Here are 25 good songs from 2017, listed alphabetically by artist, with a maximum of one per artist. I’m not sure if they’re my absolute favourites, because I didn’t spend that much time thinking about them. Oh well.

Disclaimer: This was originally a list of 26 songs, but a) I like round numbers; and b) I figured I should cut Brand New’s song from this list, because of Jesse Lacey’s sexual misconduct. Plus I already gave them a mention on my albums list, so I’ve fulfilled my quota of giving recognition to sexual harassers.

  1. Adult Mom – “Steal the Lake from the Water”. 2017 was the year of shitty men getting exposed for being shitty, so it makes sense to recognize this song about being mistreated by men. Plus it’s hella catchy.
  2. Citizen – “Jet”. Citizen made a major comeback in 2017, coming roaring out of the gate with this catchy, energetic single. It signalled that their third LP, As You Please, would be a tour de force.
  3. DAOKO & Kenshi Yonezu –『打上花火』 (“Big Fireworks”). The theme song for anime film Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?, “Big Fireworks” is cinematic pop perfection. DAOKO and Kenshi Yonezu should collaborate more often.
  4. DJ Okawari ft. Emi Meyer – “Midnight Train”. DJ Okawari uses a fairly minimalist piano-and-synth backing track for this beautiful song, letting Emi Meyer’s gorgeous vocals take the reins.
  5. Halsey – “100 Letters”. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom wasn’t always the most captivating listen, but the album’s second track made the whole endeavour more than worth it. A pop song with minimalist production about a collapsing relationship, “100 Letters” shows Halsey in full command of her powers.
  6. Hodera – “Best Intentions”. It takes a while for this roots rock stomper to build up to its climax, but once it does, the tension gets released almost immediately. Yes, the song is mostly build-up, but sometimes building up to nothing works really well.
  7. I the Mighty – “Degenerates”. “Degenerates” is a love song, and yes, literally millions of those have been written. But there’s a specificity to Brent Walsh’s lyrics that make the opening track off I The Mighty’s third LP feel sincere and heartfelt.
  8. Japanese Breakfast – “12 Steps”. While most of Michelle Zauner’s second solo LP is a subdued affair, “12 Steps” is a rock-‘n-roll stomper, complete with a guitar solo in the bridge. It’s a deceptively fun track for a song about leaving one’s partner for another man.
  9. Kimbra – “Everybody Knows”. On Kimbra’s second album, The Golden Echo, the production often got cluttered and chaotic, to the detriment of showcasing her skill as a performer. She transitions to simpler production on “Everybody Knows,” the lead single from her upcoming LP, Primal Heart. The music remains relatively minimalist until it explodes into a wall of sound after the second chorus, taking the lead as Kimbra’s voice fades into the background as a string of “Ooh”s.
  10. Looming – “Tried & True”. On their sophomore effort, Looming mastered the art of dark indie rock. “Tried & True” sounds like nothing else out there – too clean to be post-grunge; too dark to be emo revival. And that’s exactly what makes it special.
  11. Manchester Orchestra – “The Wolf”. With its pounding, tom-heavy drum patterns and droning synth lines, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a new experiment from Filter or The Twilight Sad. But really, it’s just Manchester Orchestra expanding their sonic palette to craft one of the most powerful songs of 2017.
  12. The Menzingers – “After the Party”. Eventually, you have to grow up. This was a major theme on The Menzingers’ fourth album, Rented World, and it returned in full force for their fifth, After the Party. The title track encapsulates this message perfectly, with lyrics that evoke images of irresponsible youth.
  13. Mondo Grosso ft. Hikari Mitsushima – ラビリンス(“Labyrinth”). If you like house music, you should like this track. If you don’t like house music, then I can’t help you.
  14. Nelly Furtado – “Palaces”. Most of Nelly Furtado’s 2017 LP, The Ride, was kind of boring, but she remembered to have fun on “Palaces,” which owes a huge debt to R&B and turn-of-the-millennium pop. It’s not as eclectic or rooted in trip hop as her previous work, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
  15. Now, Now – “SGL”. With the departure of Jess Abbott, Now, Now is now yet again a duo. But whatever concerns I might have had about their ability to make good music melted away as soon as I heard as I heard “SGL,” which is more rooted in pop than their previous work, but perhaps even better.
  16. Paramore – “Told You So”. Paramore never hesitate to reinvent themselves between albums, and for their fifth effort, they took a substantial risk: After Laughter is a California-inspired new wave record, a huge departure from their emo-inflected pop punk. “Told You So” was the second single from that album, and it’s one of the band’s best tracks, period.
  17. Pet Symmetry – “50%”. Yes, Vision wasn’t as exciting or unexpected as Pets Hounds, but its best tracks were still great. “50%” is one of their darker tracks in tone, and it’s the perfect showcase for the band’s brand of power-pop-meets-emo-revival.
  18. Pine – “Jilt”. Drawing influence from emo revival, dream pop, and shoegaze, Ottawa’s Pine has been itching to break out onto the scene for a while. If they keep releasing great tracks like “Jilt,” it shouldn’t be long.
  19. Polkadot Stingray – “Synchronisica”. “Synchronisica” sees this Fukuoka quartet jumping all over the place, rushing through verses with rapid-fire riffing and a surprising amount of dissonance. It’s a weird choice for a single, but it works really well.
  20. Prawn – “North Lynx”. Run didn’t end up being the amazing follow-up to Kingfisher that I was hoping for, but “North Lynx” still stands as one this emo-revival-meets-post-rock group’s best tracks. It perfectly balances the band’s twin penchants for evocative atmospherics and hooky songwriting, building to a climax as impressive as any other Prawn has penned.
  21. San Fermin – “Palisades/Storm”. The penultimate track on their third LP, Belong, “Palisades/Storm” is run-of-the-mill San Fermin for about half its running time. Then, its second half bursts into a joyful, instrumental cacophony. It’s an unexpected left turn from a very solid album that mostly plays it safe.
  22. Scandal – “Koisuru Universe”. As Osaka pop-rock quartet Scandal matures, they drift further from the hard rock that fuelled much of their early sound to experimenting with punk and math rock. Their sound becomes ever less mainstream, and their fretwork becomes ever more intricate. (Seriously, Mami Sasazaki’s guitar work on this track is impressive.) But hey, they’ve paid their dues; they can get away with it.
  23. Sinai Vessel – “Down with the Hull”. Sinai Vessel released a number of phenomenal tracks on their second LP, Brokenlegged, but “Down with the Hull,” a song about learning to make mistakes in spite of a rigid upbringing, is my favourite, mostly because it’s fun, uptempo, and energetic.
  24. Vagabon – “Cleaning House”. “Cleaning House” builds up from a lone guitar, slowly adding synths, drums, and distortion. The swelling crescendo complements the song’s subject matter beautifully (“No longer yearn to be gentle and pure and sweet / Not intimidating yet sure”).
  25. The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – “Hilltopper”. Maybe it’s petty, and maybe it has no place being on a commercially-released album, but TWIABP’s screed against a former bandmate is one of the most captivating songs of 2017, complete with catchy riffing and clever turns of phrase (“Don’t forget the footnote / Some unpaid intern ghostwrote / In your unfinished memoir”). TWIABP spent most of Always Foreign being angry at our political leaders; they earned some anger for the people in their personal lives too.

That’s it for the songs I liked in 2017. Please share your favourite songs of the year in the comments.

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