NME’s best songs of 2017 so far
These are the new tunes you need in your life
It’s already a quarter of the way through the year, so it’s high time we look back on its best musical moments yet. These here are 2017’s best songs so far – and we’ll be regularly updating this list with new bangers.
1. Lorde – ‘Green Light’
Lorde’s first taste of second album ‘Melodrama’ was this flawless breakup banger, written with fun.’s Jack Antonoff.
2. Father John Misty – ‘Pure Comedy’
The soulful title track from Josh Tillman’s third album encompasses the whole of human history, skewering politics, organised religion and big business with his trademark savage wit.
3. Dangerous – ‘The xx’
The opening notes of The xx’s third album ‘I See You’ are the brass belches of ‘Dangerous’ – an unexpected but welcome step in a dancier direction for the south London trio.
4. Sälen – ‘Heartbreak Diet’
Following the disarmingly odd likes of ‘Copper Kiss’ and ‘Diseasey’, the lyrics on ‘Heartbreak Diet’ are possibly the best yet from this minimalist London trio. “I am done with sticky people,” it goes. “They’re too hard to pick out of my teeth.”
5. Kehlani – ‘Undercover’
This early cut from the precocious R&B star’s debut album ‘SweetSexySavage’ is deceptively simple, but it’ll burrow deep into your brain.
6. Young Fathers – ‘Only God Knows’
Lighting up the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack was this propulsive stormer from the Mercury Prize-winners, alongside Edinburgh’s Leith Congregational Choir.
‘Only God Knows ft. Leith Congregational Choir’ Out Now – Big Dada / Stream / Download: https://youngfathers.lnk.to/onlySO Taken from ‘Only God Knows ft. Leith Congregational Choir’ released 24th January 2017 via Big Dada. Follow Young Fathers – Spotify: http://found.ee/youngfathers-sp Apple Music: http://found.ee/youngfathers-am Instagram: http://found.ee/youngfathers-ig Facebook: http://found.ee/youngfathers-fb
7. RAC – ‘This Song (ft. Rostam)’
Following his sepia-hued collaboration with The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser last year, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij showed a different side on this big-hearted cut with the Grammy-winning electronic producer RAC.
This Song ft. Rostam Stream/Download: smarturl.it/thissong hello world! I’m back. Here’s my brand new song ft. Rostam called “This Song”. There is a new album, it’s coming out this summer. More on that later. Intro To RAC: http://smarturl.it/RACINTRO RAC Discography: http://smarturl.it/RACDISCOGRAPHY http://rac.fm http://twitter.com/rac http://facebook.com/remixartistcollective http://instagram.com/rac http://soundcloud.com/rac http://smarturl.it/racspotify
8. Run The Jewels – ‘Down’
Sure, it came out in 2016, but it was so late in the year that we’re giving this honorary 2017 status. It’s the opening track from Run The Jewels’ blistering third album ‘RTJ3’, full to the brim of furious lines like “Ballot or bullet, you better use one“.
9. Syd – ‘Nothin to Somethin’
Odd Future and The Internet’s Syd Tha Kid broke out on her own this year with her solo debut ‘Fin’ – including this woozy synth cut that delivers flashes of lyrical bravado like “If I go to hell, hope my bitches get to visit.“
Stream Nothin to Somethin by Syd from desktop or your mobile device
10. MUNA – ‘So Special’
The LA trio’s debut album ‘About U’ opens with a rush of pure pop whose lyrics will take you by surprise: “You think that I’m beautiful / But it’s not enough“
11. Methyl Ethel – ‘No 28’
From Australia’s hotbed of brilliant psych, Perth, come Methyl Ethel. Like a musical Houdini, this highlight from second album ‘Everything Is Forgotten’ puts itself into an impossible melodic position, then somehow escapes.
12. Wiley – ‘Speakerbox’
Wiley’s comeback album was littered with some much-deserved celebratory lines, and none more so than ‘Speakerbox’; “If you look into my face, gonna see a boss/If you look into the crowd, you will see a mosh”.
13. Goldfrapp – ‘Anymore’
On which Goldfrapp return to the sound of their early ’00s electronica and raise eyebrows by making it really quite good, actually.
14. Katy Perry – ‘Chained To The Rhythm’
On this song Perry takes jabs at blissful ignorance via the metaphor of pop, which we can’t help feel is sort of shooting herself in the foot. But as the first example of her self-described “purposeful pop” it’s not a bad start – mainly thanks to it also being a massive tune.
15. Marika Hackman – ‘Boyfriend’
Joined by a backing band – her mates The Big Moon – Marika Hackman switches grungy folk for nonchalantly vicious indie. “I held his girl in my hands,” she reflects, “she likes it ’cause they’re softer than a man’s.“
16. Sigrid – ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’
Few have made an entrance quite like Norwegian 20-year-old Sigrid this year. This is the kind of pop debut that only comes around every so often – thanks in no small part to its enormous ‘fuck-off’ of a chorus.
