2017 was the year of empowerment pop lead by strong females who found comfort in their vulnerabilities. We were introduced to some phenomenal newcomers like Sigrid and Julia Michaels and welcomed back some of pops biggest names Lorde, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Miley Cyrus with their intriguing new records. But what songs made the biggest impact? I have compiled a list of 40 of my favourite songs that have impressed with their production, lyrics and vulnerabilities.
40. Cardi B – Bodak Yellow
Cardi B has quickly become one of the most hyped newcomers of 2017 after her single “Bodak Yellow” went viral almost overnight. The hip-hop track samples Kodak Black’s “No Flockin” and hears her narrating her time as a stripper and how she’s cemented herself as a legitimate rapper through a tireless work ethic. The track grows on you with each listen and is worthy of this Top 40 inclusion purely because of how ridiculous it is lyrically and how impressive it’s viral movement was.
Favourite Lyric; “If I see you and I don’t speak, that means I don’t fuck with you”.
39. Urban Cone – Old School
My favourite Swedish boys get an honourable mention because “Old School” was an underrated bop. The song introduced a heavier polished pop sound that saw them reaching towards mainstream attention and it worked well but still deserved more attention. They still managed to hold onto their groovy roots with a funky baseline but just offered a bigger hook.
Favourite Lyric; “I’ll give you the world if you want or we could take the top down by the coastline, kissing every red light”
38. Clean Bandit feat. Julia Michaels – I Miss You
While this song may still be relatively new it’s already made a massive impression. The emotional dance anthem hears Julia Michaels reflecting on a broken relationship that she’s not completely over yet. The production is quite simple and immolates a similar beat to Justin Bieber’s “Friends” which is interesting because Julia also wrote that song. It super catchy, emotional and loveable.
Favourite Lyric; “And I know we’re not supposed to talk but I’m getting ahead of myself. I get scared when we’re not cause I’m scared you’re with somebody else”
37. Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
Demi’s fifth studio album “Tell Me You Love Me” is a severely underrated collection of soul-pop and the lead single “Sorry Not Sorry” was THAT anthem. 5 months later and the song is still a bop and is continually gaining momentum with the Australian and New Zealand summer fast approaching. Lovato’s vocals have always been her strong point and this song see’s her serving some gospel esq goodness in the chorus.
Favourite Lyric; “Now payback is a bad bitch and baby I’m the baddest. You fuckin’ with a savage. Can’t have this, can’t have this”
36. The XX – Say Something Loving
I love a good emotional sob fest and The XX’s track “Say Something Love” was one of those moments. The airy and brilliant pop ballad explores the raw feeling of infatuation but doubting if its genuine or not. Their harmonies are so strong and beautiful on this track and will have you entranced from start to finish.
Favourite Lyric; “The thought flows through my mind and it’s growing all the time. I do myself a disservice to feel this weak, to be this nervous”
35. Alex The Astronaut – Not Worth Hiding
This was one of the most important Australian releases of the year. This acoustic indie-pop track couldn’t have come at a more relevant time with the postal plebiscite and the heavily weighted equality conversation which was dividing the country. She shared her coming out story and encouraged everyone to be true to themselves through this very empowering and vulnerable song.
Favourite Lyric; “I cried when I found kissing boys wasn’t for me. So I tried every trick in the book. I tried talking to the pretty boys and changed the way I look but wearing dresses to impress just left me lonely and upset”.
34. Camila Cabello – Havana
After departing Fifth Harmony earlier in the year I was unsure how Camila Cabello’s her solo career was going to shape out. Her debut single “Crying In The Club” was a mediocre Sia b-side that left people unimpressed but then “Havana” happened. This song was a slow grower but then it stuck. This infectiously simple song about falling in love with a bad boy has one of those instantly catchy choruses that will have you singing along to the “Havana-oh na na na’s” for hours.
Favourite Lyric; “I knew it when I met him, I loved him when I left him”
33. Lorde – Homemade Dynamite
This is the first of four Lorde songs to make the countdown. (*OOPS SPOILER*) I mean what else am I meant to say than “Melodrama” was a flawless album full of heartbreak, growth and love. “Homemade Dynamite” is one of the catchiest and most commercially ready tracks from the collection. It’s a catchy, quotable and very memorable song about meeting someone for the first time. However the remix with newcomers SZA, Post Malone and Khalid is less impressive.
Favourite 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”.
