January 12th, 2019
15:29 (Part 1)
19:21 (Part 2)
Todd plays Halsey - "Bad at Love" on piano
THE TOP TEN BEST HIT SONGS OF 2018
A year-end review
Todd: Welcome back. Now that 2018 is about a week or so in the rearview, yeah, I already like 2019 more than I did the year before. [image of...] But, though this has been a pretty...dismal 12 months in the pop scene, honestly, filling out the best list was a lot easier than the worst list. I find that's true a lot of the time. The best list is the stuff that actually mattered to me.
Video for Camila Cabello - "Never Be the Same"
Todd (VO): As opposed to last year's worst list, where it felt like nothing really mattered or was worth thinking about much.
Todd: And it's especially easy to make the best list this year, for one reason. All 10 entries are "Bitch I'm a Cow."
Clip of Doja Cat - "Mooo!"
Doja Cat: Bitch I'm a cow, bitch I'm a cow
I'm not a cat, I don't say "meow"Todd (VO): Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "That was from 2018?!" [laughing] I know, right? Man, that year lasted for fucking ever.
Todd: But being serious, I do feel more optimistic about 2019 than the year previous. I feel like mainstream music is starting to pick up again. But then again, maybe I was down on the year because I expect [image of poster for Song of the Summer 2016] all the big pop smashes to be released in the summer. And it seems like [image of music notes in...] winter is where things are really happening lately. Maybe music is gonna be more like movies, where all the good shit gets saved until Oscar season and then they dump everything good in December. I can work with that. Get ready for Winter Jams, and voting on which is the Song of the Winter from now on. [throws hands up] OK, enough buildup, let's get to it. We're counting down!
Clip from DylanGLC's "It Gets Better", which serves as the interlude throughout the countdown
Bruno Mars: We out here drippin' in finesse
Todd (VO): The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2018!
Todd (VO): #10.
Todd: So here's how the year in music started.
Clip from 60th Annual Grammy Awards
U2: 24K Magic, Bruno Mars
Todd (VO): And...
Todd: ...it didn't seem to go over that well.
Todd (VO): Yeah, we enter fraught times for Bruno Mars. [shots of articles about...] After the Grammy win, I saw the anti-Bruno backlash begin in earnest, and...I find that extremely disappointing...
Todd: ...but not surprising.
Clip of live Grammys performance of B.o.B. ft. Bruno Mars - "Nothin' on You"
Todd (VO): Bruno's been living in the music of his childhood for a while, but his entire vibe has always been from even earlier, like the Rat Pack, pre-rock 'n roll era of showbiz. And that's made people suddenly see him as this, like, cheesy Vegas lounge act.
Todd: And though I love the man, I begrudgingly see their point.
Clip of live performance of...
Todd (VO): The world now feels a billion miles away from "Uptown Funk." Are we really just gonna retreat in the music of a happier era? What use does this kind of music have in this day and age? What relevance? This shit just isn't cool anymore.
Todd: [pause] Well fuck it, I never pretended to be cool.
#10. Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B. - "Finesse"
Bruno: We out here drippin' in finesse
It don't make no sense
Out here drippin' in finesseTodd (VO): Fine. Maybe Bruno Mars is coasting off of hollow pastiche. It still sounds great.
Todd: And great news: He has in fact finally reached the '90s.
Video for Bobby Brown - "Every Little Step"
Todd (VO): Although I guess new jack swing also already existed by the late '80s, but ["Finesse"] the In Living Color video firmly puts the song in 1990 at the earliest. What can I say? I'm really glad it exists, 'cause out of the [image of Back To The '90s] entire '90s nostalgia craze...
Todd: ...we didn't actually get any music that sounded like the '90s.
Todd (VO): We got a couple name drops, but the actual music just stuck in the '80s forever. And I think we've already jumped to the 2000s. [clip of The Backstreet Boys - "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"] Even the Backstreet Boys comeback didn't sound like the '90s.
Todd: What a waste.
Clip of "Finesse"
Todd (VO): So thank God that Bruno is keeping the dream of the '90s alive. That said, I'm not sure this would have made the list...
Todd: ...if not for Cardi B.
Cardi B: Drop top Porsche (Porsche), Rollie on my wrist (wrist)
Diamonds up and down my chain (aha)
Todd (VO): No matter what the genre, Bruno always sounds like Bruno. He doesn't change the way he sings; he just doesn't sound like [image of...] Bell Biv DeVoe or anything like that. But Cardi B slots into the early '90s so...
Cardi B: Like ayy
Hit the Lil' Jon, okay (okay)
Todd (VO): Even with the Lil Jon reference, she sounded so '90s.
Todd: She is Left Eye Lopes reincarnated, I swear.
Cardi B: Yeah, we got it goin' on, got it goin' on
Don't it feel so good to be us? (ayy)
Todd (VO): In fact, Cardi was basically the last guest rapper who could actually do anything for a pop song anymore. [clip of "Girls Like You"] Not that she always used that power for good. She's like the Pitbull of 2018, only good this time. And if she'd had more of the song, it would be a lot higher on the list.
