2017 was a terrific year for music, with major names coming out with some of their best music yet while new artists found ways to shine with a new, inventive style or with brilliant production and vocals. Here, I am picking my 50 favorite songs of the year. I have limited my list to TWO SONGS PER ARTIST in order to add some variety to the list. Remember, these are my choices, and you are free to disagree with them as you wish. Now, let’s get into the list.
50.) “Pray” – Sam Smith
49.) “Spice Girl” – Aminé
48.) “Fuck Ugly God” – Ugly God
Sure, this may be an unorthodox choice, but hot off being chosen as a 2017 XXL Freshman, Ugly God came out with one of the funniest tracks of 2017. This two-minute song, in which he flames himself on the way he dresses, his childhood, and his lack of music range, is consistently hysterical and shows the best of what Ugly God can bring to the table.
47.) “Take Me Apart” – Kelela
46.) “T-Shirt” – Migos
45.) “Signs” – Drake
Maybe a surprising choice considering the Toronto rapper dropped an entire, ahem, “playlist” this year, however, though songs like “Portland” and “Passionfruit” were great, I found “Signs” and its absolutely infectious beat to be Drake’s best song this year. The lyrics are simple, but the flow is terrific, and it is the peak of Aubrey Graham’s moody side.
44.) “Sky Walker” ft. Travis Scott – Miguel
43.) “Big Fish” ft. Juicy J – Vince Staples
42.) “Slip Away” – Perfume Genius
Mike Hadreas’ solo work under this persona is excellent, and “Slip Away” is the highlight track from the “No Shape” album he released in 2017. The production is outstanding, Hadreas’ vocals are heartfelt and gorgeous, but it is truly the booming production on the hook that takes my breath away with each listen.
41.) “Best Part” ft. H.E.R. – Daniel Caesar
40.) “Icon” – Jaden Smith
Yeah, that’s right, I have a Jaden Smith song in here. Mr. Karate Kid has always been an unlikable force in pop culture for his pretentious tweets and gigantic ego, but on “Syre,” and, specifically on this track, Jaden brings his ego to a peak and creates an absolute banger. The production on this track is stunning and visceral, Jaden’s flow is much improved from the past, and the bars, while occasionally cringe and consistently egotistical, they work for the track, and I cannot help but get unrealistically hype listening to this 19-year-old absolutely spit on this beat.
39.) “Issues” – Julia Michaels
38.) “Love Galore” ft. Travis Scott – SZA
37.) “Smoking Section” – St. Vincent
36.) “Kites” ft. Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A. – N.E.R.D.
Listen to Kendrick’s verse on this and listen to that absolutely ridiculous beat and tell me this isn’t one of the best songs of 2017. You can’t.
35.) “Bodak Yellow” – Cardi B
Arguably the most popular song of the year, Cardi B’s road to fame is something that truly makes her one of the best success stories in recent memory. Her breakout single showed the best of what the 25-year-old can do, using a simple beat to bring an increased intensity and flair to the female rap game that simply was not there before. Love her or hate her, Cardi is here to stay, and “Bodak Yellow” shows all the reasons why.
34.) “Plot Twist” ft. Kyle – Marc E. Bassy
33.) “Cut To The Feeling” – Carly Rae Jepsen
32.) “Getaway Car” – Taylor Swift
31.) “Slide” ft. Frank Ocean & Migos – Calvin Harris
Three artists who had a strong 2017, Calvin Harris brought Frank and Migos together for one of the early star-studded collaborations of the year, and yeah, it worked. Frank’s voice is stunning, especially on the chorus, and both Quavo and Offset, specifically Offset, bring the heat on their verses while Harris manages to create a sweet summer beat that made this one of the catchiest songs of the year.
30.) “Boredom” ft. Rex Orange County and Anna of the North – Tyler, The Creator
29.) “The Way Life Goes” ft. Oh Wonder – Lil Uzi Vert
28.) “Homie” ft. Meek Mill – Young Thug and Carnage
27.) “First World Problems” ft. Daniel Caesar – Chance the Rapper
While never released anywhere, this live performance while on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show is one of the strongest lyrical moments of 2017. Chance beautifully goes through verses on how he can’t be the father he wants to be to his daughter because of the fame. The light instrumentals are terrific, Daniel Caesar’s mostly background vocals are lovely, and as the song picks up in intensity, so do his lyrics. This track shows the best of what Chance can do, and leaves me craving a new album from him in the near future.
