The Top 101 Songs of 2017

8 Jan

Rules: Only two per artist (not including features). So yes, that makes this not my true top 101, but I do like all of these songs and think variety is very important in any songs list.

101. Jens Lekman feat. LouLou Lamotte, “To Know Your Mission”

100. Beach Fossils, “This Year”

99. Laura Marling, “Always This Way”

98. Mogwai, “Coolverine”

97. Moses Sumney, “Lonely World”

96. Spoon, “Can I Sit Next To You”

95. Kelela, “LMK”

94. Julie Byrne, “I Live Now as a Singer”

93. Vic Mensa feat. The Dream, “Heaven on Earth”

92. Sylvan Esso, “Song”

91. alt-J, “In Cold Blood”

90. Daniel Caesar, “We Find Love”

89. Broken Social Scene, “Skyline”

88. The xx, “Say Something Loving”

87. Protomartyr, “The Chuckler”

86. Maggie Rogers, “Alaska”

85. Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean and Migos, “Slide”

84. Tyler, the Creator feat. Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy, “911/Mr. Lonely”

83. Gorillaz feat. Vince Staples, “Ascension”

82. Amber Coffman, “All to Myself”

81. Zola Jesus, “Siphon”

80. Miley Cyrus, “Inspired”

79. Arca, “Desafio”

78. Arcade Fire, “Put Your Money on Me”

77. St. Vincent, “Happy Birthday, Johnny”

76. Banks, “Crowded Places”

75. Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug, “Havana”

74. Ed Sheeran, “Dive”

73. Machine Gun Kelly feat. Hailee Steinfeld, “At My Best” (but ONLY Hailee’s part, MGK is awful)

72. Cigarettes After Sex, “Apocalypse”

71. Oh Wonder, “Ultralife”

70. Slowdive, “Slomo”

69. Rostam feat. Kelly Zutrau, “Half-Light”

68. Jay Som, “The Bus Song”

67. Waxahatchee, “Silver”

66. Future Islands, “Ran”

65. Taylor Swift, “Dress”

64. HAIM, “Want You Back”

63. Ryan Adams, “Prisoner”

62. Father John Misty, “Ballad of the Dying Man”

61. Iron & Wine, “Bitter Truth”

60. Grizzly Bear, “Three Rings”

59. Charly Bliss, “Glitter”

58. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “If We Were Vampires”

57. Fleet Foxes, “Third of May/Odaigahara”

56. King Krule, “Dum Surfer” – I dislike the album, but I have to admit this song is really growing on me.

55. DJ Shadow feat. Danny Brown, “Horror Show”

54. Demi Lovato, “Daddy Issues”

53. Eminem, “Castle” – Just like Eminem these days to drop one of the best tracks of the year after an hour of choppy, poppy mediocrity.


51. Alex Cameron, “Runnin’ Outta Luck”

50. SZA, “Broken Clocks”

49. Vagabon, “Cold Apartment”

48. Lomelda, “Interstate Vision”

47. Peter Silberman, “New York”

46. Mount Eerie, “Real Death”

45. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”

44. Børns, “Faded Heart”

43. Sorority Noise, “No Halo”

42. Wild Ones, “Do You Really?”

41. Sampha, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”

40. The War On Drugs, “Strangest Thing”

39. Frank Ocean, “Chanel”

38. Jessie Ware, “Thinking About You”

37. Craig Finn, “God in Chicago”

36. Paramore, “Hard Times”

35. Kesha, “Praying”


33. Blanck Mass, “Rhesus Negative”

32. Manchester Orchestra, “The Gold”

31. Alvvays, “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”

30. Taylor Swift, “Look What You Made Me Do” – It’s questionable whether this is even a good song, but it’s far and away the best representation of everything Taylor’s going for with her new album (though she oftentimes misses the mark). It’s in your face bombastic, with a million unnecessarily aggressive sounds coalescing into something that’s honestly kind of brilliant.

29. LCD Soundsystem, “oh baby”

28. Perfume Genius, “Just Like Love”

27. Susanne Sundfør, “Undercover”

26. Japanese Breakfast, “Soft Sounds from Another Planet”

25. Phoebe Bridgers, “Funeral”

24. Richard Dawson, “Ogre”

23. Sufjan Stevens, “Wallowa Lake Monster”

22. The Greatest Showman cast, “From Now On”

21. Perfume Genius, “Otherside”

20. N.E.R.D. feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Don’t Don’t Do It!” – A very simple song structure with a hell of a beat and a catchy tune. And then…and then. In the last minute, the song explodes and tears through the fabric of the music world as Kendrick spits an inferno of a verse.

