2017 was the year of the vulnerable and empowering pop song. It was the year that heartbreak found a way to be uplifting and heard many artists delivering a reflective look at their past. It was the year that Lorde returned to her throne and the year that Taylor Swift turned petty. Sadly Katy Perry lost her reign on the pop charts but we were introduced to the incredible newcomers Sigrid and Julia Michaels. And it was also the year that all of the One Direction members released solo material. So yeah it was a pretty great year for music. Check out the best and worst moments of the year below;
Best Newcomer – Sigrid
Sigrid is the new girl on the block that everyone wants to be friends with. Her debut single “Don’t Kill My Vibe” was a natural force to be reckoned with. The anthemic indie-pop track came out of nowhere and got the whole music world talking. She drew you in with her captivating vocals and a basic piano arrangement before dropping a cool beat and a massive beat. And she continued to do this with her monster tracks “Plot Twist” and “Strangers” as well as then showed us a very vulnerable side with the heartbreaking “Dynamite”. 2017 saw her just getting started and 2018 is promising to be a even bigger year with the release of her debut album and even more touring to follow.
Most Overrated Release – Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa was billed as the hottest newcomer for 2017 and her debut album was promised to be one of the biggest records of the year and it just was’t. “New Rules” quickly became one of the biggest songs of the year and that was a great feat but the rest of the record was a bit lacklustre at best. It was long, forgettable and saw her release all of the strongest tracks before the record was even out. So all we were left with was a lot of album filler. 2017 also saw the musical births of Julia Michaels and Sigrid who both quickly stole the titles of best newcomers.
Best Comeback – Kesha
Kesha well and truly earned the title of comeback of the year. Dropping the dollar sign from her name wasn’t the only change, her music drifted from electronic pop to a grittier and more genuine pop influenced rock sound. Her songwriting also impressively improved with a dark and reflective take on her growths and new found strengths. There were still some anthemic tracks like “Hymn” and “Boots” which could’ve easily found place on her last record and that’s not a bad thing at all. From the constant message of self empowerment and loving yourself to the vivid imagery that will have you dreaming of these unique stories I can’t get over how perfect this record is. The epic variety in production adds to this magic and while it may not be the bubblegum pop-dance that you are used to from her this is the mature Kesha you always wanted. And do I need to even start on her vocals? There’s no auto-tune. It’s just her raw, powerful and captivating as ever.
Most Underrated Comeback – Nelly Furtado
It was the comeback that no one knew about. Nelly Furtado’s re-entry to the music world was met with little to no traction and it’s such a shame because her sixth studio album was worth talking about. “The Ride” is an experimental and unconventional pop record that has it’s aggressive rhythmic rock moments as well as its more folk inspired vulnerable moments. She really has matured and grown as an artist and if you went into listening to this record expecting another “Maneater” or “I’m Like A Bird” then you would’ve been very disappointed. She may not be the same artist as the one you were familiar with but that isn’t a bad thing. She’s grown, experimented and delivered an epic “phoenix rising from the ashes” type of record.
Best EP – Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe
Sigrid really did steal my heart in 2017. The Norwegian songstress knew how to make me dance and how to make me cry at the same time and I LOVED that. Her debut EP was by far the biggest standout of the year. With the monster hit “Don’t Kill My Vibe” leading the four track release the catchy “Plot Twist’ and “Fake Friends” delivered similar vibes. She just knows how to write a killer hook that will get stuck in your head instantly. And then she stripped it all back with the heartbreaking “Dynamite” which reduced me to tears for 2 months straight every time I would listen to it.
There were some other incredible EP’s that I do have to pay some respect to;
Julia Michaels – “Nervous System”; Very close behind Sigrid, these songs are pop perfection
Aly & AJ – “Ten Years”; Comeback queens!
Alex The Astronaut – “See You Soon”; Reflective and unique storytelling from an exciting Australian newcomer
Jessie Reyez – “Kiddo”; Pure fire
Bebe Rexha – “All Your Fault Part 1”; Only part 1, not part 2
Worst Song Showdown
The battle of the worst song of 2017 is down to two finalists and there is no winner because they are just as equally horrendous as each other.