32. Charli XCX feat. MO – 3AM (Pull Up)
Charli XCX had a pretty strong year. The songstress took ownership of her sound and image by releasing two mixtapes of new material for free as well as a massive new pop single. “3am (Pull Up)” was the lead single for the first mixtape “Number 1 Angel”. Featuring Danish favourite MO the song looks at being manipulated by a lover and constantly giving in and being walked all over. It’s a big and fun empowering pop track which will have you dancing along instantly. It was very underrated and still deserves more love.
Favourite Lyric; “It’s 3 A.M. and you are callin’. Go fuck yourself, don’t say you’re sorry. I can’t believe I used to want this. No more, no pull up, pull up”
31. Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holding Me Back
I used to think Shawn Mendes was VERY overrated but in 2017 he changed my opinion and it all started with this song. “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” was a bonus track he released before he kicked off his “Illuminate World Tour” and it sparked me to listen to his album in full once again and I finally got the hype. Mendes is super talented and this song is just super catchy and loveable. And, his little grunts in the song… *swoon*.
Favourite Lyric; “I feel so free when you’re with me, baby. There’s nothing holding me back”.
30. Snakehips feat. MO – Don’t Leave
This was a very early favourite of mine and a song that I predicted in January would be in my top 10 songs of the year. While it may not have made the top 10 it has still made a very strong impact on me. The powerful EDM meets pop track is perfectly made up by gritty synths, emotional vocals and all tied together with a big breakdown. It may be a dark and emotional track but it also has such a euphoric feeling to it.
Favourite Lyric; “I may not ever get my shit together but ain’t nobody gonna love you better than me”
29. Sigrid – Strangers
Sigrid quickly become my favourite newcomer of 2017 when her breakthrough single “Don’t Kill My Vibe” blew everyone away. *Stay tuned for that song in my countdown*. The Norwegian songstress hit the touring circuit and further impressed people with her strong live show and “Strangers” instantly became a fan favourite in her set. She finally released the song as a single in November and we haven’t stopped dancing since. The DIY structure is perfectly curated with a soft indie-pop verse that is similar to her previous material but then launches into an electronic influenced hook. However the bridge is where she will have you captivated with its big anthemic vibe. Every time I listen to this song I fall a little bit more and more in love.
Favourite Lyric; “We’re falling head over heels for something that ain’t real”
28. Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish
Okay so this is probably the most ridiculous song of 2017 but I can’t help but love it so much. This diss track takes aim at people who constantly force negativity into your life and encourages you to get rid of them. It’s a deep-house inspired pop track that is just so playful and brings back that quirky Katy Perry personality we were first introduced to. It grows on you with each listen and because it’s so absurd you love it even more. Also I just want to say that her album “Witness” is VERY underrated.
Favourite Lyric; “Karma’s not a liar, she keeps receipts”
27. Taylor Swift – Call It What You Want
To be quite honest Taylor Swift has lost me in this new era. Her diva attitude has shone through with a distinct pettiness in a collection of songs about revenge and her reputation. The wholesome and vulnerable Taylor seems to be dead but “Call It What You Want” channels the synth-pop sound “1989” perfected with a production that is very similar to “You Are In Love”. It’s a lot more relaxed and hears her delivering smoother harmonies. Lyrically the song is a giant easter egg for fans. It features references to so many of her old songs and tells a cute story of genuinely falling in love.
Favourite Lyric; “Slowly I said, you don’t need to save me but would you run away with me?”.
26. Kendrick Lamar – Humble
In 2017 you couldn’t hide from Kendrick Lamar’s constant rise to fame. He’s become one of Hip-Hops biggest names and dropped one of the biggest albums of the year. “Humble” became THAT song and will continue to be that pump up song over summer.
Favourite Lyric; “Nobody pray for me, It’s been that day for me”
25. Basenji feat. Tkay Maidza – Mistakes
It may be a late addition to the countdown but Basenji’s new single “Mistakes” 100% deserves the inclusion. Collaborating with Australia’s favourite female rapper Tkay Maidza he manages to showcase a softer side to her that we haven’t heard before. The electronic ballad hears Basenji beginning with a minimalistic key arrangement before adding in a simple clapping beat to build up momentum. And then he drops an empowerful beat in the hook that elevates the song from emotional to empowering.
Favourite Lyric; ““When I make mistakes I know that you’re here beside me”.
24. Miley Cyrus – Malibu
This was the comeback that could’ve gone either way. Luckily it went in her favour with this anthemic folk-pop track that comfortably sat in the charts. However it was the only track from her sixth studio album that made any impact. It’s the perfect song to become your soundtrack to your summer road trips where you can just imagine your hair flowing in the wind while driving down a coastal road. It’s a very honest and sweet song that shows a vulnerable and genuine side to the singer.
