No matter how much you love someone and desire to be with them, sometimes you can’t help but wonder just how sincere their intentions with you are. Kendrick explores this in Love., proclaiming the importance of trust (over love) when fame and money are involved. And more importantly, how love is being with your best friend- your homie for life- who you have endless memories with, inside jokes with, and endearing insights on- ultimately acknowledging that he has just that. Kendrick and Zacari’s 3:33 union made for a song you have on repeat as you may or may not wonder the same.
A sharp beat drives a sweet r&b melody, sung by Majid Al Maskati of Majid Jordan. Heavy in meaning but audibly light as a feather, his verses layer perfectly over a bass that throws you back in time. “Gave Your Love Away” whispers of the relatable story of past romance. The harmony between pop and rhythm and blues, among other influential genres, creates a dreamy space for listeners to vibe in.
“In Your Head,” keeps true to the band’s charming sound filled with fuzzy guitar riffs and gritty vocals reminiscent of Veruca Salt. The song starts off with “Fuck you forever, I said I’m leaving”, a direct slap in the face to a shitty ex boyfriend. An extension of each ladies personality, it’s relatable lyrics infused with pop melodies is what makes this song so great and timeless.
I’m a massive Spice Girls fan. Amine’s track emphasizes his yearning for Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger, and Baby archetypes. The Spice Girls in the 90s fronted the Girl Power revolution and Amine wants a girl who will bring him that zig ah zig ah. He hits the nail on the head with Spice Girls references (Viva Forever and zig ah zig ah to name a few). Mel B makes a crucial cameo at the video’s end to put Amine in his place girl power style.
I have been astounded by The Marias since their first single “I Dont Know You” graced my ear ways and playlists earlier in the year. While undoubtedly a favorite track, the music world has been blessed with a recently released second single “Dejate Llevar,” right before the reveal of their debut EP Superclean Vol. I. One listen and truth becomes that every single on their latest EP can easily hold its own weight on a best song list. This stand out track is a mix of a little jazz infused disco, synth pop sounds and sultry lyricism. With visuals and an overall aesthetic as dreamy as their melodies, we can’t wait for their release of Vol. II next year so we can have even more celestial songs to transcend our ears, minds and souls to.
This remix of “Passionfruit” has a slower and more thoughtful tone sung by the up and coming producer Yaeji. This song creatively edits together some of the best parts from Drake’s version to bring listeners the other side of the story. Her light and dreamy vocals make the harsh truth sound so sweet, and the bouncy instrumentals make it a unique two-steppin’ track to vibe with.
It’s like codependency and insecurity have been laid out on a track for you. It’s like when you feel like you need someone but the reality is you’re not really sure if you know who they are or if they really even know who you are- and you hope they don’t because could they ever really love the real you? And you got no booty, so do they even really want you? But the way they talkin’ got you thinking they might even love you. This flurry of uncensored emotions is perfectly contrasted by Sza’s grandmother’s recording at the end of the song where she’s unapologetic and reflective about her views on not seeing eye to eye with someone.
If 2017 had an anthem for the resistance or for anyone attune to what has been going on in our country, it would be Vince Staples’ Bagbak. It’s harsh. It is opinionated. It will make you feel uncomfortable. That is the point. If you are not yet woke, wake the fuck up. By the end of the song, you’ll have no choice but to sing along: “Tell the one percent to suck a dick, because we on now/ Tell the government to such a dick, because we on now/ Tell the president to such a dick, because we on now.”
Cuco, a 19 year old heartthrob from Los Angeles, became synonymous with a coming to age culture that really took the forefront in 2017; that of the Latinx millennial. Fusing the sounds of early Chicano Rap with the experimental tones of more modern Psych-Synth Rock overlaid with emotion ridden lyrics; Cuco became has become a voice of a new culture that is both relatable and refreshing, but most importantly one that has allowed emotions to be cool again.
Trap god Travis Scott boasts of his status on a glittery beat, bragging about the life of luxury he now enjoys as a result of his rockstar status. He dropped this track back in May, just in time for it to become the anthem of the summer. La Flame has put out or been featured on a total of nine singles this year as fans desperately await the release of his third studio album, AstroWorld. If there are more songs like “Butterfly Effect” coming down the pipe, we’ll all be in luck.
