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by Assessor

There is one more New Music Friday left in the year, but looking at the release schedules I’m fairly confident nothing seismic is going to happen, and I can close a door on this year by rounding up the 40 best songs out of the many hundreds I listened to and reviewed this year. 2017 has been an odd year: music at the top has become so homogenised and predictable, many of my big name faves (and big names in general) have been incredibly disappointing, but at the lower levels and in less mainstream genres, there’s exciting things happening, things to be said, innovative approaches to what it means to be an artist in an increasingly online space and live shows that will knock your socks off. As albums have devalued, in a strange way, they have got better as bodies of work – many records at the top of my albums list don’t place a single song in this top 40 because to remove songs from the context of the whole dilutes their power. Conversely, a lot of artists in this ranking didn’t release an album worth a damn, or even release an album at all. I don’t think it has been a vintage year for music but it has been one of the best years in a long time, and I feel like we’re on the verge of a new shift. It smells like it in the air. Anyway, without further yapping because this is already a fucking wall if text, and I haven’t put any pictures in to break it up else you’ll be scrolling forever, here are the 40 Best Songs of 2017. And HERE they are in a playlist. Stay tuned for the top 20 albums in the next couple of days, and an announcement about the future of NMF for 2018…

at 40 top songs of 2017 1 40. KATY PERRY – ‘SWISH SWISH’ ft. NICKI MINAJ Katy Perry’s empowerment-thru-smack-talk anthem suffers from weak, toothless lyrics and the fact that by the time it limped in as single three from the lacklustre Witness album campaign, she was pretty much singing through broken teeth and a mouthful of blood. Still, the little popstar that could just about managed to keep her feet with this dancefloor ready Duke Dumont-production, which samples ‘Star 69’ by Fatboy Slim and features one of Nicki Minaj’s better guest verses of 2017. In fact, Nicki steals the show on both the track and the video, bringing some much needed fire to the proceedings and proving you can mouth off and still keep it cute. If nothing else, ‘Swish Swish’ proved Katy Perry to be the true victim of Taylor Swift’s viperish malevolence, as no one can feasibly argue that the woman whose strongest quip is (the admittedly, very meme-able) “swish swish, bish” could possibly be the aggressor.

at 40 top songs of 2017 2 39. LORDE – ‘GREEN LIGHT’ A song made up of three distinct parts (one good, one bad, one excellent) to a sum total of “fine”, ‘Green Light’ failed to move me in the way it apparently moved every other music writer in the whole of the western world, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Jack Antonoff’s fingerprints are all over this song, but it’s a testament to Lorde’s distinct vocal and the elasticity of her pronunciation of certain words that her identity manages to surface above his factory-churn production. The spinning in dizzying circles, arms flailing euphoria of the chorus earns ‘Green Light’ a spot on this list.

at 40 top songs of 2017 3 38. HEY CHARLIE – ‘HEY’ This quietly good song from a year in which all-female and female-fronted bands dominated my playlists, ‘Hey’ is proper teen-movie soundtrack fodder, the theme tune for every group of popular, pretty girls with a dark side. Sugar-sweet vocals, scuzzy garage band guitars, and a sardonic edge – if this track hasn’t had a sync on Riverdale yet, someone should rectify that immediately.

at 40 top songs of 2017 4 37. DAN CAPLEN – ‘FLAT CHAMPAGNE’ ft. RAY BLK An affectionate, soulful ode to finding the good times in bad, the magic of ‘Flat Champagne’ is that although it is a duet between a man and a woman, it is not explicitly a romantic song. It is, however, unmistakably drenched in love – the kind you find between people who naturally and unconsciously lift each other up in low moments – and whoever it is that gives you that support, this track will lodge in your chest and make you think about them. ‘Flat Champagne’ is a whole movie condensed into three and a half minutes.

