The new year is here and I’ve yet to embrace the “new year new me” as it’s now 2018 and I’m still running behind on nearly everything. Better late than never. Here is a list of my favorite albums released during the year of 2017 – albums of which I enjoy 75% and more of the track listing (instead of those albums I can only tolerate the lead single) aka cohesive masterpieces of music. This is in no way a list of the best albums (I ain’t the Grammy’s) and certainly not all-inclusive as we all have various tastes.
10. Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
I remember hearing “Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)” and thinking how fresh it sounded and then Calvin Harris said he was going to release ten singles throughout 2017 from a corresponding album and I was ready for more. Along came “Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean)” aka the song of the summer and the only tolerable song by Katy Perry as of late. I don’t think there was a single time I went out without blasting this song while getting ready before leaving the house. It was just THAT catchy (now, it admittedly drives me nuts and has been so over played that I can’t stand it anymore but never mind that). “Heatstroke (feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams & Ariana Grande)” saved us from the overwhelming saturation of “Feels,” and came at the perfect time during my Ariana Grande obsession of early 2017 — throwback to when I couldn’t go to the Dangerous Woman Tour in Kansas City so my friend Annie and I took a trip to Houston, Texas, just so we could still see this concert #dedication. Honorable mention to “Faking It (feat. Kehlani & Lil Yachty).” And best part about this album is “Vol. 1” nods to the possibility of a “Vol. 2” — And Vol. 1 was jam packed with big name artists so @Calvin, for the next album maybe leave a feature spot for Rihanna, Kelela, ALMA, Tinashe, Cardi B, etc. just saying.
9. HAIM – Something to Tell You
Following the success of their single “The Wire” and their debut album, Days Are Gone, pop/rock/alternative girl group HAIM released this work of art. It’s a shame they’ve yet to truly take off on the radio and gain more exposure but, nonetheless, they still deliver the goods. I still get my life from “Want You Back” and “Little of Your Love.” I appreciate not only catchy songs but clever lyrics – and more power to an all-girl group doing their thang in today’s day. And much like Funk Wav Bounces was a refreshing sound from the Top 40 radio of the time, Something to Tell You meshes pop & rock influences in an understated way that you just don’t hear that often nowadays — you don’t really feel like you’re listening to a rock album, but most pop songs also aren’t using organic instruments and guitar rifts as their core structures — it’s almost like you can’t put your finger on it, but you’re not mad about it either. Who likes labels anyways?
BONUS: Check out their cover of fricken Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” Like!!! This is the cover we didn’t know we needed but is everything we ever wanted at the same time. My wig is levitating.
8. Miley Cyrus – Younger Now
We love a good comeback. And we’re also glad if Miley is going to continue making music that she isn’t making whatever experimental mess Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz was all about. “Malibu” came out of nowhere and swept us off our feet. What a slow, light-hearted bop. A unique lyric flow by a much happier Miley (following Liam Hemsworth coming back into her life and Thank God for that) on top of a beachy instrumental: perfect for the summer. The album also features typical Miley country influences (read: “Joanne vibes”) and even an appearance by her Hannah Montana and real life godmother, the one and only, Dolly Parton. Notable mentions: “Bad Mood” and ‘Thinkin.” Let’s just say a prayer Miley continues to grow her hair out and that we won’t have to relive another “Wrecking Ball” moment (but even she regrets that so it’s looking very promising).
7. Zara Larsson – So Good
I was so hyped for this album and then it came out and literally nobody cared. RIP. I will never forgive America for letting “Lush Life” flop, BUT we can’t forget the hype around “So Good (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)” cause the song still bops my socks off. Zara kind of came out of nowhere: she won the Swedish version of Got Talent when she was 10, she’s only 20 years old now, like homegirl still has braces; Swedish singers just know how to do it. And she must like her album as much as I do since she’s tried to push EIGHT singles from the album – apparently after we let her flop she took matters into her own hands and won’t let her album die just yet – I appreciate someone who doesn’t take no for an answer tbh. Notable mentions: “Symphony,” “I Would Like” and “TG4M.”
6. Kesha – Rainbow
Following all of her legal drama with Dr. Luke, Kesha came back resilient with the release of her third album, Rainbow. The lead single “Praying” was the perfect FU to Luke while being a sound mid-tempo pop song at the same time. I break my vocal cords every time it gets to the high ass note towards the end, like SANG girl. And if the more mature, almost stripped down sound of the album (again, read: “Joanne vibes”) left you worried we lost the good sis who used to brush her teeth with Jack Daniels, the music video for “Praying” should rest assure you that the same “Crazy Kids” Kesha is still there (sans the dollar sign). Following “Praying,” she released cohesive music videos for the other album highlights “Woman (feat. The Dap-Kings Horns)” and “Learn To Let Go” (she certainly learned better taste and aesthetics this time around). There’s a Dolly Parton feature on this album too which means good golly miss Dolly is collecting checks in 2017!
