Jessie J's got an undeniably great voice but her material has been vastly hit or miss with me. When she leans into her R&B influences more and scales back the vocal theatrics is when I tend to enjoy her most and this is a prime example. The honest and direct lyrics dragging Luke James were a nice touch as well.
Even with his novelty raps aside, Macklemore always skews towards corny with me and, for all intents and purposes, Glorious should be no exception to that rule so I credit the anthemic production and Skylar Grey's passionate testimony with making me a Macklemore believer for 3:41.
Kimbra's a lot more than just the girl who sang that song with Gotye and I've appreciated her chameleon tendencies as she transitions from album to album. Shout out to John Congleton and Skrillex both for bringing this quiet aggression out of her and adding a triumphant flavor to her pop-minded melodies.
The nostalgic vibe of this record and video just took me back to a time when there were pockets of fun hip-hop music that didn't take itself too seriously and was just all about soundtracking a good time.
Keyshia Cole is one of those artists that can always make you feel her pain on a record and this is one of those heartbreak anthems that just compels you to sing along with just as much conviction as her!
Jessie Ware is one of my favorite voices in pop music today and I usually appreciate her quieter records that smolder with a mellow passion but it's nice to hear her stoke the fire a bit and get her romantic point across with a little more conviction.
Sometimes less is definitely more and while I wouldn't have expected such a simple and direct kiss-off record coming from Lalah Hathaway, especially against such an electronic beat, it was most definitely a pleasant surprise!
Your eyes can't hold stars and you'd die if your heart really skipped..."
Country music is always good for a clever lyric and Kelsea is singing my life's anthem with this tune! Catchy love songs are always awesome to sing along with but I'd very much like to be excluded from applying any of those narratives to real life, thanks!
Dress me in your coat of arms; I will be your Joan of Arc..."
My one hipster moment of 2017: admitting I listened to Wallpaper. Ricky Reed before he was cool! In my book, he's just as good of an artist as he is a songwriter/producer and I was sold on the record the second it came on sounding like a lost Nu Shooz b-side. Hearing the lyrics dedicated to his wife and her battle with depression resonated with me and deepened my love for it. I'm now a certified Ricky Reed fan for life!
64. "You Don't Own Me Anymore" - The Secret Sisters
"So when she fills my place
And when her love grows deep
Remember this, my dear
She isn't yours to keep"
Something about the Secret Sisters' voices together is instantly captivating to me and hearing the fire and resilience in their bright harmony against the brooding backdrop of "You Don't Own Me Anymore" gives me the good kind of chills every time I hear it.
Male R&B singers that actually sing against real R&B production are a dying art form so I commend Adrian Marcel for opting to take the self-released route and ensure he can preserve his contributions to that art form. I'll take records like these vs. mumbling over trap beats any day!
They say "rap is a young man's game" but I'd argue that Jay-Z is aging more gracefully in his music than a lot of his elder statesmen peers. And while everyone else was drowning in the hype surrounding The Story of OJ and 4:44, I had this nostalgia trip reconciling his past with the present and future, and one of the most effective uses of a Stevie Wonder sample I've heard in a while, on repeat.
Yeah, they'll make such a hassle and they'll build you a castle
Then destroy it when they're done..."
So many Sufjan Stevens records seem to have a way of either gently soothing your soul or gently breaking your heart and even if you don't know her story, I feel like this ethereal ode to Tonya Harding somehow managed to do both. Ugh!
Where this would've turned into some preachy musical cliché in someone else's hands, P!nk turns it into a beautifully simple protest song of sorts that at makes me at least thankful for her artistry and her refusal to suppress her creativity for the sake of radio.
You s'posed to hold me down but you holding me back
And that's the sound of me not calling you back..."
I really hope Lizzo breaks out in 2018 because she is such a breath of fresh air and harnesses that same ability like Missy to blur the lines between hip-hop, R&B and pop and flip narratives and subject matter on its head with a natural ease. This is just one of many records she's dropped in the last three years that highlights her versatility and has me craving her next full-length project.
"You never see the danger in telling every stranger
There's something sinister in your blood
Contrary propositions have always left me smitten
But hell is pouring on like a flood..."
If there's one thing I love, it's a good ol' stomping bluesy rock jam and JD McPherson delivered in spades with this one! It sounds like Jerry Lee Lewis meets Lightnin' Hopkins with a whip smart lyric about loving someone who revels in their darkness that's pure poetry.
He ain't nothin' like, nothin' like I had in the past..."
Chanté Moore is hands down one of my favorite female vocalists and her voice is as flawless as ever so I was ecstatic she finally found some talented producers to work with again and that they gave her both an uptempo record and one of her best records in years!
I think this is one of those country songs by a country singer that doesn't technically count as a country song and is more like just a song by a country singer because it doesn't really sound country. Regardless, I loved it from the moment I heard it. The R&B Quiet Storm vibe of the production has just the right touch of schmaltz and the smooth lyrics remind me of something Smokey Robinson might've done in the 80s. It all works for me!
"Confess you second guessed just how it real it gets
I would rather lose a lover than to love a loser..."
The one-octave princess of whisper R&B finally blessed us with new music and issa whole bop! Truthfully, she could've handled it all on her own but any record that makes G-Eazy tolerable within its context is worth repeating.
Michelle Branch's new album was well worth the wait and this was a perfect example of how nicely her singer-songwriter sound and styled matured during the decade-plus wait for new music. The sharp lyrics, solid melody and an infectious hook would've made this a hit in a perfect world but I'll settle for it being one of my most played records in 2017.
"I've been running circles 'round a night that never ends
I've been chasing heartache in a city and a friend
I've been with you so long, even seen you lose it, but who cares?..."
Blondie are an institution in my life and I could not get enough of this slick, high energy pop romp with its infectious melody, killer hook and Debbie's signature vocals showing no signs of wear and tear.
I'm all for any new generation urban music that's an alternative to the mumble rap polluting the airwaves and Buddy's breezy summertime groove was just that. While he's also a talented emcee, his easy sing-along come-ons set against KAYTRANADA's slinky groove instantly puts me in a good mood every time I hear it.
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