It's hard to believe it, but 2017 is already coming to an end - and what a year it's been. Between endless headlines of political incompetencies, tragic natural disasters and groundbreaking exposés of sexual abuse, one thing has, like always, remained our constant comfort and saviour - music.
Pop in 2017 has been a pretty varied affair, although the running theme has been the odd fusion we predicted last year of country music, tropical beats and EDM drops. It's those undercurrents that birthed some of the most annoying, repetitious songs of the year - 'Despacito', 'Shape Of You' and 'Meant To Be', we're calling you all out - but it's the same sounds that created some of the catchiest, most powerful and most groundbreaking tracks of the year too.
In previous years we've run this list as a dictatorship, with the editors telling you our opinions on the best tracks of the year with no external advice sought. This year, we decided to branch out into a democracy by inviting some of our favourite members to submit their songs of the year, limiting our input to just the ordering of each song in a (semi-)ranked list. We hope you enjoy our collection of songs, and that you ring in the New Year's with joy, love, safety and most importantly, lots of music.
17. Lana Del Rey - Tomorrow Never Came (Feat. Sean Ono Lennon)
Submitted by @Countess
Lana Del Rey's Lust For Life was a marked departure from her debut album Born To Die not just in name, but also in intent; the album was less about Del Rey's own personal demons and more about the demons facing our society in 2017. But that's not to say that the album is impersonal, and 'Tomorrow Never Came' is a stunning example of that. The lyrics are typical Lana, lamenting a lost love through a simple metaphor - "I waited for you in the spot you said to wait/In the city on the park bench in the middle of the pouring rain/You said to meet me out there tomorrow, but tomorrow never came" - but the production is more gentle, hopeful and soft than Lana has explored in her albums before. The song is made all the more heartbreaking due to the song's feature of Sean Ono Lennon, who - as you might have guessed - is the son of Yoko Ono, who famously frequents the memorial to her late husband John Lennon in Central Park as much as she can. The Beatles may never be able to get back together, but if this song proves anything it's that their spirit lives on.
16. Steps - Scared of the Dark
Submitted by @coolaideonfire
UK pop superstars Steps returned in 2017 to celebrate their 20th anniversary and kicked things off with comeback single 'Scared Of The Dark', their first released since 2012's poorly received holiday album Light Up The World. The single commands the listener's attention immediately with a dramatic string introduction before Faye and Claire, arguably the groups strongest singers, take on its brooding first verse. You'd be forgiven for mistaking the single as a middling ballad at first, but the chorus signals a change in direction as the song explodes into the unashamed brand of pop the band were popular for the first time they entered the charts back in the late 90s. "Scared Of The Dark" should serve as a masterclass for any nostalgic act aiming to stage a comeback so many years after their initial success. The song is clearly cut from the same cloth as the band's biggest hits, and should please any Steps fan (or any fan of 90s pop for that matter), but it doesn't sound dated at all. This is a slice of pop heaven from an equally well produced and pop-heavy album, Tears On The Dancefloor.
15. K.I.D - Elevator
Submitted by @Caolicolor
'Elevator' transcended every normcore stan Twitter gay who slept on K.I.D for the past three years into an instant stan. With it's heavy paced, dark, and atmospheric sound, it's a great getting ready to fuck song worth listening to.
14. Kelly Clarkson - Love So Soft
Submitted by @Ruthless Love
Since September 4, 2002, Kelly Clarkson has been a staple in the music industry. She became the winner of the inaugural season of the now-defunct Fox reality competition series, American Idol (which returns March 2018 on ABC), and has since become one of the most forceful performers in today's generation. Since winning, she signed an immediate deal between 19 Recordings, RCA and S Records and released her debut album, Thankful (2003). Following her debut release and still under her Idol contract (which later became solely associated with RCA), she gave us six additional albums: Breakaway (2004); My December (2007); All I Ever Wanted (2009); Stronger (2011); Wrapped in Red (2013) and Piece by Piece (2015), as well as a greatest hits compilation in 2012. In 2016, Clarkson announced the end of her partnership with RCA, citing the relationship as an "arranged marriage," and signed a deal with Warner Music's Atlantic Records. Under this deal, Clarkson promised us a "soul-influenced" album. And, in 2017, she gave us just that. Meaning of Life marks the first release from Clarkson free from her Idol deal and showcases the singer at her strongest and most secure. The album's first single, 'Love So Soft' proved a departure for Clarkson. Known for giving us angst-driven pop rock songs, 'Love So Soft' is drenched as a soulful R&B track, matched with superior vocals and a confidence that only Clarkson could maintain. It's safe to say that fifteen years after being named our American Idol that Clarkson is still the Idol of our hearts and of the music industry. She is proving to us that she is no longer accepting the idea of conforming to what society and the industry believes a modern day pop star should look, sound and maintain herself as, and is instead doing what she feels is right: being Kelly Clarkson.
