We’re more than half way through the 2018 auditing period, Dear Reader. That means it’s time to pull down the shutters, call in the staff, and do a stock check on the only thing that counts. Cold, hard Bangers.
We’ve run the sums, calculated the co-efficients, and come up with our definitive top 50 tracks of the year so far. You can read the full run down now in the new issue of Dork, or keep pace on readdork.com over the next few days as we count down.
Here’s the final 10 to make the cut.
Is there anything Donald Glover can’t do? Actor, director, rapper, galaxy defender… his work defies medium in a way that only a millennial’s could. Finding the light within the dark, pursuing art relentlessly, staring you out from the speakers just long enough to make things uncomfortable. Nearly as uncomfortable perhaps, as the shocking statistic that last year alone, an estimated 15,000 Americans were killed at the hands of gun violence.
Following on from the work that ‘A Seat At The Table’ and ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ have laid down, ‘This is America’ marks a new era for Childish Gambino, and indeed for hip-hop. An approach to music making that is as angry and world-weary as it is smart and considered, it is delivered with the cinematic finish that we have come to expect from high-profile rap. Whether we like it or not, we are all implicated in his critique of the culture, drawn into his minstrel-dance as the world implodes behind.
Saying everything that Kanye wishes he’d thought of before donning that MAGA hat, ‘America’ represents the dichotomy that is learning to live on the tightrope of blackness. It speaks of gun culture and police brutality while also imploring the listener to ‘get your money’ and dance away the pain, seemingly at all costs. A stark contrast to the smooth, psychedelic soul delivered on his last record, the melody genre-hops in imitation of our short attention span – one moment of heart-warming gospel, blending seamlessly into cold, tribal-trap. It presents the horror of a criminal act, swiftly replaced by the inevitable apathy after all the media outlets have packed up and gone home. Tragedy upon tragedy, rinse and repeat. Is anything truly shocking any more?
Accompanied by a video that reveals more hideous, shrewd detail with every watch, ‘This Is America’ is the perfect criticism of a country on fire – where black culture is both fetishized and berated, and we’re all encouraged to dance within the flames. Who will survive? At this stage, it’s hard to tell, but if we’re all hurtling our way towards the end of the world, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting soundtrack.
This is how it starts. For the first time since the debut album, you hear a distorted guitar on a song by The 1975, and you’re instantly transported. You’re transported back to a time when the band were young, naive and eager to conquer the world. When they returned with ‘Give Yourself A Try’ they returned as true icons, ready to take their place at the very top of pop’s tree. Somehow though, despite things feeling very different, things felt exactly the same. That’s the beauty of The 1975.
‘Give Yourself A Try’ has none of the brash, over the top exuberance of ‘Love Me’ nor does it have the stylised glamour of the ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ era. It’s as much of a banger in its own right as those tracks, but there’s something purer and, in a way, more heartfelt. It’s the sound of The 1975 distilled right down to their most natural qualities. They could make any number of grand over the top statements with their music but, for now, humility and sincerity are at the heart of ‘Give Yourself A Try’s’ warm, nostalgic embrace.
You can hear distinct echoes of the band’s earliest days, from the distorted intro which brings to mind ‘Sex’ to the headlong tender rush reminiscent of ‘Milk’. It’s probably the band’s simplest song, but it needed to be.
If you fell in love with The 1975 six years ago upon hearing those early EPs, it’s a song for you. We have all grown up together. We’ve lived the heartaches and the lows, we’ve endured the heckling and the snorts and sneers from people looking down on the band. We’ve also lived the highest of highs as the band delivered their (so far) masterpiece and people finally cottoned on that, hey, The 1975 are a bit special. We’ve always known they’re special though. And Matty, George, Adam and Ross recognise it too. The bond between The 1975 and the fans is stronger than ever.
‘Give Yourself A Try’, conjures up all manner of feelings. Matty’s lyrics are heavier than perhaps they’ve ever been but there’s a clarity and an openness that you just don’t get with any other band. For The 1975 nothing is off limits and everything is out there.
Despite evoking emotions and memories of the early days, ‘Give Yourself A Try’ is also about moving forward, making sense of the world as we get older and make sense of our lives. For The 1975, their worlds are about to get even bigger than they possibly imagined. That’s okay though. We’ll be there right with them.
Where do you start with Let’s Eat Grandma? If we’re entirely honest, we didn’t see this coming. Debut album, ‘I, Gemini’ was great, but for all its creativity and youthful energy, it came across more like a signpost to positive, quirky potential rather than a herald of the shape of pop to come. Perhaps it was all deliberate – lulling us into a false sense of security before burning up the rule book – because ‘Hot Pink’ was, and still is, a revelation.
Little, if anything, we’ve heard this year sounds even remotely as fresh as the first track to drop from the duo’s new album ‘I’m All Ears’. Not the kind of boundary breaker that feels the need to invent a whole new language, instead it chooses to bounce off every available mark, nailing each to perfection. Sparks of electricity fly off each note, it’s snotty, bratty, attitude-filled refrain demanding attention. Bubblegum sugar rush laced with potent spirit, it’s the antidote to a stale, grey world it looks to defy.
Working with the likes of scene dominating mastermind SOPHIE might have helped Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth perfect their master plan, but make no mistake, this is their vision. While pop futurism might run through the veins of all who sail upon her, it’s their refusal to heed the established order which propels ‘Hot Pink’ into the stratosphere. It’s not innocence, but rather a firmly held belief that the limits of expectations no longer apply.
“The sound we had with ‘I, Gemini’ was a better representation of us back then, and this is a better representation of where we’re at now,” Rosa recently told Dork. “It’s just inevitable that we’re going to progress and develop our sound and I think that we like going in lots of different directions at once.”
On the strength of ‘Hot Pink’, every single one of those routes is aimed directly to the top.
Follow our top 50 rundown with this Spotify playlist, containing all our favourite bangers of the first half of 2018, and check out the full list here.
Words: Abigail Firth, Josh Williams, Stephen Ackroyd