Jason Derulo – Swalla
Tacky. Gimmicky. Awful. All words I would use to describe this song from Jason Derulo. The beat and lyrics are gimmicky and play on the absurdity that this song is really that ridiculous. He enrolls help from Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj to give the song some star power and they deliver some good verses to balance out the rest of this mess. After a couple of listens it does annoyingly grow on you and you’ll find the chorus trying to linger in your head but it doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is awful. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Liam Payne – Strip That Down
We always knew there was going to be one member from One Direction who would release a shit song and that person was Liam Payne. “Strip That Down” is a mid-tempo RNB track that try’s to emulate the seductive sound of early Justin Timberlake and Usher but completely misses the mark at being sexy and instead is just embarrassing. The beat is average and had so much potential to have a cool breakdown or slick synths which would’ve given the song the extra texture it needed. It just sounds like a daggy song your dad made on garage band to try be cool.
But in saying all of this, Louis Tomlinson isn’t very far behind with the awful “Back To You”.
Most Annoying Song – Bebe Rexha – The Way I Are
Bebe Rexha was my favourite newcomer and her “All Your Fault Part 1” EP reiterated as to why. But then “All Your Fault Part 2″ happened and the birth of the painstakingly annoying track ‘The Way I Are” stripped her from that title. It saw her reverting from her gritty RNB sound that she worked so hard to cement to go back to a bubblegum pop sound that was cringe worthy to listen to. They even added a verse from Lil Wayne to try give the song street cred which didn’t work. And she even samples the Whitney Houston classic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” which couldn’t even save this song. The chorus is just plain annoying and it would be better if we forget this song exists all together.
Biggest Grower – Calvin Harris – Feels
I was pretty harsh on this song when it first came out but in my defence it sounded just like his previous single “Slide’. But now it’s done a complete 360 on me and ended up pretty high on my Top 40 songs of the year countdown (Spoiler; it was number 13). 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 just like I have.
Sidenote; Another song which did a complete 360 on me was the infectious “Want You Back” from Haim. Another bop.
Most underwhelming Release – P!nk
I was very much ready for the return of P!nk in 2017 but what she ended up delivering was very underwhelming. As a whole this record was very tame with most of the songs becoming mediocre ballads. Almost cookie cutter. Or maybe it’s a show of maturity? But whatever it is it will have you wishing for the old “fuck you” P!nk that you’ve come to know and love. There are brief glimpses of her but she gets lost amongst the production and it’s a tad disappointing. The album isn’t bad, it just isn’t great.
Biggest Rip Off – Maroon 5 – What Lovers Do
Did Maroon 5 really think they could get away with this without being detected? The answer is apparently yes. The song sounds like a direct copy of Neiked’s “Sexual” from the little beat breakdown in the chorus to the melody. The whole time I was listening to the song I was questioning if the other band members were actually doing anything or if it’s just officially the Adam Levine show. There are no heavy guitars, rhythmic pieces or cool drum solos. Instead its basic pop beats with beat drops that anyone could release. Well in this case, Neiked has already released this.
Best Live Show – Adele
Adele is a queen and her interactive live show did not disappoint one bit. Her comedic banter not only left me in stitches but left me half disappointed when she went straight into a song without a brief little chat. She discussed the controversial public transport situation getting to the venue, meeting Koalas and Crocodiles, stalking Alison Krause to the bathroom and about how she never wanted to play Stadiums. She then took a selfie with a fan, revealed a seat number where she left a personal letter and signed photo and grabbed a t-shirt gun and launched some signed t-shirts with $20 attached into the crowd. It was these little moments that made the sold out 60,000 person stadium feel like a more intimate arena styled show. Production wise the stadium was inundated with balloons early on before a confetti drop during “Sweetest Devotion”, a fireworks display in “Set Fire To The Rain”, a kiss cam interlude while she had a costume change before the encore and a final confetti drop during “Rolling In The Deep”. But amongst this production the one thing that stood out the whole show is her jaw dropping vocals. A real queen.
And do I even need to mention the global domination Lorde had this year? She snatched best song and album of the year in my yearly countdowns and her live show was one of the most euphoric and reflective experiences ever. Watching her perform on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House was a magical moment that I wish I could experience over and over again.
Interview of The Year – Vera Blue
In 2017 I interviewed some incredible artists including the likes of Kimbra, The Preatures, Dean Lewis, Cub Sport, JSUTTA, Josh Pyke and The Getaway Plan but there was one interview that really stood out to me and that was Vera Blue. She impressed me with her vulnerable and quirky answers that gave a deeper insight to her incredible debut album “Perrenial”. Check out the chat here;
A Note From Thomas;
Thank you so much for reading and interacting with me through social media throughout the year. I cannot wait to continue to deliver you honest reviews in 2018! Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!