The Best of 2018

Updated: Jan 1, 2019

I have a lot of favorite things, but I had to narrow my list down to the things that really defined my year. Here are my favorites of 2018:

Best Male Artist: Childish Gambino

I use the term "artist" literally in Gambino's case. The multi-hyphenate had an outstanding 2018 and I don't think he has any haters now. Congratulations on making Donald Glover one of the most admired men of the year. He began the year by signing to a a new record label, RCA Records, where he's going to distribute his alleged final Childish Gambino album. The much anticipated second season of his hit FX show, Atlanta, debuted in March. May was a big milestone in his career as he held double duty as host and musical guest on SNL, debuted two new songs that night, including the music video for "This Is America", and he gave an iconic performance as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Honorable Mentions

Drake

  • Scorpion

  • "Nice For What"

  • "I'm Upset" music video

  • Aubrey & The Three Migos Tour

  • He's a dad now

Travis Scott

  • ASTROWORLD

  • "SICKO MODE" (& music video)

  • Wish You Were Here Tour

  • He's a dad now

Pusha T

  • DAYTONA

  • "The Story of Adidon"

  • Almost ending Drake's career

  • Getting married

Best Female Artist: Ariana Grande

No one had a year quite like Ariana Grande. Where she was last year and where she is now is polarizing, but in a good way, and she stole everyone's hearts in the process. She had the lowest of lows, but also had the highest of highs. Her relationships were incredibly public with both her late ex, Mac Miller, and ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson. Simultaneously, with the latter, Grande dropped her best body of work to date, sweetener. Then, near the end of 2018, she released two new singles with one of them being her best of the year ("thank u, next"). With another album and a world tour slated for 2019, things are looking up for the pop star.

Honorable Mentions

Beyoncé

  • EVERYTHING IS LOVE

  • OTR II Tour

  • Her Instagram feed

Cardi B

  • Invasion of Privacy

  • Her Coachella set when she was pregnant as fuck

  • She's a mom now

Best Breakthrough Artist: Ella Mai

"Boo'd Up" went quadruple-Platinum this year, and Mai deserves that kind of success. The London crooner made a major impression to listeners alike with her simple, smooth, throwback R&B style. She makes the type of music you dedicate to your crush with sounds reminiscent of other contemporary singers such as H.E.R. and Kehlani. Mai was also nominated for two GRAMMYs in 2019, including Best R&B Song and the coveted Song of the Year. My only gripe is that she was snubbed for the Best New Artist category that she would've had good chance at winning. Hopefully this award on my little blog means something to her.

Honorable Mention

Dua Lipa

  • "IDGAF"

  • "One Kiss" with Calvin Harris

  • "Electricity" with Silk City

  • Her Instagram feed, too

Best Comeback: Robyn

Robyn went through hell and back before making her return to the music scene in 2018. She was engaged, then she wasn't. She lost a close friend, but gained a son. After an eight year absence, the Swedish singer packed a punch with Honey and delivered an album so good that most of us forgot she was gone for that long.

Best Featured Artist: Cardi B

Having her own successful debut album wasn't enough for the Bronx rapper. Cardi went the extra mile to be featured on as many singles as possible in 2018. Of course she linked up with other rappers, but she showcased how truly versatile she is by dipping her toe into the pop world. She laid bars on the remix to Bruno Mars' "Finesse", Rita Ora's "Girls", and her second #1 of the year on Maroon 5's "Girls Like You". If being hella pregnant during a Coachella set didn't slow her down, then I don't think anything else will in 2019.

Honorable Mention

Drake

  • "Walk It Talk It" with Migos

  • "Look Alive" with BlocBoy JB

  • "SICKO MODE" with Travis Scott

  • "MIA" with Bad Bunny

Best Producer: Ludwig Göransson

You may not know his name, but there's a good chance that you've heard his work. Göransson is a frequent collaborator with Childish Gambino and produced nearly all of his albums. But I'm here to talk about the producer's work that he created this year. The Sweden native produced the best song of the year, "This Is America", on top of Gambino's Summer Pack. However, Göransson isn't just a music producer, but he's an excellent composer. If you watched Black Panther, Venom, or Creed II this year--surprise!--that's Ludwig's arrangements in the background. He's already nominated for some GRAMMYs in 2019, but count on him to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Score.

Honorable Mentions

Tay Keith

  • "Look Alive" by BlockBoy JB

  • "Nonstop" by Drake

  • "SICKO MODE" by Travis Scott (feat. Drake)

Pharrell Williams

  • sweetner by Ariana Grande

  • Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake

  • "Stir Fry" by Migos

  • "APESHIT" by The Carters

Kanye West

  • DAYTONA

  • ye

  • KIDS SEE GHOSTS

  • K.T.S.E.

