2017 in Review

Tom Petty’s death in 2017 – and a string of other rock losses in 2016  – slightly stirred up one of those typical “_insert old genre_ is dead” debates that we get from time to time. With rock music, it’s partially odd to say when one of the year’s best albums, A Deeper Understanding, so obviously drew influences from Petty’s era of music. 

But in a way, the sentiment was true. Rock-and-roll, as it has been known for most of music history – with a reliance on male rock star leads and electric guitar – had been waning, and much more women-led projects were making an impact. Art-rock by St. Vincent and Mitski, alt rock by Wolf Alice, Mannequin Pussy, Big Thief, Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, and a huge roster of singer-songwriters and bedroom pop folks – Julien Baker, Angel Olsen, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Japanese Breakfast, Alvvays –  whose softer, personal style of ballads would continue to grow in popularity through the end of the decade. 

Kendrick Lamar again made a splash in 2017, and finally also saw a big commercial breakthrough with the more accessible but just as poignant DAMN. “Humble was a crossover hit, and his first solo No. 1 song in the U.S. For a few months, Kendrick took the hip-hop crown from Drake, probably the only artist to really do so since late 2010. 

While Kendrick went more mainstream, hip-hop itself moved in a lot of different directions. And if you want to see how the industry is shifting, you can always look to Drake, a chameleon who always changes his style to capitalize on the trends of the times. In 2016 and 17, those trends included Caribbean Dancehall, British grime and R&B, and modern trap. The features on Drake’s More Life are also a snapshot of the time. Appearances include verses by the three Migos – coming off the release of their breakout album Culture and “Bad and Boujee,” one of the biggest hits of the year; 2 Chainz; Young Thug; and Travis Scott – who was a year removed from “Goosebumps” being a hit and a year ahead of being a superstar himself with Astroworld. Emo trap and cloud rap from the likes of XXXTentacion, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and Juice Wrld also began to gain a lot of attention. 

Hip-hop, overall, became more commercialized than ever before. Most of the folks mentioned above had top 25 tracks throughout the year, with extensive pop radio play. Acts like Calvin Harris leaned more on the genre for collaborations. Another crossover success story was Post Malone, who shifted from a hip-hop influence the year earlier to a much more poppy performance in 2017. 

Outside of hip-hop, other big pop releases included Harry Styles’ solo debut, The Killer’s comeback album, and Lorde’s stellar sophomore album. Insistent singles included Portugal. The Man’s crossover hit “Feel It Still,” “Despacito” and “Bodak Yellow,” to name a few.

