IN THIS PHOTO: Morrissey
The Best Singles of 2017 (So Far)
I brought together my favourite albums of this year…
IN THIS PHOTO: Camila Cabello/PHOTO CREDIT: Cibelle Levi for L’Oréal Paris
in a piece yesterday afternoon. Today; I could not help reflect on the singles that have stayed in my head the longest – those that have made the biggest impression. In this collection are songs from Lorde, Baxter Dury and The Hempolics: an eclectic and genre-hopping rundown that forms the soundtrack of my 2017. This year has been a huge one for music. It has provided more unexpected treats than any I can remember; always capturing the imagination and senses – out of it all has been a river of marvellous music that has thrilled and struck music lovers.
Here is my list of the best tracks of this year (so far)…
Beth Ditto – Savior Faire
Album: Fake Sugar
I was not a fan of the song to start with but, over time, it has wormed its way into my consciousness. Fake Sugar is an album that departs from The Gossip’s material and sees Ditto establish her own sound. Glittering, lush guitar strings and a striking vocal lead makes it one of the biggest songs of the year.
The Hempolics – Boss Clock Me Style
Album: Kiss, Cuddle & Torture Volume 1
This is unlikely to shift from the position of My Favourite Single of 2017 because its infectiousness and sweet-leaf soothe get into the bones with alacrity. The chorus is a classic slice of gold: Reggae vibes with some seriously captivating vocals. It is Urban Reggae with a dash of Soul: just what we need after such a hard year.
Baxter Dury – Miami
Album: Prince of Tears
Any child of Ian Dury would have a weight on their shoulders: Baxter is not a man who would allow that pressure to guide his career. Miami is a perfect example of where his music is at. The established songwriter created a slithering, street-ready strut that provided the first glimpse of the album, Prince of Tears. Its lyrics mix weird and humorous; the vocals constantly shaping and curious – the overall effect is a perfect track for those who prefer their music raw, cheeky and utterly brilliant.
Robert Plant – Bones of Saints
Album: Carry Fire
No Robert Plant single is ever going to disappoint: Carry Fire’s hottest track is a classic slice from the former Led Zeppelin lead. It rumbles and gravels as the hero provides an assortment of mystical and mystical visions. The song takes us to otherworldly realms and clean bones – battles waged and spirits lifted to the skies.
Jordan Rakei – Goodbyes
It is those harmonies that do it for me! The chorus is impossibly gorgeous, swooning and chocolate-smooth. It is like being trapped in a cobweb of the angels: fighting against the layers and weaves of vocal Heaven and sumptuous allure. Jordan Rakei’s Goodbyes shows he is among the finest young songwriters of the moment. Similar beautiful moments can be found on Wallflowers: none that scale the same dizzying heights as Goodbyes.
Wolf Alice – Beautifully Unconventional
Album: Visions of a Life
Visions of a Life will challenge the contenders for the best albums of this year. Among the eclectic and electric songs are some insane and menacing slams; more contemplative and emotive numbers – Beautifully Unconventional strays between the two camps. The London band has created one of this year’s best albums for sure. Their energy and kinetic charge; the incredible songwriting and diversity – all of this funnelled into the exceptional single, Beautifully Unconventional.
Morrissey – Spent the Day in Bed
Album: Low in High School
The album is not out yet but Low in High School’s lead-off single is classical Morrissey! Its lyrics look at the hero wiling the hours in bed as the workers slave and battle the public transport network. It may not be as literal as that: more, a survey of self-care and the need to disassociate and detach from propaganda, fear and the sheep-herd. It is a huge song whose chorus will remain in the head for weeks. It remains to be seen whether Low in High School will equal Morrissey’s best albums. On the evidence of its introductory single; it seems dedicated fans might have a new favourite.
Amp Fiddler (ft. J. Dilla, T3 and Neco Redd) – Return of the Ghetto Fly
I am not normally a fan of collaborations – where a song gets multiple names stuffed into it. I can make an exception for something as smooth, seductive and fabulous as Return of the Ghetto Fly. Amp Fiddler and his cohorts craft one of the year’s finest tracks. I am not sure the exact origins of the lyrics but, on a base level, can connect with its themes, tones and timbre. A hugely memorable song that should soundtrack everyone’s 2017.
Album: Single Release
Lorde – Green Light
There were some nerves around the release of Melodrama: an album that followed 2013’s Pure Heroine. The New Zealand-born artist defied odds and expectations with Green Light. It is a song that – as Lorde told Pitchfork when probed – “…is really about those moments kind of immediately after your life changes and about all the silly little things that you gravitate towards. I say, 'She thinks you love the beach, you're such a liar.' What the fuck, she thinks you like the beach?! You don't like the beach! It's those little stupid things”. Whatever the origins: it is a sensational and endlessly impressive cut from an artist growing stronger and more peerless by the album.
Camila Cabello (ft. Young Thug) – Havana
Album: The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving
This might, traditionally, prove more popular with those who prefer their music mainstream and commercial. To me; it is a song that has accessibility and cross-boundary appeal. It is a song I have bonded with and can appreciate. Its themes of romance and yearning are never common and predictable: always stemming from a unique hard documenting a very particular origin and passion. I expect big things from Cabello as she makes her stamp on modern music.
Princess Nokia – G.O.A.T.
Album: Single Release
Despite her name and contradictory nature: there is nothing outdated and regal about Princess Nokia! She is a modern artist who is as fresh and of-the-moment as they come. Although there are no pretences and graces with her: the music does have a lot of depth – more than one might expect from a new star on the R&B/Rap scene. Her compelling mixture of sounds and vocal nuances make a song like G.O.A.T. more than an acronym. It is a confident, brain-troubling song that, by the second listen, will have you singing along.
Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights
Julien Baker’s Turn Out the Lights is one of the most impressive albums of this year. It documents everything from sexuality to mental illness. It is a frank and open work from a songwriter who has tackled prejudice and anxieties through the years. Above it all is a one-of-a-kind songwriter who pours her life and soul onto the page. Her latest album’s title-track has candour and emotional elements but never pushes the listener away. It is a typically assured and stirring track from Baker.
Album: Turn Out the Lights