I’ve been making personal year-end countdowns for nearly a decade now. With the amount of music I listen to, it just seems like the right thing to do, if even just for my own closure to see what I liked the most.
Yet, 2017 was extraordinary.
Yes, there were a few disappointing releases, but even those releases had some quality songs (except for Big Sean). Every mixtape and every album I could physically sit down and listen to this year had something redeeming to it (except for Big Sean). Even Jay-Z did something to which I never even skipped a track.
That’s how great 2017 was.
So, for lack of a better number, here are my 30 favorite songs from this year, in no particular order because music in 2017 was fucking great:
Vulfpeck feat. Charles Jones - Baby I Don’t Know Oh Oh
Vulfpeck is a perennial lock for my end of year lists, now. The arrangements and Joe Dart are what I imagine heroin highs to be like. Charles Jones can absolutely belt, too.
Syd - Know
I heard this song for the first time in my buddy’s car while we drove home from a night of heavy drinking and I lost my mind because I was SURE that this was Aaliyah, and it was produced by Timbaland. Syd’s album, FIN, was mesmerizing. It was, without question, my favorite R&B album of the year*.
Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano
*Except this one.
Sampha’s Process is one of those albums that makes me wonder how more people didn’t blow it up. It’s emotional, it’s futuristic, and above all else, it’s simple. His voice is simultaneously stressed and soothing, but it works.
Matt Martians - Callin’ On Me
This is my alarm, that’s how much I love this song: that I enjoy waking up to it every single day.
Thundercat - Friend Zone
That’s that bullshit. I would rather listen to this than play Mortal Kombat. I will say this, though: I was kinda let down by Drunk; it seemed a bit discombobulated and monotonous, even for a funk record.
Frank Ocean - Chanel
I may, or may not have, listened to this song 50-60 times in the first week that it was released. Frank Ocean is my drug. I need help.
Frank Ocean feat. Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator - Biking
Now, for the Kendrick Lamar portion of this list...
DAMN. is exactly what we knew it was going to be, a modern gospel for the racial and socio-economical landscape in the United States. And, even though we knew almost exactly what Kendrick would have to say, it was almost perfect from end to end. YAH and ELEMENT are a coinflip away from my favorite KDot songs ever, and DNA is the year’s best beat.
Queens of the Stone Age - The Evil Has Landed
I’ll admit, Villains is definitely my least favorite QOTSA album ever, but damn this song is heeeeaaaaavy. I need to see them on their current tour just to hear this song done live, even if it does melt my face.
Now, for the Tyler, the Creator portion of this list...
Pothole feat. Jaden Smith
Boredom feat. Rex Orange County and Anna of the North
911/Mr. Lonely feat. Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy
Flower Boy was finally what we’ve all been waiting for from Tyler. It’s his In Search Of; a polished record full of emo tracks and creepy lyrics. I can probably count this as my favorite album of 2017, even over DAMN.
Jay-Z - Marcy Me
Naturally, I can’t find a YouTube link to this because of Jay-Z controlling the music industry like Beyonce controls, well... the music industry. I take this cut over The Story of OJ and Smile because of the early-life storytelling, and the awesome little drum breaks interpolated throughout.
Run the Jewels feat. Trina - Panther Like A Panther
This song will be featured in a movie trailer before the end of 2018, and most likely used in NBA playoff advertising at some point. This is my favorite song off of RTJ3 by quite a large margin, which isn’t to say RTJ3 wasn’t great because it was, but nothing will ever touch RT2. Also, this song needs more Trina, like a full verse from the baddest bitch.
Future - Mask Off
I honestly didn’t like any one of Future’s full length releases this year, but I’ll be damned if this song isn’t one of his absolute best. This is his Hotline Bling, the song that anyone and everyone can use as his calling card, regardless of even liking Future to begin with.
Migos feat. 2 Chainz - Deadz
This qualifies for literally one reason, when Takeoff said this:
Block on lock, call me Kurt Angle
That’s my favorite line of 2017.
Big K.R.I.T. feat. T.I. - Big Bank
Listen to this song and honestly tell me it doesn’t get you hyped. No? Go listen to the whole album. 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time is the best Southern rap album in quite a while.
21 Savage & Metro Boomin - My Choppa Hate N*ggas
I expected Without Warning to be pure, unadulterated trash, but in Boomin’ we trust, because he may have had the best 2017 of any rap producer out there (and 2016... and 2015). Between the low key boom on the beat, and 21 Savage being very, very clear on his intentions, this was my favorite track from the short project.
Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos - Slide
Calvin Harris feat. Schoolboy Q, PARTYNEXT DOOR & D.R.A.M. - Cash Out
Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is the album that made me remember that pop music is more of a blanket genre than ever. So many different acts collaborate on this record to make it the biggest melting pot of the year, and all the post/neo-disco vibes make for the best party album of 2017.
Lil Pump - Gucci Gang
Ugh... still better than Bodak Yellow.
Vince Staples - Big Fish
Christian Rich did an amazing job with this G-funk classic. While I think Big Fish Theory was pretty underwhelming as a whole, this song is the saving grace. It’s about as West Coast as it gets.
Paramore - Hard Times
Let me set a scene for you: a car full of nearly 30-year old white dudes jamming out to a Paramore album, that sounds like it was made in 1988, in the middle of 2017 while on a road trip through the deep south. Exactly. (Also, Hayley Williams is the new Debbie Harry.)
Spoon - Do I Have To Talk You Into It
People who don’t like Spoon annoy me. If you don’t like Spoon: go away... far, far away.
Lorde - The Louvre
You bet your ass I’m going to her concert with RTJ next year in Miami. Melodrama wasn’t as good as Pure Heroine, though.
Father John Misty - Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution
FJM gets way too literal on an always sort of occasion. This is a wonderfully depressing song.
Khalid - Young, Dumb, and Broke
American Teen was a great R&B album in which I didn’t understand quite a lot of it because I’ve gotten to the age where anyone under the age of 23 tends to bug me endlessly. But seriously, though, Khalid has the potential to be the next big R&B/urban pop mainstay, and I’m cool with it.
DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo & Lil Wayne - I’m The One
My mom likes this song, so it gets a spot, even if it is Khaled.
So, there you have it, 30 songs I thought were the best of 2017.
And just remember one thing: don’t listen to Big Sean, it’ll rot your brain.