Top 50 Songs of 2017

on December 27, 2017, 12:00am
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10. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”

Non-Album Single

Sounds Like: The stylistic answer to Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N*gga” but takes a cue from Jay-Z’s 2001 Nas diss “The Takeover”, as Cardi B takes Kodak Black’s “No Flockin” flow and makes it a hot song.

Key Lyric: “These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes/ And I’m quick, cut a n*gga off, so don’t get comfortable, look/ I don’t dance now, I make money moves”

Why It Matters: “Bodak Yellow” is Cardi B’s statement of purpose. She cements her career transition from stripping to climbing the Billboard charts on a menacing, minimal track that doesn’t trade her gritty, Uptown swagger for pop in order to rank. Cardi’s delivery throws back to “Quiet Storm”-era Lil’ Kim while the zeitgeist that is “Bodak Yellow” has found her rubbing shoulders with Lauryn Hill as only the second woman in history with a solo hip-hop No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 116 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Karas Lamb

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09. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – “Over Everything”

Lotta Sea Lice

Sounds Like: A hazy, golden summer day rolling out in front of you like a carpet, one that manages to stretch to 25 hours when flattened out.

Key Lyric: “You could say I hear you on several levels at high decibels”

Why It Matters: While it may be a song primarily about solitude, Kurt Vile’s ability to capture Courtney Barnett’s phrasing and create a song she could step right into led to what became the best rock collaboration of the year.

Song in a GIF:

mildaridelectriceel max 14mb Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Matt Melis

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08. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”

Awaken, My Love!

Sounds Like: George Clinton’s basement on a hot August night, where the air’s so toasty the shaggy carpet’s starting to smoke from decades of spilled bong resin.

Key Lyric: “Too late/ You wanna make it right, but now it’s too late/ My peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool-Aid/ I’m trying not to waste my time”

Why It Matters: Donald Glover shakes things up considerably with this throwback groove that deals with paranoia and infidelity. The vintage funk is a good look on the Atlanta mastermind, whose voice sounds as if it’s coming through a Leslie speaker circa 1976. It’s hot.

Song in a GIF:

redbone Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Michael Roffman

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07. St. Vincent – “New York”

Masseduction

Sounds Like: Wandering the cold streets of the Big Apple, passing immaculately decorated shop windows until the lights all blur.

Key Lyric: “You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me”

Why It Matters: Annie Clark’s fifth album, MASSEDUCTION, is magnificently detailed and intricately themed, and “New York” stands as perhaps its grandest statement. The lead single is at once triumphant and desolate, fluorescent and gritty, full of every contradiction — much like the city it’s named after.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 19 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Lior Phillips

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06. Johnny Jewel – “Windswept”

Windswept

windswept Top 50 Songs of 2017

Sounds Like: The quieter middle section of Michael Mann’s Heat, specifically those late-night scenes involving Robert De Niro and Amy Brenneman.

Key Lyric: It’s an instrumental, but that saxophone is the purest distillation of grief.

Why It Matters: Johnny Jewel bottles the crushing angst and dread of 2017 with this somber jazz meditation that’s relieving and bruising all at once. This year, we were all Dougie Jones, watching aimlessly as uncompromising change casually drifted by us.

Song in a GIF:

cooper Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Michael Roffman

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05. Migos – “T-Shirt”

Culture

Sounds Like: The 3:00 a.m. ride to Waffle House after the club.

Key Lyric: “Do it for the culture/ They gon’ bite like vultures”

Why It Matters: Migos kept up the momentum from their chart-topping 2016 single “Bad and Boujee” and proved that they are here to stay.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 4 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Greg Whitt

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04. SZA – “Love Galore”

Ctrl

Sounds Like: A sweaty night at the hotel that you know you probably shouldn’t be having, but still can’t help yourself.

Key Lyric: “We do whatever we want, go wherever we want/ Love however we want, it don’t matter/ You’ll do whatever I want, get whatever I want/ Get whatever I need, it’s about love”

Why It Matters: Anticipation can make everything a little hotter, and that’s certainly the case with SZA’s long-awaited debut album. Add in the should-they, shouldn’t-they interplay with Travis Scott, and the steam gets almost unbearable — the key word being almost.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 17 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Lior Phillips

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03. Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still”

Woodstock

Sounds Like: The only song you’ll hear at the Gap that won’t make you want to blow your brains out.

Key Lyric: “Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now/ I’ve been feeling it since 1966, now/ Might be over now, but I feel it still”

Why It Matters: Portugal. The Man stave off obsolescence with a hit they’ve been trying to deliver for over a decade. “Feel It Still” is this year’s most unlikely triumph, and the Portland rockers earned every week on the charts with this smart, addicting, and incredibly thrifty slice of psych pop. It’s been everywhere all year, and yet it’s never not welcome. Keep it comin’, fellas. Keep it comin’.

Song in a GIF:

feel it still Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Michael Roffman

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02. Lorde – “Green Light”

Melodrama

Sounds Like: Finding the aggressive strength needed to find clarity in a relentless emotional whirlwind.

Key Lyric: “I know about what you did, and I wanna scream the truth”

Why It Matters: We all knew Lorde was special, but who could have imagined her gloomy, callous aesthetic reaching these glorious heights? She towers over the music scene with this puzzled dance anthem, giving you just as much reason to move in sadness as in triumph, allowing us to view melancholy with fresh, multicolored lenses for an endlessly cathartic experience.

Song in a GIF:

0moz6 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Doug Nunnally

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01. Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”

DAMN.

Sounds Like: The trapped-out grandson of Boogie Down Production’s “The Bridge Is Over”.

Key Lyric: “This that Grey Poupon, that Evian, that Ted Talk, aye/ Watch my soul speak/ You let the meds talk”

Why It Matters: After risking casual fans and ignoring commercial radio with the critically acclaimed concept album To Pimp a Butterfly, the greatest rapper in the world reminds us all that he can make a song that slaps.

Song in a GIF:

giphy 3 Top 50 Songs of 2017

–Greg Whitt

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Playlist

Stream the entire list via Spotify below.

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