We’re just past the halfway point in what has been an incredible year in music so far. It seems like anyone who’s anyone in the music world has released or is releasing new tunes in 2017, so narrowing down our favorites has been even harder than usual. But here we are. Hope our lists will motivate you to check out some songs you may not be listening to at the moment, because there is so much great stuff out there right now.
Scott’s Top 10:
10. Lana Del Rey – “Love”
Lana Del Rey’s last album Honeymoon was one of 2015’s biggest disappointments for me, an undercooked collection of songs that Del Rey seemed to rush, putting it out barely a year after her second album Ultraviolence. So when she returned with new song “Love” just two years later, I was hoping for a Born to Die-esque dreampop jam to remind me why I love Lana. Luckily, she delivered with a beautifully constructed single, that shows off the full range of her incredible, unique voice. It’s also thematically upbeat, which is a change for the normally morose Del Rey. Many fans have already pointed out that Del Rey is smiling widely on the cover of forthcoming album Lust For Life in contrast to her somber countenances on the other three albums. Maybe this signals a new shift in Del Rey’s music, but either way, “Love” makes me excited to see where she, one of the four figures on what I like to call the Mt. Rushmore of alt-pop (don’t worry, curious minds, the other three will appear later), is headed next.
9. Paramore – “Rose-Colored Boy”
Paramore is a band that holds a special place for me because they’re one of the few groups that I’ve truly been following since their beginnings. Seeing them transform from angsty teens to thoughtful, mature songwriters has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my musical fandom. Their latest album After Laughter continues on with that trend, the band fully embracing a throwback 80s sound which might be unrecognizable to fans of their early albums, but which still features their trademark hooks and the irresistible charisma and talent of 21st century rock’s greatest frontwoman, Hayley Williams. Paramore have always been cheeky about the emo label they’ve been slapped with from the very beginning. Let’s not forget that the very first song on breakthrough album Riot! was called “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic.” 10 years later, on After Laughter, they’re still poking fun at that image on the album’s standout track “Rose-Colored Boy” which, musically, sounds like a jaunty, singalong ditty. But when you listen to the lyrics, you get a decidedly different picture. “I’m so annoyed” Williams sings to the title figure “cuz I just killed off what was left of the optimist in me.” The contrast between the song’s dark lyrics and happy-sounding instrumentation makes for an unusual, but captivating pop anthem.
8. Charli XCX – “Dreamer” ft. Starrah and Raye
Introducing figure number 2 on the aforementioned Mt. Rushmore of alt-pop. How Charli XCX’s solo music hasn’t been blowing up the charts for the last 5 years is one of pop’s great mysteries, in my opinion. Maybe it’s the fact that Charli refuses to be labeled. Her first album, True Romance, was a glitchy synthpop masterpiece that brought to mind the work of Grimes. But then Charli followed it with Sucker, a brash pop-punk record featuring a Rivers Cuomo cameo and songs about cutting school and partying with piles of gold coins. Now she’s back again and still keeping it weird and different with Number One Angel, a mixtape primer to her (hopefully) soon to be released third album, produced by Sophie and the PC Music folks. Like Charli, Number One Angel is bold, uncompromising, and in your face. It’s also brilliant. My highlight though is unquestionably “Dreamer” in which Charli actually takes a backseat to virtuoso turns from female rappers Starrah and Raye, whose fun and funny rhymes elevate Charli’s thunderous chorus to a whole new level. It’s a pop song which is too off-center to ever make the radio, but one that deserves to be there none the less.
7. Sigrid – “Don’t Kill My Vibe”/”Plot Twist”
OK, I know I’m cheating, but I just couldn’t pick between the two standouts from 2017’s most blazing pop debut, that of 20 year old Norwegian Sigrid Raabe. “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” her first single, was an instant pop smash in her home country and upon first listen it’s not hard to see why. The song has personality, attitude, and hooks for days. And its follow-up “Plot Twist” is no slouch either. If you follow pop music closely, you’ve probably heard plenty of hype around Sigrid, but once you hear these two anthems you’ll realize how justified it truly is.
6. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Cut to the Feeling”
We arrive at Mt. Rushmore head number 3. Carly Rae Jepsen may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think alt-pop, considering “Call Me Maybe” was one of the biggest pop songs of the millennium, but in the years since, it has become an increasingly appropriate tag. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Jepsen wisely avoided trying to write another “Call Me Maybe” and simply made the album she wanted to make. The result, Emotion, was a triumphant 80s pop record that bested even Taylor Swift’s 1989, won universal acclaim from music critics, and even, most shockingly of all, earned Jepsen a slot at Pitchfork Fest, alongside artists like Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, and Broken Social Scene. Since Emotion, Jepsen has been on absolute fire. Everything she touches turns to gold, even “Cut to the Feeling,” which she wrote for a French-Canadian animated film called Ballerina. Most artists would probably just phone in a song for a movie that few of their fans will probably see, but not Jepsen. Instead she’s crafted an effervescent floor-filler that sounds like an Emotion bonus track. Business as usual.
5. Haim – “You Never Knew”
The sophomore slump is a trend which has befallen even some of the greatest artists of our time and after the massive success of their debut Days Are Gone, we might’ve forgiven sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim if they had fallen prey to it as well. But that’s not something we have to worry about, because their follow-up, Something to Tell You, picks up right where Days Are Gone left off. The group embraces without restraint the stylish 70s California pop-rock of groups like Fleetwood Mac, which is no easy task, but one which the sisters manage to pull off with poise and an astounding amount of cool. Even when the group experiments with R&B, funk, and other genres, they never seem to lose their mojo. That certainly applies to the disco flecked “You Never Knew,” the band’s best song to date, a sparkling, lovelorn slow jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bee Gees album. It’s a remarkable step forward for a band already at the top of their game. Go Haim or go home.
4. Tove Styrke – “Say My Name”
One of the best pop artists you probably aren’t listening to, former Swedish Idol contestant Tove Styrke is making pop music like no one else at the moment. Her stellar 2015 album Kiddo blended reggae, disco, and new wave into an intoxicating soundtrack that had as much swagger as the Quentin Tarantino flick it got its name from (Kill Bill). That album’s standout was the jittery “Snaren” which quoted Beyonce’s “Irreplacable” on its rap bridge and now Tove is back with a new single that also nods to Queen Bey, at least in its title, “Say My Name.” If there was one complaint about Kiddo, it was that the songs occasionally got lost in the production, but on “Say My Name,” Tove seems to address those concerns head-on. This is a stripped-back, but no less infectious jam with a tight hook and playful come-ons scattered throughout (“Say my name/wear it out like a sweater that you love” she sings in the chorus). And if you don’t take my word for it, take someone who knows a lot more about pop music than I do: Lorde. She’s had it in her playlist of favorites ever since the song was released.
3. LCD Soundsystem – “Call the Police”
LCD Soundsystem’s breakup didn’t last long. The universally acclaimed dance-punk crusaders, fronted by the inimitable James Murphy, returned after just 6 years away with two new singles in early 2017. And, boy, did they deliver. Indie fans will no doubt be familiar with the LCD classic “All My Friends” which hums along for 7 minutes over the same pounding keyboard riff, and “Call the Police” certainly brings to mind that brilliant track. The song is, quite simply, epic, opening with a Bowie-esque refrain and then layering drums, bass, synth, and guitar over it as the song builds for 7+ minutes. When you hear this one, just listen to the layers and layers of sound that are present by the time it reaches its climax. It’s only been out for a few months but “Call the Police” already has the feeling of a classic, one that I know I will be coming back to over and over again.
2. Arcade Fire – “Creature Comfort”
Have a conversation about music with me for 5 minutes and you’ll no doubt learn that there is no band or artist who I hold in higher regard than Arcade Fire. The Canadian indie troupe are simply without compare. Their anthemic, emotional music defies any conventional genres and their incredible live performances have already garnered them a place alongside Bruce Springsteen and Prince on many lists of the all time great live acts. The band shocked fans early this year when they announced that their upcoming 5th album Everything Now would be released in July, instead of the winter, when many thought it would drop. They shocked fans even more when they heard the title track and first single, a unabashedly glam-disco banger with more than a passing resemblance to Swedish pop legends ABBA. Many felt the band had sold out with the much more conventionally appealing single. But let’s be clear here. Arcade Fire have always had dance-y tendencies in their music, from the tropical swell of “Haiti” from first album Funeral, to the thumping, “Heart of Glass”- esque “Sprawl II,” still my favorite of all the band’s songs. So anyone longing for “the old Arcade Fire” simply hasn’t been paying attention. An album like Everything Now has always seemed on the cards for the band. What actually matters is whether the songs are any good or not and, unsurprisingly, they are. I could’ve easily chosen “Everything Now” or third single “Signs of Life,” Arcade Fire’s catchiest song ever, in my opinion, but instead I went with “Creature Comfort” a song which I was already ready to call one of the band’s best before it was ever released simply on the basis of live videos I’d seen. The studio version may not have the ferocity of those live performances, but it’s still a whopper. And regardless of what some may claim, it still features many of the band’s hallmarks, from the shoutalong refrain of “Creature comfort, make it painless!” to its complex instrumentation and cinematic thrust. Its lyrics may be more on-the-nose than usual, but given the subject matter, teen suicide, I think it only makes sense for the band to confront this vitally important issue in a direct and forthright manner. I could talk all day about why I think Arcade Fire are the best band in the world, but for your sake, just listen to the songs and watch their live performances and you’ll get my drift.
