The Top Pop Songs of 2018

Addison Howard, Copy Editor

2018 has yielded several great new artists, albums, and songs. Many of which, if you frequently listen to the radio or Spotify, you have probably heard on a daily basis. To provide a summary of the year’s smash pop hits, I have curated a list of 2018's best chart-topping songs. This list will only include mainstream songs that I believe are the most popular among my generation.


10. “Youngblood” - 5SOS

One of the most unexpected successes of the year, “Youngblood” was a song that you could hear on the radio every day. Personally, I had forgotten 5SOS was still a thing, as I hadn’t heard them since their 2014 record “She Looks so Perfect.” However, “Youngblood” was one of the strongest records of 2018. The catchy lyrics along with a dark bass and heavy kick drum loop were irresistible traits that made it a great summer hit.


9. “Back to You” - Selena Gomez

Despite undergoing a Kidney transplant this past summer due to her health complications with Lupus, Selena Gomez has been off the radar for most of the year. However, she did release one of the hottest songs of 2018 through the soundtrack from “Thirteen Reasons Why: Season 2.” Her hit, “Back to You” was an international beat that no one could go a day without listening to. As a rather wholesome and upbeat song, the catchy chorus and sweetheart lyrics about a past lover was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.


8. “Better Now” - Post Malone

Post Malone had a killer year in terms of hit songs. Everything he touched seemingly turned to gold. Post, real name Austin, released his second studio album “Beerbongs and Bentleys” in April, which debuted as number one on the Billboard 200. His song “Better Now” stood out most prominently during the summer and the later part of the year, becoming the go-to breakup song that everybody loved. I personally saw Post Malone live two times in 2018, once at his concert in Atlanta last June and once at the music festival “Music Midtown” in Atlanta last September. Both times “Better Now” was played, the crowd sung the loudest and danced the most.


7. “Girls Like You” - Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

“Girls Like You” was one of the greatest smash hits of 2018, and perhaps the reason the band received the honor of performing at the upcoming NFL Super Bowl in 2019. Sweeping the nation, this sweet love song about that “special someone” was not only a wonderful song but also a groundbreaking collaboration between the band and Cardi B. The band has featured several rappers in the past, but Cardi B definitely exceeded expectations with her verse as a female rapper. The music video, featuring numerous female celebrities and personalities like Ellen Degeneres, Camila Cabello, and Jennifer Lopez, has gotten a stunning 1.5 billion views on YouTube.


6.  “God is a Woman” - Ariana Grande

Without a doubt, Ariana Grande is one of the most talented women in pop music history. Besides her questionable relationship with comedian Pete Davidson, the release and success of her dreamy album “Sweetener” brought Ariana back into the spotlight during 2018. Her song “God is a Woman,” which is about female empowerment, upset many people but also created conversation among all ages and backgrounds. The song is masterfully produced as well. In addition to her sweet higher pitched vocals, a rhythmic bassline and hip-hop drum beat keeps the tempo. Deemed by many as a feminist anthem for a new generation, this song will definitely remain relevant in the coming years.


5.  “Meant to Be” - Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line

One of the most surprising songs to come out of 2018 was the pop-country crossover “Meant to Be” with Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line. Personally, this was my least favorite song of the year. However, especially to listeners in our relatively southern Chattanooga area, the song was an outstanding hit. It could be heard about anywhere on the radio and was often a headliner of many people’s Spotify playlists. Florida Georgia Line had not really been heard from in the mainstream since 2012 with their single “Cruise,” but this unexpected comeback has brought them back out into the spotlight. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and will remain to be one of the best pop-country collaboration songs in pop music history.


4. “In My Feelings” - Drake

Drake, one of the most relevant and successful rappers of the 2000s, hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. With the release of his 5th studio album “Scorpion” in late June of 2018, several of the songs have reached the charts and gained much internet attention. “In My Feelings,” one of the more successful singles off the album, became an international viral dance trend. The challenge gained attention from millions online, as large social media influencers posted their versions of the challenges and inspired others to do the same. It can be expected that when people think back to 2018 they’ll definitely remember the “In My Feelings” hit song and challenge.


3. “Lucid Dreams” - Juice WRLD

Serving as the posterboy for a new generation of emo-rap, Juice WRLD has stepped up to the plate as one of the most talented new artists of 2018. His songs are easily recognized by their emotional themes of depression and heartbreak. Though his most-known song “Lucid Dreams” was technically released in 2017 through Soundcloud, it still became a smash hit after being re-released with his first studio album “Goodbye & Good Riddance” in May of 2018. Due to the song’s sad and whiny tones, it has mostly become an internet meme. However, the song’s catchy chorus, irresistible synth strings, and hard hitting 808’s are components of a song that will never be forgotten.


2. “Sicko Mode” - Travis Scott

Travis Scott, perhaps the most successful and prominent rapper of 2018, released his third studio album “ASTROWORLD” this past August. “Sicko Mode” is the most successful song off of the album, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Featuring Swae Lee and the late 90s rapper Big Hawk, the song incorporates a tight hip-hop drum beat with an ingenious confident rap flow. Timed at a considerably lengthy 5 minutes and 12 seconds, the song does not become exhausted or lose any hype throughout its duration. “Sicko Mode” has also had much internet attention as well, as the well-edited music video shot in Travis Scott’s hometown of Houston, TX has amassed 152 million views.


1. “I Like it” - Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny, J Balvin

Cardi B’s “Spanglish” collaboration with Bad Bunny and J Balvin on “I Like It” is the #1 hit song of 2018.  A new wave of Spanish-English crossover music has been formed by the overwhelming international success of last year’s “Despacito” by Justin Bieber, Luis Fonsi, and Daddy Yankee. Cardi B has made it clear that she is not afraid to do songs in another language, as another one of her songs “Taki Taki” with Ozuna, DJ Snake, and Selena Gomez features Spanish verses as well. The song “I Like It” is a Latin hip hop song with samples from Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 hit “I Like It Like That.” With a perfect mixture of salsa and trap, the song is a dance-worthy earworm that can be loved by those who don’t understand Spanish or English.


Honorable Mention: “SAD!” - XXXTentacion

The popular and controversial rapper XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy) was shot and killed on June 18th, 2018. His music and talent influenced millions of people. The single “SAD!” released off of his album “?” in March of 2018 only reached 17 on the Billboard charts, but the week after his death the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. XXXTentacion also broke Spotify’s single-day record for most streams in a day with 10.4 million streams. Though these posthumous records are impressive, his songs were even more game changing and unique.


Honorable Mention: “This is America” - Childish Gambino

The talented singer, rapper, actor, and producer Childish Gambino (real name Donald Glover) released “This is America” in May of 2018. The song and its music video addresses racial discrimination, police brutality, and gun violence. The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and is nominated for Four Grammys. With a seemingly innocent acoustic introduction, the hip hop beat and choir backup vocals are very surprising.


Spotify Playlist Link