Garon’s Best of 2017: Music
I have to say this was a difficult list to put together. 2017 was a spectacular year for music from pretty much every genre imaginable and one not without its controversies. That said, I did it, and this list is populated with albums I found myself listening to over and over again, and albums I found myself returning to time and again even after listening to something else.
Before we get to the list check out a few honorable mentions (there are probably a dozen more I could include). These are all really great albums worth your attention and your time. You can get all of these from AMAZON or whatever streaming service you prefer.
Khalid – American Teen
Betty Who – The Valley
Chris Stapleton – From a Room Volume 1 and 2
Linkin Park – One More Light
Lil’ Peep – Come Over When You’re Sober
Jaden Smith – Syre
Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Pink – Beautiful Trauma
Allday – Speeding
Judging by my recent deep dive into vinyl I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t share my favorite vinyl release of the year. It’s a soundtrack collection from Death Waltz Records: A Nightmare on Elm Street Box of Souls featuring the scores from A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequels, and it sports some gorgeous artwork and packaging. The set is a bit expensive, and even had me questioning its affordability, but I am thrilled I picked it up. It’s a really stunning collection.
Okay, let’s get to the main event. Some of these artists are familiar to me, whether by name or previous enjoyment of their work, and some are artists I’ve just discovered for the first time with these albums, but all are, to me, among the absolute best that came out this year. I’m excited to see what they all do next.
Here are my Top Ten Albums of 2017!
It would take a Herculean effort to top her brilliant 1989 on the follow-up and reputation doesn’t come quite close but it still packs a great collection of excellent pop tracks. It’s a step further into pop and admittedly it took me a few listens to really get into it, but once I did, it was on repeat for weeks.
The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die
One of the best bands you might have heard someone talk about but probably haven’t heard yourself which is criminal because they’re fantastic. The new album is pitch perfect and packed full of songs that get straight to your mind and your heart and hooks you in. Listen to this one and you’ll be hunting down every note you can.
Pure pop bliss you can’t get out of your head once you hear it. I expect big things from her in the future.
My introduction to Perfume Genius and I am better for it. Gorgeous album without a skippable track. It’s deep and rich. You just want to climb into it and hide from the world. This is an album that breeds new fans.
I don’t know that anyone was prepared for how good of an album this turned out to be. Styles went from dreamy boy band member to straight up folk rock powerhouse. A stunning debut and a promising start to what I hope is a long and storied solo career. This album is wonderfully well done and a pure delight.
TOP FIVE, GUYS!
I first heard Rebecca Loebe when she performed on The Voice and then later when she appeared on the podcast Never Not Funny, singing first with Ellis Paul and then appearing on her own. She’s since released a new album and damn if I didn’t fall in love with it. The first track, Lie, is a fall to your knees heart-grabbing ballad that hit me like a hurricane (It made me cry okay?). Rebecca Loebe is a treasure and all 11 tracks on this album are required listening. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to it as I finish this post up!
It might have been easy to pass Lorde off as some kind of flash in the pan after Royals but with Melodrama she proves herself to be an untouchable artist delivering infectious and smart pop music that anyone can relate to whether you’re a man in his thirties or a girl stepping into a dorm room for the first time. Lorde has the ability to be a voice for everyone and this album is a prime example of her talents. Can’t wait for the next.
Deeply personal and revelatory, Tyler’s new LP is a powerhouse of hip hop. It served as my first real introduction to him and I was hooked from the first beat. Tyler gets deep with these lyrics and I think it’s resulted in a brave and important album that demands more appreciation. It definitely made me a fan and you’ll end up one as well. Now, if I can just get that vinyl.
Another super personal hip hop album, this time from Logic, another rapper I wasn’t familiar with before this album. Turns out this would live in my earbuds for, well, it still does. I go back to this LP multiple times a week. It’s just an excellent collection of songs. I love music that feels personal and deep and important and Logic’s album fits that bill. Even more so it feels important. He has something to say, he has a message, and he is going to get it out there through this collection of great songs.
This is going to be controversial but I couldn’t choose between these two albums and since this is MY best of the year list I’m perfectly fine with a tie for #1. Both of these albums put their creators on entirely different levels. They’re personal, important, and in the case of one of them, probably the most I’ve ever related to or felt connected to an album. They both have been listened to more times than I can count and they’re both flawless start to finish.
Kesha’s Rainbow is the kind of album that changes lives. It’s her come back, spit in the face of the people who doubted her, that stood in her way, or didn’t believe her claims album. She fought for the right to make and release this album and her emotion and story is palpable throughout. It’s a genre-bending emotional rollercoaster full of fantastic songs that should be topping every best of list out there. It’s pop joy and country-fied jams. Kesha is a force both personally and artistically and this album proves she not only has the talent to stick around but deserves to as well.
Like I said before, I don’t think I’ve ever connected as much with an album as I did with Paramore’s After Laughter. Every song, every lyric just hit home for me. It’s not only my favorite Paramore album, but it is their best album to date. They’re on an entirely different level from their previous releases. The brilliant use of tempo and music styling to contrast some really dark and emotional lyrics is brilliant. The band has crafted their best collection of songs yet and this puts Paramore in a whole new league for me. It’s not often I feel compelled to thank a band for a record but in this case I would. It’s just a great record cover to cover and a stellar start to the next era for them. So, thanks Paramore!
That’s the list! What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy? Pissed that there is a tie for #1? Give me your thoughts in the comments!
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Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.