three and four before you go through the boss level.

See you next time – same DJY time, same DJY channel.

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20. Luca Brasi – Let it Slip

Luca Brasi emerged out of the east coast of Tasmania nearly a decade ago with a mantra that has long been ascribed on countless bodies: “Empty bottles, full hearts and no regrets.” How curious, then, that the lead single from the band’s fourth album speaks openly of vocalist Tyler Richardson’s regrets: “I could have burned a little brighter,” he sings. “I could have shone a little more.” “Slip” is a song about craving human connection and knowing you have to hit rock bottom in order to get back to the top. It’s as human and full-hearted as Brasi’s ever been.

19. Denise Le Menice – Heart

There’s a moment towards the end of the music video for “Heart” in which Denise (AKA Ali Flintoff) grabs a fistful of a heart-shaped cake and digs in. In a way, that’s what listening to “Heart” feels like – it’s such a sugar-rush, you just know listening to it can’t be good for your teeth. It’s a song centred on head-voice girl-talk, shimmering guitar layers and glassy, heaven’s-gate keyboards. It’s soft in the centre and melts in your mouth – one of the finest indulgences of the calendar year as far as Australian music is concerned. Let them eat cake.

18. Basement – Disconnect

Andrew Fisher has gone on record saying “Disconnect” was the lynchpin as far as writing Basment’s fourth album, Beside Myself, went. This was the song, he believed, that made the band unshakably confident in the direction they were taking. Listening intently, it’s easy to see where they got that confidence from – it bursts right out of the gates and makes its presence felt, brimming with vivacity and conviction in its delivery. Truth be told, it could be the single best… well, single, that Basement have ever made. Bonus points for that “prodigal son/what have you done” rhyme, too. Genius.

17. Laura Jean – Girls on the TV

A song like “Girls on the TV” does so much speaking for itself that writing about it almost feels like a disservice. It needs to be heard to be properly experienced. How does one describe the feeling you get as the devastating, confessional storytelling of Laura Jean cuts through the disco-lite backbeat and the layers of Casio on top? Is there a word that sums up the way one’s brain reacts as you attempt to decipher which parts are true and which parts are artistic license? Whatever happened to Ricki? Maybe she’s still out there. Her soul is still dancing.

16. WAAX – Labrador

WAAX play a lot of festivals where, if you swiped right on @lineupswithoutmales, they would be the headlining band. When vocalist Maz DeVita sings “You’re a girl/And a girl isn’t welcome in here,” you can cut the sardonic tension with a knife. Rough translation: “You think I don’t know the shit you people say?” Moments later, she’s barking and biting back in the form of their most mosh-ready chorus – one that cleaned up at every last festival they played in 2018. If WAAX can’t earn your respect, they’re going to pull it out of you with their bare teeth.

15. Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless

This song shouldn’t have been so fucking relevant in 2018. A Margaret Atwood quote shouldn’t hit home so bluntly 36 years after it was first published. We shouldn’t be living in such a climate of abuse, trolling, bullying, harassment and even murder that overwhelmingly targets women. As great and as vital and as important as this song is, it wouldn’t exist in the first place if we were all just a little fucking kinder to one another. Enough said, really.

14. Troye Sivan – My My My!

In the dead territory of early January, it felt like waiting for new seasons of your favourite shows to kick off. That’s when “My My My!” arrived, and in turn made an impact as the first big pop event of 2018. The thing sounds like a complete blockbuster – it’s like a clubbier queer millennial rework of “All Night Long,” and that’s entirely a compliment. Sivan, once the doe-eyed and innocent YouTuber, is all manhood here – take that however you please, gents. It’s confident, it’s sexy, it’s fun and it’s cool – what a way to shake the cobwebs.

13. Pianos Become the Teeth – Love on Repeat

On the last Pianos Become the Teeth record, 2014’s Keep You, vocalist Kyle Durfey was still immersed in negative space and cutting emotionally-raw monuments out of the darkness. On Wait for Love, Durfey is blinded by the light: “What in you gets me so carried away?” he asks of his betrothed, sung so slowly and with such calculation it’s as if he’s figuring out what these words mean again. “Love on Repeat” is an upward spiral from a band that’s carved a career on the downbeat, and its resplendent post-hardcore beauty simply cannot be contained. Live, love, repeat. That simple.

12. The 1975 – TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME

Matt Healy, like most modern pop/rock frontmen, is a 21st century digital boy. One of his toys is the internet, and it’s compelled him to the point of literally naming an album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Funnily, on what ends up being the band’s most computerised single to date – electronic drums, AutoTune, walls of keyboards – Healy and co. manage to hook themselves onto a key part of the human condition in the modern age. It certainly helps that they give it a dancehall swing and a mirrorball glow, too. The 1975 never sounded more 2018.

11. Ariana Grande – No Tears Left to Cry

What kind of year has it been for Ari? One she’ll never forget, that’s for certain. One of triumph, of tragedy, of hope, of despair and of absolute resilience. It all began with “No Tears” – which, as beginnings go, is a pretty incredible place to start. Although ultimately lost in the shuffle due to the success of “thank u, next,” this endearing pop twirl served as one of the more bold and defiant moments on radio for the entire year. “Can’t stop now,” she insists in multi-tracked syncopation. None would dare stand in her path. No woman, no cry.

10. Anderson .Paak – Bubblin

At first, it was a shock to look through the announced tracklist of Oxnard, Anderson .Paak’s game-six victory lap from the tail-end of 2018. Where the fuck was “Bubblin”? It had come charging out of the gates months prior, all alpha-male bravado and rap-god swagger. It was the hardest .Paak had ever gone on record – not a smooth rnb hook to be seen nor heard. Surely if you’re putting out an album that same year, you’d want the best song you’ve ever made on your own to be among its ranks?

As it turned out, Oxnard was a whole different vibe entirely – such is the nature of .Paak’s creativity. Had “Bubblin” been wedged onto the record, it would not have played well with the others. It’s a song with a life of its own, and no traditional format could have housed it. From its car-chase open to the tense, grandiose swell of its string samples, “Bubblin” made its intentions clear. It came to chew bubblegum and kick arse – and anyone who heard it knew exactly how much bubblegum .Paak had left.

9. Drake – Nice for What

“I WAN’ KNOW WHO MOTHERFUCKIN’ REPRESENTIN’ IN HERE TONIGHT!” Like last year’s chart-topping “Passionfruit,” the first voice we hear on “Nice for What” isn’t Drake’s, but someone else. In this instance, it’s Big Freedia – the self-proclaimed “queen of bounce,” who has dominated the club scene with her towering figure and undeniable stage presence for over a decade now. When she speaks, you listen – and when she wants to know who is motherfuckin’ representin‘ in here tonight, you just know she’s going to find out.

So, a quick roll call. Lauryn Hill is representin’ in here tonight – that’s her hook from “Ex-Factor” on a near-chipmunk speed that’s sampled and looped throughout. In the year that her legendary debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turned 20, the sample felt like a timely reminder of the record’s legacy and its surviving emotional core. Murda Beatz and Blaqnmild are representin’ in here tonight – they’re responsible for this bassy, chopped-soul beat that was designed with bitchin’ systems in mind. When the samples go into overdrive in the song’s second half, it feels like fire is coming off it.

Of course, lest we forget Drake himself is representin’ in here tonight. It’s one of his strongest flows on all of Scorpion‘s exhaustive runtime, mixing his sharp raps with his knack for interwoven melody to deliver something quintessentially his. It’s his vision that brings “Nice for What” together, and in turn makes it a career-best moment. If you don’t know, now you know.

8. Troye Sivan – Bloom

There was a time when many male popstars were “confirmed bachelors” or that were described as “tight-lipped about their sexuality.” Troye Sivan is part of a generation where that hasn’t really come into play – it’s something that has been part and parcel of his image ever since he became famous. Rather than hurt his career, it’s rocketed him – the so-called “pink dollar” has turned him into a millionaire all before hitting 25. This is where the title track to Sivan’s big-business second album comes into play – a song that isn’t hiding itself away in the corner shamefully or remaining tight-lipped about a damn thing.

“I’ve been saving this for you, baby,” offers Sivan in a careless whisper over the thud of toms and wafting synth that is so airy it could float away at any moment. Soon, the floor gives way to the chug of electric bass and a gated snare that could take off Phil Collins’ head if it swung any harder. Sure, Sivan has even less right to be nostalgic for the 80s as he does the 90s, but he feels right at home in this musical environment – it feels like an homage to Bronski Beat, queer icons of yesteryear that paved the way for Sivan to be the young man he is today. “Bloom” is all the radiance of a rainbow without ever having to put up with a drop of rain. It’s here, it’s queer, get used to it.

7. Ashley McBryde – Radioland

On its largest and most obvious scale, “Radioland” is a song about Nashville. It’s about the dreamers that come there to make it big, stepping off a bus with their guitar case in hand and looking up at the skyline that Dylan so mythologised some 50 years ago now. On its smallest and most intimate scale, however, “Radioland” is a song about Ashley McBryde. She’s one of American country’s newest emerging stars, scoring big support slots for genre heavyweights like Eric Church and fulfilling dreams like playing the Grand Ole Opry since the release of her major-label debut Girl Going Nowhere. Before all of that, though, she was just “five years old with a hairbrush microphone.” All the key moments of her life were linked back to discovering her musical heroes and her favourite songs from the magic of radio – which, in turn, made her want to be a musician herself.

McBryde’s story in “Radioland” is direct and specific in its references, from the radio host (the late Casey Kasem) to the car in question (a Chevrolet). At the same time, though, it’s such a human feeling that was felt by so many of a certain age that it’s easy to insert yourself into the picture. There’s also a particular electricity and urgency to McBryde’s delivery that gives this song a bit more oomph than your average country radio playlist-filler – hell, give this a couple of tweaks and it could be a lost Gaslight Anthem single, and that’s entirely a compliment. “There ain’t a dream you can’t dial in,” McBryde promises in the song’s indelible chorus. If there’s one thing “Radioland” is about more than anything, it’s not letting your dreams just be dreams. There’s a whole world out there for the taking – and that’s not bad for a girl goin’ nowhere.

6. Kacey Musgraves – High Horse

Just as the women of country have never been afraid of getting their hands dirty, they’ve also never been afraid to dress to the nines and lower the mirrorball. “High Horse” is the centre of the country-pop Venn diagram, taking ample amounts from both without upsetting a balance. Most artists that have fallen into this category usually end up just ditching their country elements entirely and transmogrifying into pop giants – here’s looking at you, Tay-Tay and Florida Georgia Line. Kacey, on the other hand, has never forgotten her roots – the album “High Horse” comes from is titled Golden Hour, which alludes to the time of day that the sun sets but to her tiny Texan birthplace (population 200). As far as her music has progressed and as much as she’s branched out creatively, you won’t see her records shifting from the Country section of the record store anytime soon.

Think of “High Horse” as a tribute to the more ambitious efforts in the history of country music. The so-called “countrypolitan” sound, which matched southern drawls with orchestral fanfare. The crossover of Dolly Parton and Shania Twain to pop radio. The tried-and-true kiss-off song, all sass and finger-snap confidence that can cut someone down to size faster than you can play a C major. Musgraves takes all of this into battle as “High Horse” locks into its groove and comes out swinging, and she arrives on the other end of it without even so much as a smudge of her make-up. Critics from either side of the fence could hop off their titular steed and find themselves some common ground on “High Horse”’s dancefloor. There’s room for everyone. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

5. Flowermouth – Gown

“Hold on/We can make it.” Now if that wasn’t something you needed to hear in 2018, then you could well have been in the wrong year entirely. This standalone single from Perth’s Flowermouth was a light in the darkness for most of 2018. Its bright, jangly chords burst from the speakers, the hi-hats splashing like the first dive into the pool for the summer to come. That’s not to suggest that “Gown” is at all footloose and fancy-free, though – there’s an underlying tension that never quite resolves, which makes it all the more engaging to listen to. The 2:34 runtime gives it instant replay value, too – you’ll want to make the most of your time listening to what “Gown” has to offer, and no doubt want to frequently return to it.

Its short-burst nature recalls Teenage Fanclub; its major/minor contrasts and focused melodies recall Jimmy Eat World. Even with these clear comparison points, however, it’s evident that Flowermouth are on their own path – and if you’ve shown any interest in the emo revival either here or abroad, you’ll be wise to follow them down.

4. Mitski – Nobody

It’s Mitski’s party, and she’ll cry if she wants to. As it turns out, she really, really wants to – her music has a reputation that precedes it for being highly emotional, deeply pensive and painstakingly introspective. No-one lays it on the line quite like your best American girl does, and never was that more apparent than on album number five, Be the Cowboy. Specifically, we have to focus in on the album’s second single, “Nobody,” which more or less served as a memetic red flag were it played on repeat (as pointed out by the great Allison Gallagher). People may have made plenty of jokes and viral niche tweets about “Nobody,” but if we could be serious for a minute: This song fucking spoke to people, man.

Essentially a 21st century “Lovefool” without the happy resolve, “Nobody” simultaneously sighs and exalts through its bouts of romantic desperation and subtle sociopolitical commentary. The guitar chirps and the hi-hats swat down a Saturday Night Fever groove, but spiralling away in the centre of it all is Mitski herself. In any other vocalist’s hands, the pain and crushing loneliness of “Nobody” would be pure melodrama and maybe even camp. Not so with her, though – no-one is more believable when they sing lines like “I just want to feel alright” and “Still nobody wants me.” That’s not even touching the titular word, which is sung so much that it could have easily lost its sense of meaning. Again, not a chance of that happening with Mitski at the wheel – if anything, every repetition sticks the knife in a little bit more. By the time you’re up to the nightmarish second key-change in the song’s dizzying conclusion, you feel as though you’ve gone through that terrifying tunnel in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The only difference? “Nobody” isn’t a world of pure imagination. It’s as real as it gets.