Todd: Meanwhile, Bruno seems to be reacting by...trying to rebuild his cred.
Video for Gucci Mane ft. Bruno Mars & Kodak Black - "Wake Up in the Sky"
Todd (VO): Which collaborating with Gucci Mane of all things...actually came out pretty well. But I hope we never lose corny retro Bruno. [clip of "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" by...] I saw the same backlash happen to Will Smith, and...Will did a lot more to earn it, but...come on. Are you gonna act like you don't go "Na na na na na na na nana," when "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" comes on? [clip of "Finesse"] Spare me. I was never too cool for Will Smith, and I'm not too cool for Bruno Mars either.
Todd: Bruno Mars forever.
Bruno: You know it, you know it
Todd (VO): #9.
Video for...wait for it...
Dua Lipa: One, one, one, one
Todd (VO): OK, umm...my bad.
Todd: This should've been on last year's list
#9. Dua Lipa - "New Rules"
Dua: I got new rules, I count 'em
Todd (VO): I guess I just didn't appreciate it in its time. But it definitely really didn't catch fire until 2018, so thankfully, it feels more appropriate to put it on this year's list.
Todd: And let me say, Dua Lipa was a breath of fresh air all of 2018.
Todd (VO): And I'm not sure if she's an actual personality who will become a big-name star, but...even if she's just another pretty face who sings pretty tunes...
Todd: ...the fact is all the tunes so far have been really good, which is an excellent sign.
Todd (VO): Good God, that drum roll.
Snippet of drum roll during the chorus plays
I just like the concept. So, she's got this on-again, off-again guy she can't seem to get past. A dead end relationship that refuses to end. How do you solve it?
Todd: Well, she's got new rules. And not like [still shot from...] Bill Maher's New Rules. [...and another showing Bill next to a picture of Vladimir Putin] 'Cause there's nothing in there about being a total douchebag or making really punchable facial expressions. No, Dua Lipa's rules are pretty sensible.
Dua: One: Don't pick up the phone
Todd (VO): One: Don't pick up the phone.
Todd: Two: Just wanna be with you. [clips of "Dick in a Box"...] Three: Make her open the box. Four: Nothing wrong with me! [...and Drowning Pool - "Bodies"] Ahhhh!
Dave Williams: Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Todd (VO): OK, I've gotten a little lost here. [clip of "New Rules"] But my point is that this whole counting down thing is a real...classic song structure. So in its own way, this is as retro as Bruno.
Dua: If you're under him, you ain't gettin' over himAnd the lines are all clever, and they're all good advice.
Todd: Don't talk to him, don't be friends with him, don't fuck him. [pause] Honestly, these are all kinda the same rule.
Dua: Practice makes perfect
I'm still tryna learn it by heart
Todd (VO): But I get it. Sometimes you need to express it in every single way you can...
Todd: ...'cause everyone's always lookin' for a loophole.
Dua: I got new rules, I count 'em (Baby, you know I count 'em)
Todd (VO): Yeah, I...definitely should've been kinder to this song the year before. So, uh...I got new rules. Try and recognize a really good song the first time you hear it.
Todd: [shrugs] Ehh, practice makes perfect.
Dua: You're gettin' over him
Todd (VO): #8.
Video for "SICKO MODE" starts
Todd: Am I the only one a little suspicious of all the hype Astroworld got?
Todd (VO): Astroworld is the album by Travis Scott, he dropped it in August to widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike, and...
Todd: ...I dunno. I mean it does sound great, and it has a lot of creative energy, but...
Todd (VO): ...I dunno. I'm not entirely on board with all the acclaim. I mean, it's not super groundbreaking with anything it says or anything it...
Drake: Goin' on you with the pick and roll
Young La Flame, he in sicko mode
Todd: Actually, hold on a second. [bops his head along to the beat drop]
#8. Travis Scott - "SICKO MODE"
Travis Scott: Made this here with all the ice on in the booth
At the gate outside, when they pull up, they get me loose
Todd: Well shit. Fine, you got me. [throws hands up]
Todd (VO): But I'm still not fully with this. For one, I think Travis Scott is 100% the least interesting part of his own music. Even all these rave reviews seem to praise Travis not as a real artist, but more as an organizer and curator of more interesting collaborators.
Todd: Even Travis himself seems to think of himself that way.
Travis: Who put this shit together? I'm the glue
Swae Lee: Someone said
Todd (VO): I saw a couple of those rave reviews straight up compare him to [image of...] DJ Khaled, which...
Todd: ...Jesus Christ, let's not go that far. Travis Scott knows more than seven words.
Todd (VO): But at the same time, Travis doesn't leave a huge impression. If I had heard a new song from him, I wouldn't recognize him. I don't have much a sense of who he is. Except...
Todd: ...that he really seems to like Jamba Juice.
Travis: ...to Jamba Juice
Chase B mix this pop like Jamba Juice
Todd (VO): But then I realized...if he's supposedly such a boring rapper...
