earthings! 2017: My ten favorites of the year

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]

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Review: Harry Styles by Harry Styles

Harry Styles by Harry StylesIf you heard one of the songs from this album by chance, and you had no inkling it’s Harry Styles, you’d probably like it. I had that experience; I was picked up from the airport last weekend and my brother had “Meet Me in the Hallway” playing, and half-sleepy me had no idea. I’m not saying you’ll instantly dislike this album when you find out it’s that guy from One Direction. It’s just that the label carries so much weight. 1D were not always frothy music, by all means – they have been flirting with classic rock across their four albums – but hearing the group’s breakout go solo with a record carrying a sound that should ooze authenticity results in a bit of dissonance. He can carry the 70s rock influences – most of the songs on his eponymous solo debut are actually enjoyable, and if you don’t listen closely, even the duds do their jobs on a long drive – but he fails to make them his own, dawg, to quote Randy Jackson. (Different reality show, I know.) Remember when everyone thought of David Bowie when “Sign of the Times” was released? Perhaps it’s the baggage – you imagine Harry being that guy from 1D. But no, this isn’t a bad album. It’s good, but he’s just not there yet. It’s a challenge, this thing Harry is doing to himself. He’ll have to push more to really convince us he can embrace these influences. [NB]3/5