‘The Man’ is about that cocksure bravado, typically associated with hyper-masculinity, dressed as an 80’s disco-pop banger. Brandon Flowers repeats ‘Who’s the man? I’m the man’ and sings ‘Got gas in the tank, got money in the bank…you’re looking at the man’. Intended as a boost of confidence or a poke at the stereotype of a male?
A track off Ghosteman’s latest album, Hexada, perfectly encompasses his overarching style of cut throat, clever lyrics, personified by enticing voices. Shuttering sounds and snare drums introduce the rapper’s mumbled confidence before an increasingly overbearing bass soon layers over. Each following verse becomes more choppy and aggressive leading to a cathartically heavy-metal bridge. Ghostemane has developed a particular style with his music over the years. He understands his technique without being boring or repetitive with each new track he releases. His intensity is always appreciated and he continues to find new ways to be expressive while staying true to his roots.
Taking a relatively little-known Dolly Parton song and infusing it with their signature nostalgic sound, Whitney absolutely killed it on this cover. While they kept Parton’s original piano, they added a sweet dose of guitar, replete with twangy string bending. The group has been relatively quiet of late, but after the smashing success of their 2016 record “Light Upon the Lake” and the 2017 demos album of the same name, they’re owed a lot of time before their next release. Dive into their Spotify and enjoy the sweet, soulful sounds of Chicago’s finest.
Perhaps the catchiest tune off of their sophomore album Plural, “Oh Devil” has received universal love across platforms. If you need any more proof of the song’s popularity, a recent People magazine article on lead singer Asa Taccone is sub-captioned, “5 Things to Know About the ‘Oh Devil’ Singer.” The song, inspired by the band’s recent trip to Mexico, exudes beachy, Caribbean-tinged vibes—even more so in the radio version, which features a chorus sung by Jamaican artist Devin Di Dakta. The “Oh Devil” music video introduces some ’80s, ’90s, and early ‘00s pop culture references (as well as a cameo from one of my favorite SNL alums, Will Forte). We waited five years for a new Electric Guest album, and it was definitely worth it for this song alone.
If you want a song that will get stuck in your head forever, listen to “Don’t Take the Money.“ The track has the 80’s feel that Jack Antanoff’s solo project, Bleachers, usually delivers. If you’ve never listened to Bleachers before, this is a great introduction and sums up an even greater artist.
[+] Total Entertainment Forever by Father John Misty
The ultra-talented Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) raised eyebrows with this song, which features a frightening message about the digital age as well as a music video starring…. Macaulay Culkin!? Tillman warns listeners not to get too immersed in internet culture, ending with a grim prophecy: “When the historians find us we’ll be in our homes, plugged into our hubs, skin and bones”. As a whole, it’s a rare jam that’s just as good musically as it is lyrically.
Emo trap. An aesthetic I used to casually joke as my aesthetic was brought to fruitition in 2017. And the leader was none other than Lil Uzi Vert. The reach of this song crossed generational and genre lines and embraced the intersectional musical identities that so many embody but don’t always get the chance to embrace in one artist or track. Lil Uzi is a complex artist in a simplistically delivered package. And let me just say, if you ever get a chance to catch him live; you wont regret it.
At a recent gathering with friends, I took control of the speaker system to play my music (as I’m wont to do). As I selected Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still,” I declared, “If you don’t like this song… you’re wrong.” And I firmly believe that. The tune has a universal appeal that’s difficult to explain. It simply makes you want to dance. The ‘60s vibes are strong with this one. “Feel It Still” is a definitive Song of 2017 simply for its longevity—it debuted in early March, yet hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October 2017. In fact, it’s one of the few songs to reach number one on six of the major airplay charts since 2003, and even has been nominated for the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. We don’t often put stock in the Academy, but this time, they got it right.