Todd: ...why do I know every line?!
Travis: Stacey Dash...
Todd (VO): [rapping along] ...most of these girls ain't got a clue.
Todd: That Stacey Dash thing is just a shoutout and not an insult.
Todd (VO): I mean, you just gotta respect the energy and the audacity of it. It's this genuinely weird song with three different sections, and no real hook, and it conquered the world. Every line hits. Even the Drake parts, and I did not want to say that, 'cause I am just done with Drake.
Drake: Lost my respect, you not a threat
Todd: Drake did not have a great record for threat assessment this year.
Todd (VO): But even here, I can't help but feel it.
Drake: I did half a Xan, 13 hours 'til I land
Had me out like a light (Like a light)
Todd dances and raps along
Like a lightTodd: Goddammit Drake! You got me again!
Todd (VO): How does he make taking a nap sound cool? How the fuck do you keep getting away with this?! I have so much Drake fatigue, I shouldn't have to listen to him for another five years at least!
Todd: You get one, Drake! Just the one!
Todd (VO): But honestly, it's the Rae Sremmurd hook that got me.
Swae Lee: Someone said
Todd: I am all the way around on Rae Sremmurd, by the way. They're the best hook artists in hip-hop. And they get...just two words.
Swae Lee: Someone said
Travis: Shorty FaceTimed...
Todd (VO): And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything! Who said? What'd they say? Maybe that's what someone said. Or maybe they said something else entirely. Because this song doesn't need the parts to connect.
Todd: I mean, hip-hop has always jumped from one topic to the other with no need to stay on track. So why not just go completely avant-garde?
Todd (VO): It's the prog rock trap song I didn't know we needed. I admire the hell out of it, but more importantly, I just like it. I mean, who could deny it?!
Todd: [shrugs] Three parts!
Todd (VO): #7.
Todd (VO): Every now and then, there's that one song that seems to exist just to fill airtime. Like, nothing wrong with it, but no one seems to care about it all that much except for me.
Todd: Well, uh, this is it. This is my song.
#7. Khalid feat. Normani - "Love Lies"
Khalid & Normani: So baby, tell me where your love lies
Waste the day and spend the nightTodd (VO): Like, I feel like I'm fighting uphill trying to hype a song that won't mean much to anybody else...
Todd: ...but I really liked it. And, in fact, I like Khalid a lot also.
Todd (VO): I realize that he's kinda the Muppet Babies version of [image of...] Frank Ocean.
Todd: But he's worth checking out regardless.
Video for Khalid - "Young Dumb & Broke"
Todd (VO): He reminds me a little of Lorde in that he seems wise beyond his years despite...all his stuff being about being a teenager. [clip of "Love Lies"] This is the most downbeat of his hits, and...
Todd: ...Even though it was, in fact, a Top 10 hit, it seemed kinda lost in the shuffle to me.
Khalid: Sorry if it's hard to catch my vibe
Todd: Well, I caught it, Khalid.
Todd (VO): Like, I connect to this song a lot personally; I just relate to it.
Khalid: It's hard for me to open up, I'll admit it
Khalid talks about being on his own vibe, not opening up, and I get that.
Todd: It's hard to get to know me, too. [sarcastically] Yeah, I know. Shocking! Mr. Literally Shrouded In Darkness is private and reserved in real life, believe it or not.
Todd (VO): So, I really connect to this song; it honestly gave me hope. Sure it's hard for me to get to know people, but maybe I too can connect...
Todd: ...with a Fifth Harmony member.
Normani: I've been so into your mystery
Todd (VO): For what it's worth, I'm still not impressed with any member of Fifth Harmony. Normani is credited as co-writer on this, so...maybe she's responsible for more of this than I realized. But even if she is, the mood definitely belongs to Khalid.
Normani: Can't say I don't want it 'cause I know I do
Like, I don't think Fifth Harmony's all sexy, all the time strategy makes her very equipped for this slow song. Like, even in the video, she's working it so hard. And, like...that's not really what the song's going for.
Todd: I actually don't think the song is about sex. I think they're just talking.
Normani: You've got some shit to say and I'm here to listen
Todd (VO): Talking can be sexy. And when they sing together, they just sound great. They play off each other really well. So, who knows?
Todd: Maybe they did catch each other's vibe.
Todd (VO): #6.
#6 - Doja Cat - "Mooo!"
Doja Cat: Bitch I'm a cow, bitch I'm a cow
I'm not a cat...
Todd (VO): Heh, I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
Todd: It's just, I, uhh...I put two slow jams in a row so I wanted to break it up a little. Anyway, here's the real one.
#6. Ella Mai - "Boo'd Up"
Ella Mai: Listen to my heart go ba-do, boo'd up
Biddy-da-do, boo'd up
Hear my heart go ba-do, boo'd upTodd (VO): Ah, yes. "Boo'd Up" by Ella Mai.
Todd: The hit so nice...
