Saturday, December 16, 2017
The final part and a new year-end champion is crowned as Kendrick Lamar ends up third. He has extended two records however: most top 10 songs ever on this list (10) and most top 20 songs (15), way ahead in both categories.
But the newly-crowned top track gives hope to abstract ideas being able to fit into pop music, just like Joanna Newsom and not feel like an outside oddity.
Here are the best songs of 2017:
1. Better Sorry Than ASafe (Benjamin Clementine): a decade ago, Joanna Newsom spun a fantastic yarn about a monkey and a bear escaping essentially from slave labour. I remember thinking how nuts it was and utterly brilliant but surely a pop music oddity never to be repeated. I was wrong: Clementine’s track, indeed his entire new album, is told from the view of two flies---yes, you heard right—arguing about life and love. Here one eggs on the other to live for once, daring to do things outside the box. Clementine throws in all the intoxicating medieval production he could muster for good effect. Breathtaking stuff!
2. When I Met You (David Bowie): it’s still too painful to relive Bowie’s death last year but given the context of recording his last LP, here is the final masterpiece we’re surely ever to hear. When I Met You, no doubt inspired by his wife, Iman, simply soars under his vocals, which would be at home in any Bowie album.
3. DNA (Kendrick Lamar): there’s so much going on here, all the while Kendrick snatches the wigs and presents receipts.
4. One Weird Tip (Lemon Demon): I said last year that this dude is the new Of Montreal and here is further proof. Cicierega sounds like he exploded on video game sounds and slick schemes, all culminating in sheer brilliance.
5. 2100 (Run The Jewels feat. BOOTS): as the world sobered up watching Trump taking the presidency of America, a lot of hurt and soul-searching began and the duo are on record stating that this is to start the healing. I’d say job well done.
6. Thank You Mr. K (Ty Segall): we know Ty Segall can bring the noise but the cohesion surrounding this rave of a track is epic even for him.
7. Accelerator (Paul White & Danny Brown): dizzying arrangement sweeps over Brown, like an addict drying out from the last hit.
8. Dollar Bills (Syd): prowling around the strip club and checking out booty.
9. Drew Barrymore (SZA): superfan geekdom meets retribution of those who haven’t treated her right.
10. Chanel (Frank Ocean): continuing from his iconic Blonde last year, Ocean continues to chronicle the new normal within the gay/bisexual dating community.
11. I’m Better (Missy Elliott feat. Lamb): we’ve been awaiting a new Missy album for a decade now but we’ve gotten a few singles that are gems…we want the album but if this is the standard in the interim then we’ll be patient, eh!
12. Shine A Light (Shabazz Palaces): samples Dee Dee Sharp’s “I Really Love You” slowed down a bit to explore a wonderful, futuristic love affair.
13. Dearly Beloved (Kiesza): partially conceived through tragedy, “Dearly Beloved” positively shines with relentless energy and defiance.
14. Humble (Kendrick Lamar): given the last few years that he’s had, Kendrick has more than earned the right to pull out braggadocio every now and then, while dragging everyone who now want to hop unto the train because he’s famous.
15. Frontline (Kelela): the standout track on an outstanding album, “Frontline” manages to serve up her unique take on obvious influences (Aaliyah, Janet Jackson) as she burns a soon to be ex-lover.
16. Lion’s Den (Paul White & Danny Brown): a B-side track that demands its own close-up.
17. Evermore (Grandaddy): lead Jason Lytle is on record as saying that he’s always wanted to do a song around a constant sound, imagining what it’s like throwing stuff out of a plane. Yup, I’ll agree that this is exactly that.
18. Babyee (Jay Som): two decades ago, Bjork revealed all the little things women throw aside when in love on “Hyper-ballad” to be more appealing to men and now here is the dissection mid-way from Jay Som.
19. Santa’s In The Closet (Ariel Pink): tis’ the season to be merry and why shouldn’t Pink put out his own twisted version of Santa Claus where he gets bogged down of all this cheerfulness?
20. K2 (Elbow): you’re forgiven for not even remembering that Elbow released an album this year but it’s downright criminal to have ignored this takedown of Britain’s Brexit hoopla. Lead singer, Guy Garvey’s lyrical poison doesn’t stain the blissful electronic arrangement, which reinforces the fact that the pretty damage will hit the country with an unsuspecting effect…making its legacy all that more devastating.