Top 50 Songs of 2017

Even harder than picking the top albums of the year is sifting through the insane amount of amazing songs that entered my ear canals in 2017*. From a collection of 150 songs (and keeping it to that amount wasn’t easy), I managed to whittle down the list to the 50 songs I couldn’t get out of my head. Looking at trends from the year, there were pop-punk bands going 80’s (Paramore, Bleachers), female guitar heroes (Tash Sultana, ZZ Ward), great soul/rock/funk hybrids (Miles Mosley, Earl St. Clair, Curtis Harding) and of course a streak of protest tracks responding to everything the year threw at us.

I’m sure as we continue to look back we will learn far more about what made 2017 a unique year in music. For now, here are my top songs of the year.

TOP 50 SONGS OF 2017

1. Paramore – Hard Times

If you had told me in January that my favorite song this year would be a Talking Heads-inspired pop jam from Paramore, I would have done a double take. Not that the group hasn’t written some good songs (“Ain’t It Fun” made my Best of 2013 list), but I was definitely blindsided by this one. Maybe it’s how the lyrics seemed to directly address what was one of the roughest years of my life, or how Haley and the team did this through one of the most effortlessly cool, quirky, grooving songs they’ve ever written. Whatever it is, this infectious concoction won the year hands down.

2. Strand of Oaks – Radio Kids

A song that touches on the power of music and youth, with guitars that send shivers up my spine and soul.

3. Bleachers – Don’t Take the Money

Shiny guitars and 80’s production wrap around eccentric pop with stadium ambitions and a hopeless romantic’s heart. If Say Anything were released today, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see John Cusack blasting a song like this from his stereo. It hits all the right chords and then some.

4. Japandroids – No Known Drink or Drug

The Japandroids reveal themselves to be grand romantics with this anthemic rocker. “No known drink, no known drug, could ever hold a candle to your love” is a line that should win over the hardest hearts.

5. Miles Mosley – Young Lion

This soul-funk number rages in all the right ways as it blasts out of the speakers with a glorious fire.

6. Mac McCaughan – Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again)

The best song to address our current political climate this year. Written at the very end of 2016, it sadly stays completely relevant, with the one uplifting note of it being that Prince truly can’t die again.

7. Gorillaz – Ascension (feat. Vince Staples)

On the outside it’s a high energy hip-hop track for the dance floor, but listen to the lyrics, and you’ll find Staples demolishing America’s gun culture and race relations. A subtly powerful track that will take you by surprise.

8. Matthew Ryan – (I Just Died) Like an Aviator

One of Ryan’s most propulsive songs to date. For anyone who has ever lost someone close to them, try listening to Ryan’s pleading at the end “Don’t die, don’t disappear. I swear to God we need you here” without getting choked up. It certainly got to me.

9. Son Volt – Back Against the Wall

This steady folk number has the timelessness of Dylan’s best work, with a understated vocal performance that adds an emotional heft to the track.

10. Bash & Pop – On the Rocks

The most welcome surprise of this year was Tommy Stinson reforming his post-Replacements band to tour and release a new album. The lead single contained all that made the group’s first album so strong; catchy guitars, boozy vocals, and a lively spirit.

11. GospelbeacH – Strange Days
12. Tash Sultana – Jungle
13. Matthew Good – Bad Guys Win
14. Frank Turner – The Sand in the Gears
15. Valerie June – Got Soul
16. ZZ Ward – Domino (feat. Fitz)
17. Dave Hause – The Flinch
18. Lucky Boys Confusion – Sun in My Eyes
19. Aloe Blacc – Real Slow
20. Kesha – Let ‘Em Talk (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)
21. Mexican Institute of Sound – Mi T-Shirt De La Nasa
22. Ryan Adams – Doomsday
23. Missio – Middle Fingers
24. 311 – Too Much To Think
25. Rise Against – House on Fire
26. PnB Rock – Horses (feat. Kodak Black & A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie)
27. Fastball – Just Another Dream
28. Foo Fighters – Run
29. Julien Baker – Distant Solar Systems
30. Our Lady Peace – Drop Me in the Water
31. Earl St. Clair – Ain’t Got It Like That
32. Portugal. The Man – Number One (feat. Richie Havens & Son Little)
33. Low Cut Connie – Revolution Rock n Roll
34. Dispatch – Only the Wild Ones
35. Captain We’re Sinking – Trying Year
35. Lana Del Rey – Love
36. Flogging Molly – Reptiles (We Woke Up)
37. Alex Cuba – Todas las Cabezas Estan Locas
38. Wyclef Jean – Hendrix
39. Liam Gallagher – Wall of Glass
40. Murs – 1000 Suns
41. Machel Montano – Beat It
42. Brand New – 137
43. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Rican Beach
44. Anti-Flag – Racists
45. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold
46. Cold War Kids – Can We Hang On?
47. Dessa – Good Grief
48. Buyepongo – Sueltan Fuego
49. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – If We Were Vampires
50. Tyler Bates – Guardians of the Frickin’ Galaxy

