My Favorite 25 Songs of 2018

prefaced by a brief self-indulgent self-reflection on the year 🎶😜

charlie kubal
4 min readDec 31, 2018

Any time I start thinking through the year that passed, I look back at previous favorites —I’ve made favorite album lists since 2006 and posted a list of top songs the last couple years (2015, 2016, 2017), and each is a time capsule reminder to me of all these little slices of life from each year.

I was all over the place in 2018. Literally — from June through September, I didn’t spend back to back weeks in SF — Mexico City a few times, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Western Germany, rural Mexico, London, Manchester, Paris, Boston, Chicago, and the New York back and forth that, without fail, always makes me wonder if I’ll live there again.

I started a new job in a new industry at a company I’ve admired for a long time. Between grad school, starting Chronos, and selling the company, it was the first time I’d applied for a job since I was in college.

I wrote a lot — on how we communicate, on phone addiction, on running through cities, on how to properly read a book — but only put out a few pieces. I made a lot of music, but only officially released one track. I started learning digital art and drawing the weird ideas I have and was happy to still be able to embrace being a beginner at something and enjoy the process of improving a little each time and developing an aesthetic in a new medium.

Dylan and I got a patent filed; I got to see some of my art hung on a wall with a placard next to it. I alternately was proud of some things and wished I’d done more in others. I still spent too much time on my phone and usually stayed up too late.

A couple of my best friends — people I’ve known since we were kids — had kids of their own, and another is about to. I’ve seen how they’ve developed into previously completely foreign new roles and lifestyles. I got to spend a lot of time with my nephew and see his personality develop, and catch glimpses of him learning things and understanding the world around him.

I learned a lot about people. I would’ve thought five years ago that I knew most of what there was to know about people, but people are, of course, endlessly complicated. I learned more about people this year than any year in recent memory — the best and the worst parts of who we all are and who we’re trying to be, and the visceral reminder of the value of acknowledging and appreciating that everyone’s going through something and trying their best, in spite of it all, even if it doesn’t always make sense to you.

Of course, music is present through all of this, and as someone who wants to make sure he doesn’t miss out on new music, I listen to a lot, and the songs that stick are often afforded a very defined compartment in memory.

Opening chords conjure precise moments, feelings, and scenes — a late night car ride getting to know someone, running alone down an empty block in a foreign country, or the simple intimacy of sitting on someone’s living room floor with them, eating ice cream, and sharing songs back and forth. Whether playing in the background or in my head at the time, the song is as salient a detail in my memory as the time, place, and person I was with.

Without further ado, here’s the list. Not everything’s for everyone, but I hope you find something you enjoy and can create your own stories, context, and memories around some of them. Here’s to wishing everyone a great 2019, musically and otherwise.

listen to the spotify playlist

25. purity ft frank ocean — a$ap rocky
24. 151 rum — jid
23. tonya — brockhampton
22. the middle ft maren morris, grey — zedd
21. napkins — riz la vie
20. logout ft chance the rapper — saba
19. gratitude — big red machine
18. bubblin’ — anderson .paak
17. sicko mode ft drake, swae lee, big hawk — travis scott
16. plug walk — rich the kid
15. hard piano ft rick ross — pusha t
14. learn how to watch ft mac miller, madeintyo — carnage
13. life is beautiful — lil peep
12. so sad so sexy — lykke li
11. lucid dreams — juice wrld
10. love it if we made it — the 1975
9. nice for what — drake
8. 2009 — mac miller
7. the one — jorja smith
6. two nights ft aminé — lykke li
5. tootimetootimetootime — the 1975
4. eastside ft halsey, khalid — benny blanco
3. drip too hard ft gunna — lil baby
2. this is america — childish gambino
1. 65th & ingleside — chance the rapper

sunrise from a window, duboce triangle // sunset from a balcony, mission. the darkest day of the year, december ‘18

Let me know what I missed or what I really should be listening to: [ckubal // gmail or twitter]. I hope you found something here you like, and hit that clap button if you’re into it. Have a great 2019 🎉🎶🔥



charlie kubal

design products, read books, and make music. think a lot about how our thinking shapes the internet and the internet shapes our thinking.