Single of the Year
get low ft. Ric Rufio (Liberation Records)
‘get low’ starts out as a sort of abstract imagining of cacophony. Distant siren sounds and a scent of danger are undercut by upsidedownhead’s clean electronic production and Ric Rufio’s calm vocal delivery. The track retreats into quiet reflection midway through, taking stock of the situation and recognising its reality. Then we’re thrust into the eye of emergency – synths morph into crumbling rock faces as the push-pull dynamic overrides gravity. But still, Ric Rufio is unruffled, advising us to get low and show our resilience.
Pynk (ft. Grimes) (Warner)
Although Janelle Monae’s always been a pop musician, her sci-fi concept albums have previously been a bit esoteric. 2018’s Dirty Computer is also a quasi-fictional narrative sequence, but Monae glossed up the album’s singles to allow for maximum accessibility while also addressing pertinent socio-political themes. ‘Pynk’ is a song of celebration rife with barely-veiled suggestiveness that’s made blatant by a stunningly yonic music video. The chorus revolves around Monae hollering the word “yeah”, which translates as a triumphant assertion of self-love.
It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) (Ninja Tune)
A rolling house track from the Berlin-based, South Korean producer, ‘It Makes You Forget’ offered refreshment throughout 2018. Gou’s voice features prominently, a reclining melody sung in Korean, but the song is pure feeling and evades intellectual deconstruction. Its charm comes on gradually, eventually filling you with a sense that everything’s moving in the right direction.
Body (Liberation Records)
Centred on a stripped back drum and bass rumble, ‘Body’ forecasts high winds to end a becalmed internment. Jacklin lays out a detailed narrative of a wayward ex-lover while showcasing her persuasive vocal talents. The tension mounts right up to the lyrical realisation that, “I guess it’s just my life / And it’s just my body.” It could be read as a defiant avowal, but Jacklin’s tone signals the respite might only be temporary.
Honourable mentions: ‘The Future of History’ – Tropical Fuck Storm; ‘Be Careful’ – Cardi B; ‘We Can’t Win’ – The Goon Sax; ‘Energy’ – Sampa the Great ft. Nadeem Din-Gabisi; ‘DVE’ – DJ Plead; ‘Duck Duck Goose’ – CupcakKe.