Best of the Rest (In Alphabetical Order)

1 AMVRKA – Raised in the Wild
The Afghan Whigs – Toy Automatic
Aimee Mann – Goose Snow Cone
Ariel Pink – Feels Like Heaven
Authority Zero – Bayside
Beck – Seventh Heaven
Ben Nichols – Stormy Eyed Valentine
Benjamin Booker – Witness
Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Pure Morning
Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Damaged One
Blink-182 – Misery
Blondie – Long Time
Brian Fallon – Forget Me Not
Charlie Parr – Dog
Charly Bliss – Glitter
City and Colour – Rain
Curtis Harding – As I Am
Cyril Morin – Arthur and Gena
Damian Marley – Slave Mill
Dan Auerbach – Malibu Man
David Ford – A Hundred Streets
Desmond Dekker – Have Courage
The Dogs – Why is the Flesh So Strong
Dr. Dog – Survive
Drive-By Truckers – The Perilous Night
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Flamin’ Groovies – End of the World
Flobots – Dancing in the Light of a Burning City (Phoenixes)
Frightened Rabbit – Roadless
George Ezra – Don’t Matter Now
Gill Landry – Berlin
Glen Hansard – Time Will Be the Healer
Goldfinger – See You Around
The Goo Goo Dolls – Tattered Edge/You Should Be Happy
Gregg Allman – My Only True Friend
Haim – Want You Back
Holy Oak – Basilisk
Hot Water Music – Never Going Back
J. Roddy Walston & The Business – The Wanting
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Maybe Whatever
Jillette Johnson – Love is Blind
John Legend – Woodstock
Kendrick Lamar – Feel.
The Killers – Run For Cover
The King Blues – Heart of a Lion
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizards – Rattlesnake
The Knights – Stevens/Arr Atkinson: Suite from Run Rabbit Run: I. Year of the Ox
LCD Soundsystem – Call the Police
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Underneath the Sheets of White Noise
Lee Fields & The Expressions – Time
Lillie Mae – Wash Me Clean
Linkin Park – Heavy (feat. Kiiara)
LP – Switchblade
Mark Mothersbaugh – Ragnarok Suite
Martin Simpson – Thomas Drew
Matt Pryor – I Won’t Be Afraid
Mick Jagger – Gotta Get a Grip
Milo Greene – We Kept the Lights On
Mo Kenney – Unglued
Mondo Cozmo – Thunder
New Politics – CIA
The New Pornographers – This is the World of the Theater
The Night Game – The Outfield
Noah Gundersen – The Sound
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Holy Mountain
Olatunji – Ola
P.O.S. – Thieves/Kings
P!nk – Whatever You Want
Palmas – Floating in the Dark
Palolo Deep – Surf Ghetto
Passenger – A Kindly Reminder
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Santiago
Propagandhi – Failed Imagineer
Ray Davies – Poetry
Red City Radio – Rebels
Robert Plant – The May Queen
Roger Waters – Déjà Vu
Sam Outlaw – Bougainvillea, I Think
Save Ferris – New Sound
Sébastien Tellier – Lovely Blonde
The Shins – The Fear
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Your Cat
St. Vincent – Pills
Starsailor – All This Life
Talib Kweli – Traveling Light (feat. Anderson .Paak)
Tinariwen – Arhegh ad annagh
Travoltas – Until We Hit the Shore
Van Morrison – Transformation
Vic Mensa – We Could Be Free (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
Vieux Farka Touré – Ouaga
Walk the Moon – One Foot
The War on Drugs – Nothing to Find
Waxahatchee – Silver
Weezer – Mexican Fender
The White Buffalo – Avalon
Wild Cub – Somewhere
Willie Nelson – True Love
Wiretree – Louisiana
The Wombats – Lemon to a Knife Fight

*Some songs were released at the tail-end of 2016. I include them in the following year so they have a fair shake at drilling themselves into my brain.
**Includes all songs except Ben Nichols‘ “Stormy Eyed Valentine”, which is only available via Amazon.

And so you don’t have to track down all of these songs yourselves, below is a collected playlist of all 150 tracks (the Top 50 in descending order)** Please follow the list on Spotify!:

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