Favourite Lyric; “I never would’ve believed you if three years ago you told me I’d be here writing this song. But here I am, next to you”.
23. Harry Styles – Kiwi
2017 should go down in the history books as the year that Harry Styles became a rock star. “Kiwi” is taken from his self titled debut album and has become a cult hit. His fans are so obsessed with this song that at his Melbourne show they wouldn’t stop chanting for it so he played it 3 times. The album as a whole had a raw vulnerability and intimacy but this song is just pure rockstar 101.
Favourite Lyric; “I think she said, I’m having your baby, it’s none of your business”
22. Paramore – Fake Happy
Paramore’s fifth studio album is very underrated and that is to do with the drastic genre change. But recent single and album highlight “Fake Happy” delivers you angsty pop-rock with a side of tropical synths. The lyrics look at how we portray ourselves on social media and hide how we really feel to make everyone think that we are happy and fine. It’s quite sad really but it’s hidden amongst such boppy synths that you get a bit sidetracked by dancing.
Favourite Lyrics; “If I smile with my teeth, bet you believe me”
21. Lorde – Liability
Do you like to be an emotional mess? If you answered yes then this song is for you. The honest and raw ballad taken from Lorde’s “Melodrama” is very intimate, basic and beautiful. It captures everything you originally fell in love with her for. Her vocals are intriguing, the lyrics are honest and heartbreaking and the song is just captivating in general. She details feeling like a tax on her friends and family and just feeling alone. Relatable.
Favourite Lyric; “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy til all of the tricks don’t work anymore and then they are bored of me”.
20. ALMA – Chasing Highs
Alma is a newcomer who didn’t get close to the attention she deserved this year. “Chasing Highs” deserved to be a global hit and still does. The pop meets dance track intrigues with her dominating and soulful vocals and explodes with a euphoric hook, making it an absolute bop. It will have you just wanting to run around dancing and punching the air during the hook.
Favourite Lyric; “I was chasing highs ’til I found you”.
19. Rita Ora – Anywhere
Rita Ora finally made a proper musical comeback this year and had a top 10 hit with the Ed Sheeran penned “Your Song”. But it’s her song “Anywhere” that really caught my attention this year. This song is a MONSTER of a hit. It starts off a bit slow with just a dreamy synth production and finger snaps before thickening out for the chorus. She then drops this funky beat drop mid chorus that is so gay that it’s perfect. It’s euphoric, fun and perfectly captures that hopeless lovestruck mindset.
Favourite Lyric; “I know we’ve got to get away someplace where no one knows our name. We’ll find the start of something new, just take me anywhere”.
18. Maggie Rogers – Alaska
Technically this song came out last year after she was discovered by Pharrell at her college but it officially got mastered and re-released early this year so I’ve decided to include it in this years countdown. The song is a perfect folk meets electronic pop crossover and will instantly have you mesmerised by her vocals and production. There is just something so calming and free about this track that I can’t help buy smile and exhale out when listening.
Favourite Lyric; “You and I, there’s air in between”
17. Julia Michaels – Worst In Me
Julia Michaels is another one of my favourite newcomers expect she isn’t really a newcomer because she’s been around for years writing some of your favourite pop songs like Selena Gomez’ “Good For You” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”. Except this year she had massive breakthrough success a solo artist with her debut single “Issues”. However the honest confessional “Worst In Me’ taken from her EP “Nervous System” quickly became my favourite track from her. The song looks at a break up and questioning who was really in fault for the division and realising that it was the worst in both of you that made it possible. The self sabotage song is met with incredible production that starts off as a simple ballad and turns into a mid tempo stomper.
Favourite Lyric; “But the best in me wants to love you but the worst in me doesn’t want to”.
16. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You
It’s become common knowledge that Ed Sheeran knows how to write a smash it and “Shape Of You” was one of those big moments. Sampling a beat similar to Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” he delivers a track that could be described as an updated version of Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita”. I didn’t quite get this song at first until I felt the passion with someone that this song details and shared a intimate moment with the song that I finally understood it. Ever since the song now holds a special little part of my heart and I can’t help but offer a little smile when I hear it.