Video for Ella Mai - "Trip"
Todd (VO): ...she made it twice.
Ella: My bad, my bad for, trippin' on you
Todd: ...they're the same song.
Clip of "Boo'd Up"
Ella: Ooh, no, I'll never get over you...Todd (VO): I don't know if Ella Mai has another trick up her sleeve. She could become one of those UK acts who cross over for like a tiny space of time like Estelle, or La Roux. I hope not. I loved this song right away. And, in fact, this was the first song of the year that I knew immediately was gonna be on the list.
Todd: But, it's also the song I wanna think about the least.
Ella: Head over heels in love
Todd (VO): A lot of these songs make me put on my critic hat and start writing. "Boo'd Up" was just this '80s quiet storm love jam that...
Todd: ...I didn't want to analyze at all. I just wanted to enjoy it.
Todd (VO): It's the kind of good song that shuts everyone up. [shot of article: "Is R&B A Dying Genre?"] Classic R&B doesn't really have hits anymore. If it doesn't have those, you know, dark trap beats, no one cares.
Todd: And yet, this was instantly one of the biggest hits of the year.
Ella: Boo'd up, boo'd up
Boo'd up, boo'd upTodd (VO): That said, I suspect the title, "Boo'd Up," is going to be dated, like...almost immediately. And it's not just the title that's 2018.
Todd: She also uses the phrase, "in my feelings," a lot.
Ella: Feelings, so deep in my feelings
Todd (VO): Which is great, 'cause we sure needed [single cover for Drake - "In My Feelings"] a song about being in my feelings.
Todd: You know, a good one at least.
Todd (VO): But if anyone still sang "Boo'd Up" two years from now, I think you can count this song as the reason. It's just perfect. And in fact, Ella Mai has that perfect, smooth smoky voice that would've worked really well on "Love Lies."
Todd: As much as I complained about pop music this year, it couldn't have been that bad. It had this amazing song, and there were five other hits that I liked better than it!
Todd (VO): That's just astonishing to me! What a great goddamn song.
Todd: And what are the five songs better than this? Well, this video is running long, so tune in next time.
Screen fades to black
GO TO PART 2!
(LINK IN DESCRIPTION)
Todd: Hey, you're back. Wanna see what this tasteless idiot thinks is good music? [rubs hands together] Alright, let's go.
Todd (VO): #5.
Todd: One of the...odder things about 2018 is how...
Video for Rich the Kid - "Plug Walk"
Todd (VO): ...pop music and rap music have become, like, almost completely segregated. I mean, that just might seem like that to me 'cause I live in New York, [image of Z100 station logo] where the Top 40 stations are just...bizarrely rap-phobic.
Todd: But it seemed that there wasn't a lot of overlap between the two. You could be a rap star or a pop star, but not both.
Clip of live performance of Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla Sign - "Psycho"
Todd (VO): The only crossovers were Drake and Post Malone. And only the songs without rapping on them, so those probably don't even count.
Todd: So I am basically counting this as the one, real crossover hip-hop single of the year. The single, solitary one. But what a hit it was.
#5. Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin - "I Like It"
Cardi B: Diamond district in the chain, chain (I said I like it like that)
Certified, you know I'm gang, gang, gang, gang (I said I like it like)
Woo!Todd (VO): Cardi B had a year where she seemed able to do no wrong. She had a bumpy marriage that fell apart, and a feud with Nicki Minaj, and it seemed like not a single person sided against her. [another clip of "Girls Like You"] She did a verse on the worst song of the year, and yet none of the stink came off on her.
Clip of "I Like It"
And she's certainly good at what she does, but it kinda seems like she doesn't even have to be good. She can just coast on charisma alone.
Todd: But, "I Like It" in particular felt like the peak of her greatness, and not just because it was her biggest hit.
Bad Bunny: Chambean, chambean, pero no jalan (¡Jalan!)
Todd (VO): Like, there's a lot of Spanish on this song. You got Cardi, who's part Dominican. And you got two reggaeton artists: J Balvin, who's Colombian, Bad Bunny, who's Puerto Rican. But the most important person in this discussion...
Todd: ...isn't one of the credited artists.
Montage clips of live performances of...
Todd (VO): It's this guy right here, Pete Rodriguez. He made boogaloo music back in the '60s, which was a mix of R&B and Latin jazz. So basically, the '60s version of reggaeton. [single cover for...] This is his song they're sampling, "I Like It Like That." [clip of The Blackout All-Stars - "I Like It"] I know it better from the '90s version. Just know that it's this huge, towering influential song. This giant smash that opened up Puerto Rican music to the rest of America.
Todd: What "La Bamba" is for Mexican-Americans, that's what "I Like It Like That" is. Not just for Puerto Rican music, but like the entire Latin-Caribbean scene.
Video for "I Like It"
Todd (VO): So attaching yourself to this song, updating it for modern times, that is a bold move.
Todd: In rock terms, that's like releasing a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a single.
Todd (VO): It's something you only do if you have total confidence in who you are.
