Some of My Favourite Songs of 2018 – In No Particular Order

Hey, it’s me… I’m back!

Yes, it’s been over a year since my last post.  But as I sit here in my sweatpants on New Year’s Day, I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my favourite songs of the year.  That, and someone mentioned they liked my 2017 list. (Hi, Michelle!)

When I saw that Robin Skouteris had released his always-epic year-end mashup, my first thought was “I don’t know about pop music this year…” But then, upon listening, I realized that there were some pretty darn good songs that came out – some of them are in his mashup, and some didn’t make the cut. I also realized that Ariana Grande kind of ruled the music world this year – and I’m totally OK with that. (As the kids say, I stan for Ariana.)

Anyway, without further ado, some of my favourite tracks of 2018 – and no, they’re not all Ariana Grande. So let’s start with this one:

Dance to This – Troye Sivan feat. Ariana Grande

Hey, technically this is Troy Sivan FEATURING Ms. Grande.. So it’s not an Ariana song by definition.

This understated (and underrated) song was my unofficial “song of the summer” – it has an easy flow and the best 80s-style drum break (at 2:45)  since, well, the 80s. Ariana and Troye also seem to be having fun – and I kind of love the idea that they’re besties.  And speaking of summer songs…

Rosette – Single for the Summer

This one was seriously under the radar (as evidenced by the 1213 views of this video on YouTube), and that’s a shame. It’s got a bit of a retro dance groove that I dig – this song makes me want to drive faster than I should. It’s an excellent companion piece to Semi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer.”  What is it about bending rules for the summer, anyway?

Kim Petras – Heart to Break

As far as bubblegum pop goes, this may be my favourite song of the year. It’s just plain fun, and catchy as all get out. I can’t remember where I first heard this song, but it instantly became a new favourite.  Kim Petras is definitely an artist to watch, as she’s a trailblazer… She’s a bonafide pop princess – and she’s also an out and proud trans woman.

Meghan Trainor – Let You Be Right

I’ll admit, mostly due to its being overplayed, I REALLY don’t like “All About That Bass.” For that reason, it’s taken me a while to get into Meghan Trainor.  However, this summer she released “Let You Be Right”, a fun neo-disco number that bubbles and percolates… And I think anyone who’s been in a relationship can relate to the theme.

Ariana Grande – thank u, next

C’mon, you knew this was coming…

Everyone has their opinion on Ariana Grande – some love her, some can’t stand her, and some can’t understand what she’s saying – but there’s no denying that “thank u, next” was a bonafide pop culture juggernaut this year. The single came out of nowhere (it wasn’t part of her recently-released “Sweetener” album), and it became her first #1 song (I was surprised about that, too.).

And then the video dropped.

While we all know that “novelty” videos can really suck if they’re not done well, but Ariana NAILS it. The recreations of some of Ariana’s favourite movies (Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going On 30 and Legally Blonde) are spot on… But even more impressive is the number of cameos, Easter eggs and other details that make this video so much more than it initially seems.  If you have 12 minutes, this video breaks down most of them – it’s really pretty mind blowing.  Jennifer Coolidge is amazing, Kris Jenner is actually pretty funny, and Jonathan Bennett seems to have not aged a day, reprising his role as Mean Girls’ Aaron Samuels.

aaron samuels
Hair pushed back or not, he still looks sexy as all get-out, 14 years later.

Add in Troye Sivan, and “thank u, next” ended 2018 with a bang.

There are other great songs that came out this year (some of them don’t even include Ariana Grande), and they also deserve some love.  Honourable mentions include:

  1. Diana Ross’ return to the charts with a mashup remix of Upside Down/I’m Coming Out 
  2. Celine Dion poking fun at herself in both the video for “Ashes”(from Deadpool 2) and a brilliant, hilarious commercial for her new kids’ clothing line.
  3. Betty Who’s new take on the “All Things” theme song from “Queer Eye.”
  4. Shawn Mendes looking adorable (and sounding smooth as silk) in the very grown-up “Lost in Japan”
  5. 90s throwback Juliana Hatfield paying tribute to the legendary Olivia Newton-John with an album of covers. Some covers work better than other, but her version of “A Little More Love” is the highlight of the album.
  6. Miley Cyrus proving (once again) that she’s more than a punchline (and that she is, indeed, a major talent), with the Mark Ronson collab, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”  and a kick-ass cover of Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry” 

So, it turns out 2018 produced a fair bit of pretty great music – here’s to even more in 2019!

