Singles Club: Feb '18
After a slow month for February, the quality and volume of singles steadily picked up throughout the moment of February. Still not a lot of albums but more and more artists seem to be announcing work, which likely means that March to May before festival season will be even more hectic. In picking out my 20 favorite songs of February, I had to make some hard choices. There were about 30 tracks that could have landed on this list, so sorry to all of those artists who are doing good work; there's always an opportunity at the end of the year to get on the final list.
The top 10 songs, though, were pretty much solidified early. Incidentally it features three Kendrick Lamar produced tracks for the Black Panther soundtrack. This whole effort lags in spots but four songs are real standouts, with my favorite being "Opps" for bringing futuristic electronic production to rap and a surprise upstaging by Yugen Blakrok, a female rapper from South Africa who has her Nikki Minaj "Monster" moment. Pushing the edges of pop are Nilüfer Yanya from the UK, U.S. Girls' indictment of former President Obama, and Superorganism's imminently likable earworms. On the back half, things vary considerably: from Bad Gyal's infectious Latin American dance-pop to the The 25th Hr's glittering R&B out of Toronto.
But the month's top song and a sure contender for top 10 songs of 2018 is MorMor's debut single (!!) "Heaven's Only Wishful." Not too much is known about this writer, singer and producer from Toronto, but it's clear he's got an exceptional wealth of talent. The song opens, a bit jarringly, with a scream but what follows is anything but. (Perhaps the scream is meant to say, "Ready yourself!") Throughout he employs a sophisticated blend of guitars, glittering pop arrangements and unhurried R&B lyrics to hit at deep emotional places without having to spell them out in detail. "You're the reason some say," he begins repeating in various forms on the back half. As he transitions to "You're the reason I, I" a guitar line spits itself out, muscular, as the song builds to a last act crescendo, carrying itself to its end.