Top 100 Songs of 2017

top 100 songs of 2017

best songs of 2017 Kelela50. Kelela
“LMK”

from Take Me Apart (Warp)

“Let me know” is the exact kind of hollow dispatch that gets lost in the digital ether of communication today. “Look, I’ll give it up right away,” Kelela starts. She’s already over it, and the rest is just a formality, so let me know. In contrast to that malaise, “LMK” was, actually, the crystallized pop center of Kelela’s Take Me Apart and smartly positioned the singer-songwriter as a genuine star. The lingering melancholy at the heart of the track speaks to a collective alienation and lack of commitment. It’s the bitter with the sweet that makes “LMK” so potent. – Wesley Whitacre


best albums of 2017 LCD Soundsystem49. LCD Soundsystem
“I Used To”

from American Dream (DFA)

“I Used To” tells an emotionally complex story predicated on a whole lot of sounds and few words. Synths screech through the track like worry, the bass a steady violent undercurrent throughout. It’s telling that the subtlest instrument on this track is the backing beat of the tambourine: There’s such a complicated buildup of sound as the song progresses that the tambourine quickly falls to the end of the queue. These sounds detail the clash of conflicting feelings the singer experiences: nostalgia, vulnerable confusion, and, at the very end, fatigue (“I’m too tired to wake up”). But by far the best bit is “I used to see your hands in their weird positions / Used to like your head when you’d watch musicians”—a sledgehammer of a line, imparting the strange, archaic fondness you’d feel for someone long after they’ve left. – Paula Chew


best albums of March 2017 Mount Eerie48. Mount Eerie
“Real Death”

from A Crow Looked at Me (P.W. Elverum and Sun)

One-performer acts are, by their nature, personal. For Mount Eerie, the vehicle for Phil Elverum, A Crow Looked At Me is a chronicle of the passing of Elverum’s wife. Rather than a frenetic spigot of emotions, the delicate and complicated album is instead pensive. Nearly every song mentions the late Geneviève and is almost uncomfortably confessional at turns. On “Real Death,” those stories share hurt that even the most common turns can elicit. “A week after you died a package with your name on it came,” Elverum sings. “And inside was a gift for our daughter you had ordered in secret.” Seldom does a record evoke those feelings, and none this year had quite the resonance as this. – Ernesto Aguilar


Protomartyr Relatives in Descent review47. Protomartyr
“Windsor Hum”

from Relatives in Descent (Domino)

The Windsor Hum is a documented phenomena from Windsor, Ontario in Canada, in which residents of the city have been inundated with a constant rumbling sound that’s only increased in decibels over the past few years. Located just on the other side of the river from Windsor is Protomartyr’s home city of Detroit, which some have speculated is the source of the hum, though to date there’s been no solution or end to the constant drone. Ever the documentarians of a haunted, corrupted sort of Americana, Protomartyr create their own variation on the sound, a recurrent eerie horror-theme riff repeating throughout the entirety of the song as the other elements escalate and intensify. Joe Casey ominously warns of the “The sound that you’re hearing,” amid the growing intensity of the post-punk storm behind him, only before turning it around. “Everything’s fine,” he says, the echoed reassurances of complicit authorities in what seems to be a recurring theme in trying to survive the modern era: Read between the talking points, everything is definitely not fine. – Jeff Terich


best songs of 2017 HAIM46. HAIM
“Little of Your Love”

from Something to Tell You (Columbia)

When you put three singing siblings from Southern California together, a vocal blend is inevitable. It’s no surprise then that the Haim sisters’ tunes sound so irresistible, or that “Little of Your Love” sounds so much like Wilson Phillips. This is 100 percent meant as a compliment. “Little of Your Love” defines “catchy” right down to its handclaps. Like so much of the best music released this year, “Little of Your Love” takes the good parts of the 1980s and uses them to perfection. – Adam Ellsworth


St. Vincent Masseduction review45. St. Vincent
“Hang on Me”

from MASSEDUCTION (Loma Vista)

If MASSEDUCTION suffers from an identity crisis (and it does), it’s because the album veers so wildly between the pop enigma behind “Pills” and “Masseduction,” whose devilish humor is sometimes undercut by smug self-satisfaction, and the less-constructed persona of tracks like “New York” and “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” which reveal a little of the flesh-and-blood person behind all the pop iconography. “Hang on Me” is the best of those on MASSEDUCTION, Annie Clark’s hazy, gorgeous plea to the one person she feels she can connect with. “Just please, oh, please don’t hang up yet,” she sings, her voice hanging atop the song’s mix, a rare, welcome moment of raw vulnerability. – Sam Prickett


best songs of 2017 Destroyer44. Destroyer
“Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”

from ken (Merge)

“Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” was written, recorded and released well before the dam broke on sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the scumbags in Hollywood. Even if the timeline were different, it would be tough to argue that this is what the song is “about.” Still, it’s hard not to hear the tune that way now, and as each new accusation is made, and each new Tinseltown jerkoff is brought down, the line “What comes round is going round again” seems more and more appropriate. – Adam Ellsworth


best songs of 2017 Chelsea Wolfe43. Chelsea Wolfe
“Vex” (feat. Aaron Turner)

from Hiss Spun (Sargent House)

From its wall-of-distortion guitar intro to its seductively misleading verse, “Vex” harbors something sinister. Everything Chelsea Wolfe records does to an extent, but here she smuggles sludge-metal menace into a track that’s essentially one of her catchiest. The volume is consistently rising, the fuzz continually wailing, swirling into a vortex of psych-metal hallucinations. Once Sumac vocalist Aaron Turner begins his guttural wail (“Then come, destroyer/We’ll fight with claws and teeth“), its beastly face is revealed. Considering how long Wolfe has been hinting at a complete transformation into a proper metal artist, it’s not wholly unexpected. The intense payoff more than makes up for that. – Jeff Terich


Lana Del Rey Lust for Life review42. Lana Del Rey
“Lust for Life”

from Lust for Life (Interscope)

Not an Iggy pop cover but more of the dreamy West Coast pop balladry that Lana Del Rey has made her signature, “Lust For Life” finds Del Rey stepping into the throne left vacant by the late Amy Weinhouse, the reigning queen of retro-pop torch songs. The song is slickly produced, and lyrically it’s fairly straightforward, but its appeal is still undeniable, if curiously so. It’s the hushed whisper of her alto that makes you a believer once again. – Wil Lewellyn


The War on Drugs A Deeper Understanding review41. The War on Drugs
“Pain”

from A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic)

The War on Drugs’ fourth album received luminous reviews, and rightfully so—it’s hard to narrow down its greatest moments, but “Pain” sticks out, purely for its thirst for meaning. Rooted in bleak guitar lines and melancholic vocals, the track provides a ballad to aid grief and strife. It’s a companion to days of darkness, blended with a hint of bravery ready to face it all. Bold resolutions like “I resist what I cannot change / But I wanna find whatever can’t be found” express a want for more, a need for, yes—just as the album suggests—a deeper understanding. – Virginia Croft

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