2016 was truly a shit show. It took me until almost two weeks into 2017 to finish listening to the stuff I wanted to check out before finalizing my list.
Then another week just to start getting some stuff posted. I’ll move faster this year, since I’m already three weeks behind.
So … here we go.
In a year where we almost elected a woman president, and then somehow elected … whatever the hell we elected … it’s only appropriate that the majority of my list is ass-kicking women or bands fronted by ass-kicking women. Between the top ten tracks and five honorable mentions, nine are women-led.
This is also a year where a lot of the hip hop didn’t work for me as standalone tracks. It worked better as albums, or in chunks, but individual tracks didn’t really stand out.
Weezer – Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori
Weezer made a new album, and it was mostly good poppy fun. Some tracks felt like a bit of a reach to imitate the stranger rhythms of Pinkerton, but mostly, it was just good fun. And Weezer will almost always make my list, because Rivers Cuomo can craft a slightly uncomfortable pop song. This is one of those, and it’s an easy one to imagine singing along to the way you sing along when Say It Ain’t So or El Scorcho comes on.
Solange – Cranes in the Sky
In a year that was dominated by the Knowles sisters, Cranes in the Sky is not a big banger, but a sly little song, sparsely instrumented and backed by a simple beat. Solange’s voice and intonation betray the song’s sense of loss and despair.
Letters to Cleo – 4 Leaf Clover
It’s Letters to Cleo. They’re back. This sounds like their best power-poppy songs. Even better, you could 100% imagine this being a track on the Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack, one of the supremely underrated albums of the early 2000s.
Tokyo Police Club – Not My Girl
Tokyo Police Club put out two nifty EPs this year, with a wonderfully punny name (Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness), and full of great pop music. This is my favorite, a song with a fantastic, sing along chorus, and one of those beats that makes you bob your head or bounce in your seat without even realizing it. A great song to drive around to with the windows down.
Car Seat Headrest – Fill in the Blank
On an album full of a bunch of songs that are not always the most accessible, this is the most catchy and accessible. And what an opening line … “I’m so sick of (fill in the blank)”.