Best Songs of 2018
1. Amber Mark – “Love Me Right”
“Love Me Right” was my song of spring, summer, and autumn. It soundtracked dishwashing, walks to the grocery store, and, infamously, a ride back from the airport. I love this song immensely, and I spun its greater EP more than most other records this year. This is my love letter to Amber Mark.
As the lead single to the Conexão EP, I heard “Love Me Right” first; sometimes a great single is all I need to commit to a new artist immediately. Not that I didn’t have doubts. I listened to 3:33am EP and enjoyed it, though felt it was clouded with unease. The music is fun to wag your hips to lazily, but the feeling floats above and around the sounds. One quote from old interviews I remember best was that Mark used it to cope with the death of her mother, knowing she couldn’t keep “crying, listening to Sufjan Stevens everyday.”
In spite of all that, Conexão is a beautiful release, with two monumental songs the world should not soon forget. Let’s start briefly with “Love is Stronger Than Pride”: I stand by my statement that Amber Mark is the only artist to have truly done Sade justice. The songs are not exactly the same, avoiding one of the worst Sade cover pitfalls (no straight imitation is ever adequate), and at the same time, it gives me the same orange-golden feeling of warmth that the original did.
Next is, obviously, “Love Me Right,” which Mark has expressed her own favor for. It encapsulates a particularly complex circumstance, where the protagonist doesn’t necessarily consider her own love in order to make the decision to leave a relationship. The quandary lies in her partner’s insufficient commitment. Freedom is embedded in the track. Unrequited affection leads to frustration, which breeds hatred, even in the face of another’s love that grows “more each day.”
As far as pop songs go, the structure of Mark’s single capitalizes on the greatest R&B tropes while honoring the genre of Bossanova. There is an exquisite key-change, which comes directly after an infectious handclap pre-chorus. Her voice itself is art, too, lest we forget the warbles and hums spread throughout her catalog. Few other artists boast this level of talent, and consequently I don’t think my body is ready for her debut full-length…whenever that comes.