at 40 top songs of 2017 5 36. CARDI B – ‘BODAK YELLOW’ I was super late to the Cardi party – I thought she was just someone from gifs, sorry! – but once I realised music was her endgame and not just a byproduct of internet ubiquity, and got my ears around ‘Bodak Yellow’ I immediately filled out the relevant forms and sent off for my stan card. ‘Bodak Yellow’ is a statement of intent – braggadocious and self-satisfied – a firm planting of feet from an ex-stripper who now makes money move. Did she jack Kodak Black’s entire ‘No Flockin’ flow? Yes. But did she completely make it her own in the process? Also yes. ‘Bodak Yellow’ manages to be even bigger than the larger-than-life artist behind it.

at 40 top songs of 2017 6 35. JORJA SMITH X PREDITAH – ‘ON MY MIND’ Best known for her feature on the Drake mixtape, the chart success of her peers (Mabel, Stefflon Don, Raye) has so far evaded Jorja Smith, but perhaps her BRITs Critics’ Choice win will raise her profile and her chances of commercial success. Jorja’s smoky vocal is perfectly suited to dance music, but this collaboration with Preditah inexplicably peaked at #54 on the UK charts, despite being a premium grade, garage-influenced banger.

at 40 top songs of 2017 7 34. JESSIE WARE – ‘MIDNIGHT’ One of Britain’s most under-rated talents, Jessie Ware is an “album artist” in an era where people don’t buy albums. And actually, the album wasn’t that great. But the lead single was magnificent! From the tremulous, breathy opening to the smoothly powerful chorus, ‘Midnight’ is a gorgeous, classic love song designed for live performance. It takes not just a technically good vocal to sing this song, but one with texture and emotional depth, and Jessie executes it perfectly. If this track was a drink, it would be a rich liqueur.

at 40 top songs of 2017 8 33. SELENA GOMEZ – ‘BAD LIAR’ ‘Bad Liar’ is a weird little song. Built up over a Talking Heads bassline, Selena sing-speaks in half-verses and a vague gesture of a hook, and the result is somewhere between Fiona Apple and Jem. It manages to capture the claustrophobia of yearning perfectly without being too earnest and is the one and only time a Julia Michaels co-write has been a bearable listen this year. A critical peak but a commercial bomb, it’s unlikely Selena will experiment with anything as quirky as this ever again, but this oddity is a real gem of her discography.

at 40 top songs of 2017 9 32. ZAYN – ‘STILL GOT TIME’ ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR This was not the year that Zayn Malik overcame his anxiety and became the pop king we all know he is inside, and as a result, lazy summer hook-up bop ‘Still Got Time’ stalled on the charts and eventually led to PARTYNEXTDOOR withdrawing all support for it. Or so the story goes. It’s true that ‘Still Got Time’ under-performed, but it’s also true that this syrupy trop-pop tune is the second best ex-One Direction solo single to date and deserved more.

at 40 top songs of 2017 10 31. KYGO & SELENA GOMEZ – ‘IT AIN’T ME’ Kygo and Selena completely flip the script on this jerky, stuttering EDM kiss off. From first listen I loved the way the lyrics of the chorus sound like a declaration of love, only to violently burst the expectation with that deadpan “it ain’t me”, and 40-ish plays later, I still get the same thrill. This song seems to be ranked so low, though it couldn’t possibly be ranked any higher as all the other songs are better by degrees, and yet I can’t help but feel I am doing it an injustice somehow? Nevertheless, it turns out that ‘It Ain’t Me’ is the 31st best song of the year according to the one true, uninhibited voice on the matter.

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at 40 top songs of 2017 11 30. ED SHEERAN – ‘SHAPE OF YOU’ STORMZY REMIX A shameless copy/paste of a sound made famous by Justin Bieber, I’m gonna go on record here and say that ‘Shape Of You’ is a better song than anything on Purpose, if for nothing other than the fact that without all the conceit of the production, the melody can stand alone. Stormzy improves on the original immeasurably, injecting some much needed levity and balancing it with earnest sincerity, revealing himself to perhaps be the best boyfriend ever in the process. Ed Sheeran is a blight, but we’re not going to act like ‘Shape Of You’ isn’t an undeniably excellent song. Not Rihanna-excellent, of course, and she rightly turned it down, but definitely excellent by Sheeran standards.

