I feel like I broaden my taste in music and movies every year. This year is no different. In 2018, so many albums, songs and films have risen to claim these spots in my favorites of the year list (so far, since we’re at the halfway point). I hope you enjoy this super-sized post. Let’s get started.

Albums

5. VoiceNotes — Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth - VoiceNotes

VoiceNotes feels like a solid step in the right direction for Charlie Puth. While it doesn’t stick to a single genre, it’s the R&B 90s style mixed with complex falsetto vocal runs that set the stage for an excellent collection of songs that express a major disenfranchisement of the LA party scene. The dreamlike vocal sensations that are scattered across Puth’s second album still have me reaching for his high notes when I sing in the car.

Best Songs: BOY, LA Girls, Patient

4. Entertainment — Waterparks

Waterparks - Entertainment

If you never completely grew out of the pop punk phase that all of us went through in eighth grade, then Entertainment, the second full-length album from Houston-based band Waterparks, is for you. It’s full of pop punk anthems with stellar vocals from lead singer Awsten Knight. Some songs are  heavier than what I normally listen to, but everything about Entertainment is just purely… *pun here* entertaining.

Best Songs: Crybaby, Not Warriors, Peach (Lobotomy)

3. Flowerss — HalfNoise

HalfNoise - Flowerss

From the moment I watched Paramore drummer Zac Farro take the mike at a Paramore show last October, I knew that HalfNoise had a special place in my heart. The band’s beachy vibe is strongest in Flowerss. It’s easy to snap your fingers to and lose yourself in some of the best songs of the year. This EP isn’t a full album, but I couldn’t not include it on this list. It’s that special.

Best Songs: She Said, My Girl, All That Love Is

2. Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

Country and indie folk artist Kacey Musgraves has created an acoustic daydream of an album with her third full-length feature Golden Hour. Country has never been my cup of tea, but Musgraves pushes beyond the normal boundaries of country music to make a record that includes folk, pop, and even disco influenced tracks. It’s all beautiful music. Every. Single. Song.

Best Songs: Lonely Weekend, Velvet Elvis, Space Cowboy

1. Lush — Snail Mail

Snail Mail - Lush

This is the perfect summer record. 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan’s debut album under the moniker Snail Mail is a strong start for the budding indie star that has stunned the music industry with her beautiful sounds and highly vulnerable lyrics. It’s the perfect album for anyone experiencing adult life-things like love, loss, and responsibility  for the first time.

Best Songs: Full Control, Stick, Heat Wave


Songs

5. King of the Clouds — Panic! At The Disco

While I didn’t care for most of the new Panic! at the Disco album, King of the Clouds stood out as a clear frontrunner for the best song on their new record, Pray for the Wicked. It’s got Urie’s best vocals on the album and really unique lyrics. I cannot wait to hear this one live next month.

4. Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) — Bleachers

This lead single from the soundtrack for Love, Simon is by far one of the best songs from Bleachers. It’s upbeat with great acoustic riffs and even better lyrics. This one is actually dedicated to frontman Jack Antonoff’s godson and that makes it even more special.

3. She Said — HalfNoise

Paramore’s Zac Farro is up to far more than just drumming on tour right now. He’s also the frontman of HalfNoise, and boy am I glad I’ve gotten to listen to them. She Said is a beautiful song with Farro’s best vocals so far.

2. Crybaby — Waterparks

Crybaby is a really peculiar song with great vocal effects from lead singer Awsten Knight and stands apart from the rest of the pack in their latest record.

1. Amigos — Human Resources

Hearing a song for the first time in a live setting can be kind of weird. After seeing Human Resources open for Bleachers last month in Athens, I knew that they would become an instant favorite of mine. Amigos stands as one of the coolest songs of the year on an album I have truly fallen in love with over the past month.


Movies

Honorable Mentions: The Incredibles 2, Alex Strangelove, Annihilation, Deadpool 2

5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World-Fallen Kingdom

While I did enjoy 2015’s Jurassic World, this sequel goes in a darker, more visceral direction. The best thing about this movie is how it dips a toe, nee claw, into the horror genre. It gives you a sense of dread. For the first time in this franchise, I wasn’t so sure that everyone was going to make it out alive. That’s what keeps you on the edge of your seat.

4. Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther really changed the game when it comes to what a superhero can be. It perfectly portrays the struggle between tradition and innovation all while fully entertaining me. The score is fantastic, the villain is phenomenal, and the effect that it had on American culture can still be felt five months later.

3. Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs has a lot to say about xenophobia over immigration and fear in general, but it portrays those themes in a really unique and appealing way. It’s got a beautiful score and this might be one of the most interesting films I’ve ever seen. It will lift you up so much.

2. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

If you had told me at this time last year that Jim from The Office was going to star in and direct a very, very good horror movie, I would’ve laughed right in your face. I eat those words now. A Quiet Place pushes beyond the bounds of a normal scary movie with a commentary on what it means to be a family. It’s gorgeous.

1. Love, Simon

LOVE, SIMON

I love a good coming-of-age story. I always will. Love, Simon is a perfect entry into that genre of film. It’s a John Hughes style movie with modern influences scattered about its main theme of self-acceptance. The movie is full of heart with charming, relatable characters, incredible direction, and my favorite soundtrack of the year so far.

Well there you have it! The first half of 2018 is over and the entertainment world is thriving again. Music has already done so much good in my life in the first half of 2018 and the second half only looks to bring even more great musical experiences for me. Movies have told great stories about everything from superheroes to great coming-of-age and strong animation. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of summer and beyond.

(I own no photos)