Friday, 9 February 2018

Best singles of 2017

At the beginning of every year, I always fear that it's going to be a boring year for music. If bands I listen to have not announced that they are recording -- with new material or a record due in 2018 -- I always believe the worse. 

I did the same in January 2017, and boy I was surprised at how the year turned out. From Foo Fighters to Queens of the Stone Age, Camila Cabello and to me actually liking a few Taylor Swift songs; 2017 ended up being a pretty surprising year in music for me. 

Obviously, the first song I heard off the new record in full was 'The Way You Used To Do' on June 15, 2017. The day before, Queens of the Stone Age released a weird but hilarious promo video of the band taking a polygraph test, which featured a snippet of what I did not know at the time of 'Feet Don't Fail Me' at the end of the video. 

And what an opener 'Feet Don't Fail Me' is. Funky, heavy and laden with an undeniable groove, the track sets the tone and aesthetic for the remainder of the record, and QOTA's ability to make you want to just break out and dance. 

And what does it sound like live? Absolutely mindblowing. 

Two years ago (last year), Royal Blood fans were taunted with a potential new single entitled 'Hook, Line and Sinker' at Reading Festival. It wasn't until its release as a single in May 2017 that it was known to be featured on their second album How Did We Get So Dark?

Mike Kerr's jarring, guttural bass explodes into the intro; something you would expect in the chorus with Royal Blood. A QOTSA-influenced, hip-hop beat courtesy of Ben Thatcher carries Kerr's call-and-response through the verses between himself and his guitar.

Royal Blood turns the darkness up to 11 for their second record, showing hard artistic integrity that began to unravel on their self-titled debut in 2014. 

Some days checking the trending page on YouTube can work out to your advantage; the beginning of June last year was extremely worth it, as I stumbled across Aly & AJ's return to music with no prior knowledge. 'Take Me' is miles away from the days of 'Like Whoa' and 'Potential Breakup Song'.

It was their first release under their original names for ten years; aptly naming their new EP Ten Years. Taking my new favorite genres - synthpop and vaporwave - under their wing, Aly & AJ created -- if I had to choose -- my favorite single of 2017. 

It was such a pleasant surprise, I believed that it would have sounded more like their work as 78violet (something like 'Hothouse'), but they went a completely different route as they have done since they left the Disney/Hollywood Record labels. 

Similar to how I found 'Take Me', I came across 'Less Than' on trending as well. Which is slightly werider, since Nine Inch Nails are one of my favorite bands. Either I missed the posts on their social media or I had seen them and forgotten (wouldn't surprise me if I had), but I had no idea that they were releasing another EP after the Not the Actual Events (2016). 

'Less Than' is my favorite Nine Inch Nails release as of late, along with the EP itself Add Violence. It almost acts as a return to the aggressiveness of Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral, whilst also retaining the growth and substance that Trent Reznor has gained since the 1990s; he is able to channel what he has experienced in the years following these records with restraint mixed with a familiar abjection. 

The music video also introduced me to the urban legend surrounding Polybius; a game that was supposedly used to data mine information from the public to the government; which also is replicated in 'Less Than' itself, i.e. distrust of the government and what they used that information for. 

There was a time in my life where I absolutely despised anything on the Top 40. And if I did like a song, it became a guilty pleasure. 

I don't know if it's from growing out of my naraccistic teenage years or realizing how pop music can influence genres like rock, but Camila Cabello's 'Havana' has stuck to me like glue since its release. 

I've always had a thing for Latin-laced pop songs; there were a lot when I was younger (Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias spring to mind straight away), so it was natural for me to instantly fall in love with this track and I cannot stop humming and/or singing it whenever I can; regardless of whether it's playing or not. 

The Killers, for me, have always been that band that you adore one song off because it's constantly played on the radio ... and that track would be 'Mr. Brightside', obviously. Bearing in mind that 'Mr. Brightside' came out in 2004, and as an eight-year-old, at the time I had barely begun to carve out my own music taste. 

Knowing that I hadn't listened to The Killers since around the mid-2000s, and didn't know that they were still a band until I heard 'The Man' on the radio in the summer last year. Before Brandon Flowers began singing, I thought it was a song that I hadn't heard from the 80s, and I'm so glad it wasn't. 

'The Man' seeps an alluring confidence and bravado on Flowers part, on top of a funky, disco instrumentation with my favorite bass line of the year. It's just so dirty, and I never knew that The Killers could create this sort of sound. 

Well, I never would've thought that 2017 would have been the year that I actually enjoyed Taylor Swift's music. I'm okay in saying that I absolutely despised 'Look What You Made Me Do' and '... Ready For It'; it wasn't until I watched a BTS video of how Swift made 'Gorgeous', and the amount of effort -- and frustration -- that she put into writing the track. 

reputation has really put Swift into perspective for me. A perspective of getting fed up of being judged, of being criticised that has created a reputation that is beginning to precede her. 

She just doesn't care anymore, and I respect her for it. 

Foo Fighters being my favorite band, it's hard for me to feel apprehensive about a new release since I'm mostly excited more than anything. With Concrete and Gold, however, I was a little nervous as to what would occur with Greg Kurstin (a pop producer) at the helm of a rock record. 

Let's just say they struck gold

'La Dee Da' has got to be my favorite song on that record by far; I was not expecting the distortion applied to this track at all, or the brashness of it. I really hope they delve into this side of them more often, we don't see it enough. 

You know a band's made it when they're able to put out a song just over two minutes and it is catchy as hell. And that's exactly what 'Beautifully Unconventional' does. 

Along with its unique inspiration (who knew the song is from Christian Slater's character in Heathers), it completely juxtaposes the song preceding it on Visions of a Life; 'Yuk Foo', in such a beautifully badass way. 

Wolf Alice already demonstrated their ability to seamlessly move from one genre to another on their debut My Love is Cool, and they further cement this ability on their second release. And the music video for this track is so beautiful.

Noel Gallagher's third album with The High Flying Birds is vastly more psychedelic than their self-titled debut and Chasing Yesterday, but that isn't to say that there aren't acoustic gems hidden within, and 'Black + White Sunshine' is one of them. 

Gallagher knows how to create the perfect road trip song; a song you just want to drive along the coast too with all the windows open, sun beaming down with the music on full blast. 

'Black + White Sunshine' is such a summer anthem, and I cannot wait to annoy everyone in the car with this track on repeat this summer. 


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