at 40 top songs of 2017 12 29. N*E*R*D – ‘LEMON’ ft. RIHANNA After a near perfect fifteen years or so of production gold, both with The Neptunes and on his own, Pharrell hit some shaky ground, getting more hit and miss with his credits and the spectre of ‘Happy’ looming large over every BBC montage of middle-class fun. ‘Lemon’ reminds that what Pharrell (and Chad Hugo) are best at, is interesting, layered, but ultimately mainstream hip-hop beats. Still, if we’re transparently honest, N*E*R*D are merely set dressing on this track – ‘Lemon’ is first and foremost a vehicle for Rihanna to bad bitch on, and she does so with vim.

at 40 top songs of 2017 13 28. JASON DERULO – ‘SWALLA’ ft. NICKI MINAJ & TY DOLLA $IGN I am obsessed with (my own) idea that Jason Derulo should form a boyband – his discography is absolutely riddled with songs that make more sense with five dudes dancing in formation. ‘Swalla’, or ‘Bukkake’ as it will be renamed, is one of those songs. Perfectly primed for each part of the track to be passed between The Cool One, The Falsetto One, The Rapper One, with The Hot One and The Dancer One joining for a chorus that isn’t vocally challenging, to his credit, Jason does an exceptional job of donning all the different boyband hats all by himself. Nicki Minaj is on hand to deploy her island gyal accent in honour of the dancehall beat and Ty Dolla $ign also features. A song about drinking sperm has absolutely no business being this good, but Jason is truly the master of this kind of excruciating filth banger. A toast to him – swa-la-la-la!

at 40 top songs of 2017 14 27. STORMZY – ‘BIG FOR YOUR BOOTS’ Arguably the UK’s most important artist right now, Stormzy seemed to happen slowly and quietly and then, CRASH! BANG! all at once. His surprise climb up the Christmas charts in 2015 with a b-side freestyle from months previously heralded his coming, but it was ‘Big For Your Boots’ in all its brash, stomping glory, that proved he was here to stay. A modest beat driven entirely by Stormzy’s relentless flow – it’s difficult not to get chest-beat pumped whenever this comes on.

at 40 top songs of 2017 15 26. GRIM SICKERS – ‘KANE’ ft. JME It’s been ten months and I still can’t get over how stupidly good this song is – emphasis on the stupid. Sickers and JME listing off famous names in a ludicrous display of homophonic wordplay shouldn’t be so needling in its catchiness and yet ‘Kane’ is my eighth most played song of the year. Part of that is to do with the fact it was released so early in the year (there are only three songs released past March in the top ten), but the other part is the fact that the Swifta Beater production demands repeated spins.

at 40 top songs of 2017 16 25. FRANK OCEAN – ‘BIKING’ ft. JAY Z & TYLER, THE CREATOR I admit that sometimes I struggle to get into the meaning of Frank Ocean songs – he sings in deep metaphors and half-stories and you have to really listen to understand – but I get this one. Jay Z tricking full cabs and backflips, Frank riding slow and in it for the long-haul, and Tyler fishtailing on one-wheel… I get that it’s about the ride of life, that the bike you have is the bike you can handle, that the way you handle your bike affects your life ride… do you see how the metaphor cycles round? The brilliance of this song really crystallised for me, surrounded by some of my favourite people, in a park in East London, squinting at Frank Ocean in the distance, screaming “I DON’T GET WEAK IN THE KNEES” in chorus. A special show, a special artist, a special song.

at 40 top songs of 2017 17 24. KENDRICK LAMAR – ‘HUMBLE.’ From the opening cry of “nobody pray for me!” to the final “sit down!”, Kendrick manages to condense his entire essence into under 3 minutes – the greatest rapper alive annihilating his competition, but keeping his feet on the ground. Mike WiLL Made It puts his formidable production style to good work on the beat, letting it build up and recede, adding screeching siren sounds over the piano bassline, dropping everything out completely – just wrapping around the rap in perfect symbiosis. I’m a million-years-old so technical rappers will always have my heart in a way the new generation of trap-influenced artists could never, but preferences aside, no hip-hop fan could argue that Kendrick isn’t the most important artist out right now. ‘HUMBLE.’ is the peak of an incredible era that outright plateaued at the top.