3. 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood

Around the time of their second album, 5 Seconds of Summer had a cover story in Rolling Stone – every band’s dream, naturally. It was spread around on account of it featuring an admittedly-bizarre, hilarious story involving a botched attempt at co-writing with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger – Google it if you’re so inclined. If you want to get a real idea of where 5SOS’ minds were at, however, skip to the end. In a moment of kids being kids, they decided to pull a prank on their management by hopping out the window of their dressing room and pretending they’d done a runner. “We could have ran,” said guitarist Michael Clifford. “We could have ran far away.”

There was almost certainly more to that than meets the eye. Think about it – these were children that were swept up in international stardom and immediately put on a pedestal to become the world’s next boy band sensation. It’s a far cry from matinees at the Annandale Hotel, that’s for absolutely certain. By the time they were done with their sophomore slump – the antithetically-titled Sounds Good, Feels Good – that desire to run could have only felt more present than ever before.

“Youngblood” is the sound of 5 Seconds of Summer hitting the ground running. It’s the sound of boys becoming men, and men becoming certified global popstars. The tussled-hair mall-punks they once were had to die in order for this song to live – and it’s undeniably a song that lives its life to the absolute fullest.

The song is propelled along by a rock shuffle – a simple structural move that allows the song to swing a little while still maintaining a standard 4/4 time signature. A music teacher might explain it thus: Instead of your usual one, two, three, four, it’s this: one-and-a two-and-a three-and-a four-and-a. Examples range from Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” all the way to Battles’ “Atlas.” Even something as simple as this is one of the largest deviations from the norm that 5SOS have ever committed to record – and we haven’t even gotten into what the expatriate Sydneysiders are doing sonically.

A love-lorn minor-key call from the darkness, the song dips its guitars in reverb and sheen as it simultaneously gives the bass a steely, bold presence. Thundering tom rolls from Ashton Irwin add a human touch in-between extended drum programming, while vocalist Luke Hemmings gives the performance of his career up-front. He’s all of 22 years old and sounds like he’s at the tail-end of a bitter divorce after a decade-long relationship – how on earth he was able to muster that sort of weariness and exhaustion on this vocal take, God only knows. The most important part is that you believe him – and, by extension, you believe “Youngblood.” You believe in 5 Seconds of Summer.

“We could have ran. We could have ran far away.”

“Youngblood” runs for its life.

2. IDLES – Colossus

You can hear “Colossus” coming from a mile away. Of course you can – it’s called “Colossus,” for fuck’s sake. It snarls, it prowls, it stomps, it creeps, it seethes, it slithers, it lurks. It goes – and it goes and it goes. It was probably the most menacing song released in 2018 – and, after the year that we all had, you probably couldn’t have asked for a more fitting soundtrack.

Primitive in nature and brutish in execution, “Colossus” builds a droning soundscape through its churning drop-C guitars and the swelling, scattered drums. Every cycle feels as though it’s pounding into your skull just a little bit harder each time, as frontman Joe Talbot drives home intense lyrical imagery over a mournful blues scale vocal melody. Perhaps no other frontman in rock right now could couple such a unique line as “I’ve drained my body full of pins” with an even more unique line in “I’ve danced til dawn with splintered shins.” There’s so much to take in when you hear it the first time, it’s still marinating when it’s repeated in the second verse. As a whole, IDLES’ Joy as an Act of Resistance was one of the year’s most quotable LPs – and you needn’t look further than its opening number as evidence.

The song’s double-time finale is less the firing of Chekov’s gun and more a bloody massacre. It’s meant to be screamed along to rather than sung, and moshed to rather than danced to. It’s pure catharsis, taking one of the year’s most steady, tense builds and promptly throwing it out the window into oncoming traffic. If you’re not left breathless and dizzy after the full 5:34 of “Colossus” has passed, you’re doing the damn thing wrong. Go again until it goes – and it goes and it goes.

1. Childish Gambino – This is America

Childish Gamino is dead. Long live Childish Gambino.

Donald Glover began rapping under the name – taken from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator – a decade and change ago, cockily spitting high-pitched raps over the likes of Adele, Grizzly Bear and Sleigh Bells. Over time, it morphed into something nigh-on unrecognisable from its beginnings, incorporating elements of dance music, soul, funk and rnb along the way. With the release of the groovy “Awaken, My Love!” in late 2016, pared with the announcement that Glover would soon be retiring the jersey, few expected Glover’s next move to have anything to do with the intense hip-hop with which he made his name.

When we first pressed play on the video for “This is America,” we were lead in with an African-style chant, shaking percussion, finger-picked acoustic guitar and Glover’s sweet, harmonious opening line: “We just wanna party/Party just for you.” If ever a listener has been lulled into a false sense of security, it was in this moment. So, this is how Childish Gambino ends – not with a bang, but with a whimper. As it turned out, we literally could not have been more wrong – it was around this time the first gunshot went off, and “This is America” truly began.

Childish Gambino is dead. Long live Childish Gambino.

“This is America” is the sound of an artist with nothing to lose. What are these motherfuckers gonna do – end his music career? Dude’s in the fucking Lion King remake. No boycott from some sweaty Fox News troglodyte is going to derail this singular moment in Glover’s extensive body of work. “This is America” is an unstoppable force and an immovable object, all in one. It rattles PA speakers the same way it rattles proverbial birdcages. It simultaneously rages against his native country’s obsession with guns and has no issue with dropping some sucker dead on the spot. It’s dissonant and subversive; celebratory and defamatory; a blaxploitation film and a dystopian horror. Glover has never released a song even remotely similar before, and it’s looking more and more likely that he never will again.

Childish Gambino is dead. Childish Gambino is fucking dead. Long live Childish Gambino. If he’s going down, every last one of us is going down with him.

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Thanks so much for reading, hope you enjoyed the list.

Before I post the playlist, some quick stats.

47% of the list is by or features Australian artists
43% of the list is by or features at least one non-male artist
37% of the list is by or features at least one non-white artist

The multiple entries were as follows:
Four entries: The 1975 (92, 49, 22, 12)
Three entries: Courtney Barnett (68, 36, 15), Troye Sivan (61, 14, 8), Drake (58, 37, 9)
Two entries: Baker Boy (100, 67), Denise Le Menice (96, 19), Kanye West (95, 48), BROCKHAMPTON (88, 76), Chance the Rapper (82, 41), Moaning Lisa (80, 43), Joyce Manor (79, 60), Dua Lipa (77, 30), Basement (73, 18), Luca Brasi (55, 20), Aunty Donna (52, 47), IDLES (44, 2), Post Malone (39, 29), Mitski (35, 4), Charlie Puth (32, 23), 5 Seconds of Summer (31, 3)

And now, enjoy the DJY100 in its entirety!

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The Top 100 Songs of 2018, Part Four: 40 – 21

It’s almost over, I promise. Right, let’s go with the top 40. Oh, before we do – you’re all over parts one, two and three right? Okay, great. Moving on!

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40. Thelma Plum – Clumsy Love

After a few years away, a comeback from Thelma Plum felt like the warm moment of hope 2018 needed. The prodigious wunderkind delivered with her breeziest, most glistening pop song to date – not demanding of repeat listens, but it felt so good you just wanted to hear it again. Assisted by Sparkadia alum Alex Burnett, Plum details a bizarre love triangle where her betrothed is in purgatory between his past and present – ie. Plum. Her confessional croons are guided via tasteful electric guitar, buzzing synth-bass and a boom-clap drum machine reminiscent of early single “Dollar.” Ripe, delicious fruit.

39. Post Malone feat. Ty Dolla $ign – Psycho

Much like the identically-titled Amy Shark single, there’s something intriguing about the paradox that lies within a mellow, down-tempo number with a title as provocative as “Psycho.” Millions worldwide ended up finding a connection to what ended up being one of the year’s biggest hits from one of our more unexpected pop-culture figureheads. Post Malone’s flow is primarily based off Nelly’s two-note rap-sing approach, adding in flourishes of melody when the moment calls for it and riding out a floating, trap-flavoured beat. He may be a critic’s punching bag, but “Psycho” is just bright enough to block out the haters.

38. The Story So Far – Upside Down

It hasn’t been an easy road to “Upside Down,” as any fan of The Story So Far will attest to. The stark self-reflection, e-bow guitar and churning Hammond organ of this single are a complete world away from the boisterous teenage riot that was their debut, Under Soil and Dirt. “It’s all love now,” sings vocalist Parker Cannon – someone who once sat comfortably within pop-punk’s angry-young-man mould. It’s a testament to the band’s persistence that they were able to assemble what is easily their strongest song yet, eschewing their usual fanfare in favour of something subdued, mature and pensive.

37. Drake – In My Feelings

Would “In My Feelings” have been as massive without its viral dance challenge? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Don’t get it twisted, the traffic-stopping sensation was definitely a booster. Even if no-one had hopped out of their cars, however, they no doubt would have still had “Feelings” blasting inside of them. It’s one of Drizzy’s most vivacious and addictive singles ever, brimming with perfectly-timed samples (Lil Wayne, the late Magnolia Shorty) and a warm melodic keyboard descent care of producer TrapMoneyBenny. Overexposure could have easily killed this song, but through some black magic it somehow made it even stronger.

36. Courtney Barnett – City Looks Pretty

For over two years, Courtney Barnett saw the world. As soon as she was done, she retreated. The bustle of “City Looks Pretty,” then – which recalls Paul Kelly’s more rocking moments like “Darling It Hurts” – doesn’t come from the hum of the nightlife, but the great indoors. The song sees Barnett’s world as topsy-turvy: “Friends treat you like a stranger/And strangers treat you like their best friend,” she sighs over major-chord strums. The brisk tempo depicts a racing mind and internal paranoia, which only comes to pass with the song’s swaying 6/8 outro. The real world beckons again.

35. Mitski – Geyser

It was almost a unanimous critical consensus that Mitski’s Be the Cowboy was the most acclaimed album of 2018. Here’s the thing, though: You could have easily been forgiven for not making it past the first song. Not because it made you want to turn off, mind – “Geyser” is the kind of album opener that is entirely transfixing. Its ocean-floor ambience, its distant percussion, its jump-scare noise – this song is a whole world unto itself. Not only is “Geyser” the strongest opener to any Mitski album, it manages to do so without even so much as a chorus.

34. Hockey Dad – I Wanna Be Everybody

At this stage, you could forgive Hockey Dad for being over-bored and self-assured – after all, they’re in one of the most popular rock bands in Australia, and they’ve assisted in putting their native Wollongong’s music scene back on the map for the first time since the Tumbleweed days. What’s shocking about “Everybody,” then, is how bluntly it confronts the idea of impostor syndrome. Sure, Zach Stephenson may have everything a young musician could dream of – but as he croons against twanging guitar chords and walloping snare, he doesn’t feel deserving or worthy. A Trojan horse of garage-rock emotions.

33. DZ Deathrays – Like People

From downing beers in matching Ts to getting blood on their leather, DZ Deathrays have spent the last decade smashing together the heads of dance-punk and pub-rock to create a reflective skull of pedal-stomping riffs and big-swinging drums. “Like People” is as nasty and snarky as anything they’ve ever written, but even its nihilism can’t offset how damn catchy the fucker ends up being. When the chorus hits, it lands in your hands like a hot potato – fitting, given the video’s cameo from Wiggles alum Murray Cook. DZ have thrived, survived and even revolutionised themselves. There’s no stopping them.

32. Charlie Puth feat. Kehlani – Done for Me

Many male popstars have songs where they basically go unchecked and say whatever they want without any in-song consequence. “Done for Me,” like “Too Good” and “Somebody That I Used to Know” before it, gets a word in from the other party and is all the better for it. Kehlani plays Puth’s jilted lover, setting our loverboy straight while he dishes over “Billie Jean” drums and “PYT” keyboards. Considering the first time Puth tried a duet was the garish “Marvin Gaye” with the even-more-garish Meghan Trainor, it says a lot that “Done for Me” succeeds in the way it does.

31. 5 Seconds of Summer – Want You Back

This is the point where we realised we got it wrong. 5 Seconds of Summer were never supposed to be the next blink-182 or the next Green Day. They weren’t supposed to be the next One Direction, either. Get this: They were supposed to be the next Maroon 5. “Want You Back” ditches the old 5SOS sound quicker than you can remove your American Apparel underwear. Slick bass, guitar funk and falsetto rolls around this effortlessly-cool number, locking into a technicolour groove that more or less reinvents the band entirely. At last, Australia’s favourite boy band are, simply, a band.

30. Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa – One Kiss

After the California dreaming of Harris’ excellent Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, it seemed only natural that the Scotsman would return to his native habitat of the club. He didn’t come back empty-handed, though – or alone, for that matter. “One Kiss” is his most triumphant dancefloor-filler since “Sweet Nothing,” and it’s handily assisted by pop sensation Dua Lipa. It feels like achieving ecstasy while high on… well, you know… and Harris’ pristine production accentuates every last endorphin. There were few greater moments in pop this year than when the drop of “One Kiss” was figuratively trumpeted in. True love.

