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All Songs Considered: The Year In Music 2018

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.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; David Becker/Getty Images for LARAS; Kevin Winter
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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.

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 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bob Boilen
In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
Robin Hilton
Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.
Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.
Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)