at 40 top songs of 2017 18 23. TOVE STYRKE – ‘MISTAKES’ Not quite the kitchen sink production of ten years ago, but a calamitous bunch of noises nonetheless, ‘Mistakes’ goes full pelt sonically building up thrums, whirrs, thumping drums, airy crashes, vocoder effects and the classic boom-clap rhythm pattern, sprinkled with rewind and zipper accents at appropriate points. In a year of linear, subliminal pop, it was refreshing to immerse in a track that raucously embraced the hills and valleys of creating a soundscape.

at 40 top songs of 2017 19 22. DJ KHALED – ‘WILD THOUGHTS’ ft. RIHANNA & BRYSON TILLER The straight-up hijack of ‘Maria Maria’ by Santana was admittedly divisive, with one camp finding ‘Wild Thoughts’ a derivative rip-off and the other revelling in the update of a classic. Sampling has been a key hip-hop pillar since the invention of the genre, so I fall firmly in the wheel up! camp of ‘Wild Thoughts’ opinion. Bryson Tiller’s eye-popping cremation punchline aside, the track is sexy as all get out, Rihanna made “nakey-nakey-naked” cool, and 18 years later, ‘Maria Maria’ gets another lease on life. What’s not to revel in?

at 40 top songs of 2017 20 21. SIGRID – ‘STRANGERS’ One of the most exciting new artists to launch this year, Sigrid’s absolutely huge dancefloor filler has an intangible wintery quality I can’t fully describe, other than to say that if I was the kind of person who ran for recreation, this is the song I would want to be listening to as my feet pounded wet pavement under streetlights on a cold evening. On first listen I couldn’t get over how BIG this song was and six weeks later, I still feel dwarfed every time I listen to it. It’s like listening to an incredible explosion.

at 40 top songs of 2017 20. TOVE LO – ‘DISCO TITS’ Tove Lo knows her way around a lyric that skirts the boundaries of decency, but she’s better when she throws caution to the wind. “I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go”, from the chorus of ‘Disco Tits’ is up there with “if you love me right, we fuck for life” from 2015’s ‘Talking Body’ for the explicit ownership of female sexuality Tove is good at. The horniest popstar on the planet invoked Peaches-lite electroclash and deadpan vocal delivery for the lead single from her insanely good Blue Lips album to great effect.

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at 40 top songs of 2017 22 19. HAYLEY KIYOKO – ‘FEELINGS’ Hayley Kiyoko is one of a handful of artists that was new to me this year, but has actually been doing bits for sometime. I’m glad this sweet, bouncy charmer of a song was my introduction, since I would have been likely to consign her to the “basic bops” pile had my entry point been ‘Girls Like Girls’ or ‘One Bad Night’. A lot of the songs I loved this year were emotionally aspirational, like, the artists were singing from places I want to be at, within myself, but am not yet. So it was with ‘Feelings’, a defiant, freeing ode to wearing your heart on your sleeve and opening up. An admirable sentiment, but I’ll be over here not even admitting when I have a crush, and downplaying all my emotions until they’re compressed into nothingness for many years to come.

at 40 top songs of 2017 23 18. ASTRID S – ‘SUCH A BOY’ ‘Such A Boy’ not only dispenses smoothly with fuckboy bullshit, but manages to also narrate between the lines the eye-rolling patience of the girls who put up with it. Lyrics like “we’re not even in that deep / acting like you’re gonna drown” and “you say you need love / mmm, yeah, we all do…” are pitch-perfect appraisals of the behaviour some men oscillate between, when really, there’s absolutely no need to panic. Astrid S is probably the safest and most basic of the current wave of Scandi-pop girls, but lyrically and thematically she gets to the crux of matters with far more precision.

