Best Of 2017: Singles Through May
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.
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”?
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.
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.
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.
Somethin’ I’m Good At – Brett Eldredge – What makes Brett special so much of the time is that he is so darn sweet, this is a gentle but poppy and exuberant new romance song and an instant classic.
Fire – Beth Ditto – With one of the hooks of the year at her disposal, that “get up up up” stuff, the superb soul singer goes solo with a song that should have hit the charts over the head with a frying pan: a soulful burner big time jam track.
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.
Paris – The Chainsmokers – The reason this EDM duo is so popular is because, like “Closer”, their songs are very good. The chorus here is killer.
Nights with You – Mo – It took forever for this woman to prove she was more than just a voice EDM producers can use, here her personality shines through on the tuneful track with a great bassline.
Bring It Back – Lil Yachty – The album peaks higher than this track but the title hook is overwhelming cool and good.
Preludes – Craig Finn – The most Craig Finn song he has ever written, “I came back to St. Paul and things had progressed and got strange” should be on his tombstone.
Napalm – Conor Oberst – That famous vomiting of lyrics Dylan invented provides Conor with his best song in years. The bon mots are relentless; “I lost my inhibitions, I think I may have lost my wallet too”, “I guess I should defend your virtue but the truth is I’m still on the fence”… really just about every couplet is quotable, plus the song rocks and the tune is a kicker.
Telegraph Avenue – Rancid – Of course it sounds like the Clash, that’s what they do, but this one really really sounds like the Clash -with a sprinkling of the Pogues