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Favorite Tracks of 2017 (pt. 2)

Lawrence Lan, Music Columnist

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Happy belated holidays! Let’s bury 2017 in the dirt with this year-end list of some of my favorites from the first half of the year that I missed, and the highlights from July on.

Honestly, any of the tracks could be my #1, so I just decided to take my ranking from today: all of them are fantastic and equally worth checking out.

Let’s go!!

 

Honorable Mentions (from the first half of the year)

Lorde – Homemade Dynamite

A huge part of the reason that this song is here is that I finally finished all of Stranger Things, and I realized that this could fit perfectly in the soundtrack. 🙂 However, even without that connection, it’s still a great track: the synths add so much character and the production quirks paired with Lorde’s usual passionate and commanding voice brings this track home.

 

Blanck Mass – Please

The structure, the genre-hopping, and the sheer volume of the track is all breathtaking. However, the progression of the track is what brings it to another dimension: the expanding of the soundscapes and then the immediate dive deeper is astonishing and awe-inspiring.

 

Phantom – Kisses

This 2017-edited version has one of the most energy-inducing and kaleidoscopic beat explosions that I’ve heard this year. Besides that, the singing is great, and the song features some great electronic synthesizer qualities.

 

Quelle Chris – Buddies

Let this be your self-empowerment anthem. This might be one of the most charming and endearing songs ever made: it’s an unassuming pat-on-the-back that propels you so far and gets positive energy churning again.

 

Forest Swords – War It

A truly original sound, Forest Swords takes orchestral, cinematic, and synthetic elements and instruments to create an amazing minimal techno song.

 

Feist – Pleasure

Something about Feist’s vocal delivery and tone just reminds me of a friend I never had. On top of that, her vocal performance is more passionate and emotionally compelling than usual, before the song breaks down in the latter part into an almost tantrum-like demeanor.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Charly Bliss – Westermarck

One of the most convicted, fun, and realized 90’s-throwback power pop and indie rock songs to come out this year: combine bubble-gum helium-like vocals and a nice, heavy instrumentation and you get pure ecstasy.

 

Iglooghost – Bug Thief

Iglooghost is one of the most talented musicians alive today. His style of electronic and wonky is incredibly colorful and extremely weird and original: something that was evident in his incredible musical splash from last year: the Chinese Nü Yr EP. This year, he followed up with an even more sprawling album, and this single is here for the evident reasons: it’s exhilarating, it’s cute, and it’s epic.

 

Kesha – Praying

Nobody saw Kesha coming back, so she came back with the biggest bang: “Praying” talks about her rebound from her extremely frustrating and emotionally draining relationship with her then-music producer who essentially took control of her. “Praying” is triumphant, an anthem for the return of Kesha, who sees her full potential in this powerful ballad.

 

Tyler, the Creator – November

In the most vulnerable track Tyler has ever been on, Tyler displays his insecurities and self-doubt in HD, talking about the fear of irrelevancy and distrust of people: he wants to go back to “November,” a time in his life where everything was perfect for him.

 

 

15. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Deadly Valentine

This is just a beautiful, theatrical romantic pop tune with mixed-in melancholia and quality pop-bursts. Not much else needs to be said.

 

14. Converge – A Single Tear

You can’t ask for a better intro cut for an album. Everything about this track screams “epic” – the memorable guitar riff, the quaking vocals, and the usual extreme passion that just makes a hardcore song amazing is here. The track from this pioneering metalcore group is catchy, intense, and amazing.

 

13. Lou the Human – Macklemore

With Macklemore (the song, not the rapper), Lou the Human’s great punchlines and horrorcore-inspired imagery combined with a grimy and left-field boom-bap beat showcases the potential of underground hip hop at its brightest.

 

12. N.E.R.D – Lemon

Pharrell never ages: physically and creatively too. A 44-year-old father of four, along with his idiosyncratic and historically significant group that just reunited, made one of the most fun, immediate, and permeating songs of 2017, featuring a kick-ass rap verse from Rihanna.

 

11. Injury Reserve – Boom X3

Injury Reserve has to be one of the most creative hip-hop groups existing today. Their EP that came out in September showcased a shift in tone and mood and a crank-up in lyrical skill. This track is a banger, showcasing the ice-cold disposition of the group’s new image making for a truly memorable chorus and an impressive song all-in-all.

 

10. Kelela – LMK

If this year marked anything for me, it was the growth of a love of experimental pop and R&B, and Kelela’s “LMK” rose as one of the best representations of that. It’s expansive and fully conceived. What’s more is that Kelela seems to be truly coming into her own, and that’s not something that’s only found on this song – it’s all across Take Me Apart.

