From dance to romance, from hip hop to rock, our list of the TOP 30 songs of 2017 includes the most memorable releases of the year. Of course we had to leave some behind, but it is difficult to choose only 30 songs, especially in a year where artists like Arcade Fire, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Frank Ocean decide to come back. And especially when new artists like Barns Courtney release an explosive debut album. And especially when The Killers, Gorillaz and The xx decide to release magnificent albums. Enjoy our list of the best 3’0 songs of the year.
30. SZA – “Drew Barrymore”
The song is named after SZA’s favorite actress, it deals with the singer’s insecurities and the dynamics of a relationship and low self esteem. This song is so good that Drew Barrymore herself makes an appearance in the accompanying video.
29. Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”
Sheeran was determined to write the best love song of his career, and he did. This is a wedding song that talks about the future and growing old together. It was written by Sheeran for his girlfriend. It is so good, even Beyoncé wanted to be part of it; recently the pair collaborated on the official remix of the song.
28. Vince Staples – “BagBak”
“BagBak,” is Staples’ first new track since 2016’s ‘Prima Donna‘ EP. In this song, Vince Staples talks about big important issues such as race and profiling (“Prison system broken/Racial war commotion/Until the president get that/Sh-t, Vincent won’t be votin’”). It serves as a direct expression of anger towards forces that oppose his ideals.
27. St. Vincent – “New York”
This charming melancholic piano ballad has everyone especulating and guessing who is it about, as it talks about a former relationship. “I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend, but for you darling I’d do it all again”.
26. LCD Soundsystem – “Tonite”
Another 80’s inspired song, but a great one. With an upbeat sound, “Tonite” offers a glimpse at the idea of aging. The opening lyric goes “Everybody’s singing the same song / It goes “tonight, tonight, tonight” and was inspired by James Murphy‘s observation that a lot of hit singles he kept hearing in taxis revolved around a motif that “we only have tonight.”
25. Nine Inch Nails – “Less Than”
Off the EP ‘Add Violence‘ this song marks a step away from the sound of ‘Not The Actual Events’ . It seems to refer to the state of the U.S., citing the sudden change of the cultural climate and weak justification for increased violent actions of the government; and the music video alludes to the video game Polybius– an urban legend about a video game used to data mine information from people to the government.
24. Imagine Dragons – “Believer”
The lead single from the bands EP ‘Evolve’ was inspired by Dan Reynolds‘ experiences with ankylosing spondylitis in 2015. In an interview he said: “The meaning of the song is really reflecting on specific things in my life that were painful” “Just rising above that […] finding a place of perspective”. The video features boxing fight between Dan Reynolds and Dolph Lundgren (yes- Ivan Drago); it will leave you inspired and ready to overcome anything.
23. Barns Courtney – “Glitter and Gold”
Barns Courtney’s first single as a solo artist, “Glitter & Gold” is so good, it has been streamed more than five million times. The lyrics are about his experience of being dropped by a record label, after working on an album for years.
22. Frank Ocean – “Chanel”
“I see both sides like Chanel” This is Frank Ocean‘s ode to duality and his bisexuality; he’s defying the rules of heteronormativity, making him one of the most interesting queer voices of our generation.
21. Dua Lipa – “New Rules”
Kosovo bred, London raised, Dua Lipa comes in with this viral song that is as much a hit as it is a lesson about how to deal with errant lovers. With bassy vocals, 2am-in-the-club beats, this song is as empowering as it is catchy.
20. Paramore – “Hard Times”
From angsty emo teens to tortured grown ups, Paramore deals with depression like no other; it was partly inspired by bassist Jeremy Davis leaving the band in 2015. The video, 80’s inspired, features Hayley Williams singing and dancing on a set decorated with trees and tiny thunderclouds, and slipping in and out of a colorful hand-drawn world. Sadness has never been this fun.
19. Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now/Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” “Look What You Made Me Do” was Taylor‘s way of dealing with her reputation issues, “Kimye”, and her creative transformation. The song generated such anticipation, that the video became the most watched video on Youtube within 24 hours.
18. Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
If you thought the lead single -skillfully produced by Mike Will Made It– from ‘DAMN.’ was good, watch the epic video with its high-end religious imagery; it is anything but humble. “If I quit this season / I still be the greatest” Yes, yes you are, Kendrick.