13. Katy Perry - Tsunami
Submitted by @BlackoutZone
Katy's latest record may or may not be a musical masterpiece consisting of "woke" (as she likes to describe them) pop songs and original, groundbreaking, multi-genre efforts, but either way there is one significant track that stands out not only from the rest of the album, but the whole musical scene of 2017. 'Tsunami' is about Katy's magnificent sexual experience with her lover. She compares their love to swimming in open waters and his sexual power hitting her like a tsunami. The track is really well written and Katy totally nails the ocean theme with her beautiful lyrical references, such as: "Anchor in me, and get lost at sea/The world's your oyster/I am the pearl/Open waters/Sink into me slowly." The production is simply marvellous! Mike Will Made It channels typical Tame Impala synths mixed with his usual style and it works perfectly. The dreamy instrumental is building, progressing and flowing like an ocean wave which makes the track delicate yet very haunting. When Lady Gaga announced her collaboration with Kevin Parker, the leader of Tame Impala, which later gave birth to her lead single 'Perfect Illusion', this track is exactly what I expected it to be. Mike recently shared the demo instrumental to the song, and it's interesting to see how the track changed in its production states and hear all the sounds lost under Katy's voice in the final product. 'Tsunami' is undoubtedly my song of the year and Katy's best effort to date, sadly it will probably remain unnoticed by the general public and Grammy committee as I can't see it being released as a single or getting any real success...
12. Aly & AJ - I Know
Submitted by @Kim Craig
Going into 2017, who'd have known it would finally be the year best friends and sister duo, Aly & AJ, would get their shit together and release an appetiser sized EP, Ten Years, marking the rebirth of their long lost musical career since 2007's Insomniatic. The sister duo returned with a viciously infectious 80's synth pop sound which left heads around the globe bald. My song of the year, I Know, included on this EP release, talks about friendship and the commitment everyone is capable of giving to those in need. With distorted echoes and a fluttering backbeat, I Know offers the best and most valuable piece of music the duo has released since, well, ever. With a full LP due out by Summer 2018, Aly & AJ should be on everybody's radar because they're back to slay.
11. Kesha - Rainbow
Submitted by @Ari
The past three years have seen a very public and serious legal battle between Kesha Rose and her former producer and manager Dr. Luke over years of alleged sexual assault. After losing her case last year and being denied a retrial, Kesha forged onwards by releasing the massively critically acclaimed album Rainbow on the 11th of August. My favourite song of 2017 has to be the title track off that album. The song begins with a key description of tough times and feelings which are clearly straight from Kesha's heart (she wrote this song all by herself). The song then swiftly moves into an upbeat movement about the good times and how life can and will get better. The live orchestra in the studio along with the background vocals that harmonise with the chorus give it a massively joyful and warm feeling which by the end of it is sure to leave you with a strong buzzing sense inside. In a year where a lot of truths have come out in the industry thanks to the powerful #MeToo movement, I think Kesha gives us a much needed reminder in 'Rainbow' that "in every tunnel, there's always a light at the other end".