Surf rock siren and Kilo Tango frontwoman Katie Mitchell’s music is atmospherically a day at Malibu circa 1960s. Her knack for capturing Americana-centric heartbreak feelings wax and wane from dreamy boy-meets-girl romanticism to kick him to the curb. This track combines Mitchell’s specialties and tells the story of a brooding bad boy she knows is no good. Upbeat, punchy, and nostalgic, “Summer Days” is the perfect soundtrack for a day on the coast or getting over your unrequited love.
I was first introduced to The Beaches back in October during a vinyl shopping video we did with the band at Rough Trade NYC and have been listening to them on repeat ever since. “Gold” is straight rock n’ roll with a 70’s vibe and swagger that uplifts your soul. Dark lyrics are layered over infectious melodies brilliantly – “Playing with the queen of ice you get cold, children in the maze are breaking their bones, the killers in the cage are sitting on bones”. Keep an eye out for these ladies, because they are taking control of their destiny and will be an unstoppable force.
Fun fact: the band told A.Side the video starts off with them acting out a scene on their phones, where they were actually swiping through Tinder. Hopefully they got some good matches!
It wouldn’t be a “Best Songs of 2017” list without at least one track from Foster the People’s Sacred Hearts Club. When “Pay the Man” came out in early spring along with two other singles, FTP frontman Mark Foster emphasized the importance of his “roots as a writer,” and his desire to return to this mindset. “Pay the Man” is an anthem to the pursuit of living a full life. Despite the unfortunate banalities of real life—bureaucracy, consumerism, and the general wearing down of the soul—we must “sail” on. In the chorus, Foster implores the listener to “say what you love,” “find your light,” and “embrace the day.” While “paying the man” might be one of the necessary evils of modern-day existence, we cannot, and must not, ever let it wear us down.
It is not one of the best songs of 2017 nor is it one of the best songs on Everybody, but Logic’s Black Spiderman is the most emblematic song of 2017. If there was one song that rose above the ridiculousness and hatred and paved a way toward progress and empathy, it is Black Spiderman.
“Lemon to a Knife Fight” is the first single from the Wombats since their impressive 2015 album, Glitterbug. In classic Wombats fashion, their new song features infectious verses and a catchy-as-hell chorus. If you’re a fan of The Wombats, this will not disappoint, and it builds so much excitement for their next album release.
An occult-y dreamscape serves as the backdrop for Diet Cig’s track centered around all things physical and emotional. Themes explored include sexual and emotional autonomy as a ring of women hold a seance in the wake of ill-fated relationships with men. Alex Luciano’s firecracker fairy vocals demand to be cared for and respected. “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body / and if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry.” A friend told me Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power”. I can’t help but think of sex and power in the context of emotions and agency in “Maid of the Mist”.
I interviewed Lexie Rose in July and she mentioned her dad gave her Stephen King’s “On Writing” to use as part of her creative toolbox. King stresses simplicity and, above all, truth telling by using the strongest tools you have in your toolbox. I listened to “Wrong” again and realized the track is a prime example of King’s mantra. Lexie Rose’s story in “Wrong” is straightforward and heartfelt. The tools she’s using are simplicity and universal relativity; this song could be about anyone, anywhere, in any relationship. The simply sublime melody compliments Rose’s open and honest truth telling without revealing too much.
Words truly can’t express how good this track is. There is so much passion and energy, and there really isn’t a chorus. At the 3:22 mark, singer Andy Hull, who generally has a very soft yet lifting voice, starts screaming out the final verse. It’s an incredibly epic end to a great song.
With an Afro-Latino, dancefloor flair that gets you grooving, Chico Mann’s “Y Ahora Que” has you reminiscing on a love that ended when you necessarily didn’t want it to. I’m talking about that love you waited for your whole life, savored and then unexpectedly goes. It wasn’t supposed to end, life wasn’t supposed to take this turn so you’re left asking, what now?
Sizzy Rocket’s side project is the Brooklyn-based punk band Shiny Wet Machine. Sizzy greases melodrama with grunge and brings listeners to a world of polarizing love and hate and “Brooklyn Honeys with electric eyes”. Her powerhouse voice cuts through gray areas and straight to the core of love and hate in “Spine”.
