×

Even by recent standards, these are times that try human souls. And not surprisingly, that was reflected in the music of 2018: Whether metaphorically responding to the political realities of America (“Black Panther), mimicking the ADD nature of modern culture (Terra Whack) or simply providing a distraction, however brief, from too much reality (take your pick), as always, the year’s music is very much a product of its time.

The year-end lists from Variety’s music staff reflect all of the above, too. And while the year started off with an uproar over the lack of female presentation at the Grammy Awards, both the 2019 Grammy nominees and many critics’ lists — including ours — reflect the deeply innovative music made by female artists in 2018, from the future funk of Janelle Monae to Cardi B’s badass rap to Kacey Musgraves’ country-tinged pop. They and many more all brightened up a tumultuous year, giving credence to the theory that challenging times produce challenging art.

Jem Aswad’s Top 20 Albums of 2018 | READ MORE
1. Robyn “Honey”
2. Jorja Smith “Lost & Found”
3. Tierra Whack “Whack World”
4. The Blaze “Dancehall”
5. Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer”
6. Mitski “Be the Cowboy”
7. Deafheaven “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
8. Soundtrack “Black Panther”
9. Kadhja Bonet “Childqueen”
10. The Internet “Hive Mind”
11. Cat Power “Wanderer”
12. Beach House “7”
13. Cardi B “Invasion of Privacy”
14. Ultimate Painting “Up!”
15. Christine & the Queens “Chris”
16. Tirzah “Devotion”
17. Sleep “The Sciences”
18. Superorganism “Superorganism”
19. Rosalia “El Mal Querer”
20. Georgia Anne Muldrow “Overload”

Andrew Barker’s  Top 10 Albums of 2018 | READ MORE
1. Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”
2. Kamasi Washington, “Heaven and Earth”
3. Pusha T, “Daytona”
4. Eric Church, “Desperate Man”
5. John Coltrane, “Both Directions at Once”
6. Pistol Annies, “Interstate Gospel”
7. Vince Staples, “FM!”
8. Sleep, “The Sciences”
9. 03 Greedo “The Wolf of Grape Street”
10. No Age, “Snares Like a Haircut”

Chris Morris’ Top 10 Albums of 2018 | READ MORE
1. Kamasi Washington “Heaven and Earth”
2. Alejandro Escovedo “The Crossing”
3. Chris Price “Dalmatian”
4. Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer”
5. Courtney Marie Andrews “May Your Kindness Remain”
6. Bettye Lavette “Things Have Changed”
7. Ry Cooder “The Prodigal Son”
8. Divine Weeks “We’re All We Have”
9. John Coltrane “Both Directions at Once”
10. Bobbie Gentry “The Girl From Chickasaw County”

Chris Willman’s Top 20 Albums of 2018 | READ MORE
1. Elvis Costello & the Imposters “Look Now”
2. Brandi Carlile “By the Way, I Forgive You”
3. Lucius “Nudes”
4. Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour”
5. Father John Misty “God’s Favorite Customer”
6. Pistol Annies “Interstate Gospel”
7. Ariana Grande “Sweetener”
8. Jack White “Boarding House Reach”
9. Lily Allen “No Shame”
10. Cécile McLoran Salvant “The Window”
11. Camila Cabello “Camila”
12. Ashley McBryde “Girl Going Nowhere”
13. I’m With Her “See You Around”
14. Leon Bridges “Good Thing”
15. Muse “Simulation Theory (Super Deluxe Edition)”
16. Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer”
17. Milk Carton Kids “All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do”
18. St. Vincent “MassEducation”
19. Eric Church “Desperate Man”
20. Dawes “Passwords”