26.) “Horror Show” ft. Danny Brown – DJ Shadow
25.) “rockstar” ft. 21 Savage – Post Malone
One of the better collaborations on the year, “rockstar” has Post Malone bringing his impressive vocals on a great beat, which somehow goes even better with a 21 Savage feature that brings the deep voice and slower flow that 21 is known for at this point. But, unlike with some of 21’s solo projects, his flow works wonders on this beat, especially when combining with Post’s voice on the chorus. The concept of the song is simple, but effective, and it makes for a track that stuck in my mind for quite a while.
24.) “List of People (To Try and Forget About)” – Tame Impala
Somehow, even one of Tame Impala’s B-Sides is good enough to make the list. This psychedelic rock group hasn’t released a real album in two years, but this track off their recent “Currents” B-sides collection is absolutely electrifying. The instrumentals and the production are as amazing as any Tame Impala song before it, as are the vocals. This song is everything to love about the group and more, even if it somehow missed a spot on their last album.
23.) “1-800-273-8255” ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid – Logic
Sure, Logic’s “Everybody” album was a disappointment, but this song absolutely was not. This “Suicide Hotline” track gives a stunningly heartfelt look at depression and suicidal thoughts, while having a terrific message on how to get help and help others. Logic’s verse and chorus are well performed, Alessia Cara’s unique voice works wonders in her verse, and Khalid is beyond powerful at the back end of the song. The beat is great as well, and it is this type of song that shows me that Logic has all the potential in the world to be a force in the hip-hop game.
22.) “XO TOUR Llif3” – Lil Uzi Vert
One of the most surprising songs of the year, Lil Uzi Vert combines some deep themes and a sick beat to create his greatest song yet. Uzi Vert is not necessarily known to be deep, but this track is sincere and dark, bringing in lyrics of depression and suicide, yet he somehow makes it amazingly catchy in the process. I never expected to love a Lil Uzi Vert song as much as I loved this one, and, though most of “Luv is Rage 2” was simply okay, this song shows the amount of ability he possesses.
21.) “Drew Barrymore” – SZA
The second SZA song to make the list, this TDE member had one hell of a 2017, and “Drew Barrymore” is my favorite song from her yet. Off her tremendous album, “Ctrl,” SZA’s voice is stunning, as is her lyricism on this track, breaking down how she is not good enough for her man. While there were many highlights from this album to choose from, “Drew Barrymore” is her largest vocal showcase, and the one that stuck with me the most.
20.) “Crisis” ft. 21 Savage – Rich Chigga
Rich Chigga is the artist that 2017 deserved. Mr. Brian Imanuel teams up with 21 Savage to create an absolute heater of a track. This beat, with Imanuel produced, as stated on the chorus, is phenomenal, and Rich Chigga’s deep voice and outstanding flow is put on display here. 21 Savage also adds quite a bit to the song, bringing quite possibly the most lively verse of his career to the table. It appears we are finally getting a Rich Chigga album in 2018, and I truly cannot wait to hear what this 18-year-old rapper from Indonesia brings us next.
19.) “Real Death” – Mount Eerie
The saddest song, maybe not just of the year, but ever, Phil Elverum sings in brutal detail about the heartache of losing someone you love. The opening single from Elverum’s “A Crow Looked at Me” album that shook me to my core, this song is by no means one that is enjoyable, but it cannot be overlooked just how powerful this track is. Elverum’s lyrics on losing his wife to pancreatic cancer are heartbreaking, and you can absolutely feel the grief that he feels. The instrumental is very simple, but just enough to add to this absolutely soul-sucking track that I may never be able to forget.
18.) “Writer in the Dark” – Lorde
The highlight song off “Melodrama,” Lorde goes into her strongest lyrical abilities to describe a failed relationship, and how her ex-lovers may regret falling for someone in her position. The vocal performance from Lorde is outstanding, as is the piano and the production on the track, but it is her lyrical strength that makes this song, as well as the entire album, so incredible.
17.) “oh baby” – LCD Soundsystem
The opener to the group’s critically acclaimed album, “american dream,” this song has the album’s best beat and best vocal performance. This track perfectly opens up the concept of the entire record, and also has a way of being completely infectious with the style of its’ production. I could not get enough of this song, and while the rest of the album certainly had its appeal, this was the easy standout, and one of my favorite songs from the widely acclaimed group.
