Best Of 2017: Singles Through July
.At The Purchasers Option – Rhiannon Giddens – Based upon an advert dating from the time of slavery where a woman was being sold with her baby optional, Rhiannon imagines the decency of the slave in question. A true insight into the hell of slavery and a work of Americana that makes sense of the terrible genre. Also, just musically, that chorus is killer.
If We Were Vampires – Jason Isbell And The 400 Units – One of the smartest songs ever written about mortality, Jason parsing his feelings to irrevocable full stop, imagines that mortality would make him seem casual he wouldn’t even hold his woman’s hand. Impossibly tender and caring, and wonders if immortality would be worth the loss of that tenderness to the irreparable damage of time
Love Someone – Brett Eldredge – Brett gets a hook dream of a song in his grip and doesn’t let go and there is such a sweetness to the chorus it brightens you all the way up.
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran – This has ruled the charts since it was released and while it sounded enough like “No Scrubs” for Sheeran to share co-writer credits, my sense is he did it for a quiet life. Whatever, this is one of the great dance songs, a hot sex dance smash.
Despacito Remix – Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber – Luis is a Latin American heartthrob and Daddy Yankee is the king of reggaeton but this is a major popstroke because among the many things the often maligned Bieber can do is apparently the most lush pop the world has ever invented
Wild Thoughts – DJ Khaled, Rihanna, Bryson Tiller – One of the top hooks of the year by one of the great sellers of hooks in the world -by whom I mean Rihanna.
Big Boys – Chuck Berry – if the lyrics were a touch tighter it would fit right onto “The Great 28,” and as it stands it is his best song since, I dunno, “Tulane”?
Creature Comforts – Arcade Fire – Death disco in the extreme where Arcade Fire fans cut themselves, hate themselves, and contemplate suicide with extreme prejudice
Stumbling Block – Buju Banton, Freddie McGregor – After a terrible frame-up, Buju is still stuck in prison, so any time we get to hear from him is good and ehre his singing saves a fair to middling dancehall song and makes it great.
Issues – Julia Michaels – Justin Trantner’s partner in writing is ready to step out and if this is the quality of song she is writing, there should be zero problems. A tuneful, well rhymed, excellently drum motived, minimal beat brilliance. A terrific song and if she has many more like this for the album (and she should), expect Julia to be our net big pop star.
Bad Liar – Selena Gomez – Selena meets Ani Di Franco, co-written with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter and a bass backing track off “Psycho Killer,’ this is Selena’s greatest moment.
Mary – Big Thief – After their debut album Masterpiece, I wondered if they could ever repeat that much feeling. They could. “Mary”
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – The birth of love with Chris and Andrew trading verses in honor of a woman who doesn’t want superman and just wants to be loved with one of those gorgeous tunes these guys can do and other’s really can’t.
River In the Rain – Alison Krauss – From Roger Miller’s “Big River” Broadway Musical, and from a first rate covers album, Krauss gets every single thing the song has to offer in a dreamy rainy day world like bluegrass meets the Carpenters.
To Be Without You – Ryan Adams – A terrific Neil Young soundalike that sounds like Ryan Adams.
Own It – Bailey Bryan – The nineteen year old Bailey is so much a part of her generation that while she might be updating Miley circa “Party In The USA” with Taylor circa “Our Song,” it still is itself with all the zest of right this second.
England Lost – Mick Jagger – Drums and bass-y electronica with a neat metaphor for the decline and fall of the British Empire: a soccer match.
2 Fingers Of Whiskey – Elton John, Jack white – This Bernie Taupin composed blues banger is Elton and Jack’s best work in years, a bruised beauty and a timeless rocked out work.
Mind On Fire – Aisha Badru – Great hook, those “hoo hah”‘s are money in the bank, and the bass lick which repeats on the bottom are better than they have any right to be and Badru is a folkie singer songwriter a step away from Lilith but she sure sounds good here.
How Did I Find Myself Here – The Dream Syndicate – The great founding members of LA’s Paisley Underground movement kill it for half the song as a garage groove jam band, then add in the vocals and get better.
Back To You – Louis Tomlinson, featuring Bebe Rexha – A former One direction gets it right in this sticky as hell smooth as silk pop track with a simply and catchy note by note piano hook