Easily the best beat of the year, BROCKHAMPTON’s opener to SATURATION III has unparalleled energy with every member coming in strong. While it’s not the groups strongest hook, the blaring horns are infectious, and you can’t help but get excited every time it’s on.
2. "Walk Like a Panther" – Algiers
Algier’s opener to their album, The Underside of Power, is one of the craziest musical concoctions in years. The song is a mix of soul, industrial, and hip-hop. The grainy drums and guitars hit hard, while Franklin Fisher’s vocals are shouted with incredible intensity. On top of the emotional and catchy music are strong social lyrics.
3. "Give Me a Reason" – Ibibio Sound Machine
The funkiest song of the year, Ibibio Sound Machine brought together 80’s era electronics and classic West African funk for the best dance song of the year. The live horns, guitars, and percussion match perfectly with the synths. Eno Williams’ vocals are soulful and high energy.
4. "Bravado" – Kirin J Callinan
"Bravado" is the title track and closer to Kirin J Callinan’s sophomore album, and it’s a fantastic pop ballad about male ego. The synth-pop production on this track gives a catchy backdrop and allows Kirin to let loose with his unique vocals. One of the finest album closers of the year.
5. "Mother" – IDLES
One of the angriest songs of the year, frontman Joe Talbot rips into the English Conservative party with his grizzly vocals. Despite the pure rage emitting from this track, the repeated refrains are incredibly catchy. The lyrics, guitars, and drums are all highlights. The closing minute of the track is incredibly powerful with its lyrics directed towards issues of sexual violence.
6. "Rain in Soho" – The Mountain Goats
Acting as the opener from the album, Goths, "Rain in Soho" captures your attention instantly with a piano melody and heavy drums. John Darnielle’s vocal performance is fiery, while the choral backing throughout the song is excellent.
7. "Take Me as I Am" – Rina Sawayama
Had Rina Sawayama’s debut project been an album rather than an EP it likely would have landed in my top-three for the year. Rina’s sound harkens back to the pop and R&B sound of the 90’s that was popularized by the likes of early Brittney Spears. Rina’s catchy hooks and vocals are paired with production by songwriter Clarence Clarity. Clarity is one of the more interesting producers working right now and takes this sound to another level.
8. "Beggar" – Richard Dawson
Coming in over hallway through Dawson’s album Peasant, "Beggar" has a gorgeous acoustic melody that pairs beautifully with his raw vocals and percussion. It has a lengthy run-time of seven minutes and doesn’t provide instant gratification, but leaves you with a serene feeling that is hard to capture.
9. "DNA" – Kendrick Lamar
Off Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album DAMN., "DNA" acts as the record’s most aggressive track, and hip-hop banger of the year. Lyrically, Kendrick is as strong as ever spouting about his heritage. But, the song reaches further heights in the final third with one of the best beat-switches in recent memory. The beat is dark, the bass rumbles, and Kendrick absolutely snaps.
10. "MILK" – BROCKHAMPTON
Coming in at the bottom of the top-10 is BROCKHAMPTON’s poetic and introspective track, "MILK", from their first iteration of SATURATION. The song allowed many of its members to open-up about important parts of their lives. Ultimately, it leaves you with a feel-good message of self-acceptance, improvement, and honesty. The beat features interesting guitars with the usual synths and drums. The hook is incredibly catchy and positive, and Dom McClennan delivers a Verse of the Year candidate with his spoken-word passage to conclude the track.
Link to Spotify Playlist: Top Songs of 2017