16.) “Praying” – Kesha
I wasn’t sure if Kesha would ever really get back to the heights she once reached, but then “Praying” came out, and it completely blew me away. I did not know that Kesha could reach this level of emotion and power within her voice, but here we are. This song, which is an empowering track on Kesha discussing her cruel past and saying how she has gained a new strength within herself. Sure, the instrumental is pretty and all, but Kesha brings the heat with a brutally heartfelt performance that stands as one of the best of the year.
15.) “I’m Not Racist” – Joyner Lucas
This nearly seven-minute track by an artist I honestly did not know previously quickly became one of the most powerful songs of the year. The message is simple: white people and black people have a lot of anger towards each other, but Joyner Lucas turns this into a powerful statement about how the two can join together and resolve problems through peace. Sure, it’s a little preachy and may rub some people the wrong way, but I think Lucas handles this tricky subject with a ton of thought and understanding. His vocal performance is visceral and real, and it is a song like this that successfully gets a message across, and one that I loved seeing late in the year.
14.) “Yeah Right” ft. Kendrick Lamar and KUČKA – Vince Staples
Vince Staples gets the assistance of Mr. Lamar on one of the most insane songs of 2017. This bass-heavy beat and Vince’s simple, yet effective verses and hook start off the song excellently, but it is Kendrick’s energy that makes this track one of the year’s best. Kendrick goes off, as does the beat during the verse, and it creates a total banger, and one of Staples’ best songs so far.
13.) “4:44” – JAY-Z
The most introspective song on the entire album is also the greatest sounding track, and is JAY-Z’s true masterpiece in 2017. I love what Jay says about the Beyoncé situation throughout the track, bringing a lyrical side of him that has simply never been seen before, and it has powerful results. Still, the highlight of the song is the Hannah Williams & The Affirmations sample used to start the track, as well as throughout the rest of the song in the background. These vocals are haunting, intense, and add so much to what Jay is saying in the song as a whole.
12.) “Chanel” – Frank Ocean
The first Frank song to make this list, Mr. Ocean blessed us this year with a handful of tracks that feature his stunning vocals and his increasingly impressive production. The first of those songs this year was “Chanel,” a beautiful song with a genius hook, Franks heavenly vocals in all of their glory, and an instrumental that perfectly fits his voice. The track is simple, but everything you would want from a song by Frank.
11.) “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” – Sampha
Sampha took me by storm early in 2017, and this song is the major reason why. This song is simply a man and his piano, like the title states, but Sampha’s gorgeous voice and beautiful piano playing makes this a song full of raw emotion and beauty. The notes on the main portion of the track hit every single time, and the power that Sampha creates in each word he sings is truly something to behold.
10.) “Flood Watch” ft. Offset – Juicy J
Rip me all you want, this song is absolutely fantastic. Juicy J’s best song by a wide margin, “Flood Watch” is catchy, hard-hitting, and phenomenal. Juicy J brings some of his best lines in this song, while also destroying the chorus, and while I love Offset’s verse just as much, the real MVP in this song is the piano. The simple notes played throughout the entire song are so catchy, so fun, and so full of life that it allows Juicy J and Offset to heat the song up perfectly, and create one of the bangers of the year.
9.) “Annie” – A R I Z O N A
One of the more unknown artists on the list, A R I Z O N A’s opening track to their “GALLERY” album is as catchy as they come. The lyrics are simple, but the vocal performance by Zach Hannah is fantastic, and when the beat hits after the chorus, the song becomes downright irresistible. This is just one of those songs I could not help but sing along to every time I put it on, and while it is by no means groundbreaking, it holds a special place in my heart for its’ sheer enjoyability.
8.) “STAR” – Brockhampton
Picking only two Brockhampton songs seemed nearly impossible for a boy band that took the rap game by storm with a trilogy of albums released in the same year. Still, “STAR” stood out as the group’s catchiest song to date. Coming off the first “Saturation,” Dom McLennon, Ameer Vann, and Kevin Abstract take turns making every pop culture reference imaginable in three of the most creative verses of the year. The beat hits hard, but the references are so clever and so witty that this became the song I kept coming back to from the group. Also, any song that manages to discuss Secret Agent Cody Banks and Shawn Mendes in the same track deserves a top 10 spot on merit alone.
