The best tracks of 2018

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It’s the official Dropscotch ‘Best of 2018’ playlist, where the soul and R&B comes hard, but there’s still space for someone to whisper gently in Korean.

Ella Mai – Trip

Ella Mai’s emergence was one of the highlights of the year, and also left the UK slightly embarrassed that she seemingly had to cross the Atlantic to get the breaks her talent deserves. Boo’d Up got the headlines, but this was even better.

Teyana Taylor – Gonna Love Me

A masterful reworking of the opening bars of The Delfonics’ I Gave To You.

Lou Hayter – Cherry on Top

DJ and serial collaborator Lou produced an instant classic with her debut solo single. Vintage synth sounds and sunshine provide the foundation while Lou’s sugar-sweet vocals are the cherry on top.

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left to Cry

The pre-eminent popstar of 2018 had nearly half-a-dozen contenders for the best-of-the-year comp. This pipped the others thanks to the little spoken word rap-py bits.

Jorja Smith – Goodbyes

One of the highlights of Jorja Smith’s Lost & Found debut album. Goodbyes' sees her reconcile the finality of death with the transcendent power of love. It’s also her most vocally accomplished performance. The chorus sees her move swiftly from impassioned soul stylings to a precise soprano that betrays her classical background.

Nao – Another Lifetime

Nao’s distinctive vocals are beautifully textured on this atmospheric album opener.

Drake – Nice For What

You’ve probably heard this enough for now. Still brilliant though.

Calvin Harris and Dua Lip – One Kiss

Absolutely reeks of Love Island. And that’s why it’s brilliant.

CASISDEAD – Pat Earrings

It’s the late 1990s and enigmatic UK wordsmith CASISDEAD is attempting to turn a ho’ into a housewife. He fails.

King Princess – 1950

A beautifully executed love song that plays cleverly with perceptions of gender identity and the gay experience.

Theophilus London and Giggs – Bebey [SN1 Road Mix]

UK road rap, steel drums and sirens. Complete with a catchy chorus, nothing else sounded like this in 2018. Giggs brings the heat once again.

Children of Zeus – Slow Down

Manchester’s finest are consistently producing some of the best soulful hip-hop available anywhere on the planet. Both their albums are incredible, and they’ve also got a show on NTS that is another must-listen.

ELIZA - Livid

She’s dropped the ‘Doolittle’ and turned to producing impeccably-crafted R&B. Her album A Real Romantic, released late in 2018, is one of the best of the year.

Tamia – Leave It Smoking

Continuously returning to Tamia’s Spotify artist page in order to play her 1998 smash So Into You paid dividends this summer when up popped a new single in Leave it Smoking. An infectious slice of pop R&B founded on an extended love/fire metaphor.

EARTHGANG – Cocktail

One of the major benefits of compiling a year end ‘best of’ is the chance to trawl through blogs and playlists looking for the gems you missed. This is one of them. Reminiscent of the Pharcyde in its energy and jazz-laden beat.

Kojey Radical – If Only

Kojey Radical is in possession of one of rap’s most distinctive voices. And thanks to the accompanying video, which sees him dancing on a bright sunny English afternoon while bedecked in long black leather, beret and grill, he is in possession of a very strong and distinctive look too. This is hard. It also has a catchy chorus.

Yaeji – One More

A mix of delicately delivered Korean and English lyrics sit on a stripped back, gently rolling 4/4 beat. Whispering creeps me out sometimes, but it’s fine here.

Burna Boy – Ye

Driven by a simple piano loop and vocal sample. Top drawer.

B Young – 079ME

B Young has no qualms about going multi-platform in his pursuit of a woman. He will dominate DMs, WhatsApp and timelines. He is relentless. Lying to secure a phone number is also not a problem for B. But to his credit he has managed to leap ahead of the afro-swing pack with a perfectly crafted slice of creep-pop.

Kacey Musgraves – Slow Burn

It’s been a long, hard year. You’ve earned a rest, so sit back and chill to this one.

And that’s it!

Thanks to everyone who has supported Dropscotch this year! It means a lot. There’ll be more designs coming soon, so come back soon. I hope you have a great 2019.

Luke Davis