Todd: And it's a big deal especially in 2018, 'cause...
Montage clips of numerous broadcasts about Puerto Rico
Todd (VO): You know, I don't know if you noticed, but...there's a lot of demographics who have the right to feel hard done by in America. And Puerto Ricans shot way up the rankings these past couple of years. ["I Like It"] So even though there's nothing overtly political about this, it's just a song of three Latin superstars living their best lives. It felt like a power move, like a statement of pride. Way more than even "Despacito" was the year before.
Todd: Cardi B didn't need Justin Bieber to get over it. [pause] Because she's Cardi. That's all I'm sayin'.
Todd (VO): #4.
Clip of opening for Street Fighter II
Todd (VO): I played the shit out of this game. Never a Mortal Kombat kid, always Street Fighter. I could have bought every new console for every new generation that came after with the quarters I fed into this one game. It ruled my life. This game was a game-changer for a lot of reasons, but a big one was its great cast of characters. You could play as a sumo wrestler, or a weird green monster-man, or, the weirdest of all...[close-up shot of Chun-Li] What's this?
Todd: A g-g-g-girl?!
#4. Nicki Minaj - "Chun-Li"
Nicki Minaj: Ayo, I been on, bitch, you been corn
Bentley tints on, Fendi prints on
I mean I been StormTodd: I did not know Nicki was a gamer chick.
Nicki: Plates say Chun-Li, drop the Benz off
Todd (VO): That's pretty cool.
Todd: OK, I don't actually know if she games or not. Although she does compare herself to another game icon.
Nicki: Ayo, I been north, Lara been Croft
Todd (VO): I don't really know what that means exactly, but it's a cool shoutout regardless. One reference to Samus, and she could have the trifecta.
Todd: Actually she compared herself to a billion other pop culture icons in this song, including [brief images of...] Storm, King Kong, and Michael Jordan.
Nicki: How many championships? What? Six rings on
Todd (VO): But those are kinda played out. Chun-Li was the right one to base a song around. [another clip of Street Fighter II] Chun-Li was the only female character in that game. [image of Nicki onstage with Lil Wayne and the Young Money crew] For a long time, Nicki felt like the only female in the game. I honestly thought she was the best character. Chun-Li was so cool that there was no stigma as playing as a girl, which is a big deal when you were a little kid in the '90s.
Todd: And that's why gamers are such feminists today.
Clip of "Chun-Li"
Nicki: (Brrr)Todd (VO): I don't know why Nicki likes Chun-Li. It could be she just likes those Chinese hairbuns.
Nicki: I went and copped the chopsticks, put it in my bun just to pop shit
But it's also probably just this one quote. [clip of Street Fighter showing said quote: "I'm the strongest woman in the world."] And that's what this entire song felt like Nicki was. "Strongest woman in the world." Every line spit out one after the other [clip of Chun-Li wailing on a car] like a lightning kick. This was...
Todd: ...the song I've been waiting for her to make her entire career.
Nicki: Now everybody like, "She really is the best"
Todd (VO): After she dropped this, I really thought that there would be no doubt about her. She would be the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop.
Todd: [pause] And that did not happen. And Nicki only has herself to blame.
Nicki: They paintin' me out to be the bad guy
Todd (VO): No, they weren't doing that, Nicki.
Todd: You were. [shot of article: "Nicki Minaj tells fans to target Billboard writer for saying her tour is 'cancelled'"] She started a bunch of feuds that were all really pointless and regrettable. [clip of 6ix9ine ft. Nicki Minaj & Murda Beatz - "Fefe"] And one friendship that was...even more regrettable. Also, Nicki debuted ten years ago, and it...
Video for Nicki Minaj - "Barbie Tingz"
Todd (VO): ...feels like she hadn't really adapted to the new hip-hop landscape the way Drake has. Feels like she's been running an outdated playbook for a while. I mean...[clip of DNCE ft. Nicki Minaj - "Kissing Strangers"] who thinks doing a guest spot for DNCE is a good idea? Chun-Li stayed the female icon of that franchise even when other female characters showed up, and Nicki couldn't do that.
Video for Migos, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B - "Motorsport"
It's not fair to compare Nicki and Cardi just 'cause they're the only big female rappers, but Nicki basically forced the comparison, and she firmly lost. [clip of "Chun-Li"] And it's really galling that she lost her throne right when she was making some of the best music of her career.
Nicki: They need rappers like me
They need rappers like meTodd (VO): Whatever. This song still kicked as much ass as Chun-Li...
Todd: ...even if Nicki had a [image of DVD cover for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li] "Legend of Chun-Li" of a year.
Nicki: What? Six rings on
Todd (VO): #3.
Todd: OK, to make a point here, I'm gonna play a random showtune.
Clip of Tony Awards performance of "Defying Gravity"
Idina Menzel (as Elphaba): It's time to try
I think I'll tryTodd: OK, so, I have no clue what's happening.
Todd (VO): Are they falling in love? Breaking up? About to overthrow the government? I dunno. I haven't seen this musical.
