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: Melodrama by Lorde

Melodrama by LordePure Heroine, Lorde’s debut album from almost four years ago, was such a breath of fresh air when it dropped. It was a pop record masquerading as an alternative record – or an alternative record masquerading as a pop record. Deceivingly accessible, it proved to be more nuanced than anybody expected. Melodrama builds on all that – but first, let’s be honest; perhaps nobody was really expecting that. It’s been four years since Ella Yelich-O’Connor debuted and somehow took the pop world by storm; four years since we were introduced to her observations laid over deliriously trippy beats. A lot has happened since and “Royals” has since disappeared from the rear view mirror. Here comes Melodrama, building on Pure Heroine, and the result is a record that feels warmer, and has more heart, than its predecessor. Lorde seems to bare herself more, delving deep to deliver non-cheesy songs about coming of age. Perhaps it’s also the decision to shift away from the gloomy and trippy, and more towards the serene: from “Green Light” unexpectedly moving into house-ish sounds at the very beginning, to the cathartic “Liabilities” and “Perfect Places”, we’re put on the passenger seat, rather than the back of the bus. Now, if only I could relate to it all. [NB]4/5

“Pretty girls don’t know the things that I know.”

“Magnets” by Disclosure featuring Lorde | When I heard that Lorde had a new song out – albeit via a collaboration with Disclosure, on their latest release Caracal – I was quite skeptical. Sure, I liked her in the lead-up to her debut full-length Pure Heroine, but – perhaps through a combination of overplay and the fact that she settled into the gloomy, dark template, as evidenced by her Tears for Fears cover – I got tired of her. Well, granted, it is early days for her. She’s still working on her second record. But I’m encouraged by “Magnets” because, well, there’s the tender side of Lorde I haven’t heard in ages. Well, arguably it’s more tender than in, say, “Tennis Court”, and I liked that precisely because of the clash between the mechanical and the romantic. I think her working with a different set of people – the Disclosure brothers – brought out that different side in her. So there’s that. And there’s me wondering if me liking the more accessible, vocal-centric Lorde sound here makes me somewhat sexist… [NB]

Review: Pure Heroine by Lorde

Pure Heroine by LordeWhether you’re approaching Lorde as a jittery, oddly jazzier Lana del Ray, or as a slick, leftfield take on electro-pop, there’s a lot to appreciate on her first record. Pure Heroine is cunning. You’ve probably heard the singles but that’s just scratching the surface.”Glory and Gore” and “A World Alone” are surprisingly glossy;, while “Ribs” sounds quietly sinister in its accessibility. Powering it all is Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s thoughtful, if a bit off-kilter, words (she wrote or co-wrote all ten tracks on the record) and her striking voice, defying the fact that she’s 16, actually sounding not that far – a very jaded 24, maybe? There are a lot of smart decisions on Pure Heroine, and the result is a album that will not set the world on fire as everybody hopes, but is utterly satisfying nonetheless. [NB] | 4/5

“We’re on each other’s team.”

“Team” by Lorde | Well, this girl seems unstoppable now. After the sleeper hit of the American summer (and that other song only the Aussies seem to know of), Lorde is back with a new track, and a release date on her upcoming album, Pure Heroine – it’ll be out on 27 September. This one’s similarly minimalist, but for some reason it doesn’t strike me as much as “Royals”, what with is seeming lack of a hook. But really, all she needs is momentum. The cool kids finally have something to look forward to in the pop charts. Unless she really explodes, which must be a good thing. [NB]