29. Post Malone – Better Now

Austin Post remains divisive. For all of his fans, he has just as many detractors and people that just don’t quote-unquote “get it.” Allow “Better Now” to assist those in the latter category, as it’s probably the closest you’ll get to understanding what our man is out here trying to do. He’s a young T-Pain after the party. He’s an emo kid that got into beatmaking rather than mic-swinging. He’s a lower-class loser that was never meant to reach these heights. “Better Now” is a view from the top, but also a reminder of how lonely it gets up there.

28. Polish Club – Clarity

“Clarity” showcases the best of Polish Club – vocalist David Novak howls and moans just like Otis, while John-Henry Pajak sneaks in the best drum fill of his career to kick off the song’s final burst. Consider their trajectory in tandem with another notable rock duo, The Black Keys. After years of lo-fi and bluesy brawlers, a touch of production polish and a newfound funk have made their way into the mix. This is Polish Club’s “Tighten Up” moment – and considering the latter arrived on the Keys’ sixth album, it means the Club is evolving at an alarming rate.

27. Hop Along – How Simple

Hop Along quietly and unassumingly returned in the first few weeks of 2018, sharing their first new song in nearly three years ahead of an album set for that April. If you didn’t have your ear to the ground you could have missed it entirely – which is why “How Simple” felt so rewarding to those that were across it. Frances Quinlan has always had one of the most – ahem – quintessential voices in indie rock, and to hear it implemented in her band’s danciest, poppiest and most upbeat moment to date felt like something special. Joy in simplicity.

26. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers – Good as Gold

Country either depicts new love or dead love. “Good as Gold” finds us at the arse-end of a busted relationship: So intertwined are the two, Sarah Shook doesn’t even look at this person, as she sings, “like a thing of mine/That I can just up and lose.” Lamenting over looming pedal steel and the scuffle of a train-track drum roll, Shook delivers a bar-country number alongside her trusty Disarmers that by every right should have taken over country radio. Soon enough, women within the genre will be too loud to ignore – and Shook will be on the damn frontline.

25. Jack R. Reilly – Pursuing Balance

Anyone who’s seen Jack R. Reilly perform knows that he always had bigger ambitions than your average troubadour. He was raised on a diet of post-punk revival and 21st century art-rock, and “Pursuing Balance” was his first major play at paying homage to that. With the assistance of Cry Club‘s Jonathan Tooke, Reilly spilled his heart over disco drums, stuttered hooks and washed out guitars, all tied together by one of the year’s most distinctive piano lines. Whether it soundtracks a weekend in the city or a night of intimacy, “Pursuing Balance” succeeds. It’s the best song he’s ever written.

24. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Hunnybee

You really never know what you’re gonna get when Ruban Nielson gets cooking. Unknown Mortal Orchestra songs could end up being roller discos, porn grooves, riff-heavy wig-outs… it’s a huge spectrum, and a full testament to his versatility as a songwriter. After the tape-loop strings subside, “Hunnybee” reveals its undeniable groove in all of its glory. The thing plays out like a complete dream – the funk of the bass, the coo of the lead guitar, its addictive chorus, the faint keyboards. It’s a masterwork, and a true career highlight from a man who’s never short on ideas.

23. Charlie Puth – The Way I Am

In Charlie Puth’s eyes, he was never meant to be a star – yet, in 2018, he was as big a star as he’s ever been. “Everybody’s trying to be famous,” he sings, almost at a whisper, before adding: “I’m just trying to find a place to hide.” It’s fitting that the riff that serves as the song’s foundation recalls the opening of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” – Puth knows exactly where he is, and there’s no turning back. Nevertheless, “The Way I Am” finds method to the madness, and makes tracks on Puth’s road to superstardom.

22. The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try

Ben Lee once described pop music as “philosophy you can dance to,” and that’s rarely been more true than in the case of The 1975’s massive lead single from what ended up being an event album of 2018. Over a spiky guitar loop and a booming drum machine, Matt Healy offers advice and ruminates on his past. The titular hook is one of the wisest things you could possibly impart to a young person that’s struggling, and the way it’s delivered means that it no doubt landed square in the hearts and minds of its many listeners. Try, try again.

21. Gladie – The Problem is Us

As singer of Cayetana, Augusta Koch detailed the finer parts of her 20s in the throes of sweetly-melodic indie rock. With them on the back-burner, Koch began anew. Gladie may not have the same edge or bounding energy that was found in Cayetana’s finest moments, but it doesn’t really need them. Koch instead focuses on something more refined and stylistically mature, offering up brilliant lyrics and subtly-invasive hooks over warm keys and restrained drums. By the time she’s hamering home the final refrain of “We’re speaking softly/We’re not communicating,” you hear her – and Gladie itself – loud and clear.

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20 songs to go, and they’re next! What will be number one? Only one way to find out. In the meantime, have a listen to all 80 songs that have been in the countdown so far:

The Top 50 Gigs of 2018.

I went to 188 shows in 2018. These were the best ones.

50. Polish Club @ The Lansdowne, 5/12
49. The Smith Street Band @ Enmore Theatre, 24/3
48. Future of the Left @ Oxford Art Factory, 13/1
47. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @ Enmore Theatre, 23/11
46. Yothu Yindi @ Enmore Theatre, 12/1
45. Chuck Ragan @ Botany View Hotel, 23/3
44. Cub Sport @ Metro Theatre, 17/3
43. Alanis Morrissette @ ICC Sydney Theatre, 24/1
42. RAAVE TAPES @ Rad, 14/6
41. Kimbra @ Factory Theatre, 17/7
40. The xx @ The Domain, 20/1
39. Queens of the Stone Age @ Hordern Pavilion, 1/8
38. Jet @ Metro Theatre, 30/5
37. The Cribs @ The Lansdowne, 3/5
36. Camp Cope @ Sydney Opera House, 25/7
35. Halsey @ Hordern Pavilion, 22/4
34. Paramore @ Qudos Bank Arena, 9/2
33. Andrew W.K. @ Manning Bar, 26/7
32. Charli XCX @ Metro Theatre, 23/10
31. Nails @ Red Rattler, 23/3
30. DZ Deathrays @ Enmore Theatre, 20/9
29. Gang of Youths @ Enmore Theatre, 22, 26 + 27/11
28. Yours & Owls Festival @ Stuart Park, 29 + 30/9
27. Jen Cloher @ The Lansdowne, 29 + 31/3
26. West Thebarton @ Rad, 7/6
25. Jackson Browne @ State Theatre, 20/3
24. Cash Savage and The Last Drinks @ Oxford Art Factory, 30/11
23. Kendrick Lamar @ Qudos Bank Arena, 24/7
22. Harry Styles @ Qudos Bank Arena, 27/4
21. Limp Bizkit @ Hordern Pavilion, 25/3
20. Cher @ ICC Sydney Theatre, 21/10
19. Bloc Party @ Hordern Pavilion, 29/11
18. The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt, 22/2
17. Fear Like Us @ Lass O’Gowrie, 22/12
16. Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ Enmore Theatre, 16/9
15. Dizzee Rascal @ Enmore Theatre, 21/2
14. José González @ Sydney Opera House, 31/3
13. Fairgrounds Festival @ Berry Showgrounds, 1/12
12. The Killers @ Qudos Bank Arena, 28/4
11. Ben Folds @ Sydney Opera House, 1 + 6/2
10. PNAU @ Enmore Theatre, 19/7
9. Courtney Barnett @ Sydney Opera House, 25/7
8. Bob Dylan @ Enmore Theatre, 19/7
7. The Barking Spiders @ Enmore Theatre, 28/2
6. The Presets @ Enmore Theatre, 23/6
5. Making Gravy @ The Domain, 15/12
4. St. Vincent @ Carriageworks, 17/6
3. David Byrne @ ICC Sydney Theatre, 20/11
2. Solange @ Sydney Opera House, 1/6
1. Passed the Break @ The Reverence Hotel, 10/6

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Run the Jewels @ Big Top Luna Park, 5/1; Papa Roach @ Metro Theatre, 25/1; Manchester Orchestra @ Metro Theatre, 3/2; Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes @ Metro Theatre, 10/2; Neil and Liam Finn @ Anita’s Theatre, 13/2; Evanescence @ Sydney Opera House, 14/2; Prophets of Rage @ Hordern Pavilion, 22/3; Kele Okereke @ The Basement, 30/3; Belle & Sebastian @ Sydney Opera House, 5/5; Horrorshow @ The Lansdowne, 12/5; Confidence Man @ Metro Theatre, 18/5; Iron & Wine @ Joan Sutherland Theatre, 25/5; High Tension @ The Lansdowne, 29/6; TOTTY @ Rad, 9/7; Kaki King @ Factory Theatre, 10/7; Luca Brasi @ Manning Bar, 18/7; Pagan @ The Lansdowne, 31/7; Hockey Dad @ Enmore Theatre, 9/9; Thelma Plum @ Oxford Art Factory, 14/9; Kesha @ Marriage Equality Arena, 7/10; Cheap Trick @ Enmore Theatre, 17/10; The Bronx @ Metro Theatre, 25/10; Ceres @ The Lansdowne, 26/10; FBi Turns 15 @ Manning House, 3/11; Tigers Jaw @ Wollongong Youth Centre, 9/11; The Grates @ Factory Theatre, 24/11; Press Club @ North Gong Hotel, 25/11; The Wonder Years @ Oxford Art Factory, 10/12; La Dispute @ Factory Theatre, 12/12.

Header photo by Sian Sandilands.

The Top 50 Albums of 2018.

1. The Presets – HI VIZ
2. Pianos Become the Teeth – Wait for Love
3. Mitski – Be the Cowboy
4. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
5. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
6. Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere
7. IDLES – Joy as An Act of Resistance
8. Kanye West – ye
9. Turnstile – Time and Space
10. Neko Case – Hell-On
11. Luca Brasi – Stay
12. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
13. Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning
14. BROCKHAMPTON – iridescence
15. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
16. Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You for Today
17. Hockey Dad – Blend Inn
18. Tom Lyngcoln – Doming Home
19. Troye Sivan – Bloom
20. Mac Miller – Swimming
21. Camp Cope – How to Socialise and Make Friends
22. Restorations – LP5000
23. Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – Good Citizens
24. Florence + The Machine – High as Hope
25. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
26. Endless Heights – Vicious Pleasure
27. DZ Deathrays – Bloody Lovely
28. Daphne & Celeste – Daphne & Celeste Save the World
29. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace
30. Tierra Whack – Whack World
31. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
32. Nas – NASIR
33. Snape – Always
34. Jeff Rosenstock – POST-
35. Charlie Puth – Voicenotes
36. High Tension – PURGE
37. Joyce Manor – Million Dollars to Kill Me
38. Harmony – Double Negative
39. carb on carb – For Ages
40. Pinegrove – Skylight
41. Cat Heaven – Living Room
42. Jesus Piece – Only Self
43. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Years
44. The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
45. Vein – Errorzone
46. War on Women – Capture the Flag
47. Laura Jean – Devotion
48. East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Teddywaddy
49. David Byrne – American Utopia
50. Evelyn Ida Morris – Evelyn Ida Morris

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Anderson .Paak, Ariana Grande, Birds in Row, The Carters, Colter Wall, Dessa, Field Music, Fucked Up, Gouge Away, Infinite Void, John Coltrane, Mountain Man, Nine Inch Nails, Shopping, The Sidekicks.

The Top 100 Songs of 2018, Part Three: 60 – 41

We have arrived at the Bon Jovi position of the DJY100. We are halfway there, folks. And then some. Part one is here, part two is here and now… part three!

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60. Joyce Manor – Million Dollars to Kill Me

Of Joyce Manor’s five albums, Million Dollars may be its most cryptically titled. Does it allude to some sort of bounty? Defiance? Survival? The cost of living? The album’s title track doesn’t make it any clearer – in fact, it muddies the waters even further by detailing a demised relationship where, while both parties are still fond of one another, the proverbial writing is on the wall. Truth be told, none of that really matters when it comes down to it. “Million Dollars” is one of the strongest, sharpest songs Joyce Manor has ever written. What’s in a name, anyway?

59. CHVRCHES – Get Out

Fun as it may be, synthpop is a genre with limited scope by definition. Nevertheless, CHVRCHES have found ways to make room, innovating within their palette across three albums in five years. Their most recent, Love is Dead, was their most ambitious and accessible to date. “Get Out” was the lead-in, and ended up being about as strong a start one could hope for. With claps so hard there’s no way they could have been produced by a human, matched up with a vulnerable vocal delivery that could have only come from a human, “Get Out” exists in perfect tessellation.

58. Drake – God’s Plan

Everything about “God’s Plan” feels massive. That’s to be expected at this stage when it comes to Drake, of course – his movements feel seismic in the present-day pop climate – but the way this song announced itself to the world somehow hit in a different way. That could well have something to do with its good-samaritan music video, which is well on its way to a billion YouTube views, or the earth-orbiting Cardo beat kicking in. Maybe the endlessly-quotable lyrics had soemthing to do with it. Whatever it was, it worked. The Lord works in mysterious ways, after all.

57. Death Cab for Cutie – Gold Rush

“Gold Rush” has been dismissively referred to as Ben Gibbard’s first “get off my lawn” song. Sure, our emo hero of yesteryear is now a married 42-year-old millionaire – but he ain’t Clint Eastwood yet. Rather, he’s channelling two iconic women of the 70s here: Yoko Ono – whose “Mind Train” is sampled in the song’s feedback-loop backing – and Joni Mitchell, who penned a similar song of gentrification and disenfranchisement in “Big Yellow Taxi.” At a time where they could have easily phoned it in, Death Cab deserve kudos for delivering such a sonically-interesting curveball. “Gold Rush,” decidedly, glitters.

56. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me

It’s a phrase that, somehow, hadn’t been strung together before The Beths concocted it for their debut album’s title track. It’s something that uses a double negative of tense to create something immediately familiar – “I am doing something that I might not regret now, but that I will soon look upon as a mistake.” It’s about the inherent risk that comes with a budding relationship, as detailed through the lense of tingly, electric power-pop that hammers home huge chords and warm vocal arrangements. The Beths make music for the here and now – that’s why it’s called the present.

55. Luca Brasi – Never Better

A standout from the Tasmanians’ fourth album, “Never Better” is a reflection on facades and brave faces. If we’re ever asked if we’re okay, all of us have used the titular phrase as means of reassurance. Here, vocalist Tyler Richardson removes the veneer and draws in listeners with some of his most brutal, honest lyrics: “Every effort feels so tired and rehearsed,” he laments at one point; “I’m coming apart at the seams,” he confesses at another. His bandmates drawback and venture into more restrained, twinkly musical territory to ensure these words are crystal clear. Songs like “Never Better” matter.

54. Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – Pack Animals

If you walk into the Old Bar in Fitzroy, a giant Cash Savage poster is a centerpiece on the band-room wall. It’s borderline messianic – fitting really, for whenever Savage is on stage, sermon is in session. Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down: “Pack Animals” is one of Savage’s most biting, blunt songs ever. As The Last Drinks encroach on a pulsating rhythm with urgent, dischordant delivery, Savage righteously tears into some poor normie dickhead who thinks he understands political correctness because he’s read 12 Rules for Life. Fuck him, and fuck you if you don’t like this.

53. Press Club – Suburbia

Less than two years into their time as a band, Melbourne’s Press Club have promptly swept the nation with a must-see live show and a take-no-prisoners debut album. If you’ve somehow been centrally located beneath a boulder of some description, fear not: Your immediate entry point is “Suburbia,” a song so rousing and anthemic that a crowd can overpower a PA when singing its refrain. Vocalist Nat Dunn sounds like she’s going so hard the mic might blow up, while her bandmates seemingly have sparks flying off them the whole time they’re locked in together. Your heart belongs here now.

52. Aunty Donna feat. Demi Lardner – Best Day of My Life

Supreme overlords of comedic absurdism, Aunty Donna have been making dark surrealism a compact, shareable form for years. In 2018 they turned their attention to music, creating an album of send-ups and gut-laugh pastiches. Among the highlights is a song that also doubled as the opening number of their festival show for the year, a back-to-school celebration about all the things that make young students tick. Maybe some that probably shouldn’t, too – see the cameo from self-described “horrid little troll” Demi Lardner for more. “Best Day” is as tasty as a scone and as hard-hitting as a big stick.

51. James Bay – Pink Lemonade

James Bay? The motherfucker with the hat? That James Bay? Yes, believe it or not, the “Hold Back the River” singer had a Charlie Puth-style pop reinvention in 2018, releasing a decent coming-of-age “I fuck now” record in Electric Light. In a weird way, however, Bay almost overshadowed himself – “Pink Lemonade” is so far ahead as the album’s frontrunner, you almost question why the other songs bothered showing up. A neon-tinged nu-rock number, the song sees Bay indulging a more soulful tear in his vocals while a wall of electric guitar churns against the slick production. Best served cool.

50. Amy Shark feat. Mark Hoppus – Psycho

The likes of Amanda Palmer and Nardwuar have waxed lyrical about the art of asking. So it went that Amy Shark reached out to her teenage idol, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, to work on a song for her debut album. Not only did it eventuate, but it turned out to be the highlight of the record. “Psycho” offers a dark, duelling perspective on an intense relationship as soundtracked by pensive guitars and restrained drum programming. The latter eventually gives way to live drums complementing Shark’s high notes, and it’s one of the year’s best dynamic payoffs. Ask and you shall receive.

49. The 1975 – Sincerity is Scary

The 1975 have never released a song like “Sincerity is Scary” before. It’s soulful, piano-driven and would feel more at home in a jazzy nightclub than a pop playlist. It may well be the single biggest stylistic leap they have ever taken – and yet, they made it to the other side completely unscathed. They didn’t do it alone, certainly – a sizzling horn section and a faithful gospel choir propel the song’s finer points – but it’s a complete credit to how adaptable and ambitious this band has become that songs like this can thrive.

48. Nas feat. The-Dream and Kanye West – everything

In 1996, Nas released one of all-time definitive hip-hop tracks in “If I Ruled the World” – a song with big dreams, hopes and aspirations. “everything” is its spiritual successor, some 22 years on, and although its surroundings are bleak there is that same white light of hope that seeps in as the piano resolves on a major chord and Kanye proclaims – almost exactly as Lauryn Hill did – that he would change everything if he could. “everything” is a song about black history, success stories and perseverance. It’s easily the best Nas song in at least a decade.

47. Aunty Donna feat. Boilermakers and Montaigne – The Best Freestylers in the World

The best satire of a form comes from a place of love. Montaigne loves to belt out a big hook, Matt Okine loves hip-hop and the Aunty Donna boys love improv. The difference here is that Montaigne and Okine are actually good at these things normally. When Broden, Mark and Zack throw themselves into the world of freestyle rap, they are deers in headlights. What follows is something so ridiculous that it ends up being completely hilarious and a loving satire of the form. Bonus points: Okine’s street-tough, ad-libbed barks of “Target Country, motherfucker!” and “That’s too much for pants!”

46. Cry Club – Walk Away

In 2017, Australia underwent a plebiscite to determine whether marriage equality should be legalised. It sparked a few key songs in reaction: The aforementioned Cash Savage wrote “Better Than That,” while Brisbane’s Good Boy offered the blunt “A Waste of Approximately 122 Million Dollars (Taxpayer Funded).” For their debut single, Cry Club rallied against every curmudgeonly conservative fuck that stood in the way of a massive step towards equality. It rumbles, it rages and when the count-along pre-chorus kicks in it fucking rules. Forget their trademark glitter: “Walk Away” is the sound of a band donning warpaint. Join the Club.

45. Muncie Girls – Picture of Health

It can take a lot of courage to reach out from a point of despair, uncertain as to how you’ll come across and how it might impact the people you care about. With “Picture of Health,” Muncie Girls’ Lande Hekt sees themselves in another – and that’s not a good thing in this case. It’s a song that’s just as much about co-dependence as it is about self-care, and how there’s nothing wrong with seeking solace in either. As luck would have it, it’s also one of the sharpest and catchiest songs the band has ever written. A healthy choice.

44. IDLES – Danny Nedelko

The idea of helping your fellow man and treating others as you wished to be treated seems like such a basic concept, but if 2018 proved anything it’s that humanity isn’t quite there yet – especially over in the UK, which is more openly racist and transphobic than ever before. IDLES literally have to spell it out on the second single from their second album, paraphrasing Yoda and referencing Pavement for good measure. Such is the passion and conviction of “Danny Nedelko,” you feel like you could kick in the door of number 10 in one go once it’s finished.

43. Moaning Lisa – Carrie (I Want a Girl)

Time for some girl talk. Moaning Lisa’s breakthrough single is, by their own admission and design, a very lesbian affair. It’s celebrity crushes and heart-eyes-emoji lust, as backed by a slinking bass-line and a big-business riff. They cut to the point, and will wash you right out of their hair if you disagree. Even if you’re not – as 10 Thing I Hate About You put it – a k.d. lang fan, there’s so much to enjoy here that it doesn’t even matter. If you can appreciate a tongue-in-cheek indie-rocker with an attitude to it, you can get behind “Carrie.”

42. Skegss – Smogged Out

Unfairly dismissed by most as doofus garage-rock for burnouts and the bullies from your high school, Skegss have had to fight more than your average band for credibility and validity. It’s unclear whether they’ve achieved it with My Own Mess, their long-awaited debut LP, but at this juncture they’re well beyond fretting over what the post-woke blue ticks of the world reckon about them. Their allegiance is to KISS-principle jangle with subtle undertones and festival-mosh choruses. “Smogged Out” may be one of their best efforts in this department yet, putting a pogo bounce into a song of malaise and pity.

41. DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo and Chance the Rapper – No Brainer

In 2017, DJ Khaled assembled his own Avengers and gave us “I’m the One,” which promptly took over and simultaneously saved the universe. Although not a complete reunion – Weezy is inexplicably absent – “No Brainer” is a sequel that’s just as enticing a big-budget blockbuster as its predecessor. Although from a scientific standpoint there was no song of the summer this year, “No Brainer” felt about as close a contender as you were likely to get: A whole crew of A-listers flexing over a bassy beat and smart, simple chord progressions? The choice is obvious. Even little Asahd approves.

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Part four with you at the start of 2019 – it’s so soon!

Check out the updated playlist with all of the DJY100 in it so far:

The Top 100 Songs of 2018, Part Two: 80 – 61

Hey, reader! Make sure you’re all caught up with the first 20 songs by clicking here. They’re good, I promise – and, wouldn’t you know it, these ones are even better!

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80. Moaning Lisa – Lily

Moaning Lisa’s second EP, Do You Know Enough?, is the audio equivalent of four seasons in one day. When “Lily” rolls around, the storm is settling in and things are taking a turn for the worse. A considerable stylistic departure for the Canberra natives, “Lily” is a slow-motion lucid dream in which a private universe crumbles and drifts into the abyss. Anchored by picked-out bass and beds of guitar feedback, the song subtly sweeps and builds to what may be the single most devastating lyric of the year: “Now I have nothing left for you to take.” Welcome to heartbreak.

79. Joyce Manor – Think I’m Still in Love with You

When Joyce Manor dropped Cody back in 2016, the cool kids gave them a bunch of shit for it. Pitchfork said it sounded like Everclear – like that was a bad thing! Still, it must have gotten to them in one way or another – their fifth album, Million Dollars to Kill Me, is even poppier than last time. Hell, this track from it in particular sounds like a lost Cheap Trick single, all tight harmonies and chugging major chords. Forget leaning in – Joyce Manor have gone completely head over heels here. Fitting when you think about it, really.

78. Fiddlehead – Lay Low

A lot of hardcore kids never got over Have Heart breaking up, and fair enough too. Consider this, though: Have Heart died to so that Fiddlehead could live. There is an urgency and vitality to what this supergroup of sorts are doing, packing short and punchy songs full of throat-tearing hooks and emotive lyrical pleas straight from the heart. Of all the tracks that compose their debut LP, “Lay Low” is the pick of the litter. It comes out swinging from its opening chords and refuses to relent until you’ve felt everything there is to feel. The sun has risen.

77. Silk City feat. Dua Lipa – Electricity

There are two mayors in Silk City – super-producers Diplo and Mark Ronson. As it turns out, this town is big enough for the two of them – and just as well, considering they’ve also invited a friend in rule-setting pop sensation Dua Lipa. Her high-energy joy matches up perfectly with Ronson’s retro piano stabs and Diplo’s insistent handclaps, leading to a chorus that would be envied by anyone from HAIM to Miley and back again. This is house music on such a mammoth scale that it’s bound to wake up the neighbours. And if they don’t like it? IDGAF.

76. BROCKHAMPTON – SAN MARCOS

If you’re angling BROCKHAMPTON as a boy-band, then “SAN MARCOS” is the ballad performed on the B-stage in the arena, sitting on stools. That’s figuratively what they did when they performed this centrepiece of their fourth album for Like a Version on their eventful Australian tour – which, coincidentally, is also where the music video was filmed. It’s one of the group’s most heartfelt, introspective songs to date, showcasing both a maturity and a vulnerability within their creative spectrum. There may not be a more resonant refrain from the year passed than “I want more out of life than this.”

75. Cloud Nothings – Leave Him Now

“Leave Him Now” is a song about a troubled straight relationship in which the female party is advised to remove herself from it. The twist is: That’s it. Dylan Baldi is not putting himself forward as the substitute. This isn’t a “drop the zero and get with the hero” scenario. This is about a genuine concern for a woman’s wellbeing and stability. It takes a trope of songwriting across multiple genres and decades and subsequently turns it on its head. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also one of the catchiest songs Baldi and co. have ever written. How about that.

74. The Hard Aches – Mess

Here’s what you need to know: “Mess” is the first song on the album Mess. The word “mess” is the fourth word you hear on the entire album, and it’s repeated over a dozen times throughout. It’s a unifying theme for an album that’s ostensibly about everything falling apart. Lest we forget, this is not a new place for them – existentially, at least. They’ve been here before and they’ll be here again. So, they sing over big chords and swinging drums: “We’re not burning out.” It’s defiant. It’s purposeful. It’s resolute. Truth be told, they’ve never been more believable.

73. Basement – Stigmata

Basement have found themselves associated with a few different movements and scenes, such is the versatile nature of their music. They’re flagged for emo-revivalists while simultaneously being added to pop-punk playlists. What a song like “Stigmata” showcases, however, is what they’re capable of at their crux: An alternative rock band. A damn fine one, too. A callback to when it was a good thing to be. A time of Jerry Cantrell harmonies, Pixies dynamics and snares that hit like they’re being played next to your eardrum. The genre is unquestionably in good hands – even with gaping holes in them.


72. Confidence Man – Don’t You Know I’m in a Band

How did a semi-anonymous disco band fronted by a classic pervert and a Lolita become one of Australia’s biggest live acts? It’s all in the name: Confidence Man put themselves forward and danced like there was no-one watching, and kept doing so even as those watching amassed into thousands. NPR’s Bob Boilen once described them as “perfectly goofy,” and there’s truth to that – but it’s not the whole story. A song like “Band” is an acute takedown of the rockstar lifestyle, while also serving up a better chorus than any wannabe could dream of. They have confidence in them.