1. Lorde – “Supercut”
Honestly, choosing one standout song from Lorde’s Melodrama, the best pop album of the 2010s, is such an impossible task that you can almost disregard the track that I have pick and replace it with any other songs on the album. Melodrama is a stunningly beautiful, heartfelt, introspective, and triumphant album from an artist whose maturity for her age is almost incomprehensible. Take second single “Liability” for example and try to remember any pop song which exposes the artist’s vulnerability more nakedly. It’s downright brave of Lorde to write music that is so personal, especially in a culture which is obsessed with knowing everything about their favorite celebrity’s lives. Lorde just puts it all out there. “Supercut” may not be the most meaningful song on the album but I think it showcases everything which makes Lorde so essential, from the vivid imagery that brings to mind some of Taylor Swift’s best work, to its brilliantly evocative lyrics (I’ll be your quiet afternoon crush/be your violent overnight rush), to its soaring hook which will have you pumping your fist by the end of the song. It has that intangible, driving with the windows down quality about it more than just about any song I can remember, though I could probably say that about most of Lorde’s songs. Just go listen to the album. No, don’t just listen. Absorb it. Experience it. It’s something truly special.
Kyle’s Top 10:
10. Perfume Genius – “Slip Away”
When Mike Hadreas, known for performing under the moniker Perfume Genius, announced his follow-up to his universally acclaimed third album “Too Bright,” it was hard to predict the direction he would go in. Hadreas had initially gained acclaim writing skeletal, heartbreaking piano ballads about pain he experienced due to his health, drug abuse, coming to terms with his queerness, among other challenges he faced as he approached adulthood. However, he immensely overhauled his sound into something louder, more warped, more shimmering and more confident with “Too Bright,” best exemplified by the album’s flamboyant, boisterous lead single “Queen,” which has since become a set-list staple to his live show in the years since the album’s release. I pondered when he announced the impending release of his new album “No Shape” what it would sound like. Would he return to his quiet, meditative early aesthetic, or would he continue to build upon his explosive new ground he uncovered with the last album’s release? Luckily, with “No Shape,” fans got the best of both worlds with what is very easily the best album in Perfume Genius’s discography yet: plenty of loud, explosive anthems counterbalanced by quieter, mellower, meditative cuts. But one thing I absolutely adored about this album was the lush instrumentation Hadreas utilized– marching band snares, cymbal crashes, whistles, pianos with a mind of their own it seems– to create walls of sound cradling Hadreas’s delicate but assertive voice that were simultaneously gorgeous and thrilling, but also menacing and intimidating. These qualities were most amazing on the lead single to the album “Slip Away.” The song begins with a gurgling bass-line which morphs into a soft guitar riff supporting gorgeous lyrics about expressing queer love in a society that tries to “break the shape” that love takes. Then the song explodes in the most magnificent way, and I’m going to leave it at that. Listen to this song.
9. Rostam – “Gwan”
Ex-Vampire-Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij caught many people off guard when he announced his departure from the band shortly after the release of what many (including myself) believe to be their best album yet, 2013’s “Modern Vampires Of The City.” But in the years since his departure, he has become prolific as a mainstream-adjacent pop songwriter and producer, penning songs with artists such as HAIM, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Charli XCX. He’s released some really good solo tracks in that time as well, including last year’s “Gravity Don’t Pull Me.” Now he has announced his debut album “Half-Light,” and it’s first single “Gwan” is a magnificent introduction into what is easily one of the 2017 albums I am excited about. The song is built upon a beautifully rhythmic string melody which cradles eloquent lyrics about trusting your intuition even in situations where the rational part of our brain can feel like a hindrance: important life decisions, relationships, friendships. The song progresses towards one of the stickiest hooks of 2016: “All of these dreams keep coming back to me slowly/Sometimes I laugh when I think about how well you know me.” The song feels like it was built for an indie teen movie trailer, but in the best possible way. The song feels hopeful, optimistic, and excited in the face of a world so vast and full of possibilities that it can be intimidating and overwhelming. The string solo that prefaces the outro, where Rostam mentions he “was happy” and ask the the listener, “Are you ready?” Definitely give it a listen.
