Hey look, it’s a listacle! Hey look, I haven’t written anything in a while! Hey look, I know, no need to be mean about it.
Here’s my list for some to enjoy.
10: The “There’s an old face in the game and he isn’t too bad”; Return to form and forefront: The Story of O.J. – Jay Z
I have to admit, when I first listened to The “Story of O.J” I didn’t think I quite understood what all the hype was about. Call me naive, call me out for not having experienced the sorts of discriminatory factors that Jay Z is rapping about, and I’ll agree. I still didn’t get it. Then again, when the chorus ended up getting lodged in my ears and I kept coming back to it, I finally got it. Talking about the whole thing would be pointless, there are other people that could explain it better than I could – but the production and sampling on show is brilliant, and the impact ends up sinking in over a few listens rather than directly impacting like some of the other songs on this list. Still good though. Very.
9: The “Hip Hop hypes still even though it’s not 2012”; Bring the chorus Hip-Hop: Glorious – Macklemore
Our favourite white rapper is back at it again with another high energy and uplifting summer anthem, and it’s not half bad. Macklemore’s bars, while not quite as memorable as some of his previous verses, are solid enough to work a treat with the highlight of the song – the chorus. Positive, vibrant and delivered well by Skylar Grey and manage to get the message of solitude through without it being too overblown. I mean, it’s overblown, but it’s the bearable kind.
8: The “What’s he saying but I love how it sounds”; Chill mumble rap: Mask Off – Future
Credit to my now flatmate and close friend this year for getting me more in touch with my trap, grime and mumble rap side, I never really had much interest in the genre until this year. No matter how many other songs I’d hear, or ask about, or even listen to managed to have the sort of lasting impact on what I felt the whole hype was about that “Mask Off” has had. To me at least, this song sums up the vibe of 2017, it was inescapable and while I have no idea what the song is about, or what Future is even saying much of the time, it still sounds pretty to my ears.
7: The “Angst has a new sound now “ Pop/Punk rework: Hard Times – Paramore
I stopped really listening to Paramore when I got bored of the whole Pop/Punk kind of sound, but holy shit I wasn’t expecting this. It’s a proper guitar rock banger, with the 80’s thrown in with a bit of new wave, bit of glam rock, bit of glam pop and a whole lot of catchiness. It’s just one of those songs that make you want to awkwardly dance and lip sync to, and any song that can accomplish that as well as completely crush the preconceptions I have held towards the band is a definite winner in my books. Still pretty angsty none the less.
6: The “Still D.R.E” by a sexy white man and his band” Comeback Rock jam: The Man – The Killers
The Killers new album was pretty alright – it wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was a considerable improvement on Battle Born (which I first purchased in Spain, quick facts). “The Man” is one of the highlights. It’s about as arrogant as a Brandon Flowers composition can be, and that means it’s overblown to the heavens and self indulgent fitting of Donald Trump. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s about what you expect from The Killers, but holy shit this thing is just the most enchanting throwback disco rock that I’ve heard in a long, long time. The guitar work is unmissable, the synth backings are back to the charm of Hot Fuss and the melody is about the best thing that’s been on a Killers record in a good decade. Flowers seems to really have his groove back now.
5 The: “I vibe nostalgic dance/electronic/hip-hop from that well known animated band” vibe-y Trip-Hop: Andromeda – Gorillaz
I was over the moon when I heard that Gorillaz were releasing another album (however many years ago it was that it was announced), and after waiting for new material and keeping my worship of Damon Albarn alive and healthy I head the first four tracks. I was blown away. The songs were, well, kind of lacklustre. Then came the record, and I enjoyed it more than a lot of people seemed to, and the first releases grew on me. In the context of a relatively odd and disjointed album they seemed to make a bit more sense to me – and at the forefront of that experience was “Andromeda”. Mellow and soulful with just enough of the electronic Gorillaz signature, the track seemed to be the one that I felt the most – the hook managing to be melodic and spaced out at the same ti and the production work by Albarn tied it all together in the best bow on the album, in my humble and definitely biased opinion.
4: The “Alternative music isn’t dead because of commercials”; Token but catchy Indie: Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man
This is just about the best once-a-year indie mega-hit that I’ve really caught onto over the past few years, but can you really blame me? It’s retro without even trying, the falsetto vocals are sweet and irresistible and placed perfectly so everyone can try to sing it at home. It’s a feel good, catchy and dance inducing throwback, the dazzling guitar work and backing instrumentation make it a constant ear-worm, and the commercial inclusion added another mindless channel to make you definitely not forget about it. Worked for these Icelanders at least.
3: The “Hey, that’s a good actual pop song”; Funky party banger: That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars
I’ve liked Bruno Mars properly since his Superbowl Halftime performance some years back, and he’s just got all of the pop glamour and soulful swagger that a lasting icon is born of. This song is just so bloody catchy. It’s braggadocious but he’s good enough that he’s allowed to be. It’s hopelessly cheesy, but he sells it too hard and I’m buying it. Plus, the funk influences that Mars has seemingly caught aren’t quite getting old yet, and I hope they don’t for some time to come.
2: The “Rap’s not dead and it’s what’s popular”; Song most representative: HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick just can’t stop controlling whatever year he released new music. Doesn’t matter if it’s a groundbreaking, jazz fusioned masterpiece or some B-Sides, people worship the man. Even when he went for a more mainstream sound, he still managed to all but crush everything else in his path. I don’t need to really talk about HUMBLE. because you’ve probably definitely heard it, and even though an argument can definitely be made for some of the other cuts on DAMN., I feel like the cultural impact this track has supersedes any of the other cuts. It has been pretty damn inescapable.
1: The “Always Belt It When It Comes On”; Inescapable sing along: Human – Rag’n’Bone Man
Yes, I know we first heard this song back in 2016, but I wanted any excuse to have this on the top of my list. My excuse this time is that the album it was released on was a February release, and this song has its way back into my ears, my head, my heart and everyone else’s eardrums along the way. When you hear this song, you have no other choice but to belt out as much of it as you know. It’s relatable in the best sort of way, deeply emotional, and Rag’n’Bone Man’s vocals are the best you’ll hear all year, hands down. Bluesy, Soulful and brilliant, take a listen to it right now and just know exactly what I’m talking about. For an interesting kind of year, this song can offer the best kind of perspective.