17. Ryan Adams – ‘Prisoner’
From Ryan Adams’ sixteenth album of the same name – about the breakup of Adams’ marriage – ‘Prisoner’ is a beautiful fingerpicked melody counterbalanced by lyrics from a gently bleeding heart: “I know our love is wrong / I am a criminal / I am a prisoner“.
Stream Prisoner by ryanadams from desktop or your mobile device
18. Liv Dawson – ‘Searching’
Dawson made everyone sit up and pay attention with this Disclosure-produced banger, which pitches her powerhouse vocal against the Lawrence brothers’ glossy beats.
19. Simon Doom – ‘I Feel Unloved’
This fuzzy lo-fi track has a killer riff, and it’s produced by MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser – just like the rest of Simon O’Connor’s forthcoming debut album, ‘Babyman’.
Artist: Simon Doom Album: Babyman
20. Confidence Man – ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’
The mysterious Brisbane supergroup’s 2016 tune has just arrived in the UK on Heavenly. Every dance-punk aspect feels perfectly honed: the bristling bassline; the bubbling synths; the nonchalant vocals; the background yelps; all the way to that final “Get down“.
21. The Shins – ‘Cherry Hearts’
Brimming with bouncy beats and summery guitars, Mercer’s falsetto is as sublime as ever on this wistful tale of falling head-over-the-heels in love.
22. Superorganism – ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’
With little notice, the mysterious group dropped their debut song in February filled with cartoonish noises, a vintage sample and a killer pop chorus. A delightfully bizarre arrival.
23. Stormzy – ‘Cold’
The second track on Stormzy’s chart-topping debut album ‘Gang Signs & Prayer‘ is as stone-cold as its title, and it’s full of brutal, funny boasts: “I’ve been cold the season / I should call my next one ‘Freezing’“.
24. Kendrick Lamar – ‘HUMBLE.’
The Compton MC’s 2017 return started with ‘The Heart Part 4’, but it’s this swaggering second release that leaves the bigger impression. Far from the jazz-inflected melodies of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, ‘Humble’ is a taut, extended brag, in which his skills are on a level with “that Grey Poupon, that Evian, that TED Talk.“
25. Calvin Harris – ‘Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)’
“All my songs in 2017 have been sonically designed to make you feel fucking incredible,” Calvin Harris wrote before releasing this Frank Ocean/Migos collab. This one’s not far off.
26. Pale Waves – ‘There’s A Honey’
The indie-pop crew from Manchester got their Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975 to produce this one – its chorus is so catchy you wonder how it hasn’t been written before.
27. Laura Marling – ‘Nothing Not Nearly’
Marling’s sixth album ‘Semper Femina’ closes with this rousing, yowling number, whose lyrics are typically deft: “The only thing I’ve learned in a year where I didn’t smile once, not really – nothing matters more than love, no, nothing no, not nearly.”
28. Fleet Foxes – ‘Third of May / Odaigahara’
It took five years, but the Seattle folk crew led by Robin Pecknold are back with this nine-minute beauty, which picks up directly where ‘Grown Ocean’ – the closer of 2011’s ‘Helplessness Blues’ – left off.
29. Alt-J – ‘3WW’
Full of surprises, this slow-moving first taste of June’s ‘Relaxer’ begins with vocals from keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton, features Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and strings from the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
30. Temples – ‘Roman God-Like Man’
The Kettering psych four-piece turn it up to 11 on this vibrant space-jam.
31. Jaded – ‘In The Morning’
It’s simple, brutally upbeat vibes that make this London trio shine here.
32. QTY – ‘Dress/Undress’
With Suede guitarist Bernard Butler behind the mixing desk, the New York duo came good on the potential shown last year with another gigantic chorus and infectious guitar licks.
33. Zara Larsson – ‘TG4M’
From the Swedish popstar’s international debut ‘So Good’, this mid-tempo balladbanger deals with self-destructiveness and low self esteem: “You’re too good for me / but I want you anyway.”
34. Shame – ‘Tasteless’
South London’s finest rage themselves raw on this furious post-punk storm.
35. Frank Ocean – ‘Chanel’
Far more immediate than the majority of last year’s ‘Blonde’ and ‘Endless’, Frank Ocean’s latest is also brilliantly lyrical, pitting the complexity of his bf against the mirrored iconography of a luxury brand.
36. Yaeji – ‘Noonside’
Kathy Yaeji Lee is a 23-year-old house DJ based in New York and Seoul. The tracks on her self-titled EP manage to be both completely languid and deeply catchy – none more so than opener ‘Noonside’, whose Korean chorus, though slackly sung, bashes out an indelible impression.
37. Drake – ‘Passionfruit’
Every time Drake produces a sadbanger of this quality, it just proves that Sad Drake is the best kind of Drake.