 

9. London on da Track – No Flag ft. 21 Savage, Offset, Nicki Minaj

This song shows 21 Savage at his best – on a hook with a menacing and fast flow. This song shows Nicki Minaj’s best rap contribution in a while and this song shows Offset’s contagious swagger and charisma elevated to another level with a more convicted and serious tone. What really brings this song to a new level, though is London’s beat. The beat doesn’t resemble the carnivorous demogorgons roaming around Hawkins Lab: instead, it’s the sleek vines in the tunnels, moving and venomous. It’s so propulsive: never have I heard a trap beat that moves so much linearly as much as it moves head-bobbingly vertically. Needless to say, this track is amazing, and if you’re in New York City at night and you hear this track come on, you best lace your shoes tight cause sooner or later, you’ll be speeding down the streets with everybody staring at you as you swerve around trash cans, toddlers riding scooters, and that homeless man lurking around for loose change and a ride to Astoria. Simply mesmerizing.

 

8. Björk – The Gate

Björk abandons a cut-and-dry song structure in favor of a more far-reaching, overarching, and vast quality in this almost seven-minute song. Arca contributes mysterious but bubbly and propelling production – the perfect backdrop for Björk to serenade us to. Björk’s captivating and potent vocals are nothing to mess with.

 

7. Open Mike Eagle – Daydreaming in the Projects

This track is the antithesis of “No Flag.” Where that track is speed racing and in action, this song is more contemplative, hopeful, and slow: to look up in the sky, wonder, dream, and to exhale. The vision of “ghetto children fighting dragons in the projects around the world” with the muted horns accompanying might be the sweetest and most endearing things said in all of human history. Ever.

 

6. Big K.R.I.T. – Mixed Messages

Honestly, there could’ve been around 10 tracks on Krizzle’s latest record that could’ve made it on this list, but I think this track is special, especially lyrically speaking. After the intro to the second disc of K.R.I.T.’s heavily anticipated double-disc debut album as an independent artist, K.R.I.T. almost reflects back on his career and his life in general on themes of hypocrisy found in his life. It’s a meditative moment, which is a quality that, I would argue, no rapper is able to execute as well as K.R.I.T. does on this really meaningful song.

 

5. Brockhampton – Junky

In the group’s tour-de-force takeover of 2017, Brockhampton’s moment of moving to a higher tier of artistic creativity came with “Junky,” a track that marked an even more urgent and manic tone compared to their usual material. With Kevin’s verse sounding more pressing and schizo than normal, the Aquemini-era evocative beat breakdown, and then the beat finally coming in, it’s almost pure lunacy, pushing the Brockhampton boys to another level.

 

4. Richard Dawson – Weaver

Wow – if you could call any track “voyageous,” it would be this – and with no contest. Richard Dawson’s brand of freak-folk is truly freaky, but it’s just as weird as it is emotionally captivating, powerful, and transcendent, especially with the chorus vocals at the end – truly breathtaking.

 

3. Rina Sawayama – Cyber Stockholm Syndrome

The topic of relationships in today’s different social landscape and just talking about the digital age in 2017 is a very relevant and interesting topic that, sadly, not many artists are covering. Rina Sawayama, with her debut mini-album, puts it front-and-center with her early 2000’s era pop-sounding voice. Clarence Clarity takes to the backdrop, and the results are magnetic. The verses and chorus are chilled-out but evident enough, showcasing the idiosyncrasy of the production choices. And then, the “second part” of the song hits, with a huge explosion of sound, rocketing into space as Rina sings the chorus for one last time as it leaves us, the listeners, in marvel.

 

2. Tyler, the Creator – Boredom

“Boredom” might be the highlight out of all of the highlights on Flower Boy. Rex Orange County’s intro to the track is amazing: sweet, soulful, and longing, Anna of the North complements his singing beautifully, and it’s here – and throughout the album – that it’s evident that Tyler has progressed five to six levels ahead. This track is stunningly beautiful and soulful, but at the same time, it’s densely packed with very human emotion, clear once Tyler raps about being lonely and wanting someone to hang out with. It’s beautiful, and Tyler passes the song concept off with flying colors.

 

1. Alvvays – Dreams Tonite

Sometimes all you need is a compact pop tune to rise to the top. Let’s just say that this song sets the perfect mood for any season – it’s so kaleidoscopic it’s ridiculous, and the chorus is so incredibly catchy and memorable. I love this song to its core – the synthesizers and the beat are simply gorgeous, and the bass kicking in after the first chorus takes the track to the next level. This is at the top of my rotation as of today, and this is the song that I will most likely be jamming to once 2017 comes to a close. If there is one song that I could go to that would always hug and treat me like a friend I don’t have, then this is it.

Thanks for reading!!

Link to the Spotify Playlist (you can click on it: it’s not a virus—promise)

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