Ever fall for someone and your reputation catches up to you? You just want them to escape away with you so you can prove to them that you’re worthwhile; give them the same sense of fantasy you get when you’re with them, so that they can trust in you and what you feel; so that you can savor them again, and again; you can’t get enough and you know they can’t either. Wisin and Ozuna make you want to run away, getting you to dance and sing along as you contemplate whether or not you should.
Black Honey’s single ‘Somebody Better’ is one of those songs which makes you feel like you’ve been transported to California in the 1970’s. Izzy’s delicate yet feisty vocals are haunting, paired with their signature Tarantino-style guitars, the track is emblazoned with nostalgia and coolness.
Top of the charts, platinum record, multiple awards, hell, well throw in an engagement to fellow rapper Offset. Cardi B was the queen of 2017 and theres no denying it. From radio to social media to magazines to TV; there was no possible way you did not hear “Bodak Yellow” at some point this year. Her incredibly quick rise to the top in red bottom, bloody shoes was the inspiring dream chasing story we all needed in 2017. The best part, Cardi B.’s contagiously positive and supportive persona awakened the inner bad bitch in us all we didn’t even know we had until we were rapping alongside her two verses in. This song is a confidence boasting good time, every time.
I have to say I a hard time with blackbear (real name Matthew Musto) for his frequently misogynistic and offensive lyrics. I deplore “i miss the old u,” “juicy sweatsuits,” and “do re mi” and do re mi for their quips in particular, out-of-line threats and criticisms that I personally believe even the worst exes don’t deserve. I didn’t buy tickets to his summer tour for this exact reason.
Off of Digital Druglord, one of bear’s two 2017 EP releases, “double” brings us back to the days of “N Y L A,” “4u,” and “Idfc.” These earlier releases also focus on softer emotions: bear’s fears of inadequacy, insincerity, and inferiority both in himself and in his potential girl. These troubles are infinitely more relatable and understandable than when bear spits his spite.
With “double,” I just love the lyrics, their images and the way they sound… somehow the context of this song makes “Spend it all / Imma make it back double / What’s he doing for you? Nothing / Nothing but trouble, baby” more than just an easy rhyme.
Other than the lyrics, the tune’s swirling sound, warped vocals, and barbershop quartet harmonies soften bear’s hardened image.
[+] Soy Peor (Remix) by Bad Bunny ft. J Balvin, Ozuna & Arcangel
This remix sees some of Spanish trap and reggaeton’s heavy hitters come together to make the best song for the ex who’s hoping you’re worst off without them. The reality is though that after you vow not to ever love them again, life is going better for you without their presence; the only thing you’re worst off with is being a good match for them. And you’re okay with that because now you have others who give it to you better. Recalling any remnants of a scorned lover, you can’t help but nod your head as the artists skillfully ride the beat.
‘Bless This Acid House’ is Kasabian doing what they do best – making huge, upbeat tracks with anthemic choruses that stick in your head for days and make you want to jump around with your arms out like no ones watching. Guitarist and vocalist Serge Pizzorno says he thinks its ‘one of the best’ songs he’s ever written.
It’s hard to pick just one song from A R I Z O N A ’s debut album, Gallery, to define 2017. The New Jersey-based three-piece can pretty much make anything—even a long distance relationship—sound infectiously upbeat. The synthesizer-tinged “Electric Touch” stands out for its instrumental bridges, simultaneously dance-y yet chill. A sonic definition of the word “vibes.” I love singer Zach Hannah’s vocals, especially on the “I, I, I” s of the chorus, connecting through a bounce like an audible pogo stick. “Electric Touch” will make you nostalgic for an experience you may not have even had. That’s the power of A R I Z O N A ’s triple-threat combination of lyrical imagery, talented instrumentation, and masterful mixing.
A Story Told’s 2nd full-length LP, Good Looks, is full of catchy and fun pop-punk songs. My personal favorite “Teenage Horror” is a good place to start for anyone who wants to check them out. I’d really recommend a listen to anyone who’s a fan of The Cab, specifically. The (what I can only describe as) “dundundundundundun” intro on “Teenage Horror” builds excitement for this track, and maintains an energetic sound all the way through.