Oh, please, I bet everybody here is fake happy, too..."
While I was in love with the roaring new wave revival sound that Paramore came charging out the gate with via Hard Times, this mellowed out ode to collective disenchantment is what stuck with me the most. The 80s pop goodness of the music with the matured angst of the lyrics was everything I didn't know I wanted from Paramore in 2017 until I had it.
As long as I can read what's written on your face..."
Losing Chris Cornell, one of the most seminal voices of my childhood, in 2017 hurt so bad but, as haunting it was to listen to after the fact, the last piece of original music he left behind was also oddly comforting. Written for a film about the Armenian genocide, the message behind the lyric - preserving memories and hope in the face of tragedy and loss - doubled as a fitting musical goodbye.
I could really, really, really use a rich, rich friend like you..."
While I enjoyed Please Mr. PostmanFeel It Still about as much as everyone else in 2017, this song was my original introduction to PTM. I'm always a sucker for a good melody and catchy hook, especially when supported by a solid band arrangement, and those coupled with the sardonic lyrics checked all of my pop/rock boxes instantly. So, yes, I also listened to Portugal. The Man before they were cool.
21. "The Sing Along" - Nick Grant feat. Ricco Barrino
"I'm the one you should ask for
It's all the same song; what you spinnin' it back for?
I swear your last record should've been your last choice
s**t is lookin' like radio made the trap star..."
Nick Grant was one of my few new hip-hop discoveries in 2017 that I genuinely enjoyed primarily because he's actual trying to contribute something of worth to hip-hop vs. catering to the mumble-rap generation. This honest critique of the gimmicks and trends that have ensnared pretty much all of his mainstream peers says it all.
Although I try and refrain from always comparing new artists to anyone else and instead judge them based on their own artistic merits, I have to admit that the instant I first heard the kinda bluesy, kinda soulful swagger of Lindsay Ell's record, I immediately thought of the old Bonnie Raitt records I grew up with and how effortlessly those blues and soul influences informed her music. Lindsay's approach definitely has more of a pop-minded frame to it but it works and easily made her my favorite new country discovery of 2017.
I've decided to forget that terrible, awful, horrible, trash of a last album from TLC ever happened and consider this - a classic 90s TLC kickback jam reborn in 2017 - to be their final musical contribution to history. The end.
I saw all the signs but I just couldn't say nothin'
I did the time, I crossed the line for you
'Cause I can't see myself with nobody else but you..."
No one has the ability to turn their pain into purpose like the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul! Even as she's retracing the cracks in her broken heart, over such a simple and understated groove, you can feel the healing occurring at the same time. That's a true musical superpower.
You know he's only callin' 'cause he's drunk and alone
2. Don't let him in
You'll have to kick him out again..."
I'm still not sure if it was the kinda clever lyrics, the song structure (what? an actual b-section before the hook? an actual bridge?) or the fact that it was a tropical house-style Pop song that sounded like it was produced with some originality and didn't employ the most basic EDM drop around that made me fall in love with Dua's single...
In a perfect world, Mýa would be back at the top of the R&B charts and having her versatility appreciated with her transition from the Smoove Jones style of her last album back to the 90s baby making sound that supported her very first hit; Make Mýa Great Again in 2018!
Could I be caught up in the thought of spending time?"
After sampling of the greatest R&B records in history for her last hit, it was pure genius for Kwamé to next sample one of the greatest Pop records in history and flip Art of Noise's The Art of Love on its head, turning it into a reggae-tinged jam that's just as infectious as its source material.
And don't use those hands to put up that gate and stop me..."
The world does not appreciate nor respect Tank and his talents the way that it should! Almost 20 years of singing, songwriting and producing and he's still able to craft such simple and casually seductive R&B records that lodge themselves into your subconscious and keep you crawling back for more.
13. "Black Beatles" - Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
"That girl is a real crowd pleaser..."
Out of many spawns of this mumble (t)rap generation, I give the most credit to Rae Sremmurd for managing to take their brand of party rap and find a way to successfully inject it into the pop culture zeitgeist in 2017! This is the one trap record I haven't gotten tired of yet.
I always love when there's such a stark contrast between the vibe of a song's production and the actual lyrical content - prime example: the dreamy beat playing up the sexy yet sweet side of Kehlani's album and personality while the lyrics are straight savage and serve as a very blunt redefinition of NSA and FWB. I felt this one on a spiritual level and still have it on repeat.
"This is 'bout that time you recognize that I'm that bitch
This is all that sauce yo' mama said you couldn't get
Red light, yellow light, green light...switch!"
Iggy definitely got one of the rawest deals in 2017 because any personal bias could've easily been set aside in service of such an undeniably catchy record as this (the hook has yet to leave my head), especially compared to some of the other records that were allowed to thrive and the actual crimes committed by the artists behind them. #JUSTICE4SWITCH
"Don't compare me to these girls that's off up in here
This is not arrogance, baby, just bein' clear..."
LeToya Luckett's musical return was long overdue and I loved that she was able to come back with records that didn't succumb to boring Urban AC templates nor tried too hard to cater to the trap wave drowning the current Urban landscape. This was music with a modern R&B sensibility strictly for those with matured tastes.
This was indisputably the hustler's anthem for 2017! The pure energy of this track, from the beat to her flow to her numerous catchphrases and punchlines, was contagious, unforgettable and left me rooting for her endlessly to dominate 2018!
The trap-lite hook; the coquettish lyrics; the vocal theatrics - everything about this just clicked effortlessly and proved that this kind of soulful, passionate Pop is what Kelly was born to be making!
And you love it when my lovin' hurts, you tell me all the time
So don't apologize, give it to me one more time
You know you love a pretty girl...what would your mama say?"
Betty Who is one of America's best kept pop secrets and it's a freaking shame! This playful ode blatantly inspired by Britney perfectly captured the essence of her patented brand of effervescent pop. Total ear candy with probably the most memorable melody and hook of the year for me.
"I know I might sound crazy but I'm tryna get down in a real good space
I just wanna be safe
I just wanna feel good every morning
Every single damn morning that I wake..."
Ledisi caught so much unnecessary flack for having the audacity to incorporate trap elements in her typically soulful sound while I, for one, praised her boldness, her creativity, her refusal settle into a familiar groove and pander to the Urban AC crowd. Everything else about the record, from the positive lyrical affirmations to the seamless vocal runs, is classic Ledisi and solidified my lifetime love for her.
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