8. (Sandy) Alex G – “Sportstar”
One of my absolute favorite albums of this year so far has been (Sandy) Alex G’s (formerly known as Alex G) second album for Domino Records “Rocket.” There were so many songs from this album this album which were in the running for this slot on my list including “Poison Root,” “Bobby,” “Powerful Man,” and “Big Fish.” While those songs fit more within the folky, acoustic, country-tinged aesthetic that he has crafted from even his origins as a bandcamp artist, I ultimately settled on the eerie, melancholy, auto-tuned ballad “Sportstar” for my top 10 list. The most impressive aspect to me about this whole album is the way it feels like a sonic sketchbook. In various songs, random piano and guitar and fiddle riffs are sampled and repeated making atmospheric and at times polyrhythmic soundscapes which frame his deceptively simple lyrics. This is best exemplified on the album by “Sportstar” in my opinion. The song begins with a riff of piano chords that I am pretty sure are in a weird time signature. Then come the best part of the song, which is the lyrics which appear to be pretty shallow, but at least for me carry a lot more underneath the surface. While Alex Giannascoli, the mastermind behind the project, is often very tight-lipped about the meaning behind his lyrics, my interpretation of the lyrics is that he uses one’s idolization of their favorite athlete as a metaphor to examine the toxic nature of a one-sided relationship. Giannascoli outlines his “dream” for his relationship with this “sportstar.” He requests for simple things with the idea that he’s asking for a lot more, asking to “tie [the sportstar’s] Nike’s” and “to let him play on [their] team” and “to wear [their] jersey.” He also outlines the things he’s willing to do for them. He’ll call them. He’ll fall if that’s what they want him to do. He’ll allow them to hurt him and to “hit him too hard,” and then excuse it away because the sportstar is “scarred.” The song breaks away for a second into what appears to be the sportstar’s point of view: “I say what I want to say/I play how I want to play.” The somber lull of the song’s instrumentation– which drones at points and is rhythmic, but also catches the listener off guard with the periodic instantaneous addition (and removal) of drums– seems to heavily outline the dysfunction of this relationship due to the power dynamic between the two people. And the use of pitch-shifted vocals plays an interesting role of possibly blurring the gender lines in the relationship. Over the course of his discography, Giannascoli has shown that he has found his own niche within indie music, and with “Rocket” in particular he seems to be aiming to be a defining artist for a generation undergoing so much social change in a world that is drastically changing in so many other ways too. Definitely check him out if you are unaware of his discography.
7. Arca – “Anoche”
My next pick is from the self-titled album released by eccentric, queer, Venezuelan electronic artist, Arca, who is known equally both for his past two solo albums, which have garnered much acclaim from various music critics online, and his production work for other artists. He has an impressive production resume including work on tracks from Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” FKA twigs’ “LP1,” and Bjork’s “Vulnicura.” This new album from Arca, though, seems like a huge step forward in his discography. This is his first album (under this moniker) to feature his vocals, and the result is a beautiful, warped, and twisted take on Spanish opera music. Arca’s voice fluctuates from an ominous bass to a gorgeous-but-tortured falsetto. His lyrics, sung entirely in his native language Spanish, (based on my using Google translate–sorry!) seem to be about attempting to make sense of his feelings for a mysterious figure whom he appears to love immensely but who also appears to hurt him. He seems to argue about whether this relationship is even possible. The song ends with the lines: “Anoche yo sonreía/Al pensar que eras posible/Me basta con saber/Me basta con saber” which translates to “I dreamed of you last night/Thinking that you were possible/I just need to know/I just need to know.” The desperation in his voice is palpable. And his uncharacteristically minimalist production amplifies this desperation, which very gentle synth chords that build to tender percussion with a rhythm that reminds me of salsa music (although that is simply my own interpretation which may well not have served as a point of inspiration for him). It’s really a beautiful and heart-wrenching ballad and definitely worth checking out.