Favourite Lyric; “Your love was handmade for somebody like me”
15. Vera Blue – Regular Touch
This song is an absolute TUNE! It looks at freeing yourself from the chains of heartbreak and realising that you don’t need someone’s regular touch to be okay. The self love track quickly became a favourite with fans and Triple J listeners alike and was a highlight in her live show. It still makes me want to dance as much as it did the first time I heard it.
Favourite Lyric; “It’s okay to step away from someone long term, beat your own drum. Feel securer in your own skin, love from within, time to begin”.
14. Sigrid – Dynamite
This was probably the most heartbreaking song of the year. The Norwegian singer/songwriter reduced me to tears for 2 months straight every time I would listen to this song. The simple and raw delivery captures the pure emotion and heartbreak that this song embodies. But as time has gone on the song has shifted towards an empowering feeling that takes my vulnerabilities and turns them into strengths.
Favourite Lyric; “I don’t belong in your universe, for better or for worse”.
13. Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – Feels
At first I HATED this song but it’s done a complete 360 on me and it’s now sitting pretty high on my countdown. It introduces a rhythmic and ska sound which was very different to the dance-pop he was producing prior. It just has this feel good vibe to it that you can’t help but bop along to. It’s the perfect summer song so embrace it.
Favourite Lyric; “Don’t be afraid to catch feels”
12. Aly & AJ – Take Me
Your favourite EX Disney sister duo are officially back and introduced a new experimental synth pop sound that hears them getting DIY with the production and giving you cool beat drops and dreamy harmonies. Their vocals still have the contrast of teen angst that you related to back in the day as well as a side of reflective emotion. Because they’re sisters their harmonies are very in sync and they’ve created these little moments of pure magic that the pop nerd in me got very excited over. Such a cool and different synth pop sound and I LOVE it. Their EP is also VERY good.
Favourite Lyric; “I’ve been spending my attention on you. I don’t wait long cause I got better things to do. When you gonna take me out?”
11. Lorde – Perfect Places
2017 is all about Lorde and she keeps on proving that in this countdown. “Perfect Places” is a god damn anthem about constantly searching for perfect places but realising they don’t actually exist and that It’s just a state of mind that you have control over. It starts off very minimalistic and grows into this euphoric alt-pop track. The chorus is so reflective and uplifting that you can’t help but be in love with it. It truly is an anthem of 2017.
Favourite Lyric; “All the nights spent off our faces, trying to find these perfect places”.
10. HAIM – Want You Back
This was probably the biggest grower for me in 2017. At first I really thought this was just a cheap regurgitation of the sound their debut album perfected. But really this trio gave us a killer lead single from what has become one of my favourite records of the year. The structure breakdown towards the end of the song has ignited their live show and elevates the storyline of wanting an ex lover back. It’s very funky and very Haim.
Favourite Lyric; I’ll take the fall and the fault in us, I’ll give you all the love I never gave before I left you
9. Lady Gaga – The Cure
It was THE surprise single of the year that saw Lady Gaga being resurrected from her interesting country experimentation. She dropped the tropical-pop meets RNB banger mid way during her Coachella set and had everyone GAGGING. The chorus explodes with the biggest Gaga hook we have heard in a LONG time. It fits perfectly with the current pop trends that the likes of Zara Larsson and Selena Gomez were leading and stamps her own unique twist on it. The RNB approach during the verses is seductive and gives us slight “Do What U Want” flashbacks. Lyrically it’s a feel good empowering track about feeling that unconditional love for someone and you can’t help but feel or gushy while listening to it.
Favourite Lyric; “No matter what you know, I’ll fix you with my love. And if you say you’re okay I’m gonna heal you anyway. Promise I’ll always be there, promise I’ll be the cure”.
8. Kesha – Praying
Comeback of the year? I think YES! It’s songs like “Praying” that remind me why I love music so much. After listening to this song for the first time I was speechless and remained speechless for the rest of the night. The bold imagery haunted my mind and gave me goosebumps over and over again. The intimate and raw ballad reflects on the pain she has had to overcome. She empathises with her assaulter and searches for someone spiritually to listen to her so she can pray for better days. You can literally feel all the pain she’s been through with every lyric. Her delivery is so raw and shows a growth in her vocal strength with a whistle note at the end that I did not expect. The production is simple and helps create the goosebump moments with the addition of a choir and banging drums that feel holy and empowerful. I don’t think I will ever be over this song.
