Overdue Review | Better Late.

Year's Best

Published on December 30th, 2017 | by Andy Sedlak

The 17 Best Songs of 2017

Let the debate begin.

Thats the point of year-end lists, correct? I say certain songs are unequivocally the best of the year. And you take issue with it. Round and round.

My pick for last years best song came from the Hamilton Mixtape (My Shot [Rise Up Remix]” by The Roots featuring Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess). Two years ago, the track I picked was Coming Homeby Leon Bridges.

I thought both selections crystallized their own year in music. You did not. And your emails made that clear.

So lets get on with the show, shall we? Maybe this will be the year we end up on the same page. If 2017 taught us anything, its that we can reasonably come together and find the middle ground.

Or was that a dream I had?

Here are my picks for the 17 best tracks of 2017.

#17: Framedby Eminem

Much of 2017s Revival was quite reflective but the psychopathic rhymes Eminem is infamous for came out in Framed.Its another dismemberment tale the sludgy loop from longtime Dr. Dre associate Fredwreck feels borderline hallucinogenic and begins with a body in the trunk. Is it Ivanka Trump? Could be. Em doesnt know what he doesnt know. Only that hes pretty surehes been framed.

#16: Kill Jay Zby Jay-Z

Lets keep it real, Jay-Z,the rapper says to himself near the beginning of the song. And, boy, he does. This fuck everybodyattitude aint natural,he says, running through real-life examples of when his ego served him wrong. He ends the track by saying farewell to his own legend: Bye, Jay-Z.

#15: Havanaby Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug

Cabello literally conquered the world in 2017. Havanabecame a Top 10 hit in 12 countries, reaching No. 1 in half of them. In hindsight, it makes good sense. With so many trap beats populating radio, Cabello decided to let her song breathe, mixing pop production with traditional Cuban rhythms. And I would guess that all the immigrant shaming in 2017 made Havanafeel even more exotic to listenersears.

 

#14: Broken Halosby Chris Stapleton

Stapletons cover of Tennessee Whiskeyushered him into the spotlight in 2015, but he returned this year with a song of his own that proudly stands next to the cover hes best known for. Broken Halosis a masterpiece back-road gospel with no hint of new-school gimmickry. Many country stars are inspired by gospel music. Their reedy voices, however, dont do the material justice. Stapletons talent allows him to effortlessly reach down deep. Its a beautiful skill. God-given, if you will.

#13: Elementby Kendrick Lamar

Rumored to be a diss to Drake and Big Sean, Elementis nothing but the best rapper in the world making it all look too easy. There are weightier moments on DAMN., but this was Lamars victory lap.

#12: Do I Have to Talk You Into It?by Spoon

Love the attitude. Rock gets itself in trouble when it becomes too controlled. Spoon, after kicking around for years on the Indie circuit, knows when to bring out the brass.

#11: Nothing Left for Youby Sam Smith

This is a screw-ups lament a song you sing when the walls are crumbling. Youre in a mess, baby. And theres no easy way out.

#10: The Manby The Killers

Laughing all the way to the bank, The Killers basically rewrite Peter Gabriels Big Time,and prove (once again) theyre cooler than theyre given credit for.

#9: Bad Liarby Selena Gomez

No other pop star does so much with so little. Gomez keeps her arrangements sparse and rarely feels the need to go full Mariah. While other artists strain to hit the High C, she puts out deceivingly simple songs with more than a hint of humor. The old adage is Go where theyre not.She gets it.

#8: The Great Debateby Randy Newman

No one else does what Randy Newman does. Period.

#7: Green Lightby Lorde

That piano gets me every time

#6: Keep the Devil Offby Big K.R.I.T.

The sound of an old tent-revival meeting with punches that could only be thrown in the era of Trump.

#5: What About Usby Pink

Who knew Pink had this kind of staying power? Shes past her Raise Your Glassphase once and for all, and seems relieved to open up. Youre hearing an artist exposing layers many of us never knew she had.

#4: Trouble Makerby LANco

The years best hell raising anthem came by way of countrys brightest up and comers. Amid roadhouse guitars and deliberately sloppy drumming, vocalist Brandon Lancaster describes the Barbie of the bar. Shes a hip shaker, heart breaker, trouble maker,he sings. This, of course, sets up the payoff line: Ill take her.

#3: Cast the First Stoneby Corrosion of Conformity

Mixing glossy speed metal with meaty bits of ’90s grudge and shades of Audioslave is risky business. Somehow, Corrosion of Conformity pulled it off.

#2: Sign of the Timesby Harry Styles

The most reassuring rock track of the year came from a 23-year-old former boy-band phenomenon. Forget about his past (that was so 2016). Styles brought attitude, wit and the sly power of observance to his self-titled solo LP. He wraps all of those things into an anthem that never feels forced. Its a lesson that even the masters (ahem, U2) could learn from.

#1: The Storm (BET Awards Freestyle)by Eminem

When President Trump cryptically told reporters in October that they were seeing the calm before the stormduring a photo session with military personnel, it crossed a line for Eminem. Just four days later, he unleashed a brutal freestyle that pardon the pun trumped any diss track that would follow on his Revival LP. Its the angriest thing Em has done in years. The video shows him pacing back and forth in an empty parking garage a perfect backdrop for the majority of the countrys attitude. Ems flustered voice echoes off the concrete and in our psyches. Plus, it reintroduced the mainstream world to the art of the freestyle itself. The video has 42 million views on YouTube. When was the last time a rap — especially one with no beat reached that kind of audience?

That was 2017, folks. Onto the next one.

 

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About the Author

Andy Sedlak is a former television reporter who lives in Dayton, OH. He grew up in a household that pumped Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel every weekend. He instantly became a new man when he discovered Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” in junior high.



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