It seems just like yesterday we were counting down the best of 2016, and now we’re a month into the new year. We managed to make it 31 days without a major surprise release, but considering the current state of the US, it was probably wise for musicians to keep from trying to steal the spotlight.
If you want to put the month’s 10 best songs in perspective, let’s first take a look at everything that didn’t make the list. We’re talking about cuts from new albums by the likes of Japandroids, Ty Segall, The Flaming Lips, and Brian Eno. We’re talking about our first taste of new music in years from artists like Real Estate, Pharmakon, Jamiroquai, and Goldfrapp.
We’re talking about a pair of songs with particularly relevant social commentary from Father John Misty and a pair of masterful cuts from Dirty Projectors that are building anticipation for each of their new albums. We’re talking about particularly strong material from relatively unknown acts like Crystal Fairy, Stef Chura, and Sneaks.
And that doesn’t even touch on two of the biggest songs released during the year’s first month, new songs from Arcade Fire and Gorillaz that failed to match our high expectations for either band. It was a reminder of how easy it is to be blinded by good will when your favorites return with good music, and hopefully those are more filler than an actual indication of what their next albums will sound like.
The 10 songs we’ve chosen range from No. 1 hits to album deep cuts, spanning the genres of rap, rock, and R&B. For one act, it’s their first new song in 22 years, and for others, it’s just one of many that we could have included. It’s a markedly strong start for the year, enough so that we’ll be lucky if it continues at this pace.