Photo by Hayden Goodridge / MTSU Sidelines
Music releases this year were defined not only by their freshness and ingenuity, but also the social context they were released in as listeners sought large-scale meaning and guidance from their musical icons. Whether these tracks got played at full volume in the car with friends or were listened to in quiet nighttime reflection, here’s a list of the ten most memorable songs to be released in 2017:
10.) “Real Death” –Mount Eerie
“Death is real” are the opening words to Phil Elverum’s heart-wrenching single, which paints a darkly poetic portrait of a man in utter collapse after the death of a loved one. In actuality, the song was written by the songwriter mere weeks after his wife, Geneviève, passed away from cancer, leaving him and their young daughter to cope with their harrowing loss. The song is difficult to listen to, in that the subject matter is so profoundly sad, but it manages to describe the experience of loss with an unprecedented poignancy to leave listeners affected by every subsequent line of Elverum’s mourning.
9.) “Mask Off” – Future
Wherever your views lie on the culture of trap music, it seems undeniable that Future dropped one of the year’s most infectious singles with “Mask Off.” The song’s repeating flute sample and dark bass groove lay out the ideal background for Future’s auto-tuned voice to detail the rapper’s unapologetically vice-filled lifestyle.
8.) “In Undertow” – Alvvays
The year’s undisputed indie-pop anthem is a song that gleams with youthful nostalgia from start to finish. As reverberating guitars surround Molly Rankin’s wondrous voice, she comes to the conclusion that it’s “time to let go” of a relationship in decline. The wavy chorus of “There’s no turning back” frames this decision as one of grand consequence, as well as an imperative in order for two lost-lovers to continue down separate paths.
7.) “Intrepid” – Pinegrove
The discordant strums which open “Intrepid” seem to underscore the tumultuous place that Pinegrove’s lead singer Evan Stephens Hall finds himself in as he struggles with the decision to commit his life to another. The song’s loosely picked opening explodes into a driving refrain of overdriven strumming and a punchy beat to back emotive yelps of reflection such as “Do we curl inwards or live long together in forgiveness?” When the song recedes back into placidity, it’s as if Stephens Hall’s outbursts have left him only in a greater state of bewilderment.
6.) “Appointments” – Julien Baker
If you don’t believe that Julien Baker is one of the most emotionally sincere young artists of today, you must not have listened to “Appointments” yet. In the first single of her sophomore album, “Turn Out The Lights,” the Tennessee songwriter comes to listeners at her most vulnerable, meditating over a looped guitar lead on the difficult grip that depression can have over a human being. The bone-chilling shouts of “Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright / Oh, I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is,” linger as some of the most immediately striking convictions to come from the young musician as she propels her way into national recognition.
5.) “GOLD” – Brockhampton
The boastful attitudes that the members of Brockhampton convey on “GOLD” aren’t without merit. In terms of musical content, the group really is at the cutting edge of hip-hop, and songs like this are proof. Over the track’s downright danceable beat, the confident personalities of Brockhampton’s key members come alive, demanding respect from their contemporaries, but more importantly, making clear that they’re having a great time doing it.
4.) “Where This Flower Blooms” – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator’s musical career experienced quite the sea change this year when he solidified himself as a rapper to be looked at seriously with “Flower Boy.” “Where This Flower Blooms” shows us a version of Tyler previously kept from the public eye; one that cares deeply about his artistic direction and presentation. With the line, “I rock, I roll, I bloom, I grow,” it becomes apparent that Tyler understands himself to be maturing as an artist, presenting faithful listeners with his best musical effort yet.
3.) “American Dream” – LCD Soundsystem
Released in advance of the New York outfit’s first album in seven years, “American Dream” marked the long-anticipated return of LCD Soundsystem. As the track builds off its waltzing progression, lead singer James Murphy presents some of his most introspective thoughts and insights which question the existence of the dream of American opportunity. The synth leads cut straight into the hearts of listeners as Murphy belts his famous falsetto in a fantastic display of sincerity.
2.) “DNA” – Kendrick Lamar
What’s not to say about “DNA?” Right out of the gates, the song demands the listener to stop whatever they were doing beforehand and receive Lamar’s sermon on just about everything that makes him the greatest rapper in hip-hop. From his insatiable lyrical prowess to his relentless attitude, Lamar tells us that just about all of his greatness was predisposed in his DNA. The Compton superstar seems to have no shortage of words to speak his mind with, and as the song’s beat switches halfway through its runtime, we are given the rapper’s most ambitious flow to date, as he barely stops to take a breath between lines of poetic brilliance.With “DNA,” Kendrick Lamar has graced hip-hop fans with an undeniable banger through-and-through.
1.) “Pure Comedy” – Father John Misty
In “Pure Comedy,” Father John Misty encapsulates the utter hilarity of human existence in a grandiose track that essentially asks, “Why do we have to be like this?” J Tillman presents us with his most critical side, taking shots at mankind’s problems of political idolization, religious hierarchy and inherent sexism in human culture. In the turbulent-at-best state of affairs that mostly everyone found themselves thrust into this year, the song provides a kind of catharsis, reminding us in its final lines, that despite all of our disputes and perceived differences, “each other’s all we got.”
To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email email@example.com.
For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.