2017 was a pretty good year for music. We saw a lot of new artists emerge and completely dominate the charts, and old favourites return again to release interesting, new music that was completely outside the box. Here are my top 10 favourite albums of 2017. Unlike past lists, I'm actually doing this in order of favourites so heeeeere we go!
10. All Time Low - Last Young Renegade
If I'm going to be honest, this album almost didn't make the list. Partly because this wasn't an album I was overly excited about. After announcing its upcoming release and first single, to me it sounded almost like a Future Hearts part two, which was disappointing because I could have done without Future Hearts. That said, after listening to the album, my opinion drastically changed. Last Young Renegade is a huge contrast in comparison to Future Hearts, almost reminding me of one of their previous releases, Don't Panic. Musically it is very in the element of All Time Low, but I'm uncertain about a lot of it as there isn't any major stand out tracks. It is a good All Time Low record, but not necessarily one of their best. That said, major cudos to the band for the experimentation of throwing in a bit more pop, plus a duet with Tegan from Tegan & Sara.
Favourite song: Drugs & Candy
9. Gorillaz - Humanz
I was very excited when it was announced that Gorillaz was finally coming out with an album after having not released one since 2010. Humanz, released earlier this summer, was a lengthy album, filled with guests ranging from Vince Staples to Carly Simon. While it was a very well-produced and arranged record, this album lacked the authenticity of Gorillaz. Although mastermind Damon Albarn is present vocally on the album, Humanz comes across as more of a collaboration record, relying more on the other artists on the album as opposed to Albarn's material. There are songs that stand out like Ascension and Strobelite, but becomes very muddled in the middle and towards the end.
Favourite song: Momentz
8. Weezer- Pacific Daydream
Pacific Daydream goes a little hand in hand with Weezer's pervious released, The White Album. Throwing in elements of the California sound, Pacific Daydream is much more riff-focused throwing in a few slower songs, that almost sound a little darker, or as dark as Weezer can get.
Favourite song: The Beach Boys
7. Pink - Beautiful Trauma
Another long-awaited album, Beautiful Trauma was released 5 years after Pink's previous studio effort. The album is very emotional, with topics ranging from relationships and love to the yearning of returning back to the days of playing with Barbies as a kid. The sassy spark that Pink (real name Alicia Moore) manages to punch in with her lyrics is prominent in the track Revenge, featuring Eminem. Even the lead single, What About Us, a pop-synth almost club track, evokes lyrics of political themes. Besides Eminem, Moore worked with a variety of top names including Jack Antonoff, Canadian singer Tobias Jesso Jr., and coveted producers Max Martin & Shellback, to make for a very mature, but also very Pink-sounding record.
Favourite Track: Beautiful Trauma
6. Kesha - Rainbow
Kesha's long-awaited third studio album Rainbow is more of a metamorphosis than your average album release. Abandoning her whisky teeth-brushing and the dollar sign in her name, Kesha emerged practically as a new artist in the release of this album. Rainbow touches on several of the personal topics that Kesha dealt with over the last few years including her eating disorder, a stint in rehab, and her highly publicized legal battle with former producer Dr. Luke who she accused of sexually assaulting her. Lyrically, Rainbow addresses letting go of the past, forgiveness within oneself, self-worth, and female empowerment. Musically, this album draws on more classic rock and country pop with inspirations from The Beatles, Dolly Parton and The Rolling Stones.
Favourite song: Bastards
5. St. Vincent - Masseduction
The fifth studio album from St. Vincent came with a smash this past October. The indie-rock singer dove a little deeper into a void of sex, love, and power. St. Vincent, who's real name is Annie Clark, gives her most direct record yet with lyrics that are tender and loving but also bite back a bit. Working with producer Jack Antonoff the two have crafted a very personal and raw record.
Favourite song: Hang On Me
4. Lorde - Melodrama
Most 18 year olds are preparing themselves for college, focusing on high school finals, relationships, friends, parties, the like. For Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O'Connor, it was doing a follow up for her debut Grammy award-winning record. After a highly successful debut, sold out tours around the globe, and even hanging out with Taylor Swift, Lorde had a pretty impressive resume and following. But what happens next? For the New Zealand native, it was taking a well-deserved break, and enjoying life. Having relationships, being with friends. It was what sparked the inspiration for her sophomore release, Melodrama. Lorde worked on the album in New York City with co-producer and co-songwriter Jack Antonoff, with most of it written on piano. This album is a raw beautiful record looking at the ups and downs of breakups and getting back on your feet. Musically it may be some of her best work, with a variety of synth pop experimentation. It is cathartic, nostalgic, dramatic, and everything else you could want it to be.
Favourite song: Homemade Dynamite
3. Haim - Something to Tell You
Like Lorde, Haim was a group that had extremely positive success and response after their debut album was released. Days Are Gone was a very relationship-focused record, looking at a lot of the fallouts, and the harsh breakups. Something To Tell You is the older sister to Days Are Gone, letting you know that love is still real and if you want it, you'll work for it. Musically, this album effortlessly mixes genres together, from catchy guitar riffs to dreamy synth-pop with influences of Stevie Nicks and The Eagles thrown in. A very fun, dance-pop record in a mature direction for this band.
Favourite Track: Nothing's Wrong
2. Bleachers - Gone Now
In the last two years, Jack Antonoff has slowly become a household name, especially after offering his musical ear to the likes of Taylor Swift, Lorde, Charli XCX and many more. Be it lyrically or producing, whether you know his name or not, you've probably heard his music. When not producing, he has his own project, Bleachers, an indie-rock experiment that went from his bedroom in New Jersey to selling out venues everywhere. After the success of his 2014 debut, Strange Desire, came the follow up this past June, Gone Now. It is a very Bleachers record musically, with soaring bold anthems, using a variety of instruments from cowbell and saxophone to sound clips of babies crying. Lyrically Gone Now focuses on loss, love and figuring yourself out, with each track cutting deeper that you find yourself relating to more and more. Nostalgia runs for moments you never had.
Favourite Song: Everybody Lost Somebody
1. Paramore - After Laughter
Though I've often said my favourite album of 2017 is a tie between Paramore and Bleachers, at the end of the day, After Laughter takes the cake. After Laughter, the follow up to their highly successful self-titled album may be Paramore's most honest record to date. Besides the 80's pop influence and dance-friendly tracks there is no sugar-coating. The beginning of the record opens with the lead track Hard Times with the first line 'all that I want is to wake up fine/tell me that I'm alright/that I ain't gonna die', paired with a catchy guitar riff. The yin-yang contrast of depressing lyrics with casually fun music is the staple of this record, and is heard consistently throughout. There is not a single track that is out of place or that could do without. Each song is placed strategically to make for a sonically cohesive effort. Lyrically this album touches on anxiety, relationships, the reality of getting older, and mending broken fences. This is not the Paramore of Misery Business that fans are used to, but it's been 10 years since then. Paramore are now a much more unified group, and that, even though they still embrace their pop-punk origins, have gotten older, and have angled themselves in a newer direction that is refreshed and honest. Each track is its own stand alone anthem, with the eventual ending coming to a sombre full circle.
Favourite Song: (It's impossible to pick one favourite, so this one is a tie) Rose-Colored Boy and Fake Happy.
What was your favourite album of 2017?