Some of the best songs of 2017 were protest songs — the kind of tracks that took on an extra layer of importance in the current political and social climate. Kesha anticipated the #MeToo movement with "Praying." Margo Price embodies that non-coastal voice we were all admonished to spend more time thinking about in "Pay Gap." Mavis Staples continues a lifetime of amplifying Black voices through lifting the spirits of the nation with "If All I Was Was Black." The late, great Sharon Jones, along with the Dap-Kings, memorializes this particular moment in our national consciousness with "Matter of Time."
St. Vincent took on ageism in media with "Los Ageless," Kelly Clarkson gave voice to the 67% with "Whole Lotta Woman," while newer singers like Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Bully, and Julien Baker released mesmerizing singles that explore a point of view absent of the patriarchy. Father John Misty explored the end of the world via digital culture, while Sam Smith explored it via a disconnect from relationships. Kendrick Lamar spoke out about Black violence, while Björk embraced compassion.
These artists stepped out to make a statement with impactful songs that changed the discourse. Some of them streamed non-stop from our devices, while others are tracks that may have gone under-appreciated. But the number of artists stepping out to comment on politics and issues of social justice were greater than any year in current memory. The discord we all feel presented itself in music strongly in 2017.
My playlist of the year's best tracks aren't all statement songs, however; some of them are just jams worth enjoying. From Drake's viral "Passionfruit" to SZA's intimately familiar "Drew Barrymore" to Willow's surprising debut with its self-confessional track "Boy," artists surprised me, endeared themselves in new ways, and made me catch feels (thanks, Calvin Harris). Harry Styles made music no one expected, Beck made me dance, and Lana del Rey perfected the art of being Lana.
Some of my favorite voices in 2017 were the newcomers who are bursting with talent: Khalid, the Weather Station, Julien Baker, and Shamir cheif among them.
Below, enjoy a playlist of the best music of 2017 — from the familiar to the unexpected. Leave a comment below with your favorites from the year, because I need to check them out.
After my first job MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
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