Favourite Lyric; “I hope you’re somewhere praying. I hope your soul is changing. I hope you find your peace, falling on your knees praying”
7. Vera Blue – Mended
Caution; we have another tear jerker. But instead this one is a beautiful reflection on a relationship that has ended and they’ve both moved on but there has been no closure. So this song is the closure she needed and it’s a very therapeutic track. It begins quite simple, stripping the sound back to just an oozing synth while she sings over with dreamy harmonies. A heavier drum beat then comes in over her repeating “it’s getting close” and fades away before bringing in this big production for the final chorus that sees the song exploding with emotion and intensity. This emotional synth ballad will be stuck in your head, play with your emotions and have you falling in love with Vera Blue. I promise you that.
Favourite Lyric; “What am I supposed to do when most of me still belongs to you”.
6. Justin Bieber feat. Bloodpop – Friends
2017 has seen Justin Bieber releasing a bunch of collaborations but the strongest of them all is this Bloodpop masterpiece. The production isn’t elaborate but it’s exactly the right vibe this song needs to bring it to life. Mixing a nostalgic 80’s pulsating synth and drum combination with a minimalistic beat drop your foot will be tapping along instantly which will then turn into your whole body moving. The reflective lyrics are one of the best things about it along with its super catchy and groovy chorus. While his live show in Brisbane earlier this year may have been the worst concert I have seen he defintiely did not disappoint with this song.
Favourite Lyric; “Wonderin’ if you’ve got a body to hold you tighter since I left. Wondering if you think about me, actually don’t answer that”.
5. Charli XCX – Boys
As mentioned earlier, Charli XCX has had a pretty big year and while she was busy touring and releasing mixtapes she also released a new pop single. “Boys” is the pop song you never realised that you needed in your life. It’s bubblegum pop meets slow RNB jam and unexpectedly turns into a pop lovers dream. From the first listen you will be hooked by its ridiculously catchy and subtle hook. And do I really need to mention the perfect accompanying music video?! Love, love, LOVE.
Favourite Lyric; “I Was busy thinkin bout boys”.
4. K.FLAY – High Enough
High Enough” is one of the strongest tracks on K.FLAY’s sophomore album and will have you stomping your feet along to the catchy chorus. It’s about meeting someone who makes you feel that rush that you no longer need any drugs or alcohol to get that high. It’s quite a cute storyline with an added kick that the rock structure provides. It’s quite different to anything else on this countdown and that’s why it works. It stands out completely and this unique fusion of genres and I can’t help but love it.
Favourite Lyric; “I used to like liquor to get me inspired but you look so beautiful, my new supplier. I used to like smoking to stop all the thinking but I found a different buzz”.
3. Dua Lipa – New Rules
2017 saw Dua Lipa delivering some new rules about dealing with a break up and let’s just say they were VERY helpful. At first I wasn’t really a fan of the playful song. I thought it was a bit cliché and a cheap rip off of Marina And The Diamonds “How To Be A Heartbreaker”. But this song quickly grew on me and luckily so because it soon became a song you couldn’t escape. It’s blown up all over the globe and has catapulted her career to new heights.
Favourite Lyric; “My love, he makes me feel like nobody else. But my love, he doesn’t love me”
2. Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe
Wow. What a debut a single. This song just came out of nowhere and got the whole music world talking. The song starts off somber with a basic piano accompaniment with her captivating vocals drawing you in before dropping a cool beat and a massive chorus. The track really focuses on her intriguing vocal delivery while hand claps and a bad ass melody revolve around it. Sigrid truly is the future of pop and I can’t wait to see her explode even more in 2018 because she deserves it.
Favourite Lyric; “But I throw myself from heights that used to scare me”
1. Lorde – Green Light
I couldn’t speak more highly of this song. It’s an anthem. It’s a heartbreaking and empowering ode to realising things will get better. Lorde wrote this song about understanding that it’s okay to be upset and feel hopeless after a break up but just knowing that one day you will wake up and the pain will stop and you will finally get your green light to move on. It came at a very relevant time in my life where I went through my first ever heartbreak and I was absolutely broken. I didn’t know how to deal with it and I was over in America at the time by myself so I just pushed it aside and tried to keep distracted. Then one night I was walking the streets of New York at 1am by myself listening to this song crying and it all hit me. It’s gone from being this emotional and heartbreaking song to me to being this empowering reminder that no matter what happens in life that things will get better. And that ladies and gentlemen is why this song is number one. Also because the production, lyrics, vocals and unique structure are all flawless and cannot be faulted.
Favourite Lyric; “I’m waiting for it, that green light I want it”.
You can listen to all these songs on my Top 40 Song Of 2017 Spotify playlist;