Year In Review: Saam Das' Top Tracks Of 2017

on Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Words: Saam Das

How do you solve a problem like summing up the best songs of 2017 into an easily digestable list? Well, you take a while and then mercilessly cut it down to your top ten tracks of 2017. Showing my working, efforts like Mikey Me's advert-soundtracking 'Doin' Me' and Dan Black's dreamy return can count themselves unlucky to miss out. After much deliberation, here's my top ten of 2017:

#10 Ed Sheeran - 'Shape Of You'

Undeniably a pop juggernaut, the likes of Eminem ('River') and Taylor Swift ('End Game') have recently recruited Sheeran to elevate their material. Arguably his finest work of late however was 2017’s best-selling single 'Shape Of You'. Partly incorporating TLC’s iconic 'No Scrubs', and originally intended for Rihanna, this was Sheeran doing something new, and something special.

#9 Yonaka - 'Run'

Brighton quartet Yonaka look likely to make a significant impression in 2018, having signed to Atlantic in early 2017 and just sold out a headline gig as part of the NME Awards Shows. I can vouch for their live prowess following a blistering performance at the recent Rockaway Beach festival, where they showcased rip-roaring rock tracks like 'Run'.

#8 Human Pyramids - 'Crackle Pop'

When Paul Russell’s not busy shredding with instrumentalists Axes, he pursues his Human Pyramids side project, which had one of 2017's most dazzling tracks in the form of the cacophonous 'Crackle Pop'. Orchestral pop meets post-rock, with a suitably sparkling (360 VR) video from John Lynch.

#7 Stormzy - 'Big For Your Boots'

Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite grime artist Stormzy brought the fire with the first look at his debut album, the subsequently Mercury-nominated 'Gang Signs & Prayer'. Emboldened by the production of Sir Spyro and Fraser T Smith, and indeed the excellent video from Daps, the now double BRIT Award winner spent the best part of four minutes taking the listener to task. And we loved him for it.

#6 Nicpreen - 'Never Ever'

I’m still somewhat disappointed that South African outfit Al Bairre never quite hit the heights of success that any attendee to one of their ridiculously fun live shows may have expected. Nonetheless, it was pleasing to see Nic Preen bounce back from the end of the band with one of the most ridic slices of debut material in quite some time, with the Animal Collective meets Vampire Weekend ‘Never Ever’.

#5 Mauwe - 'That’s All'

Bristol duo Mauwe (m-oh-ee, apparently) seemingly came out of nowhere with 'That's All', a perfectly formed debut track and an under-heard reflective gem. The boy-girl set up and electronica-infused production mean that comparisons to Oh Wonder will likely be abundant but Portia Conn and Jay Rodger will be rightly confident of establishing their own distinct identity in no time at all.

#4 Zola Jesus - 'Remains'

Whether you know her as Nicole Hummel, Nika Roza Danilova, or Zola Jesus, the enigmatic American artist continues to deliver striking electronic-meets-industrial fare. Led by its refrain of "what remains of us?", the pulsating 'Remains' is like having an existential crisis in the middle of a nightclub, but getting lost in the moment because the track sounds so flipping fantastic.

#3 Charli XCX - 'Boys'

Charli XCX's release schedule for 2017 felt a bit all over the place, with two album-length mixtapes dropping, featuring a host of artists from Uffie to Carly Rae Jepsen. (The latter's solo track 'Cut To The Feeling' was also in the running for this list.) Less confusing however was the effervescent 'Boys' - arguably best known for its brilliantly tongue-in-cheek video that was essentially Top Trumps for male musical artists, the PC Music-inspired track was as silly as it was delectable.

#2 HAIM - 'Want You Back'

The trio of sisters returned triumphantly in 2017 with 'Want You Back', the lead single from their second album 'Something To Tell You'. Backed by top notch producers Ariel Rechtstaid (Vampire Weekend) and BloodPop (Lady Gaga / also check out his work as ka Blood Diamonds), the lovelorn 'Want You Back' manages to maintain a joyous streak throughout, despite its lyrical longing. The Jake Schreier (whose wonderful debut feature film 'Robot & Frank' deserves greater attention) directed video is a delightfully simple but effective accompaniment.

#1 Lorde - 'Green Light'

The contrarian in me wanted to move 'Green Light' out of its number one slot here, having seen it top both The Guardian and NME best tracks of 2017 lists. But I couldn't deprive Lorde and co-writer Jack Antonoff (frontman of the excellent Bleachers) and their astounding angst-laden anthem, even if it is yet another break-up based track to appear in this list. (Perhaps this says something worrying about me.) Regardless, 'Green Light' is a chaotic mess of contradictions - one of the simpler examples being its bitter not-over-you lyrics juxtaposed with uplifting piano melodies - that bulldozes a path to thundering pop brilliance.

Check out a YouTube playlist of these tracks here. Read more in our Best Of 2017 series here.

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