Top 89 of 2018: Jim McGuinn, program director

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The Current's Top 89 of 2018
The Current's Staff Picks of 2018 (Luke Mills | MPR)

For me, 2018 in music was all about Brandi Carlile. Maybe my favorite reminder of the power of music came when her record label sent a link to an advance copy of her By the Way, I Forgive You album, along with the lyrics to the songs. I spent a quiet hour listening intently to what would quickly become my favorite album of 2018 — before any reviews or preconceived notions on what to expect. I'd always admired Brandi's work, but I never considered myself a big fan until that moment, which kicked off a Year of Brandi — punctuated by flying to her house/studio outside Seattle to interview her before the album release. I saw her perform there, and in Philly, and in Boulder, and finally at the State Theatre, marveling at how her songs managed to walk the line between personal and universal in a really special way. Few songs match the sociopolitical drive found in "The Joke," but I could have put a song like "The Mother" or "Party of One" on my list just as easily.

After Brandi, perhaps the most compelling song in my life in 2018 came from Childish Gambino. It's been a year of both reflection and anger (in movies as well — BlacKKKlansman and Sorry To Bother You being my top two), and Gambino, aka Donald Glover, captures both powerfully, with an anthem that ranks with Public Enemy at their heyday. Janelle Monáe brought a bit of Purple love to 2018, IDLES exported their British anthem on immigration, Courtney Barnett packed a powerful punch musically and lyrically ("Men are scared that women will laugh at them / Women are scared that men will kill them"), Mitski put out an album I can't stop listening to, Superchunk sang of the zeitgeist, Parquet Courts made old-school scruffy rock, Death Cab seemed to read my mind, and Superorganism summed up the era of a Twitter President where YouTube and Instagram subscriber counts are the youth's social currency. Thx to all and so many others for making music, for sharing their thoughts and dreams through music. Thx 2018 — here's to all that's still to come!

Top 10 Songs of 2018

Brandi Carlile – "The Joke"
Childish Gambino – "This Is America"
Janelle Monáe – "Make Me Feel"
IDLES – "Danny Nedelko"
Courtney Barnett – "Nameless, Faceless"
Mitski – "Nobody"
Superchunk – "What A Time To Be Alive"
Superorganism – "Everybody Wants To Be Famous"
Death Cab for Cutie – "60 and Punk"
Parquet Courts – "Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience"

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The Current Staff's Top 89 of 2018

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