My 50 Favorite Songs of 2017

The 2016 election results predicted a challenging, loud, and righteously angry music scene in 2017. That didn’t happen; rappers receded into the pharmacy, indie rock heroes decided for an unwarranted last go-around, and even the hard and fast stuff seemed a little less punchy than usual.

But by no means was 2017 disappointing (the music, anyway), just unexpected in its collective malaise. Here are my 50 favorites from a year I wish to forget. I guarantee you will like some of them.

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50. “Made in China” – Higher Brothers

Higher Brothers understand the stereotypes, not just the Chinese ones, but the trap ones as well. “Made in China’s” true genius, however, lies in the subtext: everything with my country’s name on it belongs to me. That’s some neo-colonial swag.

49. “Boobs in California” – Titus Andromedon

Well, he’s not wrong.

48. “I’m The One” – DJ Khaled (4), Justin Bieber (2), Quavo, Chance the Rapper (6), Lil Wayne (5)

Had the biggest song in the history of the world not dropped, this probably would’ve been the song of the summer. Oh well.

47. “Little of Your Love” – HAIM (2)

HAIM rocks, no qualifiers necessary.

Others: “Want You Back

46. “Yeah Right” – Vince Staples (3), Kendrick Lamar (3)

Vince Staples the interview guest remains more fascinating than Vince Staples the musician. But he’s courageous enough to procure a beat from bubblegum bass queen SOPHIE (<3) and pass it off as artistic exploration. Having the biggest rapper on the planet contribute some words doesn’t hurt, either.

 

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45. “Glow Like Dat” – Rich Chigga (2)

Brian Imanuel’s greatest accomplishment this year was surprising Post Malone with a mariachi rendition of “Congratulations.” His second greatest accomplishment was his transition from a joke rapper to a rapper that surprisingly doesn’t suck.

44. “Third of May/Odaigahara” – Fleet Foxes (2)

Fields and rivers and trees still exist, so that’s good.

43. “Die Young” – Sylvan Esso

Amelia Meath’s impeccable control of her deeper range gives “Die Young” a lower-body strength that many electro duos lack in their songs.

42. “Darling” – Real Estate (2)

Hehe, there’s a horse in the video.

41. “Road Head” – Japanese Breakfast

As mentioned on an earlier list, Michelle Zauner really really loves getting eaten out. But where previous cunnilingus…es (cunnilingi?) came with indie-rock fanfare, her new pastime involves introspection, trance, and maybe even a hint of regret. But not that much regret.

Tangent: Top 5 musical acts I saw this year

5. Radiator Hospital – the bar next to the Glass House – 11/17

4. Vince Staples/Kilo Kish – The Fonda – 4/12

3. Andrew W.K. – The Regent – 9/29

2. Sheer Mag – The Echo – 10/4

1. Los Campesinos!/Crying – The Teragram Ballroom – 2/25

This list was created upon the realization that I only went to five concerts this year.

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40. “Havana” – Camila Cabello, Young Thug (4)

Forgive me for originally thinking “Havana” was a shameless, nostalgic cash grab. To my surprise, Camila Cabello is actually truly 100% born-on-the-island Cuban, and has as much right to Havana as she does to Mexico City, Miami, or East Atlanta. And while I still object to glorifying pre-revolution style and fashion as the international Cuban template, at least Cabello had the presence of mind to bring along Young Thug. That always makes things better.

39. “P.O.V.” – dvsn (2)

Maybe you’ve heard OVO crooners dvsn outside of the bedroom, but why exactly?

38. “2017-38” – Kaytranada

Kaytranada owes at least 15% of his fortune to public radio.

37. “Blink” – easyFun

Listening to easyFun is like rubbing crushed Sweet Tarts all over your face.

36. “Witness” – Benjamin Booker, Mavis Staples

We saw far fewer stories in the news of police shooting black people. Watching a fascist ascend to the presidency will distract away from those stories, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. Benjamin Booker understands that even when we aren’t watching, he still might be privy to an encounter he didn’t want to see, or worse.

Others: “The Slow Drag Under,” “Right On You

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35. “Congratulations” – Post Malone, Quavo

Ask Iggy Azaelia, it’s not easy to be taken seriously as the deadly serious white guy making trap music, especially when the Internet finds you a perfectly fine Bob Dylan impersonator. But Posty did it, somehow, without giving up his braids, beard, or belly, finding a niche in post-Drake emo rap that kids have no issues claiming as hard anymore.

34. “Cruise Ship” – Young Thug (5)

Young Thug released a mixtape with Future this year, but considering it’s best song doesn’t see a lick of Future, he probably didn’t need to.

Others: “200

33. “Creature Comfort” – Arcade Fire (3)

The once-biggest band in the world released a bad album this year, with the one saving grace a shiny anthem that reminisces about their first record. Me, too.

32. “Rules” – Hoops

I miss the halcyon days of 2011 when surf rock dominated the indie rock zeitgeist. Hoops does too, apparently.

31. “911/Mr. Lonely” – Tyler, the Creator (3), Frank Ocean (2)

“chirp, Chirrrrrp/CHirp, CHIRRRRRP”

Others: “Boredom,” “I Ain’t Got Time

 

30-26

30. “Feel The Same” – Bully (2)

Same, here.

29. “Put Me On Somethin'” – P Lo, E-40

Call it mid-aughts nostalgia if you’d like, but as long as DJ Mustard keeps getting top-40 hits, it’s hard to say the hyphy movement ever died. All I know is when you get a Bay Area rapper clad in nothing but orange and black getting bumped between innings at Dodger games, you’ve got yourself a hit.

28. “Pills” – St. Vincent (2)

Soundcloud rappers and St. Vincent shared something in common this year: a fascination with drugs. Soundcloud rappers mostly did it with flutes and dirty bass; St. Vincent used a harpsicord.

27. “Oh Baby” – LCD Soundsystem (2)

James Murphy still has it! Sometimes!

Others: “Tonite,” “Call The Police

26. “I LIKE U” – NIKI

I guess bubblegum trap is a thing now.