As we draw near to the end of the year, I usually formulate what I think are the best albums of the last 12 months. So, for this column I will tell you what I think are the top five best EP’s and albums of 2018. What helps me determine what makes a good album is based on how well the lyrics are, how well the project is produced and the catchiness of the songs.
First I’m going to start with EP’s. For those who don’t know, an EP (extended play) is essentially a mini-album that will usually range from four to six tracks and are usually under 30 minutes.
- SQUARE UP by BLACKPINK
I’m definitely not a k-pop fan and never have been generally just based on the fact that I have no clue what they’re saying, but BLACKPINK is like no other. This EP is best known for the song “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and has a mix of pretty much every genre. There’s of course pop, bubblegum pop, rap, and a little bit of electronic dance music. An overall synopsis is that this is a feel-good EP and just makes you want to dance.
- Survive the Summer by Iggy Azalea
Iggy Azalea has been out of the spotlight for the past couple of years due to label issues, album delays and a so-called hate train on her as a person and a rapper. Despite what other critics think, I believe she released a fire EP on Aug.3 of this year. Her first single from the EP “Kream” talks about if money and friendship go hand-in-hand. “Hey Iggy” talks about her surgeries and “Kawasaki” talks about if a guy wants her, he has to work for it. Not the biggest comeback, but just enough to get her on this list.
- Sappho by Zolita
Zolita is more of an underrated and underappreciated artist. Zolita identifies herself as a feminist, which plays a huge role in this EP. The first single, “Fight Like a Girl,” is a girl-power anthem about how women should stand up for themselves and make their own choices about their bodies and what they should think and say, as well as standing up for LGBT+ rights. “New You” addresses what it’s like to go through a relationship where her lover is seeing someone else as well. “Spotless” talks about wanting to forget a past lover, but she can’t no matter how hard she tries.
- Euphoric by Forever in Your Mind
This EP has nothing but bops. “Dirty Laundry” has an electric dance vibe that includes the message that everyone has a messy past and they should just move on and forget about it. “X Did” digs deep into the desire to breakup with their lover because they aren’t like their ex, even though it’s wrong to compare them to their past exes.
- Burn Slow by Jaira Burns
Jaira Burns is another underrated and underappreciated artist. This is the best EP of 2018, featuring awesome production, relatable lyrics and absolute bops. “Sugarcoat” is about Burns being honest with her lover and how she’s over them and all they did. My personal favorite song from this EP is “This Time Around,” which talks about her experimenting with drugs, people and different lifestyles to find the right person. Then she finds someone who could change her mind about love and actually treat her right. “Didn’t I” addresses Burns being in the wrong and she knows she messed up and wants to try again. “Waste Away” ends this EP talking about how she wants to be with someone for the rest of her life until they die.
Now we shall address, the top five best albums of 2018.
- Singular Act I by Sabrina Carpenter
The only reason I didn’t put Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour” here is because I have heard more from Carpenter than Musgraves and I can tell that this album is a huge improvement lyrically and is more mature than her previous album “EVOLution,” released in 2016. In “Paris,” she’s looking for love even though she already has a loyal lover in America. “Mona Lisa” talks about a guy who keeps admiring her, but she wants him to approach her and actually talk to her. “Sue Me” talks about her moving on and how she should be sued for moving on and hanging out with his friends.
- Phoenix by Rita Ora
Like Iggy, Rita Ora has also been facing some record label troubles that prevented her from releasing an album after her debut in 2012. She signed with Atlantic Records UK in 2016 and finally released her second album, “Phoenix,” on Nov. 23. “Let You Love Me” is an electro-pop song about how she can’t let someone love her because she’s too scared of love. “New Look” takes a perspective on her fears of being replaced and what her lover is going to do without her. “Keep Talking” features Julia Michaels and is basically a song about not caring what haters say about them and how they’ll be the bigger person about it. Ora also dedicated this album to Swedish musician Avicii, an EDM DJ, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
- Cry Pretty by Carrie Underwood
I’m not usually a person who listens to country, but Underwood mixes pop and country. In the title track “Cry Pretty,” she shows that she is not perfect and is just like anyone else. She can’t get over a previous lover and they keep coming back to each other in “Backsliding,” and she spends time reminiscing a past lover (implying past sexual encounters she’s had with this person) in “That Song That We Made Love To.” My favorite track on the album, “Drinking Alone,” dives into how she sees someone going through the same problem at a bar and how they should drown their sorrows together, but they’re not going home together. This album is definitely worth the listen.
- Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B
Whether you like her or not you have to admit this was a pretty good album. It was certified gold on its first day of release, became the most streamed album by a female artist in the first week according to Apple Music and listed 13 songs on the US Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, surpassing Beyoncé. The album features the hits “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.” We get into the personal side of Cardi, like in the songs “Thru Your Phone” and “Be Careful”.
- Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko
Unlike the rest of the albums and EPs on this list, this one is the only album that flows from each track smoothly and is cohesively sound. This is Kiyoko’s debut album talks about love, heartbreak, her dealings with straight girls and so much more. “What I Need” features Kehlani and discusses how they want a straightforward relationship, not an iffy, unsure relationship. “Curious” dives into her interactions with a straight girl who was unsure if she wanted her or not and how they do the same exact things she used to do with her. The lines are blurry to her and she’s not sure what to believe. My favorite track on the album, “Wanna Be Missed,” talks about wanting to be longed for and be cared for. She can’t get her mind off this girl. “He’ll Never Love You (HNLY)” is more of a sassy, infused anthem on how a guy can never love her the way she can. The final track on the album, “Let It Be,” ends the story
and talks about how they should move on from their relationship even though it’s hard for her to let go.
2018 overall was an OK year for music, but I have hope for 2019. Adele and Madonna are rumored to be releasing albums next year. Avril Lavigne and The Backstreet Boys are also supposed to make grand returns next year.