Todd: Don't even know which one it is. Is it Cats? [throws hands up]
Todd (VO): Do I have to see the musical? Uhh, maybe not. A ton of people haven't seen it, still like this song. Sure.
Todd: But it's the kind of thing you don't really get unless you see it in context.
Video for...wait for it...
Todd (VO): And that's also true of this song.
#3. Ariana Grande - "Thank U, Next"
Ariana Grande: Thank you, next (next)
Thank you, next (Next)Todd (VO): "Thank U, Next," is basically a showtune. You don't need context, but it does make much more sense if you've seen the show.
Todd: The show in this case is Ariana's life. And I'm not sure how it plays for those who don't follow celebrity news.
Todd (VO): Just know that...she had a really messy 2018 in her personal life, featuring [shots of articles: "The Strange Pathos of Ariana Grande's Breakup"...] two high-profile breakups, [..."Ariana Grande Is Devastated Over Mac Miller's Death"] one truly heartbreaking tragedy, [clip of Snapchat video of Ariana with Pete Davidson] and five awful months spent as one of the fuckin' worst celebrity couples of all time!
Todd: [throws hands up in confusion] They seemed fine separately, you know. I like her, he's funny on SNL. [another video clip of Ariana and Pete] Put 'em together and it was just nonstop misery.
Pete Davidson: My sweet, sweet angel.
Video for "Thank U, Next"Todd (VO): And when their hastily announced engagement was...just as hastily ended, Ariana was left with a public disaster of a year that she felt the need to address.
Ariana: I've loved and I've lost
But that's not what I see
So, look what I gotSo "Thank U, Next" is a refrain of all her drama as learning experiences that she appreciates, but...
Todd: ...is also firmly moving past.
Ariana: I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex
Todd (VO): And on one level, you can call it what it is, which is...
Todd: ...desperate spin control.
Todd (VO): She rushed this single out at the end of the year when she already had a fresh album she was still promoting. It just couldn't wait. She had to retake control of the public narrative.
Todd: But who could possibly complain? I mean, she did it so...thoughtfully and gracefully.
Ariana: I've got so much love (Love)
Got so much patience (Patience)Todd (VO): If you think Pete Davidson acted like a jackass and did her wrong, then...this song sounds like shade and sarcasm. It's a...
Todd: ...firm, "Good riddance."
Todd: And it's not not that.
Todd (VO): But, I choose not to see it that way. I mean, the key part for me is what sounds like a real, genuine tribute to her ex, Mac Miller, whose drug problems tore them apart and eventually killed him.
Ariana: Wish I could say, "Thank you" to Malcolm
'Cause he was an angel
Clip of Billboard Music Awards performance of "Thank U, Next""Thank U, Next" really and truly felt like the high point for Ariana. Like...
Todd: ...I was a fan from the beginning. And she's made plenty of songs I like since then. And her album from earlier this year was perfectly good.
Todd (VO): But "Thank U, Next" was the first time I thought, "This girl is a genuine superstar." This is like the kind of era-defining pop icon that really matters.
Todd: Again, I go back to the end of the year before...
Video for Taylor Swift - "Look What You Made Me Do"
Todd (VO): ...when Taylor Swift tried to address her own public drama, and it was such a bloated disaster that...it felt like she cratered the entire genre overnight, leading to this black hole of a year.
Todd: "Thank U, Next" felt like a resurrection.
Todd (VO): The light is coming to bring back everything the darkness stole. On Instagram, Ariana finished the year with a big "thank you, next" to 2018. And that's where I am.
Todd: Close the door on this wasted year, and let's begin the Ariana Grande era for real.
Todd (VO): #2.
Todd: [beat; Todd tries to contain his anger] Goddamnit!
Video for Drake - "I'm Upset"
Drake: I'm upset
Fifty thousand...Todd (VO): I'm just so fuckin' tired of Drake! I'm just so goddamn sick of him, I'm sick of hearing his mumbling monotone, and his inane thoughts about the world. He dropped an album this year that was, like, nine hours long, and out of obligation, I had to listen to it. I had to hear his stupid ass...
Todd: ...judging thoughts about how people "use Instagram."
Video for Drake - "Emotionless"
Drake: I know a girl whose one goal was to visit Rome
Then she finally got to Rome
And all she did was post pictures for people at homeTodd (VO): Pusha T didn't have to reveal shit to me.
Todd: I listened to Drake start lecturing the kids about [waving hands around] taking too many pictures, and I'm like, "Yeah, Drake has turned into a dad."
Video for Drake - "Nonstop"
Todd (VO): It's been ten years of nonstop success for Drake. It's officially been the Drake decade. That's enough, that's plenty. He can take a break for a little bit. He can go away.
Todd: [angrily sighs] So...it is with extreme reluctance...that...[shakes his head and throws hands up]
Todd gets up and leaves. He then goes outside to take a walk through New York City...