at 40 top songs of 2017 24 17. ANNE-MARIE – ‘CIAO ADIOS’ My second most-played song of the year (though probably due to the fact that nothing really came out to challenge it for a good four months) I think I loved ‘Ciao Adios’ more than most people, and definitely more than the people who inexplicably enjoyed the dreadful Katy Perry rip-off instead. An island-flavoured beat and an island-affected accent coalesce to form a loose, danceable “fuck you, I’m off” banger. Bigger and better songs came along, but I still have this track on regular rotation.

at 40 top songs of 2017 25 16. DEMI LOVATO – ‘SORRY NOT SORRY’ Being a Demi Lovato fan as I am, and have been for a long time, is often difficult since in many ways she is America’s answer to Jessie J – phenomenally talented but often unlikeable. In Demi’s defence, she’s never been as awful as Jessie, but there was definitely a time period where everything she said induced a facepalm and after the release of her sub-par last album Confident, it was a struggle to defend her even just on artistic merit. Thankfully, ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ and the album it was taken from were such top quality pop that the Demi ship miraculously steered back on course. The half-rapped bridge and the wail of the chorus hook and then reel you in, regardless of whether you want it or not. On my deathbed I’ll still be saying “remember when everyone wanted to hate ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ for no reason other than they decided Demi Lovato was a loser, but it was actually always brilliant from day one and eventually they all had to stan?” Sorry not sorry.

at 40 top songs of 2017 26 15. CHARLI XCX – ‘BOYS’ Categorising any and all pop that isn’t cold, pretentious, Swedish and/or sterile as “bubblegum” is my least favourite type of lazy categorising, but this Charli XCX song, from its candy-pink coloured production to the Super Mario bleeps is as bubblegum as they come. Charli perfectly encapsulates a daydream in the melody, the performance sounding slightly glazed over and zoned out, like she was busy thinkin’ ‘bout boys even as she recorded the song about being busy thinkin’ ‘bout boys. A sugar rush of a tune.

at 40 top songs of 2017 27 14. NICK JONAS – ‘FIND YOU’ Nick Jonas has lost his way a little since ‘Jealous’ was That Jam in 2014, never seeming to measure up to it with subsequent releases. For all that ‘Jealous’ is an excellent R&B-infused pop track, however, it was never very Nick Jonas. Performances put him in that uncomfortable, fish-out-of-water pool that Liam Payne now splashes around in, and his vocal could never truly rise to the occasion. Three album cycles in, ‘Find You’ is the most natural space Nick has occupied since he flunked on the Jonas Brothers reunion in 2013, and, surprise! ‘Find You’ sounds like something the 2013 JoBros would have recorded – almost a prequel to ‘Found’. A soft, electro-acoustic mid-tempo that burrows under your skin.

at 40 top songs of 2017 28 13. JAX JONES – ‘INSTRUCTION’ ft. DEMI LOVATO & STEFFLON DON Demi’s decision to hop on this MNEK-written, Jax Jones-produced sensation was the first indication of the year that the girl was making good career choices. Her previous collaboration history consists almost wholly of low-rate British talent (The Vamps, Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd) but Jax Jones had a recent hit under his belt and Stefflon’s star is on the rise, which seems far more fitting company for an artist who can shift half a million records in the US. Tribal drums, house piano and good, clean, flexing fun: “If you’re the Supreme, then I’m Diana Ross” is a lyric for ages. This track needed a very simple, dance tutorial video in the style of ‘Sorry’ by Justin Bieber meets ‘Call On Me’ by Eric Prydz and that is the last I’m going to say on that.

at 40 top songs of 2017 29 12. CALVIN HARRIS – ‘FEELS’ ft. PHARRELL WILLIAMS, KATY PERRY & BIG SEAN Calvin Harris put away his big, dumb drop buttons and made some music that wasn’t just derivative of himself for a change. On an album of greats, ‘Feels’ rose above probably because it’s just so damn cute. A lush funk guitar groove, some weird little squeaks and Katy Perry delivering a perfect, light-touch chorus, it sounds a little like INXS listened to through rose-tinted speakers. ‘Feels’ is one of those emotionally aspirational songs I referred to earlier – honestly, the whole vibe is so warm and saturated, it’s hard not to get suckered in.