6. Charli XCX – “Lipgloss” ft. CupcakKe
So Scott and I seem to have a bit of overlap in our lists when it comes to including songs from Charli XCX’s mixtape “Number 1 Angel,” a release which I can’t praise enough. Charli, since last year, has largely shed her goth-trance-pop and punk-inspired aesthetic from her past two albums to instead release hedonistic club bangers with producers from the futuristic pop producers affiliated with the PC Music label. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me, getting used to her more simplistic lyrics after really enjoying her more lyrically complex (perhaps also more emo) moments from past notable singles like “Take My Hand,” “Nuclear Seasons,” and “Breaking Up.” But one thing keeps me completely on board with her stylistic change: EVERY SINGLE SONG SHE RELEASES WITH THESE PRODUCERS IS A JAM! And everything just converges to a lustful, euphoric climax on the closing track from the mixtape, “Lipgloss, ” which may be her best song yet in my book. Not only is the hook DYNAMITE: “Mmmmhmmm/ I keep it sticky-icky like lipgloss” (You’re going to be singing that subconsciously basically forever), but there are like hooks within hooks in the song which is like so amazing it’s overwhelming. Production courtesy of Life Sim and PC Music heavyweights SOPHIE and A.G. Cook is also completely on point. Arpeggiated synths just layer and layer on top of each other, each one more danceable than the last. And if that all wasn’t enough, I didn’t include this song in my list simply because of the work of Charli and the producers. Up-and-coming rapper CupcakKe puts in a tremendous amount of work by providing not only one but TWO of the most deliciously vulgar rap verses you’re going to hear all year with plenty of amazing word play and double entendre. (And if you haven’t listened to her new album “Queen Elizabitch” yet definitely rectify that mistake now). But “Lipgloss” is definitely overkill is the best way imaginable and has me SO excited for when Charli finally gets around to releasing her long-awaited third album!
5. Hurray For The Riff Raff – “Pa’lante”
My next choice is a highlight from Hurray For The Riff Raff’s most recent album “The Navigator.” “Pa’lante,” which is a Puerto Rican slang term that is a contraction of the Spanish phrase “para adelante” which translates to English as “onward” or “forward,” is a beautiful rock piano ballad that to me channels the best ones by Elton John, with the singalong, stadium-filling qualities of the best U2 or Springsteen songs. While I am going to hesitate to ascribe meaning to a song by a Puerto Rican woman whose experience in this world is very different from my own and whose song heavily draws on her heritage and her oppression within the white-supremacist hierarchy that exists in this country, I feel that is fair to say that this song is about trying to contextualize one’s existence as a marginalized American in the wake of all that happened in 2016, specifically as a Latinx American. The lyrics at the beginning seem to emphasize the struggle as a person of color to “be something” in society, and mention moments in history where people of color have been “sterilized, hypnotized, sterilized, and dehumanized.” It’s a very heartbreaking portion of the song that is at times difficult to listen to, but that difficulty makes it all the more important for white people (like me) to hear. An audio clip from Pedro Pietri’s poem “Puerto Rican Obituary” that talks about a society where “the mice live like billionaires but the people don’t live at all” transitions the song into it’s climax: an outro where Alynda Seggara, the mastermind behind the project, belts out a rallying cry to all those marginalized in society “Pa’lante!” or “Onward!” It’s enough to make you cry, but also enough (for me as a privileged white person) to kick me in the ass and do something to stand up for people of color. You need to hear this anthem.
4. Pigeon Pit – “Tall Cans”
Pigeon Pit is an artist that a friend introduced me to over Facebook that so far has a small presence primarily limited to their Bandcamp (although their albums were recently added to Spotify! YAY!). They make queer folk punk music which definitely reminds me of some of my favorite pop punk tunes. “Tall Cans” from their latest album “Treehouse” is such a fun little ditty! Headbanging acoustic guitar riffs straight from your favorite punk chord progressions propel the song forward to lyrics by singer lomes oleander about catharsis and getting drunk and queer life and love and “decolonizing [her] relationship with [her]self and with [her] art and the capitalist idea that [she has] a responsibility to be productive.” Barrages of angsty lyrics are belted out so fast that it’s impossible to keep up with them or sing along in most cases, but still this feels like a campfire sing-along. Part of the beauty of Pigeon Pit’s discography is that while the lyrics touch difficult and traumatic topics, but the songs are sung with one of the most genuine voices that I’ve ever heard in my years of listening to music that it feels like you’re having chats about life and the future and all the shit you’re scared of with your best friend. Their music is the literal queer equivalent to the “I feel infinite” truck scene in Perks of Being a Wallflower. There is no other artist that I have found that accomplishes what Pigeon Pit does through music, and this album is a MUST listen, so please don’t miss out on it and support Pigeon Pit by buying their discography on Bandcamp so they can keep releasing really dank music.
