Top 50 Songs of 2017

on December 27, 2017, 12:00am
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40. Future – “Mask Off”


Sounds Like: The best song to score Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that never actually did. “Mask Off” is an aesthetic win for trap music as arguably the most dynamic song to bear the hallmarks of the mighty subgenre to date.

Key Lyric: “Two cups, toast up with the gang/ From food stamps to a whole ‘nother domain/ Out the bottom, I’m the livin’ proof/ Ain’t compromising, half a million on the coupe.”

Why It Matters: “Mask Off” is a rags-to-riches tune from Future that ties drug use to the role that ill-gotten gains often play in funding the American Dream. The narrative counters that of Tommy Butler’s “Prison Song”, which Metro Boomin sampled for its iconic flute. Ironically, it is Future’s most successful single to date.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 115 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Karas Lamb


39. The National – “Day I Die”

Sleep Well Beast

Sounds Like: An open-ended yet triumphant closing scene, like the victorious characters of Ocean’s Eleven hitting the open road with seedy henchmen closely following.

Key Lyric: “‘Cause I really don’t have the courage not to turn the volume up inside my ears”

Why It Matters: In a year where everyone tried to drown out the noise, The National gifted us a song that filled our ears with exultant guitars, propulsive rhythms, and cleansing words. Matt Berninger’s peering assessment equally scorches and galvanizes while the band erupts with a dynamic vigor rarely seen in their career.

Song in a GIF:

giphy downsized large Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Doug Nunnally


38. Brockhampton – “Gummy”

Saturation II

Sounds Like: Drinking 40s with your closest high school friends during the last summer before everyone leaves for college.

Key Lyric: “That nigga need to act his age, he ain’t acting like a grown up/ Ain’t that boy from Texas? He ain’t acting like a soldier/ Knew that boy in high school, man, that nigga wasn’t awkward”

Why It Matters: While “Gummy” is one of Brockhampton’s more conventional-sounding tracks, Kevin Abstract still keeps it weird by pitching his voice up to sound like M.I.A. Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed boy band takes on their detractors as Kevin Abstract sarcastically addresses criticism about his emotional lyrics while Dom McLennon brags that no other group can match their artistry and cohesiveness.

Song in a GIF:

tumblr o4jzaocnyb1ukyi98o1 500 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Eddie Fu


37. Drake – “Passionfruit”

More Life

Sounds Like: A drunk text from an ex on a night out that you know you should ignore but respond to anyway.

Key Lyric: “You got issues that I won’t mention for now ’cause we’re falling apart”

Why It Matters: Smoother than “One Dance”, this song is the apex of latter-period Drake’s laid-back jams and his sharpest melody yet.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 6 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–David Sackllah


36. Aimee Mann – “Simple Fix”

Mental Illness

Sounds Like: A night out at the orchestra cut short when somebody yells, “Is there a therapist in the house?”

Key Lyric: “We’re babies passing for adults/ Who’ve loaded up their catapults/ And can’t believe the end results/ So, here we go again”

Why It Matters: In a year in which so many of us have fallen into unhealthy emotional patterns, there’s something hopeful about Aimee Mann suggesting the idea of a “Simple Fix”, even if most of us don’t have the courage or the ability to just walk out the door.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 1 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Matt Melis


35. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”


Sounds Like: Hip-hop being reclaimed for the conscious lyricists of yore with more than enough bump to rock the charts, the club, and the streets.

Key Lyric: “I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA/ I got hustle, though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA”

Why It Matters: While the culture argued over mumble-rap and flavor-of-the-moment sensations, Kendrick Lamar charged through the noise with a powerful, eye-opening blast of mind-expanding verses over a bombastic Mike Will Made It production in his ongoing campaign for the title of greatest rapper alive.

Song in a GIF:

tumblr m6wa8f9kz41r5xkt9o1 r1 500 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Scott T. Sterling


34. The War on Drugs – “Thinking of a Place”

A Deeper Understanding

Sounds Like: Capturing dusk’s light like fireflies in a jar made of the ripples in the Missouri River.

Key Lyrics: “Because there’s a rhythm in the way that we’ve been moving/ Yeah, there’s a darkness over there, but we ain’t going”

Why It Matters: Returning three years after a breakthrough album with an 11-minute single is ballsy. However, when that single is such a beautifully atmospheric ode to remaining hopeful in the melancholy before finding love, it’s proof The War on Drugs have the balls to be one of the best rock bands working today.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 2 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Ben Kaye


33. Lorde – “Homemade Dynamite”


Sounds Like: An infinity pool overlooking Miami Beach circa 1997 with Savage Garden playing somewhere in the background.

Key Lyric: “Might get your friend to drive, but he can hardly see/ We’ll end up painted on the road/ Red and chrome/ All the broken glass sparkling/ I guess we’re partying”

Why It Matters: Lorde dresses up her own blank space with a swanky house party, snapping selfies of youthful abandonment that speak volumes for the ages. This is lush, spacious pop that’s almost Hemingway-esque in its details.

Song in a GIF:

dynamite Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Michael Roffman


32. Smino – “Amphetamine”


Sounds Like: Late-night swims in balmy five-star hotel pools, when you’re really staying in the beat-up motel down the road.

Key Lyric: “Grandaddy spittin, ain’t nothing new bout the system/ ‘Cause how they do me they did him/ Appropriating the fellas/ Sucking the fruit from my elders/ Don’t give a Chuck bout no Berry/ They rather listen to Elvis/ Woah, mama”

Why It Matters: At nearly eight minutes, Smino closes out blkswn with a nourishing meditation on the draws and ills of addiction. What could have been a total downer actually becomes a comforting thesis on overcoming, leaving listeners with subtle swells of optimism.

Song in a GIF:

trainspotting Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Michael Roffman


31. LCD Soundsystem – “tonite”

American Dream

Sounds Like: The DJ discovering a locked groove at the end of his chosen record and letting it play because the dance floor keeps moving.

Key Lyric: “Sure enemies haunt you with spit and derision/ But friends are the ones who can put you in an exile”

Why It Matters: Some were skeptical of an LCD Soundsystem return, and others were hungry for it; either way, they needed to prove themselves, and prove themselves they did. “tonite” is vintage LCD, but also James Murphy and co. continuing to analyze their place in the dance pop landscape.

Song in a GIF:

Gww5IJj Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Lior Phillips


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