Before I drop my favorite songs of the year on you, a few moments for my annual State of Music address.

2018 was tough. Regular readers know the biggest reason why I say this: the May suicide of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. I was pretty emotional about Prince’s death, and felt a little strange because of that. I figured that was a one-time effect. But Scott’s death floored me, and in some ways I’ve still not recovered.

I’ve written about that several times this year, so won’t dive into too many details. Looking back the thing that strikes me about his death and its effects on me are how it keeps coming back. Every few weeks I’ll run across a seemingly innocent artist profile, tweet, podcast, etc. where someone mentions Scott and how his death affected them. And that brings it all back.

By mid-summer I had completely stopped listening to Frightened Rabbit’s music. It was too painful, hearing Scott’s lyrics and making direct connections between them and his death. It wasn’t until early December, when I finally decided to watch some of their old performances on YouTube, that I could listen to some of the band’s music. I’m still not ready to reintroduce my favorite band of the last decade into my regular listening routine. But I think I can finally not skip past their tracks when the algorithm randomly selects them.

Beyond that, I feel like there wasn’t a ton of great music this year. Plenty of good music, yes. But was there a classic track that I’ll still be excited about next year? In ten years? I don’t know. Same for albums. Some nice ones, but very few that I put on heavy rotation in the days after their release and then returned to regularly.

I’ve wondered if that was because it was, indeed, a bad year for music, or at least the music I like. Is the music I like getting squeezed out by other, more dominant sounds? Or, gasp, am I finally aging and it’s getting harder for me to connect with music written and performed by 20-somethings?

I’d guess it’s a little bit of each of those, plus some bad timing: very few of my favorite artists put out new music this year and there weren’t a bunch of bands that jumped up to fill those holes.

And then there was our move and stretch without cable/stable internet access, which totally threw off my listening habits for a bit.

As I’ve whittled down my Favorites list from the original 40 or so songs to its final number, I’ve become a little fonder of all the surviving songs. I think the top 10 is pretty solid. It just doesn’t compare to the top 10s from other, stronger years.

So, for now, I’ll hope 2018 was an aberration and 2019 will be better.