Throughout all of 2018’s faults, one thing remained true. Good music prevailed through all the murk and dejection of the year. After all, what is music’s purpose beyond providing a moment of escape, a respite from the world around us? It’s for this reason that we here at Ones To Watch wanted to share with you the songs that have affected us the most this year (so far). And in doing so we hope that you can find a moment of musical respite, as well as a new musical discovery. Here is to all the amazing music that 2018 has brought with it so far.
Still Woozy & ODIE – “Lucy”
When I think of 2018 in music, the emergence of “anti-pop” and continued growth of the urban sphere are two trends that immediately come to mind. This song not only combines the two, with Still Woozy’s groovy cuts and ODIE’s worldly rhymes, but it also does so in the most sonically pleasant, feel-good manner. It’s simply impossible not to bob your head and sing along to “Lucy” – highly recommended keeping this one high on the summer road trips, barbeques, and beach party playlists.
-Yasmin Damoui (Content Editor, Ones To Watch)
Turnstile - “Moon”
Since I’m not quite sure I could pick my “favorite” song of 2018, because there are about 30 different songs I could pick here, I went ahead and chose a song I have probably listened to the most. Turnstile’s “Moon” is perfect in so many ways. It’s fast but not too fast. Heavy but not too over the top. It’s catchy and, well, that might be it. The song is so damn infectious it just crawls into your head until you’re singing “Now there’s nothing I can dooooo, Man up on the moooooon” for hours on end. Plus the video is pretty rad too!
-Jimmy Smith (Content Editor, The Noise)
BROCKHAMPTON – “Tonya”
Following the recent removal of Ameer Vann after sexual misconduct allegations, a delayed album, and a canceled tour, the future of BROCKHAMPTON was looking uncertain, to say the least. The internet’s first boy band made a grand return with their late-night television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where they debuted “Tonya.” The somber track and captivating performance, featuring guest performances by serpentwithfeet, Ryan Beaty, and Jazmine Sullivan, signaled more than just an announcement of their forthcoming album, the best days of our lives. “Tonya” was a reaffirmation that through it all, BROCKHAMPTON remains one of the world’s most inventive and brilliant boy bands.
-Maxamillion Polo (Lead Writer, Ones To Watch)
Jorja Smith – “Lost & Found”
I’m old enough to call someone a generational talent and Jorja is just that, a throwback chanteuse with all the coaxing credentials of her predecessors. “Lost & Found” would hold up against any love-gone-delinquent song since the summer of ’79, and it’s an appropriate midyear benchmark for a year deep in songwriting excellence.
-David O’Connor (VP Artist Development, Live Nation)
Omar Apollo – “Erase”
Omar Apollo is getting ready to hit the spotlight. He’s a young multi-instrumentalist with a natural knack for soul and melody. In addition to his relatable lyrics on songs like “Erase", he’s going to be on everyone’s radar in a couple of months.
-Malcolm Gray (Social Media Manager, Live Nation; Writer, Ones To Watch)
Jay Prince – “In The Morning”
I want to start off by saying that I initially chose “Big Bank” by YG but figured that it wasn’t very Ones to Watch of me, so I’m going to go with Jay Prince’s “In The Morning.” The East London MC really lets his versatility shine on this groovy summer track, and I can’t help but sway my shoulders side to side and activate my trap arms whenever the beat kicks in. Everything just blends perfectly with Prince’s rapping and infectiously catchy hook over the afrobeat-inspired production. Ah, I can picture the beaches and pool parties. I can already taste the Modelo! OOOH WHEE!
-Green Lee (Social Media Coordinator, Ones To Watch)
Cloves – “Wasted Time”
Old habits die hard–and putting down the proverbial bottle is easier said than done, whatever that bottle is for each of us. “Wasted Time” is a poignant look at the pain of going back to a bad habit again and again. The rawness of her voice and stripped-down production mirror the sheer honesty of the song and her simple, unaffected lyrics. Feels.
-Alexa Schoenfeld (Junior Booker, Live Nation)
Mallrat – “Groceries”
There is an innate and profound simplicity in Mallrat’s “Groceries.” The melody, which sways between a delicate sense of ease and full-out dance-inducing jam, embodies the overarching feeling of effortless joy the song gives off. As the Brisbane artist sings about such seemingly modest things as grabbing groceries, spending time together, being in love, ensuing heartbreak, it’s hard not feel a sense of universality to it all. It’s a humbling and beautiful track, perfect for the summer.
