20 December 2017

top 40 of 2017 | 30-21

30. Perfume Genius - "Slip Away"

Perfume Genius is the one queer kid in every high school in Smalltown USA. His music comes from pain and feeling misunderstood, so it's no surprise to me than many young queer folks connect with it. As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, I'm always here for unabashed, unashamed queerness, and hearing it paired with his '70s rock voice is really fascinating.

Also worth noting: This song and Lady Gaga's "Grigio Girls" sound identical at their starts.

29. Yo Gotti ft. Nicki Minaj - "Rake It Up"

The lead single from his ninth(!!) studio album, Yo Gotti is just as himself as ever on this downtempo floorfiller. Adding Nicki is basically a surefire way to make me love your song. And holy cow, what a video!!

28. GRLwood - "Nice Guy"

The first of two tracks on this year's list by a Louisville artist, "screampoppers" (their word!) GRLwood - featuring vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Rej Forester and drummer Karen Ledford - have a really fascinating origin story that begins not in Kentucky, but on the streets of Stockholm. Read all about it on their Facebook page. I saw them live by chance a couple months ago when I went to a show to see a friend's band, and they were the openers. I was locked in throughout their set and immediately ran to buy a CD afterwards (which they were both cool enough to sign, lol). The track I've chosen embodies both the increasingly loud cries of frustration of the women of the world against the archetypal "NICE GUY" and the push-pull/whisper-scream nature of their fabulous music.

27. Future Islands - "Ran

Honestly, my favorite thing about Future Islands is the totally unconventional-for-a-pop-group look of frontman Gerrit Welmers. Their music is soft and inviting, but his voice is raspy, gritty, and gnashing, yet it somehow works. This is the kind of music I'd turn on for a pleasant summer backyard gathering at dusk.

26. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber - "Despacito (Remix)"

C'mon, you knew this was coming. This song was simply inescapable this year. As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, I hope we start seeing more English artists recording in other languages, especially with native speakers of those languages. When it works, it works, and my goodness did this work.

25. Armand Van Helden & Komes - "Fried Chicken"

Ok, so not every single song on my list this year is of great social and/or political import. I think Van Helden is serving us some leftovers from the absolutely incredible "Duck Sauce" project from a few years ago, which is fine with me. This slaps.

24. The Killers - "The Man"

After one big old flop-arino of a previous album, The Killers are back and they appear to mean business. This anthem of self-confidence didn't chart on the Hot 100, but it did top the Alternative Songs chart, the first to do so since 2007's "When You Were Young," which gives me hope that they're remembering who their fan base is.

23. The Night Game - "The Outfield"

Methinks the title of The Night Game's debut single was chosen quite deliberately, as their sound absolutely recalls the '80s group of that name. They're more or less the solo project of Boys Like Girls vocalist Martin Johnson, but it really does work nicely. These new-new wave artists are figuring out how to kiss retro without making out with it. Bonus trivia: Gotye does backing vocals on this track.

22. Leon Else - "The City Don't Care"

Another player in the aforementioned game of New-New Wave, Leon Else is a Brit who only has a handful of singles but clearly knows what he's doing. The bridge of this song (beginning "I am an island") is nearly the most flawless bridge in any song of the year (behind only the song that will be revealed as #1 on this list).

21. Paramore - "Hard Times"

Perhaps the most direct example on this list of millennial ennui manifesting as pop music, Paramore continues their move toward upbeat jangle rhythms and cute keyboard motifs. The first time I heard this, my immediate comparison was to Miami Sound Machine, and all these months later, I still think that's pretty fair.