10. Miley Cyrus - Malibu
Submitted by @Whoknowsmehere
After much consideration and re-listening to many songs over the last couple of days, I have come to the conclusion that the one song that just seems to stick with me is be 'Malibu' by Miley Cyrus. It was a tough choice for me between 'Malibu', Shania Twain's 'Life's About To Get Good', Camila Cabello's 'Havana' and Rita Ora's 'Anywhere'. When I first heard 'Malibu' I was not all that thrilled about it to be honest. However, after listening to it numerous times it really grew on me. I think what did it for me was the simplicity of the song and yet how catchy it was. I do not know exactly what message she was trying to get through with the song - we each get different things from it - but what I took away from it is how much she has grown as a person and an artist, and that she may have finally figured out who or what she wants to be. I have to be honest though: if this is the new Miley, a part of me will miss the old Miley. She sure had the entertainment factor down to a science.
9. Odd Eye Circle - LOONATIC
Submitted by @nanapop99
While the majority of people don't listen to K-Pop, I've been a fan of this genre for a few years now and I don't think I've been this hooked on a girl group debut since 2NE1. LOONA has a really unique concept which consists of debuting a new member every month with a solo song: for now the label has revealed ten members out of the full twelve (for those who want to hear more, here's a solo song which I really love). The full group has yet to debut but Odd Eye Circle is the second sub-unit of LOONA and it consists of three members. 'LOONATIC' is technically not a single off their EP but it's definitely the song that got me into this group. The moment I listened to it for the first time, I knew that it would be my favourite! It has a very unique sound that I've personally never heard in any other songs and it's also very catchy. The lyrics are kinda difficult to hear and understand but the instrumental is really what's best: it has a really dreamy feel to it that I love. The track was originally released in Korean but they later released an English version as a gift for international fans which you can listen to above.
8. Rita Ora - Your Song
Submitted by @Dayfid
'Your Song' is the lead single from Rita Ora's second album which may actually get released and promoted! It's written by Ed Sheeran who provides background vocals and Steve Mac who also produced the track. The best part is that driving intro synth or whatever that thing is with those background snaps that loop throughout the song without getting boring. The song was performed and promoted literally anywhere. It's been performed live 9+ times and has become Rita's most promoted body of work besides her own actual body (along with an acoustic performance uploaded to YouTube with that random writer). Slay, Rita Oral!
7. Kesha - Learn To Let Go
Submitted by @Joe
"Your past only has as much effect on your future as you want it to." - Kesha, Huffington Post. My song of the year is the one that made me feel the most emotion upon first hearing it. On July 2nd, Kesha released 'Praying', her triumphant return to music. But it’s what she followed up with that truly took my breath away. Kesha has said that 'Learn To Let Go' played a big part in Rainbow as a whole and was one of the first songs written for the album. I vividly remember waking up to the song and music video being released. I immediately broke down crying. I felt like Kesha had written the song just for me. I related to every line. She refers to the bitterness she’s held onto and that there’s this voice that’s always telling her that she isn’t strong, that’s it’s her fault. When in fact, you choose to play the victim or to be the survivor. It’s so easy to give others advice, but to follow it yourself? Not many "practice what they preach" and I’ll admit to this. This song helped me let go of the pain and the hatred I held towards myself for far to long. Back to Kesha...The music video is a collection of home movies and shots of Kesha dancing in a forest. I took the music video as Kesha reclaiming her innocence. Reclaiming who she once was. She dropped the dollar sign and came back better and more real than ever. This song is a testament to just that: accept the shit, accept that it doesn’t define you, accept that you are yourself at the end of the day, and let yourself move on.
6. Selena Gomez - Bad Liar
Submitted by @Fetish
My song of the year is, by a long shot, 'Bad Liar' by Selena Gomez. With 'Bad Liar', Selena introduced a new image, sound and style to her music and bought an alternative twist to her mostly bubblegum-pop centred discography by sampling one of the best bands of all time, Talking Heads. The song was a huge step for Selena, showing both the general public and her diehard fans that she could explore new sounds and pull them off both brilliantly and effortlessly. The stripped back production and mid-tempo flow of the song accentuates her voice, allowing her to capitalize on her infamously restricted vocal ability; while the lyrics - handled by Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter and Selena herself - are genius, featuring bizarre lines like, "But just like the battle of Troy, there's nothing subtle here." There's also no ignoring the amazing music video which paired with the song, in which Selena plays numerous characters, crafting a fun and interesting storyline while giving the song a whole other meaning. There's no denying that this was easily the catchiest song released this year, and although it was ignored by the Grammy's...It was definitely receiving attention elsewhere, as the song is now Selena's most acclaimed piece of work.
