You can also experience this post in the form of a Spotify playlist.
- Rae Morris – ‘Do It’. One of my favourite songwriting tropes is intentional lyrical inarticulacy as a representation of overwhelming passion.
- Dagny – ‘Wearing Nothing’. Another thing I really like is airy, summery disco-inflected tracks (I especially like them when they’re by Florrie, but this will more than do).
- Ängie – ‘Spun’.
- Girli – ‘Feel OK’. I thought for sure this was going to be Girli’s big crossover hit, but apparently not.
- Hayley Kiyoko – ‘Feelings’.
- Selena Gomez – ‘Bad Liar’. ‘If you want you can rent that place / Call me an amenity’ strong contender for lyric of the year
- Taylor Swift – ‘Dress’. ‘End Game’ is one of Swift’s weakest songs (although I’m amused at pairing Future with perhaps the only person on the planet who is a worse rapper, Ed Sheeran), and ‘Getaway Car’ and ‘New Year’s Day’ are unnecessary retreads of her earlier career, but the best tracks on Reputation are great. The moustache twirling pantomime villainy of ‘Look What you Made me Do’ is hilarious, and the pop precision-tooling of ‘…Ready for It?’ is a ludicrous level of overkill if you’re feuding with someone as basic as Katy Perry. But my favourite track from the album is the shimmering, breathless-with-desire ‘Dress’.
- Charli XCX – ‘Boys’. Charli XCX made an EP with PC Music people and it was mostly the usual tiresome PC Music shit, and then she released this fantastic single and I thought, yes, she’s back on track, and then she released another PC Music EP but in an extraordinary twist the new EP is really good; seems like AG Cook has realised if you’re collaborating with brilliant songwriters like Charli XCX or Carly Rae Jepsen, you should maybe let them write the songs?
- Marian Hill & Lauren Jauregui – ‘Back to Me’. Stanning of Camila Cabello ended. Now Lauren Jauregui is my favourite Fifth Harmony member (except that Camila Cabello’s ‘Never be the Same’ is also really good).
- Marika Hackman – ‘My Lover Cindy’.
- Nadia Rose – ‘Big Woman’.
- Rico Nasty – ‘Blocklist’.
- Lorde – Melodrama. She releases the best album of the year, and she supports the liberation of the Palestinian people.
- Bicep – Bicep. I really want to describe Bicep as ‘the Burial you can dance to’, because it’s so hilariously cliched and reductive and also accurate.
- Maya Jane Coles – Take Flight. I initially typed ‘Maya Jane Goals’, which also isn’t wrong.
- Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
- Jidenna – The Chief
- J Hus – Common Sense. 2017 seems like a particularly odd year for a UK rapper to make an album with the kind of luxury rap production I associate with the last years of the Clinton boom.
- Kitty – Miami Garden Club
- Sylvan Esso – What Now.
- Syd – Fin
- Kehlani – Sweetsexysavage. It was only when re-listening to this while writing this post that I realised it’s largely an album of mid-90s Cheiron Studios R&B, which certainly explains why I like it so much.
- Demi Lovato – Tell me you Love Me
- Susanne Sundfør – Music for People in Trouble
- Lee Ann Womack – The Lonely, the Lonesome, and the Gone
- Yazz Ahmed – La Saboteuse
Top new(ish) artists
- Terror Jr. I’m surprised to see I didn’t mention them in last year’s music wrap-up post, but I guess 2017 was the year I realised R&bass ballads about depression were extremely my jam.
- Suzi Wu. Teenagers who sound like the Happy Mondays also apparently my jam.
- Pixx. Anyone who sounds like Electrelane obviously my jam.
- Jump-up D&B making a comeback. Gnučči’s You Good I’m Good Let’s be Great, Grace Mitchell’s ‘Now’, and The Tide’s ‘Click my Fingers’.
- Sounding like Björk. Winner here obviously Björk, whose new album I haven’t listened to enough, but on a couple of listens I’ve been surprised by how immediately engaging it is. But I’ve also heard a number of other tracks that have the kind of epic intensity I associate with Björk, like Rae Morris’s ‘Reborn’, Mozart’s Sister’s ‘Angel’, Kelly Lee Owens’s ‘S.O’, and, maybe most surprisingly, the last track from the Charli XCX/PC Music EP.
- Sounding like Chrono Trigger. An advanced trend only attempted by Bicep and Kitty.
- Sounding like Rilo Kiley. This year I have been being depressed by Courtney Marie Andrews and Phoebe Bridgers.
- Joking about ludicrous post-Blurred-Lines obligatory credits and then checking ASCAP and finding out they’re real. Probably the best example of this is Fifth Harmony crediting Shaggy because ‘on the bedroom floor’ sounds a bit like ‘on the bathroom floor’. I still don’t see how come Taylor Swift credited Right Said Fred for the rhythm of the chorus of ‘Look What you Made me Do’ when the real similarity in that song is to Sparks’ piano line from ‘This Town ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us’, or how she got away with not including a credit on ‘Dancing with our Hands Tied’ to the producers of ‘Зачем Я? (Fly Dream mix)‘.
- Of course it’s not really a grime album. You see this from half-smart people on the internet every time a grime luminary releases an album. I think people even said it about Wiley’s Godfather, which was so extremely a grime album it even had a guest spot from Scratchy D. For the avoidance of doubt, Dizzee’s Raskit is also a grime album.
- Best Cher Lloyd song. More competition for this prize than you would expect in a year where Cher Lloyd didn’t release any music. The winner: Louis Tomlinson & Bebe Rexha – ‘Back to You’ (this is also the best post-1D solo track).
- Most baffling success: Dua Lipa. I guess the British public have decided that Zara Larsson’s music just isn’t quite boring enough?