Immortal Reviews' Favorite Songs Of 2018
Grief is not a linear process. Some days it may feel like you've moved on, and other days it will hit you in the chest again like it was yesterday. The world mourned Chester Bennington after he died by suicide in July of last year, and many - including us - are still healing. No one had been quite as pained as his family and his bandmates (though there is not really a need for distinction there), especially Mike Shinoda. His Post Traumatic EP follows his path of dealing with grief in the months following Bennington's passing, and at heart of it lies 'Over Again,' a heartbreaking song about having to "say goodbye over and over and over again" as the constant reminders of the past continue to haunt you every day. The song discusses the pressures, the pain, and the reality of what Shinoda faced in those months following, making it a beautiful, cathartic track not only for fans, but for Shinoda himself.
'Great Wide Open' from Thirty Seconds To Mars' new album America could truly be the new national anthem. The album itself captures the essence of society as a whole, and more specifically the chaos of it, but 'Great Wide Open' looks at the moments of beauty we wish to preserve. The song is the sound of standing at the top of a mountain, looking down at the endless landscapes below and the elicits the feeling of wanting to keep that tranquility safe. From the gospel-backed chants of "let it out, let it go / lay down you arms" that sees the bridge explode with power and soul while calling for unity, the song's truly powerful sentiment comes from the more intimate line that ends the chorus, where Jared Leto pleads: "I will save your heart from breaking, won't you stop, please? Set me free."
No one delivers a funky rock anthem like Muse. From their new record Simulation Theory comes the stadium epic ‘Pressure,’ complete with endless riffs and a rocking drive. The song’s iconic guitar intro roars load and proud as a brass section empowers it, Matt Bellamy‘s vocals flowing energetically as Dom Howard‘s drums are tight and Chris Wolstenholme‘s bass runs rampant. The real charm of this song is its energy, which it skillfully unleashes with almost no effort. Muse keeps on proving that just when you think they’re losing steam, they’re still capable of delivering a punch.
There’s a distinct sadness in the closing track to Thrice‘s newest record Palms. ‘Beyond The Pines‘ is a subtle track, where the rasp and weathering of Dustin Kensrue‘s voice truly shines. The song tells the painful story of losing someone. The chorus roars with powerful emotion, Kensrue crying out, “I will meet you there, beyond the pines, templed in twilight or dawn. The light and easy air, tracing the lines on our palms.” Thrice has always had a way of telling stories, but ‘Beyond The Pines’ takes it to another level. It’s one of the most beautiful stories told through music this year.
Fall Out Boy has always known how to deliver an anthem, but none before them have quite hit the mark like 'The Last Of The Real Ones.' The driven piano intro leads into some of Patrick Stump's finest vocal work and a brilliant build throughout the song. Fall Out Boy gets back in touch with what made their pop punk-turned-alternative rock sound so loved in the first place, and with a giant chorus with unforgettable melodies and unwavering desire, 'The Last Of The Real Ones' is undoubtedly one of the band's, and 2018's, biggest anthems.
America is neither wholly global nor intimate, but there are some very personal moments throughout the album where Thirty Seconds To Mars remind us that a lot of the battle lies within ourselves. 'Rescue Me' is the most clear and alarming of those warnings, the electronic rock ballad seeing Jared Leto try to find answers for a tortured past. From the restrained first verse that advises "Whatever you do, don't ever play my game / Too many years being the king of pain," to the pleads of the epic, building pre-chorus where he cries "Rescue me from the demons in my mind / Rescue me from the lovers in my life," Leto's pain and inner turmoil is revealed in its truest colors. The electronic ballad certainly has a lot of pop flair that'll keep listeners coming back, but the lyrics are a solemn reminder that even in times of chaos, the true battles are still in our minds.
Travis Scott has been the highlight of hip-hop for ages, and upon dropping the long-awaited ASTROWORLD this year, he solidified his place amongst as this era of rap’s king. At the forefront of ASTROWORLD is the dynamic and unforgettable ‘SICKO MODE,’ a song that not only dominated airwaves, but managed to do so with experimental structure, constantly changing flows, and a mindboggling music video, too. Features from Drake and Swae Lee help add some starpower to the track, but it’s the three distinct beats that change on the dime that really make this song so good.
On his journey to best his tragedy and realize his identity after losing Chester, Mike Shinoda delivered a song that truly exemplifies the idea of someone's world falling apart. 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' is a unique and powerful song, featuring nothing but Mike's tortured vocals and gentle synths, all amounting to a world-crushing feeling as Mike sings some truly pained words: "My inside’s out / my left is right / My upside’s down / my black is white / I hold my breath / and close my eyes / And wait for dawn but there’s no light." The metaphors of the song just add to its torture, but a key part about it elicits some hope. Even in the face of impossibility, Mike sings 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' in order to come closer to that light that feels just out of reach. The angelic synths in the backgrounds of the chorus give it that heavenly vibe, letting that feeling of hope come across, even in the face of impossibility.
The unstoppable drive of CHVRCHES didn’t hit any walls this year if 2018’s Love Is Dead had anything to say about it. Packed to the brim with huge anthems and retrospective synthpop waves, CHVRCHES really pushed forward with a new - yet familiar - vibe. At the crux of their evolution is ‘Never Say Die,’ a huge track that begins deceivingly cheerfully as Lauren Mayberry‘s sweet vocals sadly cry, “Didn’t you say that?“ As Mayberry finds her anger and emotion, the instrumental builds energetically before the massive drop kicks in with unforgettable bass and huge hook vocals to keep the song tied together. CHVRCHES goes big and they go all the way.
Rock music wasn't the only genre that lost its defining figures in 2017. Just as the year came to close and we thought that the world was done taking our heroes from us, Jonghyun of K-Pop band SHINee committed suicide. Before his death, he was recording an album, which became this year's posthumous Poet | Artist. Mostly consisting of jazzy, R&B influenced pop tracks, Jonghyun sounds free from any pressures of the world and genuinely sounds happy. At the end of the album is the heartbreaking 'Before Our Spring,' a track where Jonghyun's voice speaks louder than his words. A longing tale of love sung by a fragile, pained voice where you can truly hear his vulnerability peak through the cracks. It's a hard listen to swallow, and a fitting goodbye for someone who's demons got the best of him. In these final moments, however, you can tell he found a bit of happiness, and that's where the beauty of the music shines through.
The following is a comprehensive list of our favorite songs from the records we listened to this year.
Click the links to check out the full reviews!
Songs noted with an asterisk (*) are track reviews.
Last Updated: December 21, 2018
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