at 40 top songs of 2017 30 11. TIEKS – ‘SAY A PRAYER’ ft. CHAKA KHAN & POPCAAN It should be expected for a song named ‘Say A Prayer’ to sound like a hymn, but I was not braced for how much this track takes me to damn church. Popcaan’s opening sermon, the lustrous choir, and the fact that t 64 years of age, the legendary Chaka Khan still has more power in the pipes than 98% of your youthful faves makes ‘Say A Prayer’ one of the most uplifting and affirming songs of the year.

at 40 top songs of 2017 31 10. iLOVEMAKONNEN – ‘LOVE’ ft. RAE SREMMURD The perfect antidote to all those “throw caution to the winds and tell him you like him” songs I’m into, ‘Love’ is an emo hip-hop rumination on how being in love ruins lives and is very much more my speed. iLoveMakonnen’s morose verse plays second fiddle to Swae and Slim’s biting, jaded lyrics on this rap-rock ballad with Mike WiLL on production duty and Travis Barker providing the drums. ‘Love’ reminds me of the time I was obsessed with Travis Barker’s solo album, six years ago when I was much less cynical and this song would never have had the same effect on me. Alas! Life.

at 40 top songs of 2017 32 09. MUNA – ‘IN MY WAY’ MUNA are my favourite band right now. They write perfect pop songs, their live presence is contagiously euphoric and they have something real to say about the world we live in. They are everything I want from a pop act except they don’t do dance routines. Like Hayley Kiyoko’s ‘Feelings’, this track deals in being the first to take the brave step towards making more of an undefined something, and like most MUNA songs, they navigate that space of taking a negative or an uncertainty and flipping it into a positive. Of all the emotionally aspirational songs I have enjoyed this year, ‘In My Way’, with its shimmery guitar riffs and soaring chorus, makes me feel the most powerful, but like, solely in my imagination.

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at 40 top songs of 2017 33 08. SIGRID – ‘DON’T KILL MY VIBE’ Turbulent, self-righteous, youthful rage powers the engine of this song as Sigrid screams out her frustration at being looked through and under-estimated by everyone around her over a coldly pulsating beat. A song for every time you’ve had your bubble burst or your shine dimmed by someone who lost their will to live three decades ago and wants to take you down with them.

at 40 top songs of 2017 34 07. ECHOSMITH – ‘GOODBYE’ I’m not sure that this song was on anyone’s radar but mine this year, but if you haven’t yet, I urge you to give ‘Goodbye’ a spin. A dreamy, tropical break up song with probably the most slyly clever chorus of the year – “when you finally find yourself / tell him I said / tell him I said goodbye” – this track isn’t necessarily immediate, but it is definitely persistent.

at 40 top songs of 2017 35 06. THE ACES – ‘BABY WHO’ The Aces are another new act I’ve been championing all year, for being a better version of HAIM, since their songs have actual choruses. I decided to choose only one of the tracks for their very good I Don’t Like Being Honest EP, since all four songs could easily have found themselves in the top 20, and ‘Baby Who’ was the one I eventually settled on. A lazy, sun-drenched guitar pop track for moving on and letting go, there’s something delicate about the construction of this song that makes it settle in your heart. Gorgeous.

at 40 top songs of 2017 36 05. TOVE STYRKE – ‘SAY MY NAME’ Tove is one of only two artists to make this ranking twice with no features (the other being Sigrid) and both placements are so well deserved. I love this song so much it’s not even sane. ‘Say My Name’ dropped about a third of the way through the year and made me excited about pop music again. It’s easy to get burned out when the same producers are making the same songs for artists distinguishable from each other only because they have slightly different haircuts, but ‘Say My Name’ with its strange ukelele verses and liberal use of drums just completely goes off. Wear it out like a sweater that you love, ‘cause I can’t get enough.