71. East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Essendon 1986

It’s funny that East Brunswick’s debut album was called Seven Drummers – when “Essendon 1986” kicks off in earnest, that’s exactly what it sounds like. Jen Sholakis is the central focus of this spiralling, seething number, her toms rumbling the earth beneath her as her bandmates carve into their respective stringed instruments. The band has never sounded this dark, this aggressive or this forthright – and it’s this immediate shift that ends up paying off to create their finest singular moment to date. A fading, sepia portrayal of restless outward Australia that, truthfully, couldn’t have come from any other band.

70. David Byrne – Everybody’s Coming to My House

The erstwhile Talking Heads frontman was behind one of the year’s most critically-acclaimed and beloved live tours, bringing a barefoot ensemble of untethered musicians onto stages across the world with a celebratory, career-spanning setlist. The tour took place on the back of what surprisingly ended up being one of the year’s more overlooked LPs in American Utopia, Byrne’s first proper solo endeavour in years. “House” was its lead single, and is filled with a classic sense of Byrnian paranoia and unease while simultaneously peppering in a sizzling horn section and head-voice, Sampha-assisted melodies. Long may the grand Byrne spectacle continue.

69. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake

“Is anybody sleepy?” a voice sarcastically quips before the gang vocals of “Wide Awake”’s second verse boldly answer back with the titular phrase. This sardonic easter egg is a reflection on Parquet Courts as a whole – they do what they do primarily with a knowing wink, playing up their surrounds while also maintaining a deadpan. “Wide Awake” is one of their most uncharacteristic songs to date – a percussive funk procession with double-dutch chants and a literal layer of bells & whistles. They even scored “fluke indie hit” bingo by playing the damn thing on Ellen – go figure.

68. Courtney Barnett – Charity

Courtney Barnett can turn on a dime – or a 20-cent piece, depending on what part of the world she’s touring in at the time. Take the huge chorus of Tell Me How You Really Feel‘s rocking final single as a prime example: Figuratively seconds after singing the phrase “Everything’s amazing” in three-part harmony, she delivers one of the year’s most brutal lines in “So subservient/I make myself sick.” It’s so subtle that you don’t even notice the first listen, but by the time you do you’re looking at a far bigger picture. Here, Barnett is seeking a deeper connection.

67. Baker Boy – Mr. La Di Da Di

Three years prior to “Mr. La Di Da Di,” a certain voice heard in a certain song asked the age-old question: Now, if I give you the funk, you gon’ take it? Not only did Baker Boy take it, he let it possess his entire being. No, “La Di Da Di” wouldn’t exist without “King Kunta” – but that wouldn’t exist without George Clinton, which wouldn’t exist without James Brown, and so on and so forth. Radiating pure positivity, Baker Boy is the latest in a long line of exceptional artists that are black and proud. Say it loud, y’all.

66. Ball Park Music – Hands Off My Body

It doesn’t get much more wholesome, family-friendly and generally PG than Brisbane’s Ball Park Music. Not to say they’re bland or uninspired, mind you – just good clean fun. What happens, then, when they promptly go off the rails? Vocalist Sam Cromack is a man possessed on this single from the band’s fifth album, propelled by an atonal keyboard blip and a persistent breakbeat as he goes around chopping body parts off. It’s easily the band’s most gruesome and dissonant song to date – and yet, in classic Ball Park fashion, it’s a certified festival killer. Everybody do the chop-chop!

65. Wafia – I’m Good

For a few years, break-up songs well and truly got Adele’d. They were all saccharine, mopey and downright depressing – a cheap imitation of “Someone Like You” done by, well, someone like her. With “I’m Good,” we’re making an earnest return to the celebratory end of a shitty relationship – it basically sounds like the audio equivalent of walking away from an explosion without looking at it. The song drips with effortless cool – its wafting synth bass and four-on-the-floor strut give it a “Stayin’ Alive” swagger, while Wafia herself breathily kisses off her shitty ex. “I’m Good”? Damn right.

64. Vacations – Steady

True to their name, Vacations sound like they’re playing live and direct from where you want to be – which is pretty funny when you find out they’re from Newcastle. All joking aside, the quartet are locked square into the tone-zone – summery guitar reverb, warm bass, roomy drums and some lush harmonies to boot. “Steady” might be the song where they most singularly nail it across the board – a bashful, honest love song filled with hazy chord inversions and an instantly-memorable refrain. Indie didn’t get a whole lot more charming in 2018 than Vacations – Australian or otherwise.

63. E^ST – I Don’t Lack Imagination

Melisa Bester isn’t the kind to mince words. Hell, she named her EP Life Ain’t Always Roses, which is about as blunt and unapologetic a phrase as you can get. “Imagination” from said EP is surrounded by – ahem – flowery production and slinky rnb melodies. The lyrics, dissecting an impervious relationship dichotomy, still manage to cut through across a slim three-minute runtime. That – and, by extension, the song itself – deserves considerable credit. Pop fans were once told to go west – either by kings or boys. Now, the future is female – and the future is E^ST.

62. The Presets – Downtown Shutdown

Among the issues Australia has faced since The Presets last put out an album are human rights crises facing asylum seekers and the swift closure of pubs and venues across Sydney. On “Downtown,” Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes decided to kill two birds with one stone (sorry, PETA) by addressing both head-on in a parade of slap-bass, pogo-bounce grooves and skittish electronics. The titular phrase is an obvious allusion to the restricted nightlife of Sydney, but the refrain is chanted by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Choir – which is primarily made up of African immigrants. Consider the man stuck to.

61. Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan – 1999

“Does anyone remember how we did it back then?” asks Charli XCX halfway through “1999,” seemingly to no-one in particular. Hey, Charli, do you? Lest we forget our heroine was all but seven years old in the titular year – and her sidekick for this song turned four. It’s a gripe, sure, but it’s a small con up against a long, long list of pros. Among those are Oscar Holter’s throwback beat, the hammered-home chorus and what ended up being one of the year’s best music videos. They mightn’t actually remember 1999, but they’ve made sure we’ll never forget “1999.”

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That’s it for now! You can stream all 40 songs so far via the Spotify playlist below:

The Top 100 Songs of 2018, Part One: 100 – 81

He’s making a list, and checking it twice. ‘Tis the season for the DJY100 to kick off yet again, so welcome aboard! In case you missed it, I recently put up a playlist of 50 great songs that just narrowly missed out on being in the final list. If that’s at all of interest, you can have a listen over here:

As always, DISCLAIMER: This is not a list of the most popular songs, nor is it a list curated by anyone except myself. These are, in my view, the best songs of the year. Disagreement and discussion is welcomed, but ultimately if you have any real issues with any songs that are ranked too low, too high or not at all… make your own list!

– DJY, December 2018

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100. Baker Boy feat. Dallas Woods – Black Magic

If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch one of Baker Boy’s high-octane live shows in the past 18 months, you’ll immediately recognise this song as its opener. It’s about as brassy and bold an introduction as one can get – through the rumble of the didgeridoo and with assistance from exceptional up-and-comer MC Dallas Woods, Baker Boy hurtles a steady flow of bilingual braggadocio at listeners with barely a moment to catch your breath. “Either you do or don’t have it,” philosophises the song’s mantra-like hook. In case it wasn’t already clear, Baker and Woods are in the former pile.

99. Daphne & Celeste – BB

Daphne & Celeste first rose to fame by teasing boys in hit single “U.G.L.Y.” – as in, you ain’t got no alibi. Almost 20 years later, they reconvened and targeted a whole new generation with a sly, hilarious takedown of white guys with acoustic guitars. Every Tom, Dick and Sheeran gets promptly served in this unexpected comeback, surging with electro-pop urgency and scoring a few triple-word scores in its lyrics. Under the watchful eye of producer/songwriter Max Tundra, Daphne & Celeste are as fun and cheeky as they ever were. “All singer-songwriter bros sound the same”? We didn’t say that!

98. Boat Show – Restless

Less than 30 second into “Restless,” it lands. “You’re a dickhead/Trash shit” can lay easy claim to the thorniest, snarkiest opening line of 2018. Would you expect any less from the same sardonic Perthians who gave us “Cis White Boy” not a year prior? One of the standouts of second album Unbelievable, Boat Show focus less on hardcore-punk intensity here and more on head-bopping garage rock. This doesn’t deaden the message, however – if anything, it drives it home with all the more clarity. In their biggest year to date, Boat Show had tracks like “Restless” to back it up.

97. The Gooch Palms feat. Kelly Jansch – Busy Bleeding

Ask anyone who menstruates, and they’ll tell you the same thing: It sucks the big one. Still, if there’s any band that can spin a negative into a positive, it’s Newcastle’s finest export. Drummer Kat Friend takes the lead on this rousing, defiant rocker – and when backed up by a fellow menstruator in TOTTY‘s Kelly Jansch, she sounds more or less unstoppable. Spinning their usual jangle-rock into something a bit slicker and tougher, “Busy Bleeding” is the sound of The Gooch Palms broadening their horizons and expanding their palette. It’s unexpected, but that’s what happens when you’re seeing red.

96. Denise Le Menice – Addiction

When she’s not exhuming her inner riot grrrl at the helm of the aforementioned Boat Show, Ali Flintoff likes to enter the dream-pop landscape as Denise Le Menice. Although not quite the same extremes, consider Denise the Adventures to Boat Show’s Code Orange – a chance for an artist well-versed across multiple schools of songwriting to engage the finer points of each. On her debut release as DLM, Flintoff gets warm and fuzzy – and not just on the guitar tone. With chirpy harmonies and a persistent drum machine, “Addiction” threatens to have one forming just that with repeat listens.

95. Kanye West & Lil Pump feat. Adele Givens – I Love It

Skrrrt! What may proudly be the dumbest pop hit on record in 2018 was a bizarre feast for the senses. From its oversize suits to its skull-rattling bass, “I Love It” leant in on Lil Pump’s lackadaisical AutoTune flow and West’s reckless abandon to create something essentially inescapable. Should we have expected more from the man responsible for “Jesus Walks” and “Hey Mama”? Sure, but we also could have expected a whole lot less from the kid whose sole claim to fame was “Gucci Gang.” Basically, “I Love It” is a frat party. Not on board? Then don’t COME, motherfuckahhh.

94. Kira Puru – Molotov

Much like previous single “Tension,” “Molotov” lives and dies by its bassline. Listen to that fucker – it sounds like it could cut through steel. In sashays Puru, who takes the distinct groove and promptly parades across it. It’s pure peacocking, and in the context of “Molotov” it works a goddamn charm. It’s safe to say Puru has never sounded like she’s had more fun on record than this boozy big-swinger. After years of singing the blues, “Molotov” is the sound of Puru bursting into millennial pink. “Watch me now,” she says before the beat kicks into overdrive. With pleasure.

93. Cat Heaven – Razorlight

The structural DNA of Cat Heaven meant they were always going to thrive in the realm of post-punk – two-thirds of the band form the current rhythm section of Sydney’s beloved Mere Women, while the remainder shredded away in perennial underdogs Hira Hira. With their powers combined, Cat Heaven form a robust power trio, easily filling out the spaces that linger in their songs through instinct and propulsive dynamics. “Razorlight” serves as the embodiment of their collective talents – a twisting bassline, a hat-heavy drum groove, striking guitar dissonance and the emotive, tortured vocals of Trisch Roberts. Simply put: Heavenly.

92. The 1975 – Love It if We Made It

Matt Healy has never sounded as wrought and as entirely desperate on record than when he’s yelping this song’s titular phrase, sounding as if he’s on the verge of tears. He spits Trump quotes with acidic bile, staring down the eve of destruction. As A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships rolled out single by single, it became less a question of what The 1975 were going to do next and more of a question of who they would be. In the case of “Love It,” they became doomsday preppers with an army of synths and gated snares in their arsenal.

91. Charlie Collins – Mexico

Emerging from the shadow of previous band Tigertown, Charlie Collins here forges an inroad into alt-country with formidable results. Although just her second single as a solo artist, Collins’ years of singing and songwriting factor in considerably to the sound of “Mexico.” It’s an inherently accessible song, from its big swinging pre-chorus to the sweet-spot harmonies that garnish its central hook. The twangy low-end guitar, courtesy of husband Chris Collins, also lends a distinct western feel. As its title suggests, “Mexico” is centred on time and place – and it’s quite the journey. Long live Charlie Collins – sorry, viva.

90. Brendan Maclean – Where’s the Miracle

Thriving on tension and release, Aus-pop bon vivant Maclean makes a considerable departure from his previous singles on “Where’s the Miracle.” Fearlessly shaking the family tree, Maclean builds to the titular question being asked over and over by ways of wafting synths and palm-muted strings. Although it’s cathartic, the tragedy lies in the fact you’re no closer to answering it by the song’s end. It says a lot that such heavyweights as Donny Benet, Montaigne and Ainslie Wills are present and accounted for here, and yet the focus remains on the man himself. That’s conviction. That’s staying power. It’s miraculous.

89. The Weeknd – Call Out My Name

It’s easy to forget the man who became one of the world’s biggest rnb crossover stars was once an underground king, riding high on a hat-trick of mixtapes throughout the summer of 2011. With the release of My Dear Melancholy, The Weeknd came the closest he’s come in years to capturing something that bridges between eras. Its lynchpin is its opener, arguably the most powerfully love-lorn song has penned since “Wicked Games” – or, at least, since “The Hills.” It’s pure soul vocally, while the production feels like a heart shattering in slow motion. There’s vitality in the Starboy yet.

