Here’s more proof that I am starting to fall by the wayside, at least when it comes to listening to the songs I’m apparently supposed to listen to and like, here’s a relatively pop-centric list of my ten favorite songs for 2017. I attribute it to the fact that I may have listened more to my K-pop library this year (it does have some therapeutic claims) and that things seem to blend with each other more this year than in previous years. In a way, it’s a good thing: finally, some parity between the slickly produced and the more down-to-earth ones. But some will say this is me selling out. Nah, nobody is saying that. Nobody cares about this thing, yes? But we have to put it out, like everybody else, so here, in alphabetical order, are my ten favorite songs of the year. [NB]
I always seem to have an Australian favorite every year, although I was relatively late to Alex Lahey, having heard this song just after her debut, I Love You Like a Brother, dropped. (So, no album review.) But as an introduction, this song is a quite fun romp, with upbeat guitars and a carefree sensibility that present in most of the Aussie music I like. And the album’s quite strong, too. It’s nice to see she’s making some headway outside her home country, too, and I’m really hoping to hear more of her in 2018.
Maybe if pop stations didn’t play the same songs so often (and had less vapid presenters) then maybe I’d listen to it more, and like more “pop” music as a result. As it stands, I still don’t. But for some reason, Camila Cabello’s third post-Fifth Harmony single made its way to my head, and stayed there. Havana, ooh-na-na. I never even followed the group she used to be with, but here she is, emerging from the split strongly with a coyly sexy, sublimely irresistible track. No complaints.
Speaking of coy tracks, here’s another one. Everybody talks about the music video – I only saw it yesterday, would you believe it? – but it’s the production here that wins the day: it’s like the song was hatched in a daydream, perhaps accompanied by a milkshake, and thus it sits comfortably with whatever you decide to pair it with. It’s also nice to see another side to Charli XCX – a more… unfussy side, albeit one where her pop sensibilities have not gone away. This one’s a no-brainer, regardless of how many cameos were in that video.
The draft for this list was created last April, the very week this song was released. This song was meant to be here. It certainly is a different side to EXID: another sublime (see the theme?) pop track, coming off the back of the unexpectedly sidelining of their lead vocalist due to health problems. Now, a group that I’ve always applauded for its killer instincts when it comes to its singles presents a more muted, but still precise, side. It’s a shame this song hasn’t performed as well as it should have, but then again, what do I know?
I know I’m supposed to write about how good a song is, but I was first attracted to the choreography – a lot of things going on, and yet so precise, so clean. (Also, I still can’t get me eyes off Viva, one of their lead dancers.) “Rolly” is the debut single from Good Day, one of many groups to attempt to punch their way through in a crowded (and, as we’ve just seen this week, high-pressure) world of K-pop. Making that strong impression on your first attempt is difficult: thankfully this song’s literally good day-inducing bombast does it.
This isn’t a single, but it is the album closer, so it had a lot of work to do to tie everything up in a bow. Humanz was a triumphant return for Gorillaz, but it could also be a bit messy considering the galactic influences it had to take on – but thankfully they turned to a song just a little over two minutes to provide an easy, soaring, perhaps cathartic at times paean to how we all stick together no matter what bullshit we sling at each other. Oh, if only life was really like that.
Now, this one, I did not expect to put here. Not that I am against Harry Styles, or One Direction in general. I haven’t really followed them closely, save for that one week where I decided to listen to all their albums, leading up to what turned out to be the debut of a Zayn-less 1D. I’m not even putting this here because of the supposed cool cred Harry gained from his first solo outing, particularly how this song was poised to topple David Bowie or something. No. It’s that, well, this is a good song, and I wasn’t annoyed by it, even if some say I should’ve.
Am I attracted to this because it’s such a counterbalance to Liam Gallagher’s frank, filthy public image? It’s essentially a love song! More importantly, it’s the sort of song you’d expect his brother Noel would write back when Oasis was still an entity rather than a memory. (And some say it’s about Noel himself.) Liam mining that formula – and, more broadly, the rock and roll encyclopedia – would result in a winning, if not too straightforward, record, and for my love of a good song, this one’s its definite highlight.
On the outside Lorde still looks like she can’t be that arsed – but with Melodrama she’s emerged as some sort of wizened elder figure looking back on adolescence with the thoughtfulness and the twinkle Taylor Swift can never achieve. (I just had to say it.) Again, we have an album closer on this list, summing up what is a strong record with a build-up that captures the collective weight of the world we carry – and, with a single “what the fuck”, the frustration with being told there’s a point to all this. This is when you realize that even she doesn’t get it.
Of all the albums I reviewed this year, Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps is the only one I gave five stars to. It still deserves it. It’s a dreamy, haunting record where you are lulled into a sense of comfort, of stability, before the rug is pulled underneath you. I could choose any song from the record – I was actually going to choose “Scott Street”, if not for a lack of embeddables, so instead I’m posting the single, which is even more deceptive in its rumbling pop sensibilities.