7.) “Hard Times” – Paramore
The #1 catchiest song of 2017, Paramore went much more into the pop genre in 2017, and “Hard Times” is their greatest example as to why this was a good move. This song screams energy and excitement from its’ poppy production to Haley Williams’ upbeat vocal performance, and yet still the lyrics are incredibly dark and somber when really listening for them. This opposition in lyrics and sound is remarkable within the track, and the sound of the song itself is undeniably the most fun track I heard this year.
6.) “911 / Mr. Lonely” ft. Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, to this point, had been known for his overly vulgar music, and for being one of the most polarizing figures in the rap game. However, this year Tyler came through with one of the most universally acclaimed rap albums of the year, and this song was the highlight on that excellent album. Tyler brings a terrific flow, his increasingly phenomenal production, an infectious hook, and even brings Frank Ocean to tag along and create the best song of his career. The easygoing vibe of the song makes it such a fun one to listen to, and it is this laid-back sort of banger that made “Flower Boy” such a success, and has Tyler at the peak of his musical career.
5.) “DNA.” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is pretty much universally the best artist alive, so yeah, his single greatest verse of the year is worthy of number five. The first half of this song is very catchy, Kendrick has a relatively solid flow, but holy shit the final minute of this song blows pretty much any musical achievement this year out of the water. This is Kendrick’s hardest verse, the lyrics are sharp, the beat is pure madness, and there is no single minute of music that gets the juices flowing more than the back half of “DNA.”
4.) “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles
Before you think “HARRY STYLES OVER DNA WHAT THE FU-,“ let me explain myself. Yes, “DNA.” reaches higher points than this song by the end, but as a full song, I do think the ex-One Direction member brought together one of the most impressive pieces of music this year had to offer. This nearly six-minute track is exceptionally well produced, well performed, and beautifully sung by Styles. The chorus is powerful, and, as the tension builds in Styles’ voice, the song becomes downright epic in every form of the word.
3.) “Lens” – Frank Ocean
Mr. Ocean gets a second spot on this album, this time making the podium with “Lens.” This is a very easygoing song, but Frank’s voice is just so so good that it makes the song work in ways that are almost indescribable. This is such a free-flowing and brilliantly performed song, that even its simplicities feel complex. The production is punchy when it needs to be, but it is mostly subtle and it lets Frank just embark on a vocal journey that is truly jaw-dropping. Frank Ocean has the best voice alive right now, and “Lens” is the best example of that.
2.) “DUCKWORTH.” – Kendrick Lamar
The closer on “DAMN.” shows everything that is just so fantastic about Kendrick in a single song, and that is why it comes in at number two. Starting easy, the production is a perfect mix of Kendrick’s previous albums, and the flow Kendrick gives is as amazing as always, but the storytelling ability put on display is something that only Kendrick can do this well. Kendrick goes through a story involving his father and TDE and how they both came together to create Kendrick as he is, and the lyrics are so enthralling and so well told that I am sucked in for all four minutes of the track every time. This is a genius move by Kendrick, and a song that could only be done by him, a man at the top of the music industry.
1.) “JUNKY” – Brockhampton
My favorite song of 2017 comes from a group I had never even heard of coming into the year, but now, Brockhampton has created a song that can even surpass Kendrick in his musical prime. “JUNKY” is the best song the boy band has created thus far, with each member coming together for some of the hardest verses of the year. The production is off the wall and near-psychotic, Kevin Abstract starts the track off with brutal lyrics on sexuality, Ameer Vann comes in to bring drugs to the table, Merlyn Wood then joins in to talk about mental instability, then Matt Champion brings in issues of rape culture. The track closes on a ridiculous Dom McLennon verse, and the group somehow manages to discuss inner struggles, as well as problems within society, all while creating witty lyrics, an incredible amount of chemistry, and enough personality to fill a room. Brockhampton is the story of 2017 for many reasons, but “JUNKY” is the height of their musical capabilities thus far, and the best song that I heard this year.
Listen to the whole list on Apple Music here
*Note: I added “Stir Fry” by Migos at #50 on the playlist because “First World Problems” isn’t on Apple Music or Spotify and I wanted a clean 50, plus that song just came out and easily could have made the list if it came out earlier. Also “4:44” isn’t on Spotify, and “Ghostface Killers” was my #51, so I added it.
What is your favorite song of 2017? Which choices did I make that you hate me for? Comment below with your thoughts.
Edited by Aaron Zorij