2017 was an… interesting year. Albeit not the best year in other areas, at least the music was good, even great in some cases. We were blessed with some brilliant songs this year. These are (subjective to opinion) the best of those.
- Praying – Kesha
Simultaneously, a piercing battle cry and heart-breaking anthem of pain, Kesha’s first release in almost five years came as nothing less than a triumph. A stunning return to the industry and a musical 180, ‘Praying’ was the perfect encapsulation of the hurt and rage that the Trump-era has brought upon the world, as well as the personal turmoil of the voice that brought the track to life.
2. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez is not the first name that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to experimental pop songs. However, Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’ was an immaculate pop song that stopped critics in their tracks with its simplistic production paired with Gomez’s sensual and breathy vocals. Written over the bassline of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, Gomez put herself well and truly on the map with this one.
3. Green Light – Lorde
A champion of everything weirdly brilliant, Lorde knocked everything she had done out of the water when she returned with ‘Green Light’. Marvellously rousing, ‘Green Light’ is like a jigsaw put together incorrectly but fitting perfectly all the same. Mismatched song writing over a flawlessly building pop beat, Lorde made sure her return was as perfect as it could be.
4. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
Although it’s follow-up ‘…Ready For It?’ is sonically superior, it is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ that truly shows off the brilliance of its creator. Arguably the most divisive song of the year, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was the comeback heard on every corner of the globe, and only in the wake of its flickering and savage arrival, could one appreciate the genius behind it. From the choice to make the pre-chorus build to nothing to the risk of interpolating Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’, Swift made sure her return came singed with the rage and anger only pop’s most hated person could muster.
5. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home – Declan Mckenna
On ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, Mckenna perfectly captured what it is to be tethering on the line between youth and adulthood in a world where so much is so unsure. The raw vocal of Mckenna paired with the pondering almost conversational lyrics make for an impeccable indie-rock track that sounds like stepping into someone’s thoughts.
6. City Lights – Blanche
The Eurovision song contest is assured to give you two things – camp over the top performances and awkward instances of countries giving their neighbour points. However, every year, there is some songs that stand out among their sub-par competitors. Belgium’s entry to the 2017 contest was one of those rare shining diamonds. An impeccably crafted pop song, ‘City Lights’ relies on its simplicity, in both production and vocals to truly make it epic and god, does it succeed.
7. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles
God only knew what the hiatus of the world’s biggest boyband would bring about and while his bandmates went in reasonably predictable routes, Harry Styles shed his mainstream cocoon and dove head first into the world of rock. A sweeping soft rock ballad that Bowie would have been proud of, Styles showed exactly what he was capable and flexed his creative muscles to their full extent for what may well have been first time in years.
8. Love – Lana Del Rey
On the lead single from her fourth full length, Del Rey returned to the vintage greatness of tracks such as ‘Young and Beautiful’. ‘Love’ arrived wrapped in a bow and dripping with Hollywood glamour to deliver an awe-inspiringly cinematic testament to the beauty of young love in a way that only the voice of Del Rey can conjure.
9. Disco Tits – Tove Lo
A sexually charged club anthem, ‘Disco Tits’ held nothing back as Tove Lo bared it all. The EDM tinged dance-pop pounds and bounces unapologetically and lets it all hang out – literally. The song draws on disco as well as more modern influences and explores a care free attitude and approach to the world – and its fabulous.
10. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man
A retro track from a little known alternative band is an odd thing to find within the top 40, never mind the top 10, and yet that’s exactly where Portugal. The Man found themselves this year with ‘Feel It Still’. This funky hit harkens back to 60’s groove in both production and lyrically, resulting in an impossible to ignore earworm.
11. Love is Alive – Lea Michele
Michele truly created something special with the release of ‘Love is Alive’. A stunning broadwayesque power ballad that reaches to the skies and fabulously showcases the vocal talent of Michele, the track perfectly captures the essence of the star who created it.
12. Watch – Billie Eilish
Speaking of talent, this fifteen-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the best things to emerge in music in 2017. Perfectly capturing the dramatic nature of teenage love and over the top feelings that come along with it, Eilish displays a masterful touch on this pop masterpiece that throbs as though it is a recording of the broken heart that inspired it.
13. Lost Without You – Freya Ridings
In a similar vein to Blanche’s ‘City Lights’, Riding’s heart-breaking ballad thrives on its simplicity. Reduced to merely a piano and the gut-wrenching voice of Ridings, ‘Lost Without You’ displays the brilliance in the less is more mantra as its quietest moments are in fact, its loudest.
14. The Cure – Lady Gaga
After the dramatic departure from pop that Joanne took, Gaga returned to her comfort zone with this track. Debuted during her Coachella set, The Cure is a flawlessly fashioned radio hit with a chorus that is undeniably addictive and annoyingly irresistible.
15. Uh Huh – Julia Michaels
One of pop’s most prolific songwriters, Michaels had one of the best breakouts of the year with her hit ‘Issues’. However, it is its follow-up ‘Uh Huh’ that impeccably shows off her genius as a pop mastermind. With a guitar instrumental backing up the verses, it is the drop right into the chorus that makes this one of those unskippable ones that sneaks into very corner of your brain.
16. ’71 Charger – Loreen
Rooted in alternative music, ‘’71 Charger’ broke new ground for the Swedish hit maker. The track draws heavily on minimalistic beats and production, showcasing the voice of Loreen, who makes the bold choice to match and double down on her minimalistic production, with an equally minimalistic but mystifying vocal performance that can only be described as brilliant.
17. Drew Barrymore – SZA
I always believed that Drew Barrymore was the superior Charlie’s Angel and thankfully, R&B’s newest prodigy agrees. SZA cites Barrymore as an inspiration as she played the roles that SZA herself identified with such as the girl who couldn’t get the guy and the track perfectly captures that as SZA asks her lover is she is enough for him.
18. Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin
A brilliant and overlooked talent, Aplin has developed and coined a unique sound since her debut English Rain. ‘Waking Up Slow’ is fabulous new-age synth driven dance track that is alight with euphoria as bright as the sun.
19. I Know – Aly & AJ
From the pop royalty that brought us the legendary track that is ‘Potential Break-up Song’, Aly & AJ continued to deliver on their potential a decade after their last release. The track was yet another notch in the marvellous year that experimental female pop music has had. A dream pop song that has its head in the clouds and its production in 80s synth pop, ‘I Know’ plays like candy floss and vintage shops.
20. Lost in Your Light – Dua Lipa
Another breakout star of 2017, Lipa’s ‘New Rules’ was absolutely everywhere as it dominated airwaves, its predecessor was equally worthy of adoration. A catchy hook, peppy beat and interesting feature from Miguel makes for an all-around dance-pop banger that was, sadly, ignored.
Listen to all the tracks on this list on Spotify here