at 40 top songs of 2017 37 04. PALE WAVES – ‘THERE’S A HONEY’ ‘There’s A Honey’ is such a dreamscape of a song – like, it sounds like pink and purple gauze even before you see the pink and purple gauze draped video – but it’s completely shot through with that unique angst and anxiety that comes from not knowing whether someone is into you as much as you’re into them. The chorus is one of the best of the year, so instantly memorable and immensely easy to sing along to, and the production sparkles and bursts in all the right places. For a debut single from an exciting British band, making shimmery-sad pop songs, you couldn’t ask for a stronger start.

at 40 top songs of 2017 38 03. NIALL HORAN – ‘SLOW HANDS’ A long time ago, I wrote about the projected post-One Direction plans for each of the remaining members and identified Niall as the one with the least expectation and therefore the most room to surprise us all. Listening to his debut single ‘This Town’, I don’t think anyone could have expected he would follow it up with ‘Slow Hands’, a perfectly crafted, funk-pop song with a, yes, totally sexy vibe to it. Roping in frequent One Direction collaborators to co-write and produce was a clever move, making the track simultaneously familiar and something new – a hint of something cooler than the singer/songwriter troubadour persona Niall occupied as part of a boyband. I’ve been shouting for months about how ‘Slow Hands’ is the song of the year, but ultimately it was pipped to the post by a couple of late entries. This is an honourable third place.

at 40 top songs of 2017 39 02. RITA ORA – ‘ANYWHERE’ The RestORAtion of Rita has been one of my favourite pop narratives of recent times, but even I wasn’t betting on ‘Anywhere’. Rita’s eleventh top ten single (just a little stat for everyone wondering why she’s still famous!) has a litany of accomplished pop writers on the credits including Alesso and the producer behind ‘Good For You’ by Selena Gomez, but it’s Rita’s performance that sells it, keeping the vocal light and melodic, floating on top of the beat. The best part of ‘Anywhere’ is the fake out on the drop where you think it’s time but the melody comes up one last time before finally going over the edge and into the weird stuttery post-hook borrowed directly from the Kygo & Selena track. I also love that weird feeling of nostalgia for a moment you’re living in this track invokes, like living in a memory. But mostly what I like is that after five years worth of barely concealed media contempt, brazen online misogyny and a relentless campaign to render her a nobody even as she landed more and more high profile gigs, Rita finally got her label situation in order and came back better than before.

at 40 top songs of 2017 01. BROCKHAMPTON – ‘BOOGIE’ An explosion of sound at atomic bomb magnitude – ‘Boogie’ is the purest distillation of joy committed to record in 2017 and maybe ever. Brockhampton are the most exciting thing happening in music at the moment: their creative output is absolutely insane (three full albums in a year), their approach to their image and marketing is novel and boundary pushing (they’re a fucking boyband, okay?) and their audience are k-pop fandom levels of invested in them. I’ve been slowly falling in love with them all year, and just as Saturation III loomed on the horizon and I was ready to fully commit to being a stan… ‘Boogie’ happened. I wasn’t prepared for ‘Boogie’ in any way, shape or form, but I immediately knew it was special when I played it for the first time two weeks ago and knew it was going in my (at that point completed) End Of Year round up. Originally I slotted it in around #9, which bumped iLoveMakonnen & Rae Sremmurd down to #10 and shunted Little Mix – ‘Power’ ft. Stormzy off the list altogether. But I plugged my iPod in to sync the other day (yes, I still have a separate iPod, I have never in all my years listened to music off my phone) and discovered I had played ‘Boogie’ 90 times in just under two weeks, making it not just my most played song of the year, but also my 16th most played song overall. You can’t argue with that data. I put it straight to the top. So many distinct personalities in play over a truly infectious party beat, ‘Boogie’ sounds like everything that came before it and nothing I’ve ever listened to before. It bangs so hard your teeth will rattle. This diverse gang of queer men are moving the pop culture needle and if you don’t get on board, you’re gonna get left behind. Best song of the year. Best song of the last 5 years, maybe. I beg you don’t sleep on it.

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