Top 100 Songs of 2017

top 100 songs of 2017

best songs of 2017 Protomartyr60. Protomartyr
“A Private Understanding”

from Relatives in Descent (Domino)

The centerpiece of “A Private Understanding” is a story about Elvis—yes, that Elvis—having a spiritual experience in the Arizona desert. The experience of seeing “his smiling Lord” replace the face of Joseph Stalin in a cloud mass is presented here as a brief, baffling encounter with the ineffable. It doesn’t save Elvis from his ignominious death on the bathroom floor—he can’t even put the experience into words—but “A Private Understanding” presents it as a fleeting brush with something much greater and deeper. In this chaotic age of all-consuming ignorance, even a the chance of glimmer of deeper truth is reason enough to hold onto hope. – Sam Prickett


best songs of 2017 Spoon59. Spoon
“Hot Thoughts”

from Hot Thoughts (Matador)

The title track of Spoon’s ninth studio album is yet another testament to Britt Daniel’s ability to write inescapably catchy songs. The sexy, staccato bounce of “Hot Thoughts” is an earworm in a catalog full of earworms, a relatively minimal R&B-tinged track that features some of Daniel’s most playful songwriting. For a supposedly seductive track, after all, Daniel’s lyrics are rather oddly fixated on accents and shiny teeth. But that middle ground, between the comfortable catchiness of the music and Daniel’s off-kilter lyrics, is where Spoon tends to operate best. – Sam Prickett


best songs of 2017 Tyler the Creator58. Tyler the Creator
“Who Dat Boy”

from Flower Boy (Columbia)

Tyler the Creator is once again both laughing at us and with us at the same time. He sometimes dares his audience not to take his brand of hip-hop zaniness seriously, though he is too shrewd of a wordsmith for his talent and cleverness to be ignored. He makes this abundantly clear on this standout single from his best album to date, Flower Boy. He makes it hard to separate the song from the video, due to how it matches the lyrical picture he paints. Clearly, “Who Dat Boy” is a prime example of why he’s one of the smartest emcees in the game today. – Wil Lewellyn


Kamasi Washington Harmony of Difference review57. Kamasi Washington
“Truth”

from Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

The full scope of “Truth” can really only be understood in the context of the EP it’s taken from; each of the five tracks that precedes this sprawling 14-minute opus by Kamasi Washington feeds into it. There are elements of all of them here, coexisting, evolving, becoming a part of one another. As a matter of construction, it’s complicated and conceptual. Yet as a matter of melody, harmony and rhythm, it’s not complicated at all. These are 14 of the most blissful minutes of spiritually enriching music of the year. – Jeff Terich


best songs of 2017 Clairo56. Clairo
“Pretty Girl”

(Self-released)

I have heard the future and it’s sung through a pixelated Macbook microphone. A photo booth karaoke music video, oversized crewneck sweatshirts and watered down iced coffee; is Clairo’s “Pretty Girl” peak DIY in 2017? While the song possesses an instant, agreeable charm, “Pretty Girl” holds insightful romantic observations with feminist overtones and glaring pieces of calculated pop genius. The track has also racked up over 3.5 million views on YouTube since August and has earned the Boston artist a spot on The Le Sigh’s latest mixtape. – Patrick Pilch


best songs of 2017 Algiers55. Algiers
“Walk Like a Panther”

from The Underside of Power (Matador)

When society begins to devour itself, one way to get its attention is in the form of an ominous industrial-trap anthem. The leadoff track to Algiers’ second album is eerie and explosive, opening with a quote from Black Panther Fred Hampton (“I am the people—I am not the pig”) before breaking down walls with a frantic 808 sputter and Franklin James Fisher’s furious cries of rebellion: “We won’t be led to slaughter/ This is self-genocide.” Turn your back on the people, sell out your values and there’s going to be reckoning. And it’s going to fucking slap. – Jeff Terich


The xx I See You review54. The xx
“On Hold”

from I See You (Young Turks)

Whether in barely-restrained album-version mode or turned into a dizzying house remix, this late 2016/early 2017 single was a microcosm of the quantum leaps The xx made on their third LP. “On Hold” features a clearly expressed theme (equating the uncertainty of a crumbling relationship with stuttering, interrupted phone calls) and some of Jamie xx’s loudest, fastest, most ecstatic production and sampling. It’s proof positive that Hall & Oates make everything better. – Adam Blyweiss


Kevin Morby City Music review53. Kevin Morby
“City Music”

from City Music (Dead Oceans)

Kevin Morby’s City Music isn’t explicitly tied to any one municipality, though the musical styles that the singer/songwriter tackles tell a fairly clear story: the bubblegum punk of The Ramones, the art-rock hypnosis of The Velvet Underground and, on the title track, the gorgeously intertwined guitar approach of Television. In “City Music,” the lyrics are a secondary concern—Morby mostly celebrates the soundtrack to the city through epicurean mantras—whereas the guitars are where the real treasure can be found, lushly strummed, intricately harmonized, swirling into a joyful spiral. “City Music” might, essentially, just be a highly disciplined jam session, but it sounds immaculate. If this is the sound of the city, then “Let’s go downtown” is really the only logical course of action. – Jeff Terich


Vince Staples Big Fish Theory52. Vince Staples
“Big Fish”

from Big Fish Theory (Def Jam)

Vince Staples is the undisputed king of axiom in our now post-truth society. The no-bullshit nigh-title track of Vince’s 2017 masterwork Big Fish Theory was the culmination of the young rapper’s simmering fascination with Grime and UK Dance music pared down with two blunt verses of impeccable bluster. Staples often feels like the calm eye of a violent storm lashing around him, and “Big Fish” too stayed afloat through sheer force in a year of choppy waters. – Wesley Whitacre


chastity belt new album time alone51. Chastity Belt
“Different Now”

from I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone (Hardly Art)

The four sardonic punk rockers from Washington state that make up Chastity Belt simply ooze cool—it’s hard to find a word that really does their level of cool justice… It doesn’t really get more punk than flipping over tables at college frat parties. But 2017 introduced another side for them, understanding more, ready to tackle the world. “Different Now” rummages through the changing times and its effects, Julia Shapiro’s vocals more poised, Lydia Lund’s guitars expressing a grittier take on their style. – Virginia Croft

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