Big Freedia: I wanna know who mothafuckin' representin' in here tonight
Footage of Todd at a karaoke bar with some friends
Todd: I wanna know who mothafuckin' representin' in here tonight!
Clips of "Nice for What" are intercut with Todd singing
Todd: Louisiana shit
Murda on the beat
Everybody get your mothafuckin'...#2. Drake - "Nice for What"
Drake: ...roll on
I know shorty and she doesn't want no slow song
Had a man last year, life goes onTodd (VO): Goddamnit, he's still got some great singles. I cannot deny it. And this was an honest-to-God party rock anthem in an era that seems to have forgotten how to do that. It didn't sound a single thing like anything else this year. In fact, with the sped up Lauryn Hill sample, it sounds like a [clip of "Oh Boy" by...] Cam'ron song from 2002. Which again goes to prove my point that we skipped '90s retro.
Clip of "Nice for What"
Drake: Gotta hit them angles
With your phone out, snappin' like you FaboI heard that Fabo line a billion times before I accepted that, yes, [clip of D4L - "Laffy Taffy"] he really was making a "Laffy Taffy" reference.
Todd: I refused to believe it for the longest time. [chuckles]
Todd gets up and leaves again
Clip of Todd back at the karaoke bar
Todd: That's a real one in your reflection
Without a follow, without a mention
You really pipin' up on these...[CENSORED]
You gotta be nice for what to these...[NOPE]
Clip of "Nice for What"
Drake: Work at 8 A.M., finish 'round fiveTodd (VO): So this is Drake making a party jam for all the hard-working ladies of the world. It's such an obvious move.
Todd: Like, when a DJ shouts out, "All my ladies make some noise!"
Footage of Dwayne Johnson at WWE Raw
Todd (VO): Or when a pro wrestler gives a shoutout to whatever city they're in.
Clip of "Nice for What"
Drake: You got some bad friends
High school pics, you was even bad thenIt's cheap, it's pandering. It works every goddamn time. I mean, it's exactly like a DJ shouting it out to the ladies.
Todd: It comes with its own DJ segments.
Big Freedia: These hoes!
Your boy!Todd (VO): And even though it's for the ladies, I also felt spoken to. I also work too hard. This is just a real crowd-pleaser. You know what, that's why when I heard it I [more footage of Todd's karaoke party] instantly added it to my karaoke playlist. It just...
Todd: ...absolutely kills with a crowd. [pause] I-I gotta go finish this off.
Gets up and leaves one more time...
Todd: Gotta, gotta, gotta g-g-gotta, g-g-gotta, gotta
Gotta, g-g-gotta, gotta, gotta make that jump, jump
Todd starts singing "In My Feelings" while "Nice for What" still plays
Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding?
Say you'll...*BUZZER* (WRONG)
Ending for "Nice for What" gets intercut with Todd's friends laughing
Todd: [coughs offscreen] And now, before the #1, some honorable mentions.
Silk City & Dua Lipa - "Electricity"
Dua: I cannot deny
Todd (VO): Dua Lipa had a good year, what can I say? This is a Mark Ronson track also. That guy is just doin' great all the goddamn time.
Kendrick Lamar ft. Zacari - "LOVE."
Zacari: Just love me
Todd (VO): I feel bad that after loving Kendrick Lamar's first two albums, I didn't really feel DAMN. at all. [album cover for DAMN.] I've listened to it over and over trying to get it, and...at this point I've heard it more than most albums I actually like. And this is the track that really stuck with me. I think...
Todd: ...I think this really captured the loneliness and isolation that he's going for.
The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar - "Pray for Me"
The Weeknd: Who gon' pray for me?
Take my pain for me?Todd (VO): But if DAMN. was too dense for you, well, here's the album's themes in a digestible soundtrack hit from a comic book movie.
Todd: I have so many thoughts about Black Panther by the way.
Offset ft. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin - "Ric Flair Drip"
Offset: Ric Flair drip, go "woo" on a bitch (woo)
Todd (VO): I already feel like I like this song for the wrong reasons. I mean, Ric Flair is right there!
Lauv - "I Like Me Better"
Lauv: I like me better when I'm with you
Todd (VO): Now this was a charming little song. That's a real sleeper hit with no promotion that just everyone seemed to love and not get sick of.
Charlie Puth - "The Way I Am"
Charlie Puth: I'ma tell 'em all
Todd (VO): And some songs that weren't hits that I thought should have been. Like, uhh, yeah, this one is yet another one of those pop singles that makes me feel better about...
Todd: ...not liking being around tons of people.
Charlie: But that's just the way I am
Janelle Monáe - "Make Me Feel"
Janelle Monáe: That's just the way you make me feel
(That's just the way you make me feel)Todd (VO): I think we all need to come to terms with the fact that Janelle Monáe is probably not ever going to be a pop star. I mean, if Dirty Computer couldn't do it for her, it's...
Todd: ...just not gonna happen.