88. BROCKHAMPTON – NEW ORLEANS

It’s a fascinating contrast. “Perfectly fine!” a voice assures in the opening moments of BROCKHAMPTON’s iridescence. “It’s fine!” If Ron Howard were narrating this, he’d quickly interject: “Things were not fine.” What follows is a car-alarm beat that has all the grace and subtlety of a swinging hammer, with its half-dozen rappers all galloping in to hurl their own grenades across the battlefield. For a group that targets and positions itself as a boyband, it borders on genuine shock that they’d put something forth as confrontational and abrasive as this. Still, it makes for one hell of an album opener.

87. Camp Cope – How to Socialise and Make Friends

From humble surrounds of Melbourne suburbia, Camp Cope’s imagery borrows primarily from the minutiae of everyday life – finding the extraordinary within the ordinary. On their second album’s title track, something as simple as riding a bike is used as an extended analogy for moving on – with every new trick comes new confidence; with that confidence life begins again. “I’ll wave to you as I ride by,” sings Georgia Maq defiantly as she’s propelled ahead by her engine-room rhythm section. She could ascend to the heavens, E.T. style, and it would feel entirely realistic. Such is their songwriting prowess.

86. Young Thug feat. Elton John – High

Thugga is far from the first person to play on the infamous “I’m gonna be high as a kite by then” line from Elton’s “Rocket Man.” He might be the first, however, to do so with such an explicit blessing from Captain Fantastic himself. The irrepressible rapper turns John into a via-satellite hook guy, dispensing his own twists and turns atop of barren piano and trap hats. Despite its pensive nature, there’s something surprisingly wholesome about the whole thing. Whatever Sir Elton sees in Young Thug, you’re entirely thankful that he sees it. Overall staying power? A long, long time.

85. Shinedown – DEVIL

Towards the end of 2018, Adam Levine made comments concerning rock’s absence within the mainstream and the charts. “I don’t know where it is,” he said. “If it’s anywhere, I wasn’t invited to the party.” Consider “DEVIL” as his – and your – invitation to radio-rock in 2018. Though far from Shinedown’s first rodeo, they haven’t sounded so in control in at least a decade. The drums pummel and swing, channelling the rough-and-tumble drop-D guitar as it matches Brent Smith’s boisterous proclamations. Was there a better raison d’etre in a 2018 single than “It’s about to get heavy?” Probably not.

84. Pusha T – If You Know You Know

King Push spent the year getting shit done. He was the first artist to drop an album during Kanye’s Wyoming sessions, the first rapper to get a beef into 2018 mainstream news and was arguably one of the key hip-hop artists that wasted the least amount of time across the collective calendar year. With the release of DAYTONA, he basically walked away from an explosion without looking at it – that’s how fucking cool he was. It all began with this merciless and effortlessly swaggering intro track – pure bombast and showmanship atop a classic Yeezy beat. Go off, King.

83. White Blanks – Go Right Now

There’s a bittersweetness to the single from these Wollongong garage-dwellers. On one hand, it’s a rousing, defiant fist-pumper that fires off hooks relentlessly until they stick in the brain. On the other, the celebration wasn’t to last – in November, the band announced their upcoming tour would be their last. Although they weren’t around for a long time, anyone who saw the Blanks live knew that it was more often than not a good time. Their spirited take on a tried-and-true genre was to be commended, and “Go Right Now” is as fitting a swan-song as you’re likely to get.

82. Chance the Rapper – I Might Need Security

Of all the deep-cuts in the sample library, no-one could have ever seen a Jamie Foxx HBO special being anywhere near the top of the pile – let alone it working to the degree it does. Then again, no-one was expecting anything from Lil Chano at all this year – to get six new tracks total was quite the pleasant surprise. Of that half-dozen, “Security” easily tops the list. If it’s not Foxx’s expletive-laden sample that grabs you, then surely Chance’s uber-specific political targets and news-flash flow will. If you ain’t down with that, we got two words for ya.

81. LOSER – LOSER

It takes a lot of confidence to give your band a title track – especially if it’s figuratively your very first release. Still, LOSER have all the reason in the world to be confident – comprised of Poison City’s finest alum, they know exactly what they’re doing. Here, the trio muscle in on fast-paced, index-finger-wagging power-pop. Its urgent guitar buzzsaws its way through the speakers, only to have the chorus promptly bowl you over. It’s almost predestined to soundtrack a night at one of the many Melbourne pubs these guys cut their teeth in. Starting again never sounded so good.

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Thanks for reading! Don’t forget you can stream all of part one via Spotify here:

The Top 100 Songs of 2017, Part Five: 20 – 1

DJY100PART5

Folks, I could not be more thrilled to bring you the top 20 songs of 2017 and the final part of the DJY100. Thanks so much for reading. I always have so much fun putting these together and I’m really stoked with the response. Look forward to doing it all again soon, but in the meantime be sure to catchup with parts one, two, three and four before proceeding.

Here’s to whatever 2018 has in store!

– DJY, January 2018

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20. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

Over a decade on from their debut, Manchester Orchestra still easily strike the fear of God into their listeners. The Andy Hull-led project has never been about quiet devastation – it’s about the extremities of the emotional spectrum and the internal conflicts that come with going there. “The Gold” immediately asserted itself as a career-best track for the band in the lead-up to the release of A Black Mile to the Surface. Indeed, as excellent as that record was, it never quite scaled the same heights elsewhere on its tracklisting. Heavenly harmonies, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and strikingly-beautiful arrangements: “The Gold,” indeed.

19. HAIM – Want You Back

Consider “Want You Back” a mosaic of sorts: a complete work of art in its own right, but its foundations are simultaneously laid by dozens of others. Looking closely, you’ll see the likes of Taylor Dayne, Stevie Nicks, Shania Twain and Janet Jackson in alignment – all of whom could have easily made this song just as big of a hit as the Haim sisters have. Of course, the bigger picture is HAIM themselves – they’ve taken everything they’ve learned and made something all-encompassing of their past, present and future. Now make like the video: Shut up and dance already.

18. Gordi – Bitter End

Sophie Payten has never shied away from fragility and vulnerability in her music. Perhaps nowhere in her still-blossoming body of work does she bare quite as much as she does on “Bitter End.” She’s openly seeking tragedy amid reverb, tape loops and delicate acoustic guitar: The refrain, “Don’t deny me,” reveals itself in full to be “Don’t deny me/My bitter end.” It’s a song that never shakes the ever-present feeling of falling in slow motion – the world crumbles around you, and the inevitable demise looms. “Bitter End” comes from a broken place for those unable to escape one themselves.

17. Code Orange – Bleeding in the Blur

When Code Orange signed to Roadrunner Records, many metal fans connected the dots with their love of Fear Factory and Hatebreed to joining the roster. One overlooked aspect of this move, however, was the band’s affinity for alt-metal – the kind Roadrunner was instrumental in making big in the 90s and early 2000s. “Bleeding in the Blur” may be Code Orange’s most accessible moment yet – it was, after all, picked up as a theme song for WWE’s NXT – but it never compromises nor loses the edge that made the band noticeable to begin with. Blood is still thicker.

16. The New Pornographers – High Ticket Attractions

Whiteout Conditions saw a lot of internal changes for The New Pornographers, now in their 20th year as a band. It marked their first without long-serving drummer Kurt Kahle, as well as their first without Destroyer’s Dan Bejar making contributions. It’s worth noting “High Ticket Attractions” immediately sounded like business as usual for the Pornos – in the very best way possible, of course. Carl Newman and Neko Case are perfectly intertwined as vocalists, Blaine Thurier is off sending his keyboards into outer-space and new guy drummer Joe Seiders is locked directly into the groove. Power-pop never felt so powerful.

15. Gold Class – Twist in the Dark

By this point, Gold Class are a well-oiled machine. Its four members work in close quarters, knowing exactly when to hold back and when to butt heads. “Twist in the Dark” is their greatest exercise in dynamics to date – a propulsive post-punk single that barely draws breath across its four-and-a-half minutes. It all comes together in the chorus, where the titular phrase is howled less like a demand and more like a plea. Meanwhile, Evan James Purdey’s guitar sounds like it’s got sparks coming off it, thrashing and radiating against the booming rhythm section. This moment is unquestionably theirs.

14. Antonia and the Lazy Susans – Home Here with Your Friends

The term “wholesome” gets bandied about a lot when discussing Antonia and the Lazy Susans, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed four-piece from the Blue Mountains. It’s easy to see why – theirs is a warm, inviting and good-natured take on indie-rock; their hearts proudly on the sleeves of their band tees. “Home Here with Your Friends” feels like a big, reassuring hug. It plays on the cliché of “home is where the heart is” and affirms its meaning to an estranged absolute. You’ll be singing in arms with your best mates in no time – “Home Here” achieves this by design.

13. Allday feat. Japanese Wallpaper – In Motion

As impressive as Allday’s 2014 debut Startup Cult was, its lyrical content certainly played to a more adolescent view of women and the world around him. Three years on, Tom Gaynor is a little more centred – he’s found love, however fleeting; and the nights of getting fucked up, while still present, don’t hit him the same way they used to. Somewhere between an internal monologue and a balcony soliloquy, the whole affair is tastefully soundtracked by Melbourne beatmaker Japanese Wallpaper. Gaynor’s reserved, sweetly-melodic voice works well in the foil of the gentle, glowing beat. So this is growing up.

12. Tigers Jaw – Guardian

We write songs of people we love. We write songs of people we hate. There is, of course, a lot of grey area in things between people. A song like “Guardian” fills that void in its own way. Ostensibly, it’s about removing yourself from someone’s life after a long spell of dependency issues and indelible history. It’s a gut-punch of a song, but also liberating in its catharsis – the chord progression slides around in perfect circles; the chorus feels like a lifted burden. Tigers Jaw speak for the downtrodden and the emotionally-distant – and they sing it so beautifully.

11. Charli XCX – Boys

For someone who hasn’t even hit 30 yet, Charli XCX feels as though she’s undergone more transformations than your average Madonna. Hook girl, shouty punk, pop princess, experimental glitch-pop weirdo… one never really knows where she’ll end up next. That’s part of the excitement, to be honest. There’s always an adventure to be had – look at “Boys,” after all. It was attached to easily the biggest music video of the year, but this ain’t no OK Go operation – the song thrives on its own. Playful, charming and ornately-arranged, “Boys” was the straight-girl/gay-guy anthem millennials were craving in 2017.

10. Paramore – Hard Times

In case you didn’t get the memo care of the marimbas and bongos that lift the curtain on Paramore’s fifth album: We’re not in Franklin anymore, Toto. The name remains the same as it ever was, but those seeking a new slab of angst-ridden pop-punk in tune with the band’s early stages are going to find themselves bitterly disappointed – possibly even to the point where they’ll go off and make their own, should it suit them. Progression, see, is a two-way street: “Some of us have to grow up sometimes,” Hayley Williams sang on the band’s self-titled album back in 2013. She wasn’t just talking about herself, or whomever she may have been subtweeting. In order for a band to grow, its listeners have to grow with it – and, thankfully, Paramore have found themselves in a position of power as far as this dynamic is concerned.

For the most part, fans have been willing to go along with whatever Williams and co. throw at them – including line-up shifts, internal conflict and vocoder solos. There’s an ever-present restlessness to what it is they do, and it’s boldly reflected in the image of “Hard Times.” Each listen allows you to pick up on something that hadn’t presented itself previously – a returning Zac Farro, for instance, counting the band in before announcing his triumphant comeback with a thunderous drum fill. Or what about the onomatopoeic “oofff” that lands directly after Williams cartoonishly yelps how she’s “gotta get to rock-bottom”?

The song bounces between Talking Heads eccentricity to state-of-the-art pop on a whim, all the while providing the perfect contrast to Williams’ total-bummer lyrics sheet. The melody may be as bouncy and bright as anything the band has recorded, but even taking a second to scratch below the surface will see Paramore transmogrify into Pagiliacci. That’s what makes this such a striking song – every listen is a new adventure. Paramore are still in the business of misery, but lest we forget that misery loves company.

9. Nick Hakim – Bet She Looks Like You

One verse. One chorus. One drum loop. It doesn’t get much more stripped-back from a structural standpoint as it does on “Bet She Looks Like You.” That’s part of its intrigue – how could a song with so little technically do so much emotionally? A lot of it has to do with Nick Hakim himself, the man behind the music who plays nearly everything on debut album Green Twins and provides the quivering, gasping vocals that serve as the very core of this song’s being. He sings of a love that is killing him – quite literally. “If there’s a God/I wonder what She looks like,” he sings. “I bet she looks like you.” His parting words: “I wish that life/Would feed the tree/And you can put me to sleep/Forever and ever.”

Being a relatively new artist, Hakim is somewhat of a blank canvas. Spending time with “Bet She Looks Like You,” however, one quickly picks up on his methods. He paints with broad strokes of luminous green, circling outlines with shimmering chrome and allowing pitch-blackness to take its place where it can. His voice recalls vintage soul, and carries with it a realm of paradoxes – reverb-heavy, cavernous, distant; and yet as drawn-in and intimate as the bedroom in which it was recorded. His guitar playing shifts from baritone plucking to tasteful upper fretwork, a gated snare its only guiding light. Hakim blends, shifts and reshapes genre semantics to work within. He goes beyond writing a song with “Bet She Looks Like You” – he’s a creator of worlds.

8. Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

As long as sampling has existed in popular music, the side-by-side analysis has been inevitable. It’s easy to see something like “Rapper’s Delight” stemming out of Chic’s “Good Times,” for instance. It’s also fascinating to see the glimmering hope of Dido’s “Thank You” recontextualised as the stormy obsession ballad that is “Stan” by Eminem. What, then, to make of “Psycho Killer” in its new home of Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar”? They may seem worlds apart – Gomez, after all, was born some 15 years after the song itself was released – but their parallels run closer than you might think.

By sliding Tina Weymouth’s instantly-recognisable bass-line between syncopated claps and a bluesy modulation, one appreciates how rhythmically versatile both artists are. Weymouth knows her way around empty spaces, and Gomez knows how to fill out lingering ones. The scatterbrain lyrics – composed with assistance of the iconic duo, Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter; also responsible for “Hands to Myself” – also resonate with the real live-wire that David Byrne is portraying. Both Byrne and Gomez reach breaking points, while also knowing when to draw back and switch to an internal monologue. There’s inherent struggle in both characters, and the tension builds quickly.

Of course, “Bad Liar” thrives regardless of being aware of its musical context or not – it’s one of the best songs Gomez has ever put her name to, if not the. It’s the perfect balance of smart and sexy, guilty and innocent, hot and cold. For someone who could have easily become a Disney also-ran, it’s been remarkable to see how far Gomez has come in the last half-decade. Should 2018 bring us a new full-length, consider yourselves warned – it’s only gonna get fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa far, far better from here.

7. Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean and Migos – Slide

Consider the power of a man like Calvin Harris. Not physical, mind – he’s always been a scrawny type, even as he’s evolved from Scottish geek to Hollywood hunk. It’s more about what he’s able to bring out of people; the way that he can reach into any pop A-lister you can think of and transform them. Florence Welch, the indie queen? Disco diva. Kelis, the milkshake-sipping rnb star? EDM commander. Frank Ocean, the reticent bedroom-dweller who shuns touring and makes introspective music for the emotionally-invested and socially-isolated? Guess what, dude: You’re at the steering wheel of a sports-car, cruising LA with the song of the summer bumping in your trunk.

Ocean certainly feels like the outlier of the three artists involved in “Slide” – yes, including the guy who’s not even from America. What’s fascinating is that he barely changes his approach, even when presented with a slamming boom-bap rhythm and shiny synth patterns. He underplays the whole thing, which subsequently shifts the playing field and levels out in Ocean’s favour.

He’s too cool to get hype – not like Migos, who make their presence felt like the hyenas of The Lion King we so desperately want them to be. Not to say Migos aren’t cool – it’s that they’re a tad more extroverted and certainly more willing to play ball. The two work as perfect foil for one another; such is the pulling power and the masterful eye for detail held by one C. Harris. Exactly how long Harris’ redemptive streak will last is anyone’s guess, but for now it’s better to just cruise.

6. Charlie Puth – Attention

There’s an old saying that you may have heard in your travels: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. In 2017, the prince of darkness managed to one-up his own trickery, and a new challenger came for the title. And so it went: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that someone played bass on “Attention” by boy-wonder pop heartthrob Charlie Puth. You get a glimpse into pure evil in the glint of Puth’s eyes in a making-of video for the track, for which he wrote all of the music. “Everyone asks me who played bass on this track,” he says. There’s a cheeky, smug grin on his face as he reveals the perpetrator: himself, playing a MIDI keyboard.

For those that have heard – and, indeed, paid – “Attention,” this ranks up there with the cake as one of pop culture’s greatest lies. You’d feel betrayed were you not so impressed that the twentysomething wunderkind literally created a one-man band for the song – not only the electric, infused bass-line, but the tasteful, suspenseful palm-mute guitar. He can’t even play guitar, for fuck’s sake.

Perhaps the frustration at Puth’s creation is an overhang from his irritating debut album, Nine-Track Mind, which positioned him as a smug and overly-cocky loverboy, not to mention an easy critical punching bag. Puth’s arrival in 2017 with “Attention” and “How Long” was pop music’s equivalent of Sandra D turning up in the final scene of Grease wearing a leather jacket and smoking a cigarette. The stud has logged on – and he’s gonna talk his shit until you’re licking up every last fake bass-line. Guess it’s true what they say – better the Devil you know.

5. Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE.

“HUMBLE.” is endlessly quotable. Every line could be tweeted and get thousands of RTs. Every line could be given a bit of art, posted on Insta and rack up five-digit likes within the hour. Even an edit of the song that changes nearly every line to one of the curious artefacts brought up in the first 30 seconds – syrup sandwiches – has proven to be quite popular. There’s one particular line, however, that serves as a rason d’être for Lamar himself. It’s a command, but it’s neither “sit down” nor “be humble.” It’s this: “Show me something natural.” A black man’s afro, for instance. Or perhaps a rear end that hasn’t been digitally edited.

These are just examples, of course. It’s reflective of a greater quest that Lamar is on – not just on DAMN., but his entire career. He’s surrounded by bullshit artists, careerists and fake personas. It’s his duty to dismantle the systems that uphold these sorts of people, in turn making music that is inextricably linked to his own identity. “HUMBLE.,” for all intents and purposes, is a successful mission.

Its clattering piano keys created one of the year’s most hypnotic loops, weaving in and out of busy hi-hats and head-nodding chants while the bass rattles your car speakers. His flow is restless, never settling on a measure or metric but rather ever-evolving as he finds new ways to intertwine himself with his surroundings. Even as the beat rides out, you’re half expecting him to leap right back into the fray and find a dozen new flows to go with it. Could he do it? Easily. He’s a natural.

4. Gordi – Heaven I Know

Quick maths: One two three, one two three, one two three, one two three, one two. Across eight measurements, fourteen beats. 4/4, standard time. Sophie Payten’s whispered numbers game serves as the only percussive backbone of “Heaven I Know” for much of its runtime. It immediately grabs your attention as a peculiarity – especially when Payten’s voice layers on top of itself, marking out the on-beat with an A-shaped C-note on the two and the four. That’s a lot to take in on its own – we haven’t gotten to the military snare drum, the chipmunk vocal samples, the vocoder and the army of trumpets that make their presence felt on an increasing basis as the song progresses, implodes and subsequently fades.

Despite the fact it’s quite clearly a song about letting go and the acceptance of loss, “Heaven I Know” feels like a battle-cry. Its titular refrain is sung heavens-high with stunning harmony, the pain of its heavy-hearted sentiment crashing down on unsuspecting listeners with a considerable wallop. She simultaneously sounds as human as she ever has, while still glitching in the background like a malfunctioning robot.

Coming from any artist, this would be a mesmerising and wholly surprising effort. The fact it comes from an artist who – with all due respect – was previously more at home in the realm of your everyday singer-songwriter makes “Heaven I Know” even more compelling. It comes out of nowhere, and quickly takes up space everywhere until it’s inescapable.

What becomes of the broken hearted? That’s simple: They write songs like “Heaven I Know.”

3. Jacob – How Long Until You’re Next to Me?

Throughout history, popular music has offered up questions that not only work well as song titles, but as choruses. We’ve been questioning each other for millennia: Do you know the way to San Jose? Have you ever seen the rain? Are you gonna go my way? Who let the dogs out? A new question entered the conversation this year – one so straightforward and self-assured, you’re legitimately amazed that it had never been asked before. It’s asked by a band that, although five years in at this point, are entering a new phase of their existence and making changes accordingly. A band that’s developed a cult following in their time, mixing their love of third-wave emo with their heart-eyes emojis for vintage pop. A band that knows a thing or two about breaking hearts and being heartbroken – life may not be easy for a boy named Sue, but it’s just as hard for a band named Jacob.

“How Long Until You’re Next to Me?” was a standalone single for Jacob in 2017. That’s both literal – ie. not being attached to an imminent EP/LP release – and also in the context of stature. This is a peerless song – there was no better Australian song released across the entire calendar year, regardless of any genre semantics or gridlocks. “How Long” defies them anyway – it’s a song that’s just as at home on a summer pop playlist than it would at on the CDJ decks of an alt-club night. It’s got a spring in its step, but a sting in the tail. It’s bubbly and bright, yes; in equal amounts, it’s love-lorn and longing. It’s persistent, too – just when you think it’s done, it goes in for one last lightning round.

To borrow a phrase from Pavement, “How Long Unitl You’re Next to Me?” is an island of such great complexity. It’s simple as apple pie on the surface, but it’s tellingly deceptive. Each listen insists upon another – you’ll have notched up double digits without even noticing – and yet you’re never closer to answering the titular question. We may never – Bob Dylan probably never got an answer for how many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man. At the very least, Jacob are on the right track.

2. Charly Bliss – Westermarck

Everyone remembers Bart and Milhouse’s all-syrup Squishee bender. The sugar-rush sends both kids into orbit, with Milhouse helpfully suggesting the two “go crazy – Broadway style.” All it took was one hit and they were away. Consider Charly Bliss the musical equivalent of the all-syrup Squishee. Not that they lead to bad decisions or anything like that – it’s just that they’re alarmingly sweet, and going out of your way to seek it out will lead to gasps from on-lookers. At the same time, it’s so easy to get hooked.

There may not be a more alluring voice in contemporary rock music than that of Eva Hendricks’ – it’s so head-range and treacly that one may initially suspect digital manipulation. The guitars are flowery and rainbow-swirled, the drums clinking and clashing against them. If you’re not lost in their world within the first 60 seconds, then you’re straight up not paying enough attention. “Westermarck” is the stand-out track on Guppy, the band’s debut album – and considering three other songs of theirs made the cut in addition to this one, you know that’s saying something.

What makes it so irresistible? It’s the single most succinct and swiftly-executed amalgamation of not only Charly Bliss’ key strengths, but of what made rock music great in 2017. There’s churning guitar, a chorus that demands to be screamed and even a “Teen Spirit”-esque melody-line guitar solo to tide you over. It’s so specifically personal, and yet nothing is ever really given away – what was the cause of the birthday fight that lead to the scarred face? How exactly was a baby going to pop or get shrunk? Was Rick Moranis involved? And would you believe Hendricks if she was right? Surely you would. She can make a believer out of anyone who listens to “Westermarck.”

1. Drake – Passionfruit

It’s a tradition almost as old as hip-hop itself. The beat kicks in, the crowd goes nuts… and just about as it’s about to get going, the artist cuts the music. Verbatim, they’ll tell the crowd something along the lines of: “You can go harder than that! If you’re really ready for this shit, then make some noise!” Noise is made, the song begins again and the energy in the room hits fever pitch. What’s fascinating about “Passionfruit” in its introductory stage is twofold. The first aspect is how Drake takes this live practice and executes it on a recorded song. Just as you’re settling into the groove of Nana Rogues dancehall futurista, a voice interrupts. “Hold on, hold on… fuck that,” it says. It’s DJ Moodymann, taken from a DJ set in 2010 where he botches a mix and makes sure to get it right. To have this experience outside of the realm of live performance is nothing short of disarming – even on subsequent listens, when you know it’s coming, it’s the equivalent of waiting for your toast to pop up.

The other half of this curiosity relates back to “Passionfruit” from a musical standpoint. Usually, the songs being hyped up by this fake-out are tracks like “All of the Lights.” Something that builds up and explodes, high on dynamic lift. “Passionfruit” is not that kind of song – at least, it doesn’t seem to be. It loops around hypnotically, its neon-glowing glass synths serving as a waterbed for Drake’s buttery vocals and the shuffled hi-hats keeping rhythm. The way it continues with such insistence, however, makes you more and more invested in how it progresses. Drake could have done this for any of his more hyped numbers in his arsenal – imagine this within the confines of “Jumpman,” for instance. For whatever reason, though, “Passionfruit” was selected as the song with which to start the motherfuckin’ record over. And it’s still believable.

Needless to say, “Passionfruit” is a little more nuanced and a lot more complex to explain than your average Global Top 50 entrant. It’s bright and tropical, yet it works just effectively for listeners in downer moods. It soundtracks glasses of champagne out on the dancefloor as well as drinking so much that you call them anyway. Drake is in your ear, but he’s also a million miles away. It beams with both the millennial-pink tinge of the club and the unforgiving white of the streetlights on the drive home. The chord progression is uplifting, and yet it’s easily contrasted and off-set by atonal blips that barely fit the metre. It’s truly a testament to Drake’s versatility as a singer and as an artist that he’s able to encompass so much within a single song – “Passionfruit” has more levels to it in five minutes than many acts are able to even fathom across an entire LP.

It’s fitting that the last voice you hear on “Passionfruit” – much like the first voice – is not Drake’s. This time, it’s Zoë Kravitz – daughter of Lenny, actor and singer – coming down a phone line, á la “Marvin’s Room.” Her only line is this: “Umm… I’m trying to think of the right thing to say.” There’s no resolution. The conflict that arises within the song’s lyrics is not resolved. The tension hangs in the air. And yet. And yet. And yet. The beat goes on. If the song didn’t transition into the “Jorja Interlude” on More Life, one could envision it going on forever. Still on this motherfuckin’ record. Probably always will be.

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Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget you can listen to a playlist of nearly every song featured in this list (with apologies to Clean Shirt and Neil Cicierega) below:

The Top 100 Songs of 2017, Part Four: 40 – 21

DJY100PART4

Almost there! Time to crack into the top 40. Big things popping, little things stopping. Local heroes, global megastars – this bracket’s got it all. Catching up on the list so far is as easy as one, two, three.