Best Movie: Black Panther

Out of all the wonderful films released in 2018, I watched Black Panther the most. It's easily one of the best (or the best) movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and for good reason. Every aspect of the film is perfect. The story, the direction, the actors, the soundtrack, the score, the production design, the costumes, the makeup, the sounds. It's outstanding, entertaining, and deserves all of the accolades it can get. It's not your typical Academy Award contender, but it definitely holds its own against other "Oscar types", such as A Star Is Born and Roma.

Honorable Mention: Crazy Rich Asians

Seeing an all-Asian cast being portrayed on the big screen like normal people (minus the rich part) was a huge jump for people of color in 2018. It brought tear(s) to my eyes. I'm already anticipating the sequels.

Best TV Show: Atlanta

Honestly, I was kind of expecting a sophomore slump for Atlanta: Robbin' Season, but then I remembered that it was created by Donald Glover and threw that thought out the window. The second season about the Southern city's rap scene came back harder and much better than it's debut season and each episode is a treat. It broke the rules and tradition of being in chronological order. There were side stories with entire episodes dedicated to Paper Boi, Van, and Darius. It's no doubt that "Teddy Perkins" came out of left field and was one of the best episodes of the series, but it was one of the best episodes of any TV show in 2018.

Honorable Mention: The Haunting of Hill House

I'm not one for scary shit, but Hill House changed my mind. The blend of family and horror and suspense is gripping. It's one of those shows you can binge in just a couple of days. Episode 6 ("Two Storms") is a work of art.

Best Book: CONFERENCE ROOM, FIVE MINUTES by Shea Serrano

I own every book Shea Serrano has written so far and CRFM is easily the funniest. The funniest bit? The book, about a fictional paper company, is only available in PDF format. I read the whole thing in one sitting and then I read it again immediately afterwards. There are entire chapters (or "meetings") dedicated to ridiculous topics you never knew you wanted to know more about. Serrano goes very in depth into questions such as, "Who's the best basketball player in the office?", "Who's the real best couple in the series?", and "Is Jim Halpert hot?" The illustrations by Arturo Torres are also a treat. Prison Mike in a cell with a Dementor kills me every time I see it.

Honorable Mention: Hindsight by Justin Timberlake

JT is one of the coolest motherfuckers of our generation. His book is a behind-the-scenes looks to his success and it's filled with inspiration.

Best Podcast: Dissect

Cole Cuchna is one of the hardest working people in the podcast game right now. When I discovered his podcast, in which he does a deep dive into an artists' particular album, I was interested. When I saw that one of the seasons was about one of my favorite albums of all time, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, then I couldn't not listen and he had my full attention. Cuchna does the entire podcast on his own and it's impressive to say the least. He talks more than just the music. He breaks down each individual track, discusses its tones, rhythms, and melodies on top of what that artist was personally going through at that time. If you want to learn more about Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, or Lauryn Hill, then give it a listen.

Honorable Mention: Villains (The Ringer)

Another Shea Serrano original. His podcast about movie villains is both in-depth and fucking hilarious. I'm glad someone can talk about Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs one week and then turn around an analyze Regina George from Mean Girls the next.

Best Video Game: Forza Horizon 4

Look. I get it. Red Dead Redemption II is an amazing game and that's a fact. And I know that's probably what you wanted to see here. However, I logged more hours than any other game with Forza Horizon 4 this year and for good reason. Set in an open world in England, Horizon 4 allows you to roam around and appreciate the beauty of the countryside in incredible 4K resolution. A new feature they added to the game is the changing seasons. You get to experience fall, winter, spring, and summer week after week and it affects how your garage of cars drive in those environments. There's so much to explore in such a conceptually simple game, but you'll find yourself doing and exploring something new every time.

Honorable Mention: Red Dead Redemption II

Yeah, it's really, really good. Yee-haw!

Best Web Series: Hot Ones

I discovered Hot Ones just last year as I was falling through the black hole that is YouTube and was immediately hooked. A talk shows where the guest eats ten "wings of death" and has to answer excellently researched questions? I'm in. 2018 brought three seasons of the web show with diverse and intriguing celebrities week after week. What surprises me the most are some of the big names they get to agree to eat scorching hot chicken wings for the Internet. Some of this year's highlights include Michael B. Jordan, Charlize Theron, Michael Cera, Chrissy Teigen, Philip DeFranco, and Jeff Goldblum.

Honorable Mention: The Try Guys

Their departure from BuzzFeed was a huge shock to the world, but the quartet of gentlemen went all in and started their own channel to create more of what they wanted to create. They quickly hit millions of subscribers and still deliver original, relevant content twice a week.

Can't wait to see what my favorite things are going to be in 2019. Cheers!

© Justin Recio 2019