17. The xx – “I Dare You”
As their popularity grows, so does their sound. Perhaps this is The xx’s most positive song in terms of the content and mood; this dance-y pop tune is about the feeling of infatuation. And the video, which the band described as a “love letter to Los Angeles”, is great too. It stars Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson‘s daughter Paris Jackson, Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders as well as models Lulu and Ernesto Cervantes.
16. Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times”
When he decided to go solo, Harry Styles also decided not to play it safe and it is so refreshing. About it he said: “‘Sign of the Times’ came from ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a hard time, and it’s not going to be the last time.’”
15. Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life (feat. The Weeknd)”
This is Lana‘s first release that features another artist. It captures Lana and Abel Makkonen (a.k.a The Weeknd), well, lust for life. In this blissful track, they sing about doing something that’s fun with someone you love; for example, dancing on the “H” of the Hollywood sign.
14. Post Malone – “Rockstar”
Post Malone and 21 Savage‘s first chart-topping single, they highlight the habits and the “live fast, die young” motto of the rockstar lifestyle referencing real life events of rock history, like Bon Scott and Jim Morrison (I’m startin’ sayin’, “Rest in peace to Bon Scott”/Close that door, we blowin’ smoke/She ask me light a fire like I’m Morrison).
13. Ryan Adams – “Prisoner”
This is Adams’ first album since separating from actress Mandy Moore; and the title track is, as usual, a heartbroken anthem feel that could fit comfortably in most timelines of rock and roll.
12. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – “Over Everything”
Two of the most gifted alt rock composers have taken their friendship to the next level by collaborating on an album (‘Lotta Sea Lice‘). The lead single “Over Everything” talks about exploration of solitude and pensivity and enjoying it. The song plays more like a conversation between the two artists, in the best of ways.
11. Arcade Fire – “Everything Now”
For Arcade Fire festival headline slots are coming their way thick and fast with this apocalyptic song. It has a crowd pleasing chorus and a piano riff ABBA would be proud of. The world might be ending but it will definitely end with a party.
10. Jay Z – “4:44”
This song is both an honest heartfelt love letter to his wife and an apology for his womanizer past. He said: “I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 a.m., to write this song.” “It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
9. Sam Smith – “Too Good At Goodbyes”
Sam Smith first solo release since “Writings On The Wall” tells the story of a turbulent personal relationship, about him getting dumped (“And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry”). About it he said “At the time I was trying to convince myself I was tough, to protect myself. I was gearing up for what I knew would happen“.
8. Lorde – “Green Light”
Lorde wasn’t feeling the laid-back songs on the radio so she released this uptempo track instead; which finds her coping with her first real heartbreak. She’s trying to get the guy out of her mind, waiting for the metaphorical traffic light to change to she can get on with her life.
7. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA”
“I got, I got, I got, I got, Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA”. This knock out of a song is Kendrick Lamar’s celebration of his black heritage embedded in his genetic code (DNA). With powerful beats like that it’s no wonder why Kendrick Lamar earned seven nominations for the 2018 GRAMMY Awards.
6. Spoon – “Hot Thoughts”
“Hot Thoughts” is the lead single and title track from Spoon’s ninth studio album. It was inspired by Britt Daniel’s girlfriend. He explained to NME: “Last spring some guy who barely spoke English came up to her in Shibuya and told her she had beautiful teeth. I just thought this was a very courageous and original way to hit on my girlfriend.”
5. The National – “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”
While most of the songs revolve around the fears and struggles within relationships, the lead single of the GRAMMY nominated ‘Sleep Well Beast‘ was inspired by the divisive 2016 election that resulted in Donald Trump becoming president.
4. The Killers – “The Man”
Brandon Flowers certainly knows how to pen hits; in this shimmering disco tune he mocks his younger macho self by singing “I got gas in the tank / I got money in the bank/I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man“.
3. Gorillaz – “We Got The Power (feat. Jehnny Beth)“
Damon Albarn proved the feud with Oasis is way in the past by featuring Noel Gallagher and Jehnny Beth’s vocals on this uplifting ode to the power of the human spirit and teamwork.
2. The xx – “On Hold”
The lead single of ‘I See You‘ talks about a broken relationship; while one acknowledges the relationship’s inminent ending, the other appears to be in denial. The song samples “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates and became one of heir highest-charting singles internationally.
1. Portugal. the Man – “Feel It Still”
Portland natives Portugal. The Man scaled new heights of popularity with this feel good rock banger. John Gourley mocks the seriousness of today’s indie rock songs singing “I’m a rebel just for kicks now.”