2018 released some of the best superhero films of all time. Black Panther owned the beginning of the year before it was relieved by Avengers: Infinity War. The later part of the year saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse earning huge praise. It was actually one of the better if not best years for superhero films. But additionally this year, the genre seemed to incorporate more original music from popular artists. Some songs worked while others fell flat. We wanted to highlight some of the best we got this year in no particular order.
King’s Dead – Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake
The beginning of the song is constant flexing about how much money they have and the allure of fame. The simple yet very catchy beat is filled with addictive flows. However, half way through the song, it makes a hard cut and Kendrick Lamar shines. His lyrical genius is on full display as he criticizes the fast life and money-hungry consumerism he was rapping about earlier. He acknowledges his own vices before switching voices to that of Black Panther‘s antagonist, Killmonger. He’s not in Wakanda to be your friend or your savior – he’s just there for revenge and power. Lamar finishes off the song with the Senegalese women yipping sound, the musical cue of the Dora Milaje. Just a great song that used its tie-in material to significant effect. All hail King Killmonger.
Welcome to the Party – Diplo, French Montana & Lil Pump ft. Zhavia Ward
When you think of popular artists contributing to films, this is usually the result. Mixing popular genres and artists to make a forgettable song. This one is just a little bit different, though. Diplo uses trap and dubstep to create a blood pumping effect, getting you ready to kick all sorts of ass with Deadpool. Admittedly the lyrics are pretty vapid – especially when the best part is the chorus just saying “welcome to the party” over and over again. Regardless, the beat will stick in your head hours after you’ve heard it.
Sunflower – Post Malone, Swae Lee
Released two months before the film, “Sunflower” sold people on seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (myself included). The chill, easy listening of the song mixed with the comic book inspired footage of the film sucked people in to multiple listening/watching sessions. (It’s almost like Lays, you can’t just listen once). While the soundtrack of the film is filled with a lot of great songs, this one just stands out with how dreamy and extremely catchy it is. Not only that, but it actually becomes important to the story. This is one of the best of the year.
All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar, SZA
With 4 Grammy nominations including Song of the Year and Record of the Year, you know you’re dealing with a titan of song. “All the Stars” creates a dreamy state as it sings about love – but it’s a lot more. When Kendrick Lamar worked with director Ryan Coogler to invoke the themes of the film, nothing fits better together than this song. The stars represent dreams to casual listeners but to the film, it’s ancestors of Wakanda, guiding T’Challa in his new role as king. The lyrics are crafted in such a way that it mirrors both Lamar’s past as a kid from Compton and T’Challa’s struggle with leadership. Even Killmonger’s story ties into it! And a quick shout out to the beautiful music video that is a love letter to Africa and its people. Absolutely stunning. Hopefully this wins the Grammy because it’s so deserving.
Ashes – Céline Dion
Did anyone see this song coming? Anyone?! This incredible power-ballad changed the game, truly. We all knew that Deadpool 2 was going to up its game – but to enlist the legendary pop diva Céline Dion to sing her heart out? Unbelievable. Just think about it for a second. This song is on the same soundtrack as “Welcome to the Party”. Besides the fact that it’s tied to the film, it’s just an amazingly beautiful song on its own. Dion only goes to an 11, people. Additionally, the music video is hilarious as our Merc with the Mouth dances like a graceful swan. I had no idea that I needed this song and I’m so happy we have it.
Ocean to Ocean – Pitbull ft Rhea
I have to admit – this song just makes me laugh. Pitbull is not an artist I take very seriously, especially since he’s sampling the much, much superior “Toto” from Africa. But where it appears in the film, as Aquaman and Mera come out of the ocean like they’re in Baywatch, I had a great belly laugh. It’s an inoffensive, simple pop song that was cleverly included in the soundtrack so I have to give this one a mention.
“Spidey Bells” from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the greatest Christmas song from a superhero ever. Chris Pine is singing like it’s the only song he’ll ever release (you can hear his spit and everything!) while making so many Spider-Man references. His mid-song breakdown is hilarious while also being completely sympathetic and relatable. It would’ve been on the main list if it wasn’t holiday-specific. It is perfect. This song is perfect.
“Baba Yaga Lullaby” from Ant-Man and The Wasp was a funny little blip in the film. For Kurt, Ghost reminded him of the feared supernatural witch of folklore, Baba Yaga. She’s more layered than just a creepy witch in the woods made to scare children at night, however, the scene reminds us how folk stories stick with us. Especially when we’re scared. But really it’s David Dastmalchian‘s fearful delivery that makes this little inclusion great.
So those are our picks for the best of the year! What did you think of the songs? Here’s hoping this trend continues next year and we have more fun songs to discuss.
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