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Best Music Of 2018

All Songs Considered: The Year In Music 2018

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Childish Gambino (left) performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival. Rosalía speaks onstage during the 19th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards. Janelle Monae performs in Los Angeles in June and Kacey Musgraves performs at the 2018 Stagecoach Fes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; David Becker/Getty Images for LARAS; Kevin Winter, Getty Images; Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Stagecoach

Childish Gambino (left) performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival. Rosalía speaks onstage during the 19th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards. Janelle Monae performs in Los Angeles in June and Kacey Musgraves performs at the 2018 Stagecoach Festival in April.

Well, kids, it's been another year of holograms, headlines and big human messes here in Orbit City. At least music brought us together again and again in 2018, whether in the crowd to see Mitski, Janelle Monáe or Brandi Carlile, or surrounded by strangers in bed at Max Richter's SLEEP concert. This Year in Review edition of All Songs Considered is built like a little time machine to move us chronologically through 2018. And although we can't predict the future, many of the songs selected by hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson, sound a little like dispatches from a moment just around the corner.

One of the year's biggest albums, Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer came heralding the marriage of sound and visuals, a trend we're seeing in the work of an incredibly talented new class of artists. Artists like Mitski, Tierra Whack and Childish Gambino are thinking about music as spectacle, as theater, as video and as a showcase of the moving body.

New rappers, like Compton's Buddy, are using recordings as a tool for world-building, taking us to the cross streets of their neighborhoods. All this in a year when Kendrick Lamar made history by winning the Pulitzer for his 2017 album DAMN.

That moment, in April, was one of a pair of events in 2018 where it felt like the attention of the world was drawn to music. The other arrived with the death of Aretha Franklin in August, and mourning the Queen of Soul gave us good reason to celebrate her music.

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This is just the beginning of our look back at the best music of 2018. This week, we'll share NPR Music's lists of the best albums and songs of the year, and we'll have personal lists and picks for the best of many different genres too. We want to know what you loved this year too: You can vote for your favorite albums of the year right here. Stick with us — 2019 (the actual future!) is almost here.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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