But in all seriousness, let’s all be thankful Kesha was able to create such beautiful and meaningful music despite the dramas of her personal life the past few years – she truly deserves all the support and success she got from this album, so if you missed her Rainbow Tour you can catch her on tour this year with Macklemore instead! Also give “Hunt You Down,” “Boots” and “Boogie Feet (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)” a quick listen.
5. Dua Lipa – Self-Titled
Now… I’ve got a bone to pick with y’all. And I think Matt Stopera over at Buzzfeed said it perfectly in his article “Dear America, Wake the Fuck Up and Let Dua Lipa Happen.” I just still don’t understand how America as a whole has yet to embrace Dua Legend. I’m not even trying to overhype her I am just truly baffled. I tried to play “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” every chance I had the aux and literally nobody cared but here we are at the beginning of 2018 and NOW y’all want to bop to “New Rules“? Speaking of: what a song, what a video, what an album tbh. Notable mentions: “Hotter Than Hell,” “Be The One,” Garden” and “Last Dance.”
When she releases her second album (or should I say IF she even GETS TO since we let her first album fall through the cracks because America praises TRASH on Top 40 radio instead of quality ANTHEMS like “New Rules”), what we’re gonna do is SUPPORT a good bop when we hear one, capeesh? Anyways, the album slaps. Get out from under your rock and get into it. Moving on…
4. Tove Lo – Blue Lips
I just wrote a whole blog post on Tove Lo that was inspired by this album because that’s just how much it bops. And in combination with it’s counterpart, Lady Wood, these albums save lives. I told you Swedish singers know what they’re doing. But alas, like the Dua Lipa scenario, y’all choose to turn a deaf ear to quality music. “Disco Tits” should’ve been playing in every bar and club this year and I’m more than pressed that it wasn’t. I will cut some slack because this album isn’t as mainstream or radio friendly as Dua’s is, BUT that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy it so I can listen to “Bitches” or “Shedontknowbutsheknows” in the car without people asking me to change the song within ten seconds. Remember “Habits (Stay High)” and how we didn’t let that song die off the radio for what seemed like three years? Yeah well, this album is at least 10x better than her first album. Just saying.
3. Charli XCX – Number 1 Angel
Again, I was moved so much by Charli’s music this year that I wrote an entire blog post on her. She’s since released the follow up mixtape to Number 1 Angel before the new year BUT it’s a bit too experimental for this list so I chose her first release of 2017 (that’s right, two whole mixtapes in one year; queen of making pop songs in her sleep). Charli does nothing but make catchy pop songs and what more could you ask for? This mixtape is full of hooks for days. “3AM (Pull Up) [feat. MØ],” “Roll With Me,” “ILY2” and “Babygirl (feat. Uffie)” will really leave you gasping for air. And I just KNOW it comes naturally to her so these songs are effortlessly THAT good. She also introduces us to other incredible artists we would’ve never heard of before like RAYE or CupcakKe (unless you a true hoe and have heard the thot anthem, “Deapthroat,” which is NOT safe for work nor for the faint of heart LOL).
2. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
I’m just so genuinely happy that the next two albums really hit it off after they were released (and that they were ever released to begin with cause they filled my playlists for the entirety of 2017). And I admit that I was the one who had to pretend I knew who she was when people talked about this album when it came out — but now I am a full fan. This is even one of those rare albums where I don’t think I dislike or regularly skip a single song on the track list. I even got the chance to see Kehlani live in 2017 and she really did the damn thing. While “Distraction” and “CRZY” gained some minor exposure (including my old roommate Abbi playing them on repeat for two weeks straight), I need y’all to get into the bop of all bops “Undercover” – you won’t regret it. Other notable mentions: “Too Much,” “Keep On,” “Get Like” and “In My Feelings.”
1. SZA – CTRL
Last but certainly not least, girlie girl SZA (sizz-uh) has been really hitting it big time these past few months. She seems to be everywhere and I’m absolutely here for it. I admit I slept on this album and didn’t get the hype for the longest of time, but I also regret all the time I lost where I could’ve been jamming after I realized how much it slays. If even Beyonce can jam to “Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott)” then you know she is doing something right. And if she can not only write a song for, but then hop on said song with Rihanna a year before all this exposure and the album even coming out then let us all bow down to the powers of SZA. You’ve got to appreciate the relatable and honest lyrics, the fresh flows and structures of the songs, the stripped down production and instrumentals, the uniqueness of her tone and voice, etc. The list goes on. It is certainly what has been fully occupying my playlists for the last few months. Please, somebody get “The Weekend” out of my head, I honestly think it’s permanently stuck. Same with the beginning of “Love Galore:”
LoooOOO LoUUooUU Lo-o-o LOUUUve long as we got..
Stay tuned for the list of my favorite individual songs from 2017 in the coming week! And thank you for reading if you made it this far. And if you just read the album titles by the numbers, then turn around and at least have yourself a laugh (or at the bare minimum add these albums to your Spotify/iTunes libraries if they aren’t already).
This blog post is meant as a commentary/critique/review and has no commercial purpose.