5. Dua Lipa - New Rules
Submitted by @Countess
I can't lie: before 2017, I had no idea what the hype over Dua Lipa was about or why Kendall Jenner with voice lessons was getting so much online buzz just for looking pretty and having one decent song (her breakthrough sleeper hit 'Be The One'). But then 'New Rules' came along, and everything changed. Backed by a unique production, the song is one of the best examples of the countdown chorus previously attempted by Brooke Candy and Sia and Beyoncé, and it's structured to pop perfection. The only thing that could have made it better is the music video, which with it's instantly Instagrammable scenes of flamingos by the pool and girl power hairbrushing immediately raised the song to memeable status. This one will be hard for Lipa to beat.
4. Lana Del Rey - Love
Submitted by @Speedy
"I made my first four albums for me, but this one is for my fans and about where I hope we are all headed." That's how Lana Del Rey introduced her latest album Lust For Life, and we couldn't wait to listen to the fan-devoted record. The first introduction to what seemed a new era of Del Rey's approach to music was the lead single 'Love' (initially called 'Young & In Love'), a dreamy song about the new generation of "kids" (as Del Rey calls them in the song) that are mesmerised by the past while surrounded by the future. The only thing that ties them is that feeling of dressing up just to go nowhere because they're "young and in love" - a total shift of perspective for Lana when it comes to the feelings she invests in her songs. There's no characterisation or melodrama here: just a direct approach to a basic human feeling, and a girl with a big bright smile and flowers in her hair, singing happily on the moon, because "it's enough to be young and in love with life".
3. Lorde - Green Light
Submitted by @Countess
Lorde took a break after the release of her 2013 breakthrough album Pure Heroine, and her absence was sorely obvious to some in the pop music world. But when she returned with the resounding 'Green Light' this year, it made the four year wait completely worth it. The perfect comeback single, 'Green Light' begins with a series of bizzarely personal, vulnerable lyrics such as "I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth/She thinks you love the beach, you're such a damn liar". The build is up gradual, but it makes that explosive moment when the chorus first drops all the more glorious. Channeling the likes of Coldplay and Florence + The Machine, 'Green Light' is a slice of euphoric pop perfection which sees Lorde dancing through the sadness of a breakup, and it's orchestrated to perfection. If you've been looking for a new workout song, I think you might have found one.
2. Kesha - Woman
Submitted by @victorxcx
The last few years have been a crazy journey for Kesha, and as fans we naturally wondered how all these events would influence the sound of her third studio album (the first without Dr. Luke’s production). 'Praying', the first single, is for sure an epic song and a triumphant return; but 'Woman' is the bop that we were all waiting for, and the song that shows that while Kesha has grown a lot she still has that sassy attitude that made us fall in love with her back in the Animal days. Given her background, I'd guess that the meaning of 'Woman' is even more powerful than we can imagine just listening to it on the radio or at the clubs. After all the ups and downs, Kesha is stronger and more independent than ever and I’m definitely here for it. The production is pretty amazing as well: I love how laid-back it is, and my favorite part is the laugh before the second chorus and how it evolves to the flawless bridge. 'Woman' was also confirmed as the second official single from Rainbow so I'm hoping it will get the success it deserves (I’ll be definitely streaming and watching the music video all year long!).
1. Rita Ora - Anywhere
Submitted by @Cypher
A gem from 2017's pop catalogue, Rita Ora sings about finding gem locations "a million miles from LA" with a cherished friend. The beauty of the track is that the subjects referred to could very well be about non-romantic friends. With the world having been through a year of turmoil and natural disasters, this song gives the hope of freedom to the listener for 3 minutes and 42 seconds. The glitched vocals in the chorus give free-range interpretation and emotional fluidity for people seeking a temporary space away from reality. Without having to take a physical vacation, this song takes the listener on a ride through a journey of "fun, a little less fun", and "crowds of empty faces." Running through the woods of Estonia, climbing to a peak in the Alps, roaming the streets of New York, or swimming with sharks off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, this song has the potential to forever bring you back to those locations long after the trip is over. Take a listen to the song and let your mind roam free.