You may be asking, who am I to proclaim any sort of ranking of songs? What are my credentials? Well, I have to admit, they’re not great. I listen to music a lot. I write articles about it sometimes. Enough with the formalities. Here is MY personal take on the best 20 songs of this calendar year (one song for each Watt, of course). I will attempt to analyze each song’s greatness in a single sentence. Let’s get it:
- “1-800-273-8255” – Logic
Perhaps the most unlikely Top 10 hit of 2017, Logic’s mainstream coming-out party is a hook-friendly look at suicide, a horrific topic rarely addressed in the pop charts or anywhere in music.
- “Closure” – Maroon 5
Within the poppy dreck of an oyster that is Maroon 5’s latest release, Red Pill Blues, the pearl lies with “Closure,” a 12-minute spacy jam that provides a rare showcase of the band’s musicianship.
- “Cut to the Feeling” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen continues her incredible string of near-flawless pop with this standalone single, complete with even more of the soaring vocals and bubbly production that made her 2015 LP Emotion a masterpiece.
- “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles
One could debate that 2017 was the year of Styles, as this epic debut single (and his successful first go at acting in Dunkirk) shows that he is no longer heading in just one direction.
- “Digitol” – Deadmau5
The Mau5’s 2017 collection of studio outtakes Stuff I Used to Do, featuring this glitchy banger, was all he needed to maintain his title as king of EDM in the Year of the Chainsmokers.
- “Lemon” – N.E.R.D.
The most fun single of 2017 has Pharrell Williams and rapper-Rihanna trading off catchy rhymes and practically forcing listeners to keep “bouncin’ around” until it’s over – and perhaps even longer.
- “Groupie Love” – Lana Del Rey
A standout from Lana’s lukewarm Lust for Life, “Groupie Love” pairs Lana’s star-struck, harmonic pining with sensitive sing-raps from A$AP Rocky, who is quickly becoming the singer’s most compatible collaborator.
- “Humble” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick may not quite be the storyteller he used to be (I know, hot take; that’s for another article), but “Humble” is the best manifestation of his new direction, combining an undeniable beat, clever one-liners and a tripped-out music video to obtain his first solo #1 hit.
- “Walk on Water” – 30 Seconds to Mars
Jared Leto added to his resume for “Most Talented Man Alive” with these ultra-powerful vocals on the best rock single of the year.
- “From the D to the A” – Tee Grizzley & Lil Yachty
This banger is a chorus-less boxing match between two young guns of hip-hop, nearly guaranteed to get listeners on their feet and ready to bust some heads.
- “Location” – Khalid
The world may have found its next R&B superstar in 2017 with the 19-year-old Khalid, whose millennial appeal to a love interest in “Location” makes up a bona fide Spotify-era slow jam.
- “She’s Not Him” – Miley Cyrus
The most heart-wrenching of the beautiful tracks on Miley’s landmark album Younger Now, the intentional gender smudging of the title provides intriguing insight into her personal relationships and concepts of sexual fluidity.
- “Heavy” – Linkin Park
Though the band’s latest non-nu-metal single was initially received poorly, it’s impossible to deny the new meaning this song has taken on since the passing of Chester Bennington, whose surprising vocal interplay with singer Kiiara is a bittersweet delight.
- “End Game” – Taylor Swift
Swift sounds anything but dead in this future chart-topper, which perfectly fits in feature verses from Future and Ed Sheeran while proving that post-country Taylor is the true Queen of Pop.
- “Emoji of a Wave” – John Mayer
Mayer continued his superb post-superstar string of rock records with 2017’s gorgeous The Search for Everything, packed with spellbinding tracks like this mellow ode to romantic miscommunication.
- “Pineapple Skies” – Miguel
The unsung legend of modern R&B comes back to a more commercial sound than his 2015 tour de force Wildheart and dazzles with his impeccably strong vocals, while coercing listeners to “backslide” into a certain physical activity.
- “Nancy Mulligan” – Ed Sheeran
Though “Galway Girl” got more hype, this Irish-influenced ditty is Sheeran at his best, complete with intricate guitar riffs and a magnificent taste of the old country.
- “2 Places at 1 Time” – Zac Brown Band
Country songs don’t frequently pop up this high on year-end lists, but most country bands aren’t ZBB, whose reign over the genre would not stop in ‘17 as they turned a simple guitar lick into the most emotional musical ride of the year.
- “The Story of O.J.” – Jay Z
J-Hova addresses racism like he has never come close to before over this eerie No I.D. beat, providing the cornerstone track of the best-marketed album in recent memory.
- “Butterfly Effect” – Travis Scott
From the very first wave of bass, this song magnetically drags listeners into Scott’s dystopian trap universe, where his autotuned alien vocals swim into their eardrums with far more melody than he is ever given credit for.
Listen to the playlist here!