INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – 2017 was an exciting year for music. It might not have topped last year, but it produced some of the most exciting young talent in years.
As you get your last minute shopping done, I narrowed down the greatest songs of the year as a refresher and guide to all of this interesting new music.
Let’s dive in and look at the 15 best, starting with a band that’s just a short drive away from Indianapolis.
15. NE-HI – Stay Young
Who wants to get old? Not these guys. Chicago up-and-comers NE-HI produced one of the songs of the summer, with breakout hit, “Stay Young.”
Their casual guitar tones provided a great Batman ‘n Robin dynamic with Jason Balla’s vocals.
Having a catchy single is what gets major label attention, I wouldn’t be surprised if NE-HI takes the same explosive path their Windy City pals Whitney have taken.
14. HOMESHAKE – Call Me Up
On 30-16, Mac DeMarco was featured…but his former guitarist came away with a better song this year.
HOMESHAKE, aka the solo project of Pete Sager, drops the guitar for a song any soul fan would love. This is up there for the award for sexiest song of the year. Get cozy with it below.
13. Kendrick Lamar – DNA.
Coming in at lucky number 13 is one of the best rap songs of the year, Kendrick Lamar’s DNA.
Lamar’s 2017 album “DAMN.” was balanced like its predecessors but singles chosen reflected past hard-hitting anthems like “m.A.A.d city” and “Backseat Freestyle.”
What really puts “DNA.” over the top is how Kendrick goes absolutely off at the end of it.
12. Gaffa Tape Sandy – Beehive
If you gaze across the pond, all you can see is unbelievable talent. “Garage Rock” has been a popular genre here in America for awhile, but UK newcomers Gaffa Tape Sandy will eventually leapfrog limp attempts like Catfish and the Bottlemen to become the country’s best.
New single “Beehive” is beginning to make waves abroad. “Apologize to me!” Kim pleads on one of best hooks of the year. Take a look at it live from the world’s biggest music fest, Glastonbury.
11. SZA – Drew Barrymore
Singer SZA burst on the scene this year with her debut-album Ctrl. She had a steady stream of fans thanks to fantastic EPs released every year from 2012-14. It took three years for her debut to come out but was well worth the wait.
I need to hang out at more laundromats based off the music video. Drew Barrymore actually cameos in it, watch below to see if you can find her.
10. Vince Staples – Big Fish
In each and every one of us, there’s a piece of our souls that want to count 100’s by the thousands at 3:30 a.m.
Staples is a hard worker, releasing at least one project a year since his debut. The hard work is paying off and his live performance rating is an A+. He should run for mayor of Long Beach with Snoop as his right hand man with how hard he reps that city.
9. Cults – I Took Your Picture
Cults first came onto the scene in 2011 with their amazing self-titled debut, that’s produced their two biggest hits to date, “Go Outside” and “You Know What I Mean.”
“I Took Your Picture” is infectious and might be their best effort to date. They sound crystal clear in this live session below, take a look.
8. Grizzly Bear – Three Rings
Grizzly Bear is one of those bands where it’s evidently every single member is a world-class musician. Complexity is something they use to their advantage and kept on moving with the same style with 2017 release Painted Ruins.
It was their first in five years, try to catch them live next summer if you can. Ed Droste’s live vocals are the best I’ve ever heard in my life.
The proclamation Droste sings with desperation, “don’t you know that I can make it better?” is chilling.
7. Porches – Find Me
Some of the best indie rock is stuff you can flat out dance to. Porches have always lived up to that, but ditched their guitars more synths for new single, “Find Me.”
The results are addicting and lyrics are extremely insightful. In a lot of his songs, lead singer and songwriter openly talks about his anxiety and depression. Their third album, The House, is due out next year.
6. Future & Kendrick Lamar – Mask Off (Remix)
Around seven years ago, Nayvadius Wilburn appropriately named himself Future. It’s now 2017 and Wilburn has conquered hip-hop charts for the last three years. He brought in Kendrick Lamar to add to the already successful “Mask Off” and it was the icing on the cake.
He’s also an example of someone who gained fame after he was 25. Future is surprisingly 34 years old.
5. Rostam – Bike Dream
Chorus of the year and it’s not even close, “Two boys, one to kiss your neck and one to bring you breakfast/ Get you out of bed when you’re sore from the night before/ From knocking on my door..your head against the floor boards.”
Former Vampire Weekender Rostam could teach a college English class on imagery half-dead, what an addicting melody. “Bike Dream” has bits of his other past amazing band…Discovery. All I want for Xmas is a Discovery tour.
4. The War On Drugs – Strangest Thing
If you think Rock ‘n Rock is dying as you get older, The War On Drugs are here to remind you it’s alive and well.
Bob Dylan fans will be thrilled to hear of the half-veiled referenced to his hero, “Yeah, like a rolling stone..don’t roll again.” The conspiracy theorist in me thinks they might have purposely named this song for clicks off misspellings of the Netflix show.
Rock out to an amazing live session below.
3. Big Boi – Kill Jill
It’s all in the beat, folks. Killer Mike, from Run the Jewels, sets up Big Boi for some of the most fluid verses of the year.
One half of OutKast, Big Boi has kept busy as a solo artist…unlike his former partner Andre 3000. “Kill Jill’s” beat rivals 2010’s “General Patton” as his best beat post-OutKast.
What’s even more impressive is that Young Jeezy actually adds something of quality to a song for the first time in years. Enough is enough, we need a new OutKast album in 2018.
2. Alvvays – In Undertow
The breakup song of the year, Canadian band Alvvays released their sophomore LP, Antisocialites, to critical acclaim in September.
If you’re wondering how your pronounce the unique name, it’s “always.” Molly’s lyrics are always on point, as she tells the listener she’s focused on realistic reason on why she lost her boyfriend and not horoscopes or self-pity.
1. Frank Ocean – Chanel
Coming off a big 2016, Frank Ocean released “Chanel” to start off a steady stream of singles this year. The track was not only the best of that group and served as a perfect cherry on top to last year’s Blonde, but it’s also best song of the year.
You get to this level with undeniable talent. No one in the industry shuffles effortlessly between singing and rapping quite like Frank.
When he reaches the falsetto in the middle of “Chanel” you think his voice cannot keep climbing up the mountain, but it does.
Here’s the playlist in Spotify form with some honorable mentions, hit follow to save :
To take a look back at #30-16, click here.