-Jenna Singer (Artist Development Coordinator, Live Nation)
Rainbow Kitten Surprise – “Painkillers”
How To: Friend, Love, Freefall, the third and most recent album from indie rock outfit Rainbow Kitten Surprise, is occupied with an undeniable spirit and boldness, largely thanks to its impressive lyricism and genre-defying approach. While singles “Fever Pitch” and “Holy War” are terrific displays of that declaration, the true highlight comes in the form of the track, “Painkillers.” While melancholy and disheartenment resonate within this mellow tempo driven effort, it’s not merely a straightforward downer by any means. Frontman Sam Melo coos with an inviting and favorable gentleness throughout the course of the song. Moreover, the stunning sonic configuration and poignant yet browbeaten lyrics really stir the soul, no matter what state one may be in.
-Sean Kayden (Writer, Ones To Watch)
FRENSHIP – “Mi Amore”
Eighties pop meets seventies funk in FRENSHIP’s “MI Amore,” a bitingly honest homage to pursuing a dream in a cutthroat industry. A deliciously groovy bass line underscores the electronic fuzz and vibrant synth as the electropop duo sing, “Don’t come between mi amore,” for a sound that is altogether irresistible. The positively sizzling chorus is preceded by a flash of bitterness with the lyrics, “There’s a high price to pay for fame / Put the shame on you for your hollow ways.” This unyielding emotional honesty paired with refreshing sonic creativity is exactly what FRENSHIP does best, and why “MI Amore” deserves a spot on your summer playlist.
-Dana Jacobs (Writer, Ones To Watch)
The Night Game - “American Nights”
My favorite song of the year so far is “American Nights” by The Night Game. I have a major soft spot for things that sound like ‘80s classic rock and The Eagles, plus Martin Johnson’s song structures could not be more perfect. I can’t wait for his forthcoming album, which comes out in September. “American Nights” is super reminiscent of “Born in the USA.” It sounds magical, but the lyrics are a contrast to the actual struggles of American life, which makes it super relevant lyrically.
-Angie Piccirillo (Writer, Ones To Watch)
Chloe x Halle - “Everywhere”
Chloe x Halle are goddesses with their new album The Kids Are Alright. “Everywhere,” a clear standout on the album, shows what the duo is capable of when they’re completely unrestrained. It is an anthem for boss ass bitches who work hard and do not let the haters get them down. The track is an excellent showcase of Chloe’s knack for production and demonstrates their versatility for a wide range of musical styles. Chloe X Halle proves that they’re more just their impressively gorgeous vocal harmonies.“
-Jordan Grace (Writer, Ones To Watch)
What So Not – “Be Ok Again”
My favorite song from this year so far is probably What So Not’s “Be Ok Again.” Being one of my favorite producers, it’s really hard for me to choose a favorite song, but I loved the entire album that this song came from–Not All The Beautiful Things. I had seen him shortly before this album came out and had the chance to see a lot of the new music live, including this song. After hearing it live, it will always have a special place in my heart.
-Eden Kraus (Writer, Ones To Watch)
Joy Oladokun – “Sober”
My favorite song of the year, thus far, would have to be Joy Oladokun’s “Sober.” Ever since its release, I have not been able to get this brilliant gospel-soul infused tune out of my head. This track has everything I look for in a song–an infectious melody, relatable lyrics, and a unique lead vocalist. “Sober” marks the first release for Oladokun since 2016, and it is well worth the wait. The song is a soulful anthem for anyone who has gone through an addiction-fueled, unhealthy relationship and came out the other end with a clearer head. The repeated line, “Now that I’m sober my temperature’s a little colder / I see it clearly now, I only fell for you ‘cause I was young, dumb and broken” is overwhelmingly real, and perfectly expresses the overall sentiment of the song. The lyrics and music are both sanguine in nature, reflecting the hope and revelations that come with time and personal growth. The musical elements of the song in combination with Oldaokun’s enticing sound makes “Sober” an instant add to any 2018 playlist.
-Jessica Thomas (Writer, Ones To Watch)