Stream Drake – Passionfruit by octobersveryown from desktop or your mobile device
38. Perfume Genius – ‘Slip Away’
The first taste of Mike Hadreas’ fourth album, ‘No Shape’, drives things up a gear with pounding drums and brilliant lines like: “If you never see them coming/You never have to hide.”
39. Pond – ‘The Weather’
The Perth quartet end their forthcoming seventh studio album with this sublime synth-led track produced by their mate Kevin Parker, of Tame Impala. The lyrics, of course, are fairly impenetrable.
New track from POND’s forthcoming album The Weather to be released May 5th
40. Mac DeMarco – ‘My Old Man’
Something deceptively soft and simple from Canadian slacker Mac, who isn’t happy to see his dad in the mirror: “There’s a price tag hanging off of having all that fun“.
41. Sampha – ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’
The quietest moment of the south Londoner’s debut album ‘Process’ is its emotional highlight: a ballad to the instrument he turned to after his mother’s cancer diagnosis.
42. Maggie Rogers – ‘On + Off’
‘Alaska’ might have been the track that piqued Pharrell Williams’ interest last year, but it’s the uplifting electropop banger ‘On + Off’ that proves Rogers was no passing fad.
43. Loyle Carner – ‘Stars & Shards’
This cautionary tale of a depressing drugdealer is lit up by interior rhymes and other shimmering wordplay: “Losing friends, rookie, he spends all of his tens on the little bit of leaf that’ll leave him stuck in the ends.”
44. Future Islands – ‘Ran’
The first cut from the Baltimore trio is as propulsively sad as we’ve come to expect: “On these roads out of love, so it goes,” Samuel T Herring roars.
45. Gorillaz – ‘We Got The Power (feat. Jehnny Beth)’
“On a le pouvoir de s’aimer!” exclaims Savages’ Jehnny Beth on this, one of five singles revealed early from Gorillaz’s ‘Humanz’. It’s an energetic and all-too-brief introduction to the new record from Damon Albarn’s animated crew.
46. Thundercat – ‘Walk On By (feat. Kendrick Lamar)’
The bassist also known as Stephen Bruner was key to the jazz-fusion sounds of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. Here the collaboration takes a woozy, boozy turn as Bruner coos: “No one wants to drink alone / Baby that’s how it goes“.
47. The Moonlandingz – ‘Black Hanz’
The Eccentronic Research Council and members of Fat White Family combined to form the barmy yet political fictional band The Moonlandingz, and this is their glorious “celebration of the Outsider, the socially inept.”
48. The Black Angels – ‘Currency’
The first taste from the Austin, Texas psych lot’s fifth album ‘Death Song’ is their heaviest thing to date, meaning its riff is killer.
49. Vince Staples – ‘BagBak’
This one’s threatening bassline slithers beneath the surface like a mythical sea creature as Vince nears the track’s apex: “Clap your hands if the police ever profiled / You ain’t gotta worry, don’t be scary ’cause we on now / Ain’t no gentrifying us, we finna buy the whole town / Tell the one percent to suck a dick, because we on now.”
50. Jay Som – ‘Baybee’
There’s no part of this understated, lo-fi jam from Melina Duterte’s second album ‘Everybody Works’ that isn’t lovely. It finds the Californian 22-year-old trying to make a relationship work: “If I leave you alone when you don’t feel right, I know we’ll sink for sure.”
51. Charli XCX – ‘Babygirl (feat. Uffie)’
This glossy, funny highlight from Charli’s mixtape ‘Number 1 Angel’ practically winks at the listener. ‘Babygirl’ is cutesy and ironic, taking suggestive pop lyrics to the extreme.
52. Jorja Smith – ‘Beautiful Little Fools’
Titled after a line from The Great Gatsby, this laid-back jam finds the West Midlander railing against superficiality: “Beautiful little fools,” she smirks, “That’s what us girls are destined for… born to be adored.”
53. Steve Lacy – ‘Dark Red’
Short and sweet from The Internet’s youngest member: ‘Dark Red’ is full of gorgeous guitar melodies, choral backing vocals and, over it all, Lacy’s soaring voice.
54. Little Cub – ‘Too Much Love’
The South London electro trio showcase their danceable brand of cynicism on this opening track from their forthcoming debut album ‘Still Life’.
55. HMLTD – ‘To The Door’
Looking and sounding totally unlike any other band right now, HMLTD mix Spaghetti Western guitars with electronic womps on this intense new single.
56. Hoops – ‘Rules’
Indiana four-piece Hoops say they “wanted this one to be a true-to-form guitar banger compacted into a short timeframe”. Guess what? They succeeded!
57. Superfood – ‘Double Dutch’
The Brummie lot used the eponymous skipping game as inspiration for this whirling, sample-filled slice of synthpop. It practically soars.
58. Nick Hakim – ‘Green Twins’
The opener from the Brooklynite’s album of the same name is the perfect introduction to his retro, psychedelia-soaked soul.
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