Everyone has their own traditions around Christmas and New Year, and one of my longest-standing ones is to compile a list of my favourite music from the year just gone by.
This year’s no different, and this year’s best of 2017 happens to be my 8th attempt at summing together the best tunes from my music library.
The list is generally a list of my most played songs, but with some boosts for songs released later in the year and ones I rate more highly. The list also features songs that have come from other years, but that I’ve only started listening to this year.
Check out my favourite songs of the year and check out the full Spotify playlist at the end:
40. Camila Cabelo – “Havana” (feat. Young Thug)
Kicking off this year’s list is Camila Cabelo’s biggest solo hit so far, “Havana”. She has a brilliant voice, and coupled with the simple piano-backed melody it really allows her to shine. Unusually for a pop song, the rap turn on the track from Young Thug is reasonably good too, which makes a nice change on an unfortunate gimmick in modern music.
39. Ariana Grande – “One Last Time” (2014)
The most tragic event in a tough year in the UK was May’s terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, where 22 people lost their lives. The attack naturally shocked everyone, and its particular cruelty in targeting a young female audience still strikes.
As Manchester and the country came together in the aftermath of these terrible events, this song stood out as an anthem of Ariana’s to show solidarity with another. It’s a poignant song, a good pop song and one that’s deserved its renewed attention this year. It’s a shame that it had to come back, but on that’s worth remembering for what it represents.
38. MØ – “Nights With You”
MØ’s song are always really good at cutting to heart of a feeling, and in this one it’s unbelievably simple lyrics really connect on an emotional level. This is a song about missing hanging out with a friend, and one that I know more and more as you grow older. It’s got drama and gets this across so well, with the dark and bassy drums in the background adding to the feeling of upset that rides through the tune.
37. LCD Soundsystem – “american dream”
The title track and one of the first singles released from LCD’s latest album, this song really set the tone for what to expect when the album came out in September. It’s slow and ethereal sound is pierced by an unsettling synth background that’s designed to make you feel on edge, and throughout this tale of woe it’s hard to feel all that positive about it. It wasn’t a song I loved instantly, but over time the weight behind the lyrics and the building crescendo at the end break you down and make you feel the weight of the world in the way only LCD can.
36. ZHU & AlunaGeorge – “Automatic” (2015)
Few collaborations between artists turn out quite as well as this, as Zhu’s dark and electronic brand meets AlunaGeorge’s more poppy style in a way that works impeccably. The song bumps along nicely with a slow beat alongside perfectly matched lyrics to keep the sensuality and danciness of the song alive in equal measures. A real find and one of many that I found this year through PlayStation’s amazing Rocket League playlist.
35. Alan Walker – “Alone” (2016)
Alan Walker burst on the scene last year with “Faded”, and whilst having a particular type of music it’s unfortunate that most of it feels very samey. “Alone” does a good job at taking “Faded”’s successful model of nice, soft vocals building to an uncontrolled drop, but managing to sound at least a bit different. The refrain near the end is a nice touch and what really sets it apart.
34. Vanic – “Too Soon” (feat. Maty Noyes)
Similar to the last entry, Vanic has built a unique niche within dance music of putting songs together that buck the usual structural trend. This returns to its hook several times, breaking things down and introducing new styles throughout before returning to its touchstone. Put together with some great vocals and a pretty good story behind the song and it’s an awesome effort at trying something new.
33. Lorde – “Homemade Dynamite”
Part of Lorde’s phenomenal success has been her songwriting, and here she teams up with Tove Lo to put together a tribute to hedonism and the lust of nights out. It’s slow and deliberate, with simple touches and signs of humour that captivate you and keep you grooving along throughout. One I really only grew to like recently, but one I’m certainly glad I did.
32. Daft Punk – “Alive” (1997)
Daft Punk’s first few albums are entirely genre-defining works that set the course for dance, house and pop music for the last few decades. “Alive” is the song that kicks off their live tour dates, and while an anniversary tour wasn’t announced this year as hoped, this song re-emerged to me as a real reminder of how good their music was. It’s essentially the same beat all the way through for 5 minutes, but it’s constant development and build to a crescendo has clear influences in some of my favourite artists, even elsewhere in this list. A great song and one I’m glad to have dug out this year.
31. KATO & Sigala – “Show You Love” (feat. Hailee Steinfeld)
Hailee Steinfeld marks one of the new generation of Disney stars making their name on mainstream pop, and she’s got a lot of talent that she’s showed already. This is perhaps the best so far, teaming up with KATO & Sigala to produce a banger that was underrated this year. It’s far from Sigala’s usually upbeat and sunny tunes, but it’s got a strong house influence that makes it work really well.