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40. Lorde – Green Light

2017 belonged to Ella Yelich-O’Connor from the opening chords of this song. No-one quite captures and captivates the way she does – a larger-than-life pop megastar who simultaneously feels as down-to-earth as your high-school bestie. “Green Light” didn’t just open Melodrama – it arguably overshadowed it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this song manages to build a bustling metropolis in four minutes. It’s a spirited minor-to-major ascension, serving as sonic kintsugi – that is, rebuilding broken things using pure gold. Lorde was always the kind to stop traffic, but out of her teens she appears capable of anything.

39. Ali Barter – Cigarette

Ali Barter is sugar and spice – deceptively sweet, with a sting in the tail. Her lilting voice recalls Spiderbait’s Janet English, playing nice until her sneaker comes crashing down on the distortion pedal. “Cigarette” is biting in its take down of a superficial lover; its titular kiss-off comes in so hot, there’s smoke coming off it. We haven’t even gotten to the air-guitar-worthy shredding all over the place, with whammy bends that would score serious points on Guitar Hero were it still with us. It may come in scented packaging, but Barter is unafraid to deliver some home truths.

38. Aimee Mann – Patient Zero

At 57, Aimee Mann has been in the entertainment industry for more than half her life. There’s nothin’ you can tell her about ol’ Tinseltown that she doesn’t already know. She’s seen a million fresh-eyed faces pop out of a cab on Santa Monica Boulevard, all to be weathered by the ensuing shit-storm. That brings us to “Patient Zero,” which serves as one of Mann’s finest pieces of songwriting to date. Guided by an insistent palm-muted acoustic and some tastefully-plucked strings, cautionary tales are interwoven with timely election-night grief. Its intricacy is remarkable; its sound is absolutely beautiful. Dream on.

37. Arcade Fire – Everything Now

If you’d have proclaimed circa Neon Bible that Arcade Fire would become the most hated band in indie-rock within the decade, few would have believed you. Yet, here we are: The same folks that once worshiped at the altar of Win Butler and co. now form queues to openly spit on them across any given platform. And for what? A disco record. No, not that one. This one. The one with the “Dancing Queen” piano and the “Send Me on My Way” roots-rock exuberance. Whatever your take on the album’s roll-out, Everything Now‘s title track was a misunderstood rough diamond.

36. Cloud Nothings – Things Are Right with You

“No use in life without a sound,” reasons Dylan Baldi on Cloud Nothings’ fifth album – titled, ahem, Life Without Sound. It’s a sentiment that’s hard to disagree with, particularly within the context of a loud, fun and sadly undervalued rock record. “Things” carries on time-honoured tradition of splashing drums, knife-edge guitar and unfathomably-catchy choruses. Some may misinterpret this being more of the same as a bad thing. Au contraire. It’s a band playing to core strengths. They’ve never been concerned with reinventing the wheel, only rolling with what they’ve got. As luck would have it, that’s more than enough.

35. The Killers – The Man

When U2 made their comeback in the early 2000s, they called it “their application to be the biggest band in the world again.” In a lot of ways, that’s what “The Man” feels like – it swaggers with the kind of confidence that can only come from having ascended the mountain-top and wanting to take in that view once more. The Bowie-friendly lead single from the band’s fifth LP, Wonderful Wonderful, cops its strut from “Stayin’ Alive” and spins with the enchantment of a disco ball. It’s pure gloss and rhinestone, the soundtrack to a neon-tinged Las Vegas night. Diggit.

34. Charly Bliss – DQ

Earlier, Charly Bliss provided one of 2017’s more curious opening lines. What wasn’t mentioned, however, was how they one-upped themselves not three tracks later. “DQ” launches into the fray with – no shit – “I laughed when your dog died.” There’s no coming back from that – you’re immediately in the crossfire. The rest of the band don’t let up. Not that you want them too – “DQ” is addictive listening. It drives home the band’s manic edge, going from hilarious (“I bounced so high/I peed the trampoline”) to devastating (“I’m too sad to be mean”) in a split second.

33. Tigers Jaw – June

For spin, Ben Walsh played all of the guitars, bass and drums; as well as taking lead on the lion’s share of songs. One could put up an argument that Tigers Jaw has ostensibly become his band – but a track like “June” would swiftly refute that. Brianna Collins has always been integral to the band’s sound, and spin‘s centrepiece track makes that clearer than it’s ever been. It’s a song of heartbreak and defeat, with the light shining through to let in hope and sisterhood. Collins may seem a timid presence, but the resonance that “June” has is assertive.

32. Sampha – Plastic 100°C

The first voice heard on “Plastic 100°C” is not Sampha’s, but Neil Armstrong’s – a sample lifted from the recording of the moon landing. Back on earth, our hero is in distress mode – he’s stressed, overheated and distant. The spiral of synth-strings and warm organ allow for his emotional journey to venture between the gutter and the stars. A great opener to an album will transport you to an entirely new place – setting the scene, building a private universe and immersing you within it as a listener. In the case of Process, Sampha’s long-awaited debut album, it’s outer-space.

31. Citizen – Jet

Maybe Citizen have been here before. Seen this room, walked this floor. They’re living in an abstract reality, using surrealist imagery and extended analogies to tap into the human condition and subsequently find themselves closer to it than ever before. “Jet” – and, by extension, October’s As You Please – sees Citizen making a further progression from their previous LP, Everyone is Going to Heaven, as that record did with their debut Youth. Initially caught somewhere between the emo revival and the pop-punk scene, the band has refined their sound and focused in on something uniquely theirs. They’ve taken off.

30. Lincoln Le Fevre and the Insiders – Useless Shit

You might not be there, or you may be past it. There’s a window of time, however, where you will see yourself in everything Lincoln Le Fevre writes. The Tasmanian expatriate finds himself sifting through the rubble on the lead single of his third album, catching reflections in the wreck and ruin. The guitar twangs and gnashes at driving snare rolls, angling for alt-country with rougher edges and enough wear-and-tear to lend to punk credentials. The refrain only needs to be heard once for it to worm into the subconscious; each recital growing louder and louder. It can’t be ignored.

29. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Your average indie upstart celebrated their 24th birthday in 2017. Spoon celebrated 24 years as a band. It’s not only far from their first rodeo – they practically run the show now. Consider their arc not unlike, say, Madonna or Cher – adapting, evolving and growing with the times, rather than attempting to work against them. The title track to Hot Thoughts hit the airwaves in late January; all tubular bells and hypnotic drum loops ablaze. Perhaps the band’s boldest single choice since 2005’s “I Turn My Camera On,” Spoon’s faith in their own abilities paid off tenfold. Verdict? Ssssssmokin’.

28. Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – Feels

Some pop hits are too sweet. Some too sour. Going from track to track like Goldilocks, “Feels” was one of the biggest singles to go down just right. A healthy portion of Pharrell charisma, just a pinch of Katy Perry’s sunny disposition (neither too much nor little) and sprinklings of Big Sean’s incredulous-romantic schtick a la “As Long As You Love Me.” If that wasn’t enough, a Nile Rodgers guitar swagger and a big-swinging bass-line help the whole thing go down a treat. Island-hopping pop was acceptable in the 80s, and feels (pardon the pun) just as pertinent in 2017.

27. Mere Women – Big Skies

They say that in space, no-one can hear you scream. The same seems to go for remote/regional Australia, where Mere Women’s Amy Wilson found herself while writing the band’s third (and best) album. There were few moments that felt as haunting than Wilson reiterating the deceptively-dark advice offered to her by locals on the title track: You better get a dog, girl. Calling out from the darkness with only the pound of floor toms and guitars feeding back to answer it, the whole affair is enough to make one’s blood run cold. “Big Skies” is equal parts bark and bite.

26. LCD Soundsystem – tonite

“I’m the reminder,” James Murphy sarcastically quips into a megaphone. “The hobbled veteran.” He knows he’s too old for this shit – it was partially what brought LCD Soundsystem to a close to begin with. Ironically, this moment comes around halfway into one of the key songs of the band’s comeback – a justification for their rebirth, with renewed sense of purpose. At its core, “tonite” is a song about taking chances – simultaneously harsh in its realism but laced with enough hope to keep the disco-lights flashing. The veteran may be hobbled, but he can still dance himself clean.

25. Kendrick Lamar – DNA.

Dr. Dre – Kendrick Lamar’s childhood hero – rapped a warning to his critics back in 2002: “Don’t think I don’t read your little interviews/And see what you’re saying.” Lamar took this advice to the next level on DAMN.: he’s literally broadcasting his haters, word-for-word, via samples. It’s intentionally provocative – as if to ask, ‘you didn’t think I wasn’t going to hear this, did you?’ It adds to “DNA.”’s righteous fury like gasoline to the fire. Lamar fires off on all cylinders over a clattering, relentless beat. Understandably, too: He’s mad as hell and isn’t gonna take it anymore.

24. Horrorshow – Eat the Cake

Growing up is a long, arduous process. We’re told to put away childish things, and thus party traditions change with age – athough getting fucked up on Fat Lamb and a key of coke may turn you into a bigger brat than red cordial and cake ever could. Horrorshow explore these changes on one of their biggest and most fun singles to date. “Eat the Cake” is replete with double-entendres and a knowing wink across its smartly-written, playful lyrics. Bonus points for the five-star music video, too. As the Aunty Donna boys themselves might say: Haven’t you done well, Horrorshow.

23. Gold Class – Trouble Fun

The title of this cut from Gold Class’ second album is curious, given it’s technically not an actual term. Its pairing of commonplace adjectives, however, immediately sparks imagery – vivid and intimate. Adam Curley has plenty of space in the arrangement for his words to hang and resonate; sparse guitar and metronomic tom-tom pounds draws in breath and promptly exhales at opportune junctures. “They won’t catch my kisses/They won’t catch my fist,” he howls; ‘they’ being “the kids ’round here.” There’s enough pent-up emotion in this moment alone to sign off on it being one of the year’s finest songs.

22. Lonelyspeck – Happy New Year

All is quiet on New Year’s Day. In the beginning, there was darkness. Nothingness. Lonelyspeck – aka Adelaide vocalist/producer/guitarist Sione Teohemunga – creates light with this jaw-dropping creation. “Happy New Year” begins in a fragile state, the vocals whispering against the low hum of a pan-flute. It ascends sonically, but not in the way you’d expect – its clattered beat and sub-bass shock you from your slumber and into the musical equivalent of Get Out‘s sunken place. Lonelyspeck sings from a new perspective, reticent but resolute. “I don’t hate myself/Like I used to,” they sing in resolve. Nor should they.

21. Hair Die – Backburning

Very little information is out there concerning Hair Die, save for knowing the core of the band is made up of brothers and that “Backburning” is the quartet’s debut single. How exactly did we get here, then? Simple, really: “Backburning” is a song that does the talking. That’s quite literal in the case of the song’s second verse, which goes into a rant about the inherently-cynical nature of human interaction. Elsewhere, the track is propelled along by an incessant hat-heavy drum-beat and laser-beam keyboards; recalling proto post-punk and Krautrock in its prime. Whoever you are, Hair Die – keep burning.

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That’s it! Part five will be up later this week. Follow along with the hashtag #DJY100 on Twitter. You can also check out the playlist on Spotify below:

 

2017: The Best of The Rest

Photo: Ryan Kitching

As you’ve probably gathered, this site is primarily about my main passion: Music. With that said, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my other interests – podcasts, pro-wrestling, comedy, Twitter and movies – with these top five lists. Big love to everyone making it happen this year, and I look forward to plenty more to come in 2018.

– DJY, December 2017

Top Five Podcasts of 2017

1. Mike Check with Cameron James & Alexei Toliopoulos
2. blink-155
3. Off-Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast
4. Don’t You Know Who I Am? with Josh Earl
5. Aunty Donna Podcast

Top Five TV Shows of 2017

1. BoJack Horseman
2. Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later
3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
4. Stranger Things 2
5. Rosehaven

Top Five Stand-Up Specials of 2017

1. Maria Bamford – Old Baby
2. Patton Oswalt – Annihilation
3. Neal Brennan – 3 Mics
4. Tom Walker – Bee Boo
5. Kurt Braunohler – Trust Me

Top Five Live Comedy Shows of 2017

1.  Aunty Donna – Big Boys @ Enmore Theatre
2. Demi Lardner – Look What You Made Me Do @ Enmore Theatre Wild Oats Bar
3. DeAnne Smith – Post-Joke Era @ Factory Theatre Fusebox
4. Tom Walker and Sam Campbell – King Baby’s Respectful Christmas Jamboree @ Giant Dwarf
5. Felicity Ward – 50% More Likely to Die @ The Famous Spiegeltent


Top Five Twitter Accounts of 2017

1. Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack)
2. Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo)
3. Allison Gallagher (@allisongallaghr)
4. Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn)
5. karate horse (@Karate_Horse)

Top Five WWE Matches of 2017

1. Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate @ NXT TakeOver: Chicago
2. The Usos vs. The New Day @ Hell in a Cell
3. Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream @ NXT TakeOver: War Games
4. DIY vs. The Authors of Pain @ NXT TakeOver: Chicago
5. The Undisputed Era vs. SANiTY vs. The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong @ NXT TakeOver: War Games

Top Five Non-WWE Matches of 2017

1. Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada @ Wrestle Kingdom 11
2. Will Ospreay vs. Robbie Eagles @ PWA Call to Arms
3. The Hardys vs The Young Bucks @ Supercard of Honour XI
4. Jonah Rock vs. Caveman Ugg @ PWA Release the Quacken Bush
5. Cody Rhodes vs. Dalton Castle @ ROH Final Battle

Top Five Movies of 2017

1. Get Out
2. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
3. Thor: Ragnarok
4. Logan
5. xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Happy new year!