Songs of the year

2017 Albums

American DreamLCD Soundsystem★★★★★95RockAlternative RockAlternative Dance
MasseductionSt. Vincent★★★★½93PopArt Rock
A Deeper UnderstandingThe War On Drugs★★★★½91RockAlternative RockHeartland Rock
SlowdiveSlowdive★★★★½90RockShoegazeDream Pop
VThe Horrors★★★★½86RockPsychadelic RockAlternative Dance
Soft Sounds from Another PlanetJapanese Breakfast★★★★½85RockIndie PopDeam Pop
Love What SurvivesMount Kimbie★★★★82ElectronicElectropopIndietronica
MelodramaLorde★★★★80PopIndie Pop
All AmerikKKan Bada$$Joey Bada$$★★★★80Hip-Hop
DAMNKendrick Lamar★★★★80Hip-Hop
AntisocialitesAlvvays★★★★79RockIndie PopDeam Pop
Dirty ProjectorsDirty Projectors★★★★79RockArt PopNeo-Soul
Big Fish TheoryVince Staples★★★★78Hip-Hop
BrutalismIDLES★★★★77RockPunk RockPost Punk
Out in the StormWaxahatchee★★★★77RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
ProcessSampha★★★★76Hip-HopR&BElectronic R&B
Without WarningMetro Booming★★★★75Hip-Hop
Take Me ApartKelela★★★½74Hip-HopR&BElectronic R&B
4:44Jay Z★★★½74Hip-Hop
VillainsQueens of the Stone Age★★★½72RockAlternative Rock
The AutobiogrophyVic Mensa★★★½72Hip-Hop
Flower BoyTyler, The Creator★★★½70Hip-HopAlternative Hip-HopNeo-Soul
ColorsBeck★★★½68RockAlternative Rock
AromanticismMoses Sumney★★★½67RockArt RockAlternative R&B
The Nashville SoundJason Isbell★★★½65CountryCountry RockAmericana
This Old DogMac DeMarco★★★½65RockPsychedelic RockIndie Rock
Relatives in DescentProtomartyr★★★63RockAlternative RockPost Punk
Life Without SoundCloud Nothings★★★63RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
I See YouThe XX★★★63ElectronicIndie PopDream Pop
Turn Out The LightsJulien Baker★★★62RockSinger-Songwriter
CapacityBig Thief★★★62RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Sleep Well BeastThe National★★★62RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
KentDestroyer★★★61RockIndie PopChamber Pop
Who Told You To Think??!!/?????!?!?Milo★★★61Hip-HopAlternative Hip-HopJazz Rap
The Never StoryJID★★★61Hip-Hop
ArcaArca★★★61ElectronicArt PopGlitch Pop
The OozKing Krule★★★60RockJazz RockAlternative R&B
Whiteout ConditionsThe New Pornographers★★★60RockIndie PopIndie Rock
In SpadesThe Afghan Twigs★★★60RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Pretty Girls Like Trap Music2 Chainz★★★60Hip-Hop
Nyck @ KnightNyck @ Knight★★★60Hip-Hop
Ti AmoPhoenix★★★59RockIndie PopSynthpop
Science FictionBrand New★★★59RockAlternative RockEmo
Lotta Sea LiceKurt Vile, Courtney Barnett★★★59RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
UtopiaBjork★★★59ElectronicArt PopGlitch Pop
A Crow Looked at MeMount Eerie★★★58RockSinger-Songwriter
LandmarkHippo Campus★★★58RockIndie Pop
What NowSylvan Esso★★★58PopIndie PopIndietronica
GodfatherWiley★★★58Hip-HopBritish Hip-HopGrime
DrunkThundercat★★★58Hip-HopAlternative Hip-HopNeo-Soul
OmnionHercules & Love Affair★★★58ElectronicDance PopIndietronica
PlanetariumJames McAlister, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhky★★★57RockArt Rock
Hot ThoughtsSpoon★★★57RockAlternative Rock
No Dope on SundaysCyHi The Pryce★★★57Hip-Hop
You’re Not as ___ As You ThinkSorority Noise★★★56RockPunk RockEmo
After LaughterParamore★★★56RockPop Rock
Mellow WavesCornelius★★★56ElectronicArt Pop
The NavigatorHurray for the Riff Raff★★★55RockIndie PopAmericana
As You WereLiam Gallagher★★★55RockAlternative RockBritpop
Wonderful WonderfulThe Killers★★★55PopIndie PopIndie Rock
Number 1 AngelCharli XCX★★★55PopElectropop
The Underside of PowerAlgiers★★½54RockSoulPost Punk
Luv is Rage 2Lil Uzi Vert★★½54Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
PlungeFever Ray★★½54ElectronicElectropopExperimental
Songs of ExperianceU2★★½53RockPop Rock
More LifeDrake★★½53Hip-Hop
Playboi CartiPlayboi Carti★★½52Hip-Hop
Near to the Wild Heart of LifeJapandroids★★½51RockPunk RockIndie Rock
Relaxeralt-J★★½51RockIndie Pop
ReproductionKnife In The Water★★½51RockAlternative RockSlowcore
Nothing Feels NaturalPriests★★½50RockPunk RockPost Punk
HangFoxygen★★½50RockPsychadelic RockArt Rock
Painted RuinsGrizzley Bear★★½50RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
BoomiverseBig Boi★★½50Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
Sacred Hearts ClubFoster The People★★½48RockIndie PopSynthpop
Half LightRostam★★½48RockArt PopInditronica
HumanzGorillaz★★½48Hip-HopElectropopElectronic R&B
ReputationTaylor Swift★★½47PopCountry Pop
Brick Body Kids Still DaydreamOpen Mike Eagle★★½47Hip-Hop
Something To Tell MeHaim★★½46RockIndie Pop
Visions of a LifeWolf Alice★★44RockShoegazeIndie Rock
Pure ComedyFather John Misty★★43RockSinger-SongwriterChamber Pop
Every Country’s SunMogwai★★43RockShoegazePost Rock
Everything NowArcade Fire★★42RockAlternative RockSynthpop
Concrete & GoldFoo Fighters★★42RockAlternative Rock
4eva Is a Mighty Long TimeBig K.R.I.T.★★42Hip-HopSouthern Hip-Hop
Quazarz: Born on a Gangster StarShabazz Palaces★★41Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
Let Me Go OTSPhilip Selway★★40RockAlternative Rock
divideEd Sheeran★★40PopPop rock
Quazarz vs. The Jealous MachinesShabazz Palaces★★35Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
Just For UsFrancis and the Lights★½34PopPop RockSynthpop
DROGAS LightsLupe Fiasco★½34Hip-Hop
Memories…Do Not OpenThe Chainsmokers★½30PopElectropopSynthpop

50 Best Songs

  1. Cool Your Heart – Dirty Projectors, Dawn Richard
  2. Perfect Places – Lorde
  3. Star Roving – Slowdive
  4. Beach Life-In-Death – Car Seat Headrest
  5. In Undertow – Alvvays
  6. Something To Remember Me By – The Horrors
  7. New York – St. Vincent
  8. XO Tour Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
  9. raingurl – Yeji
  10. NEVER – JID
  11. american dream – LCD Soundsystem
  12. DNA. – Kendrick Lamar
  13. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles
  14. Nothing to Find – The War On Drugs
  16. Marilyn – Mount Kimbie, Micachu
  17. See You Again – Tyler, The Creator, Kali Uchis
  18. Pills – St. Vincent
  19. Guilty Party – The National
  20. Hologram – The Horrors
  21. One Rizla – shame
  22. call the police – LCD Soundsystem
  23. Dum Surfer – King Krule
  24. The Body Is a Blade – Japanese Breakfast
  25. Funeral Pyre – Julien Baker
  26. Waitin – Kelela
  27. XXX – Kendrick Lamar, U2
  28. Slide – Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migos
  29. 1049 Gotho – IDLES
  30. Mad Stalkers – 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin
  31. oh baby – LCD Soundsystem
  32. Saturnz Barz – Gorillaz, Popcaan
  33. RING THE ALARM – Joey Bada$$, Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight
  34. Love Galore – SZA, Travis Scott
  35. Negative Space – Hookworms
  36. Sugarboy – St. Vincent
  37. Up All Night – The War On Drugs
  38. The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness – The National
  39. Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way – U2
  40. Truth Hurts – Lizzo
  41. Cut To The Feeling – Carly Rae Jepsen
  42. Green Light – Lorde
  43. BagBak – Vince Staples
  44. Slomo – Slowdive
  45. Villains Of Circumstance – Queens of the Stone Age
  46. Machinist – Japanese Breakfast
  47. Darling – Real Estate
  48. Water Me – Lizzo
  49. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man
  50. TEMPTATION – Joey Bada$$

Genre Highlights




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