The Concordian music staff reflects on the year’s best offerings
Last year was marked by triumph, defeat and outpours of optimism, and artists across the globe relayed this the best way they know how—through song. Here are the best tracks of 2017.
- “Love Galore” – SZA (ft. Travis Scott)
After spending half a year in our collective psyche, SZA’s sultry collaboration with Travis Scott secured a tight spot in the canon of timeless breakup songs. In the span of three minutes, the duo swap bitter kiss-offs and dissect past relationships while maintaining remarkably complex emotional maturity.
- “Magnolia” – Playboi Carti
Named after the infamous housing project in New Orleans, “Magnolia” is a stunning crystallization of Playboi Carti’s best assets—his natural ebb and flow on the mic and his critical sense of next-generation sounds.
- “The Bus Song” – Jay Som
“The Bus Song” not only introduces Jay Som’s excellent Everybody Works, it’s also a staggering reflection on love, friendship and the gratifying solace of trudging from desolate street to crowded bus stop, only to repeat the cycle on a daily basis.
- “DNA.” – Kendrick Lamar
“DNA” is a hip-hop masterpiece. Kendrick Lamar takes aim at a culture of misrepresentation and the long-standing effects that have perpetuated such divides. With mesmerizing production coming from Mike WiLL Made-It, “DNA.” is a disarming reminder that Lamar has plenty left to contribute to the zeitgeist, and then some.
- “The Story of O.J.” – Jay-Z
With a Nina Simone sample as its main hook, “The Story of O.J.” tackles traditions of racial discrimination and the diaspora of African culture in America, past and present, all delivered with some of Jay-Z’s sharpest writing in years.
- “123” – Girlpool
Girlpool’s sound hovers in its own innocuous space, where high school fantasies and dreamlike imagery act as a guiding beacon. On “123,” the duo peer through the looking glass with a sense of hyper-curiosity that reminds you of how powerless you really feel in this world we call home.
- “LMK” – Kelela
Kelela’s “LMK” is a nocturnal blow-burner that asserts the singer’s dominance as one of R&B’s most interesting forces. The singer pairs lavish R&B with pop accessibility and complements it with a backdrop of earth-rumbling bass, ornate synths and unwavering confidence.
- “tonite” – LCD Soundsystem
After laying dormant for six years, LCD Soundsystem’s core sound remains very much untouched. But that’s exactly where “tonite” draws its energy. Perhaps the year’s most proper return to form, the track pumps with the flashy tongue-in-cheek irony and existential musings LCD is known for. And after nearly two decades, they still sound as fresh as ever.
- “Bank Account” – 21 Savage
One of 21 Savage’s best standout tracks, “Bank Account,” continues the sinister trap persona the Atlanta rapper cultivated on his first few mixtapes. The nonchalant cadence of 21’s flow lurks with a cold and natural prowess, imitating the feeling of being watched without even knowing it.
- “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) – Power Trip
Power Trip’s “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” embraces a platonic passion for heavy metal reverie. The track is a sneering plea for the arrival of judgement day, where the only means of escape rests at the feet of the reaper’s axe.