3. Lorde – “Supercut”
This is the song that Scott and I both have on our lists, so you know that it’s a damn good track that you need to listen to if you haven’t done so yet. I basically agree with everything Scott said about this song, so I won’t regurgitate any of his points except to add to his point about how “Melodrama” is one of the best pop albums of this decade that not only is this album one of the best pop albums of this decade, it’s one of the best albums of this decade period. This world is inherently unjust, and so it’s entirely possible that this album will not result in any top 10 singles like “Royals” and “Team” were for Lorde’s last album “Pure Heroine.” But what this highlights to me is that pop music has now transcended the mainstream, and there is now a whole world of mainstream-adjacent pop artists that seem to have subverted the notion that pop stars should aim for chart-topping hits. Instead these artists attempt to use the tools of the internet and social media and streaming platforms to cultivate devoted fanbases who they cater to rather than radio audiences as one giant bloc. This has given artists such as Lorde, Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, and Frank Ocean a lot of flexibility to turn their album/mixtape releases into really adventurous endeavors where they can really experiment rather than having to sterilize their music to release the widest audience possible. Lorde’s “Melodrama” is the most notable and realized release so far within this world, and I think bodes well for the genre’s status as a laboratory for innovative sounds in pop music. It also bodes well for Lorde’s status as one of this generation’s most important artists. Don’t miss this album.
2. Kesha – “Praying”
This song was released mere days ago, so one may conclude that my evaluation of this track and inclusion of it so high in my list may be a bit premature. However, the way I see it is that in the like three days since this song has been released I have listened to it more than 20 times. It’s already made so much more of an impression on me than most of the music released this year. And here is why it made that impression: Kesha has notably been embroiled in a legal battle with her former producer and label boss Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) over his alleged sexual assault and harassment against her over her time at his label. This legal battle, in addition to being heavily in the spotlight over the past few years, has also resulted in the stagnation of Kesha’s music career because she has not been able to record music without the involvement and approval of Dr. Luke. But somehow, a Kesha album now has a release date for next month, and this is its first single. Kesha takes this opportunity to lay it all on the line in a way she has never done in her career before (and in fact in a way few artists ever do). “Praying” is a piano ballad, and Kesha sings as you would expect someone pushed to their physical, emotional, and psychological limits. She exhibits an insane amount of control over her voice, and she hits notes she has never shown before that she could hit, most notably at the climax when she hits a note in the stratosphere. This isn’t just a vocal triumph of a song though. Kesha’s lyrics are amazing too. Not only does Kesha sing about overcoming this adversity and about not letting this situation define her, but she shows immense courage and maturity in offering a message of mercy and hope for her abuser: “I hope your soul is changing/I hope you find your peace/Falling on your knees/Praying.” This song builds into something booming, confident, and cathartic and the result is just simply glorious. It exists in the same vein as songs such as Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” which reach astronomical heights by releasing so many pent up emotions over heart-wrenching but optimistic verses and a catchy, explosive chorus. This is a new Kesha that we have never had the chance to see before, and it’s going to be a really awesome experience to get to know this artist on her own terms. Her new album will have collaborations from artists as diverse as Eagles of Death Metal and Dolly Parton, which is already a lot to look forward to. Kesha has taken this opportunity to put together something very special it seems, and the world is completely behind her, rooting for her all the way.
1. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
To me, there is just no argument that “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar is simply the best song of 2017 so far. After giving his fans two albums chock full of lyrical meditation on his upbringing in the context of the racist society he grew up fighting against, Kendrick released a lot of pent-up emotions releasing banger after banger on his new album “DAMN.” The album had it’s share of down-tempo, beautiful music as well including “LOVE.” and “ELEMENT.” However, for me, his best moments on this album were the most aggressive ones such as “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.” with my ultimate choice being “DNA.” There was just nothing as exhilarating as listening to Kendrick just EVISCERATE Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera’s hot take over his controversial BET Awards performance of “To Pimp A Butterfly” highlight (and civil rights anthem) “Alright” that explicitly addressed police brutality through his set he rapped around on stage. This is because this song combines Kendrick’s incomparable bars with Mike WiLL-Made-It’s fucking glorious production flourishes which make this song the most immense rap banger of the year. And the lyrics about radical black self love in the face of hate is just flawless. Kendrick Lamar, like Lorde, is one of this generation’s most important artists and he has proven it over three consecutive virtually flawless albums.