19. Kamasi Washington, “Truth” – A masterful slow burn jazz piece. Jazz is far from my favorite genre, but this absolutely deserves to be on this list.

18. Lorde, “Perfect Places” – The chorus is fun, catchy, and confident. Lorde continues to make incredible pop music.

17. (Sandy) Alex G, “Bobby” – A folk ballad about love and inadequacy that envelops you with the warmth of a fiddle.

16. Japanese Breakfast, “Till Death” – A gorgeous track driven by a haunting vulnerability. I recently determined that this is the best song on the album.

15. Lana Del Rey, “Love” – Has that epic, sweeping orchestral sound she has perfected over the years, while also heralding something fresh. Released in the first quarter of the year, and still holding strong.

14. Sufjan Stevens, “Mystery of Love” – Sufjan pulled out some big guns for Call Me By Your Name. Not only do these songs fit the film, but they’re wonderful in their own right. “Mystery of Love” is able to strike such a unique balance between uncertainty, innocence, and wonder. Shoutout to non-CMBYN song “Wallowa Lake Monster” because my rules prevented it from being included.

13. Julien Baker, “Appointments” – The transition from the opener into this song is one of the best parts of the album, and this song is fantastic itself. Baker’s voice is so pure and sad in equal measure, and the piano here is heavenly.

12. Kendrick Lamar, “DNA” – A ferocious track that has Kendrick interrogating his culture and identity.

11. Hurray for the Riff Raff, “Pa’lante” – One of the more slept on songs of the year. The first half is great, but the last few minutes are stunning. Her calls for “pa’lante”, i.e. forward movement, are full-throated and passionate calls for unity in the face of marginalization. Her invitation extends beyond just her Puerto Rican heritage and into the past and present.

10. LCD Soundsystem, “american dream” – This is rock instrumental heaven. Bold without being overwhelming.

9. Phoebe Bridgers, “Motion Sickness” – An upbeat song relative to the rest of the album, but no less beautiful to listen to. The chorus is catchy, even as the content of the song deals with the struggles of “emotional motion sickness” via a relationship.

8. The National, “Carin at the Liquor Store” – The intro piano heralds a truly lovely song, a sort of mid-tempo introspection that ends up being the band’s particular version of a love song.

7. Lana Del Rey, “Cherry” – The best song on her new album, and the few seconds of falsetto comprise one of the best musical moments of the year.

6. Susanne Sundfør feat. John Grant, “Mountaineers” – Speaking of great musical moments, how about the last few minutes of this one? What a breathtaking, transcendental way to close out the album.

5. Vince Staples feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Yeah Right” – The hip hop song of the year. Vince and Kendrick rap over an insane bass and deliver on all fronts.

4. Paramore, “Fake Happy” – An upbeat, anthem-esque front that actually reveals a more sobering unhappiness beneath. After all, that’s the point of the song.

3. Dark Rooms, “I Get Overwhelmed” – Responsible for one of my favorite film scenes of the year. The electronic bent and his wonderful voice really lend themselves to a melancholic, cosmic-evoking sound.

2. Big Thief, “Mary” – My goodness, what a gorgeous song. Written about a good friend of Lenker’s, it proves that minimalism can draw out the emotion of a piece in a unique way. It slowly speeds up and pulls back with the utmost care, and its sweet sentimentality helps make it the second best song of the year.

1. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Cut to the Feeling” – Was there ever any doubt? I’ll revise that: if you know me well, this should not surprise you. If you don’t: no, this is not a joke. Nobody is operating at the height of their powers quite like Carly is right now, and it really says something that the #1 song of 2017 is one of 250 songs written from EMOTION that didn’t even make it to the album. “Cut to the Feeling” is a pop anthem of the highest caliber, a whirlwind of breathless euphoria that hearkens back to the 80s and embraces the joy of living in the now. Jepsen isn’t just a good pop artist; she’s one of the best musicians alive.

*(just missed out: tracks from Dirty Projectors, Dua Lipa, Aimee Mann, Harry Styles, Vice feat. Jon Bellion, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor)

Photo credit: NPR, Pitchfork

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