Kacey Musgraves - "High Horse"
Kacey Musgraves: You and your high horse
Todd (VO): This is the one that really made me angry, 'cause the year was full of country pop crossovers, and the only good one was the one that didn't become a hit. [groans]
Kacey: You ain’t ever gonna come down
Todd: And now, finally, the end of the list.
Todd (VO): [ominously] #1.
Todd: [sighs] OK, umm...I don't talk about it a lot, but...I suffer from pretty bad anxiety. [pause] Or not. [shrugs]
Clip of anxiety disorder video on YouTube
Todd (VO): I dunno. Maybe. I don't really get how people talk about anxiety. Like, everyone I know talks about having it; I assume I do, too because...
Todd: Isn't that, like, a [image of characters from Inside Out] basic human emotion?
Todd (VO): Or...OK, I'm reading that [front cover for anxiety self-help book] anxiety's not actually an emotion, but the displacement of...
Todd: I don't know what I'm talking about. Let's start over. OK, I may or may not have an anxiety disorder, but...e-either way, this has not been the easiest of years for me. To be honest, it didn't seem like an easy year for anybody.
Montage clips of Marshmello & Bastille - "Happier"; Juice WRLD - "Lucid Dreams"
Todd (VO): Especially in the pop world, where every song felt like it was stress or depression or whatever.
Brief montage clips of Shawn Mendes - "In My Blood"; Drake - "Nice for What"...
Drake: You know dark days
...and Ella Mai - "Boo'd Up"
Ella: Can't control my anxiety
Clip of Post Malone live performanceTodd (VO): It was like a constant undercurrent, but it didn't really seem like anyone was actually really talking about it.
Todd: So, while I had plenty of songs to fill out the list, picking the #1 song was, uhh...well it was really easy for me. I knew...exactly which of the year's hits meant the most to me personally
Ariana: Some days, things just take
Way too much of my energyTodd: Of course Ariana's #1. Who else was it gonna be?
#1. Ariana Grande - "Breathin"
Ariana: And oh, I gotta keep, keep on breathin'
Just keep breathin' and breathin' and breathin' and breathin'Todd (VO): Ariana Grande's artistic output this year has been...
Todd: ...largely about projecting confidence.
Video for Ariana Grande - "No Tears Left to Cry"
Ariana: Ain't got no tears left to cryTodd (VO): She has moved past the need for grief and sorrow. [clips of "Thank U, Next"...] Every mistake was just a learning experience. [...and "God Is a Woman"] She fucks hard enough to convert you to feminist theology.
Ariana: You'll believe God is a woman
[shots of tweets from Ariana...] It did not always match her reality. In fact, she admitted freely that there was more talk than truth in it.
Todd: And who could blame her? She was already dealing with [shot of article: "Ariana Grande breaks down talking about Manchester Arena attack"] way too much even before this trainwreck of a year! In fact, Ariana has a decent claim of having the hardest year of any of the current major pop stars. And she has a lot of competition for that title.
Clip of "Breathin"
Ariana: I look up and the whole room's spinningTodd (VO): So while anxiety was everywhere, this song was the only one that was about it explicitly. "Breathin" is Ariana without the front or the image management; it's just her.
Todd: And I appreciated it a lot. I had a lot of songs I really liked this year, but not many that were actually, like...useful to me.
Todd (VO): But this is the one that really hit me. Like...every time I felt like shit, this song would come on and remind me to breathe.
Ariana: Just keep breathin' and breathin'
Like, I'd have died otherwise, I'd have straight forgotten to breathe. That's where I was this year.
Todd: As-as a side note, even though I...
Video for Walk the Moon - "One Foot"
Todd (VO): ...wasn't a huge fan of Walk the Moon's "One Foot," that was also extremely helpful to me this year, too. [clip of "Breathin"] All that said, there's a good chance that even if I were, you know, happy and well-adjusted, this still would've topped the list, because...
Todd: ...when that beat drops, it feels like the world shakes.
Ariana: And oh, I gotta keep
Todd (VO): And like I said, putting Ariana at #1 just felt right. And this year, it felt like she was the only pop star that really mattered. God bless.
Todd: And we're all still here, and we're all still breathing. So...thanks. [gives thumbs up] Here's to another year.
Gets up and leaves
Ariana: I keep on breathin', mmm, yeah
Closing Tag Song: Migos - "Stir Fry"
This video is owned by me
Bitch I'm a cow
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!
- ↑ #27 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #18 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #14 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #10 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #11 in 2018
- ↑ #16 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #42 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #19 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #67 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #15 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #92 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #9 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #57 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #6 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #7 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #10 in 2018
- ↑ #31 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #25 in 2018
- ↑ #34 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #1 in 2018
- ↑ #86 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #8 in 2018
- ↑ #52 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #11 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #62 in 2018
- ↑ #50 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #40 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #38 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #35 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #61 in 2018
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #99 in 2018
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; never charted on Billboard Hot 100 during the year
- ↑ #80 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #12 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #46 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #12 in 2018
- ↑ #20 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #62 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #65 in 2018
- ↑ #48 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100