 

 

My Favourite Weird, Wacky and (sometimes) Wonderful, Obscure Christmas Tunes

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Carols

So, the holidays are here, and you’ve no doubt heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” a kajillion times.  You’ve probably also heard Boney M’s entire Christmas catalogue dozens of times over.  The great thing is, there are lots of other holiday tunes out there – some are awful, some are awesome, and some are awesomely awful… But chances are you won’t be hearing these jingles in the malls anytime soon.  Presented in no particular order, I give to you some of these misfit carols.

Heidi Klum – Wonderland

What’s the German word for “steaming pile of reindeer crap?”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me my Heidi Klum.  She’s a fabulous host on Project Runway, she always looks fabulous, and she’s just plain awesome.  But, as this song proves, she probably shouldn’t step into a recording booth again anytime soon.  Auf Wiedersehen, Wonderland.

Janice Dickinson – Twelve Days of Christmas

Speaking of models-turned-reality-show-judges-that-probably-should-step-away-from-the-microphone, “World’s First Supermodel” Janice Dickinson gives us 12 days of ridiculousness. I love Janice, but this is all just a little too… Janice Dickinson.

Burton Cummings – 8 Days of Christmas

I’m from Winnipeg, where we have a community centre, theatre and, probably, public toilet named after Burton Cummings.  There’s no doubt he shaped rock and roll with the Guess Who – but this ditty, composed in 1970, and performed here in 2010, won’t be getting him into any halls of fame.  In case you were wondering about Burton’s drug use back in the day…  Well…

“FIVE POUNDS OF HASH!”

(And boy, does he get excited about that).

A true Winnipeg hero. Or whatever.

Colin & Justin – Mary’s Boy Child

Having worked many years in retail, Boney M’s Christmas album gives me hives at the best of time, but this charity single from Colin & Justin takes an annoying Christmas song and makes it unbearable.  I love these guys, but this song is just wrong.  It’s just. So. White.

Olivia Newton-John – Christmas Time Down Under

Full disclosure: I am a HUGE Olivia Newton-John fan… But this ditty (from 1965) is just bizarre.  Yeah, we get that things are different in Australia, and that Christmas is in the middle of summer, but this is just odd.  Also, it appears that Australian teens are forced to work in Christmassy labour camps, like The Christmas Pudding Detention Centre here.

Donny & Marie – Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

Christmas specials in the 70s were pretty fabulous.  Here, Donny & Marie take a song with the word “rockin'” in the title, and turn it into something disco-riffic.  Also, D&M were totally down with the “ugly Christmas sweater” trend 30-some years before it was a thing.

There are so many more Christmas oddities, but hey, I gotta save something for next year, right?

To end off this collection of holiday weirdness, I have to post a TV Christmas special that very few people have seen.  A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a bizarre holiday special aired that was low-budget and bizarre – so much so, it has become pop culture legend.

No, not that holiday special!  This one…

Rupaul’s Christmas Ball

Before Drag Race, RuPaul was a B-to-C-list celebrity with a small cult following and a few hit dance songs.  Then, in 1993, the UK’s Channel 4 gave Ru a Christmas special… And boy, is it special. The Onion’s AV club has a great article about the history of this piece of ridiculousness.  To paraphrase SNL’s Stefon, this special has everything:

  • A-list guest stars: Elton John, Nirvana
  • B-list guest stars: Eartha Kitt, Boy George
  • …and LaToya Jackson.
  • Oral Sex References (courtesy of Taylor Dayne)
  • Laugh-in Style jokes courtesy of New York Club Kids

And so, so, so much more.  It looks like it was produced on a cable-access budget, but it’s just so gosh darn giddy you can’t help but watch it in all its WTF’ness.

And, actually, Ru’s “Little Drummer Boy” is pretty damn good. It’s just surrounded by more wackiness than you generally see anywhere outside of a bad acid trip.

As I snuggle up with my kitties and a glass of eggnog by the tree, I cap off this list with a song that is a little more well-known, but still pretty wacky…

Barbra Streisand – Jingle Bells?

Babs’ take on this classic is manic, ridiculous and, for my money, just plain awesome.  From the frenetic pace of the song to the “ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-jingle bells, ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-jangle bells” and, my favourite part – “Upsot?!” – this song is a Christmas classic for me.

What did I miss?  Let me know your favourite Christmas oddities!

Wishing you and yours all the best for this holiday season – and here’s to a fabulous 2018!