We heard a lot of songs this year... Almost too many to count. Some were inescapable -- the amount of times I heard people say "drop top" because of that one Migos song is shocking, and Lorde blew everyone out of the water with her meticulous witchcraft - I mean, songwriting. Whether it was Carly Rae Jepsen's sweet and powerful emotion or Kendrick Lamar's heavy-hitting verses, these 10 songs made the biggest impact in 2017.
10. "Cut To The Feeling" - Carly Rae Jepsen
In a year where Carly Rae Jepsen didn't even drop an album, she still had a single strong enough to carry the momentum. "Cut To The Feeling" is, like all of her songs, an emotional banger, except it somehow didn't make the cut
(see what I did?) on 2015's EMOTION
. We're okay with it though, because we wouldn't have been able to handle a full on Carly drought in a year where everything else is going to shit. Even when things seemed bleak, Carly swooped in with three minutes and thirty seconds of pure ecstasy.
9. "Dum Surfer" - King Krule
Archy Marshall put out a sexy song...? Yeah, it's pretty damn sexy. And dark and intense. From his indie-jazz beginnings, we never saw it coming, and while still having some jazzy undertones, he's moved onto a more firm image. Now we visualize him gearing up to fight a guy, or smoking and drinking in a basement with his best mates. It's all a bit foggy, with fuzzy sonics to match. On the album where he's a loner - an outsider looking in - this is the track where he plays the cool guy.
8. "The Weekend" - SZA
What better way to describe today's dating culture than with the lyric "You're like 9 to 5, I'm the weekend / Make him lose his mind every weekend"? Every person that's ever used Tinder or Bumble knows how it goes, and to put it into work hour terms is near genius.
7. "Bad and Boujee" - Migos, Lil Uzi Vert
It spawned countless memes and variations on its most memorable line, but most importantly, "Bad and Boujee" brought southern rap back to its well-deserved place in the spotlight. I wouldn't say it completely put Migos on the map, they did have some success with their earlier mixtapes and releases, but there's no denying that "Bad and Boujee" had us all singing "raindrop, drop top" non-stop and scrambling to catch up with the rest of Culture. With a dark and minimalist production approach, "Bad and Boujee" was the perfect bridge between the old heads of the classic rap game and the futurist sound exploding today. The trio is already furiously working on the follow up to Culture, and we've got fingers crossed that they can replicate the success of "Bad and Boujee".
6. "Slip Away" - Perfume Genius
Opening with a churning, bassy sound that sounds like something moving under water, the lead single off of Perfume Genius' excellent fourth album, No Shape
, suddenly explodes. Clashing hi-hats, unified harmonies, and other percussive sounds come together to create the very literally physical feeling of getting out, running away, and breaking free. Immediately upon first listen, the entire world knew that this was a massive upgrade for Mike Hadreas and something more was about to come. "If you'll never see 'em coming / You'll never have to hide," he sings defiantly with a newborn confidence. And then he makes the ground rumble.
5. "Boys" - Charli XCX
A song about boys! Nearly every female singer has done this, yet no one has ever put it so simple. "I was busy dreaming ‘bout boys," Charli XCX apologizes (but not really) over and over again over an instantly iconic video game bloop. She's like the teenage girl sitting at her desk in third period algebra class, daydreaming about her Friday night plans and blowing bubblegum bubbles while every boy sitting in the back is falling head over heels in love with her. Well now she's falling in love with them, too.
4. "Writer In The Dark" - Lorde
A writer singing about being a writer and the beautiful benefits that come along with it. To be able to trap someone or something in a song and keep them forever, whether or not they actually choose to be in your life, is an awfully wicked thing to do. It may sound like Lorde is locking herself in a cage - in a make believe world where nothing is real - but really, the ability to do so is freeing. It's kind of like a superpower, and she encapsulates that super emotion to go along with it. Bet you rue the day you kiss a writer in the dark, because you're stuck in her soul forever.
3. "Chanel" - Frank Ocean
"My guy pretty like a girl, and he got fight stories to tell," Ocean shares at the beginning of "Chanel." It's not the first time he's opened up about his relationships with men, but he sounds completely comfortable and at ease here. He challenges the norms of same sex relationships, making his comparison to the Chanel logo saying he sees both sides, and later singing, "How you looking up to me / And talking down / Can't you see I am the big man / God level / I am the I am." The entire track is one big grey area with an undeniably great beat, where Ocean explores his sexuality and masculinity, and the power struggle that comes along with it.
2. "HUMBLE." - Kendrick Lamar
Years from now, there will be a few things which will indelibly link our memory to 2017. For example, Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes, "The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now" and that piano riff from "HUMBLE." that just smacks. It's just a few simple chords, but instantly recognizable, with an attitude to match what might go down as the record of the year. I could spend hours and hours writing pages and pages of discourse on "HUMBLE.", but I think it's best to take a hint from the song, and keep this to a simple ode. "HUMBLE." has been the track of the year, the one people couldn't stop playing on repeat at parties, couldn't stop rapping along to and couldn't stop making their Tinder anthem. And it's not like people overlooked DAMN
. as one of the greatest albums of all time—let alone this year, it's just that we can't stop coming back to "HUMBLE." in all its glory. I know for someone like Kendrick, there's probably bigger honors still than the Grammys, but it's up for nomination for Record of the Year right now and there is no justice in the world if it doesn't win it.
1. "Bodak Yellow" - Cardi B
It speaks volumes to her skill that in a year which gave us Kendrick Lamar's DAMN.
and "HUMBLE.", Cardi B managed to go triple platinum with "Bodak Yellow". I mean just think about it, it seemed impossible for anyone to take the spotlight away from Kendrick, and yet Cardi B managed it on her debut single. Critics have called the song derivative of Kodak Black's "No Flockin", and while Cardi B acknowledges that "Bodak Yellow" is an homage to Black, it's still her song, and she owns it in every way. I could go on about the accolades and honors that "Bodak Yellow" has received, and trust me, there's a lot of them, but perhaps its biggest impact isn't something you can necessarily chart or measure. "Bodak Yellow" is more than just a chart-topper, it's a hyphy, head-bumping reminder that black women can dominate just like the boys. There's no features here, it's all Cardi B owning it only as she can. As a culture, we've gotten into a habit of pitting black, female musicians against each other, and raising one up as an icon much to the detriment of the others. Yet her is Cardi B, standing not up to Nicki Minaj, but alongside her, ushering in a new era in which black, female artists might finally start getting the respect that they deserve.