Hi. I missed my blog, so I’m posting my long-ass end-of-year music email for 2017 here. Sending love to you and yours for the year ahead.
- More Latinx crossover hits. I am ready for Juanes to return to his “Dámelo” roots and get Rihanna on a track. Just don’t let DJ Khaled produce.
- Come to think of it, more Rihanna everywhere. For someone who didn’t release an album, 2017 was Rihanna’s year. I would like to see this trend continue.
- A collaboration between Khalid and Zayn. The world needs these young men of color to be in their feelings TOGETHER.
- More unapologetically queer pop music. Hayley Kiyoko, Halsey, Lauren Jauregui, Shura, Kehlani…it’s a good time for openly gay/bisexual pop stars to profess lady love in the mainstream. I would love to see this translate to the pop country scene too, on principle.
- More solo female rappers getting #1’s. Cardi B was the first to top the Billboard since Lauryn Hill NINETEEN 👏🏻 FUCKING 👏🏻 YEARS 👏🏻 AGO. I am ready for Princess Nokia, Young M.A., Cardi, and literally anyone but Iggy Azalea to ascend to the heights of Top 40 success, thank you.
Favorite Albums of 2017
1. Ctrl, SZA
2. Melodrama, Lorde
3. Take Me Apart, Kelela
4. DAMN., Kendrick Lamar
5. Aromanticism, Moses Sumney
6. American Teen, Khalid
7. The Nashville Sound, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
8. MASSEDUCTION, St. Vincent
9. Fin, Syd
10. Drunk, Thundercat
11. SweetSexySavage, Kehlani
12. Not Even Happiness, Julie Byrne
13. H.E.R., H.E.R.
14. Everybody Works, Jay Som
15. The Navigator, Hurray for the Riff Raff
16. 4:44, Jay Z
17. Rest, Charlotte Gainsbourg
18. 1992 (Deluxe), Princess Nokia
19. The Order of Time, Valerie June
20. Awaken, My Love!, Childish Gambino
21. Ash, Ibeyi
22. Plunge, Fever Ray
23. Process, Sampha
24. The Two of Us, Chloe x Halle
25. Rainbow, Kesha
26. I See You, The xx
27. Culture, Migos
28. FREE 6LACK, 6lack
29. Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples
30. Good For You, Aminé
- The Kid, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
- A Crow Looked at Me, Mount Eerie
- No Shape, Perfume Genius
Quick s/o to the disappointments, from “meh” to “utterly unlistenable”:
- Everything Now, Arcade Fire
- Black Origami, Jlin
- The Ooz, King Krule (I want to know who is responsible for the massive amounts of critical acclaim this album has received because it is awful)
- American Dream, LCD Soundsystem
- No One Ever Really Dies, N.E.R.D.
Favorite Non-2017 Albums of 2017
- Heavn (2016), Jamila Woods. For some reason I couldn’t get this on Tidal last year in time to include it on my list, but it’s fucking incredible.
- ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (1999), Shakira. The rest of this album could be complete garbage and it would still be great because of “Ciega, Sordomuda.” Lucky for me, the whole thing is great.
- Court & Spark (1974), Joni Mitchell. It would be too cliché if I said Blue.
- True (2012), Solange. This album turned five this year and it continues to bang. Plus it gave me one of my favorite music videos (and songs) of all time.
Favorite Singles of 2017
- “Despacito,” Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee. What could I possibly say about the perfection that is “Despacito” that hasn’t already been said through its 16-week-run at the top of the Billboard 100 and 4.6 BILLION YouTube views?
- “Praying,” Kesha. There has not been a single time that I’ve heard this song that I haven’t openly wept. Kesha’s voice is gorgeous, this song is heartbreaking, and I hope that every time she sings it the demons that birthed it get a little bit weaker.
- “Green Light,” Lorde. If you’ve made it this far, then you know there’s nothing I love more than some messy feelings set to a catchy beat. Thanks, Lorde.
- “The Weekend,” SZA. I just want everyone to know that Justin Timberlake wrote this song.
- “Cut to the Feeling,” Carly Rae Jepsen. First, HI DAD. Second, as much as I love “Despacito,” Kevin Fallon at the Daily Beast rightly noted that CRJ should have had one of the songs of the summer but didn’t because “straight people ruin everything.” Unassailable argument.
- “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B. When I die, please write, “If I see you and I don’t speak, that means I don’t fuck with you” on my tombstone.
- “LOVE.,” Kendrick Lamar. The combination of Zacari and Kendrick Lamar is very, very good–tender, thoughtful, and earnest. It’s K Dot at his softest and I love it.
- “Young, Dumb & Broke,” Khalid. Tag yourself: I am all three.
- “Strangers,” Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui. Please someone tell the showrunners behind The L Word reboot to make this the theme song. Side note: it says a lot about Halsey that she rose like a phoenix from the ashes of collaborating with the Chainsmokers to make so many fucking bops this year.
- “I’m Better,” Missy Elliott feat. Lamb. All-time queen of futuristic hip-hop. This song would be better without Lamb imho, so here’s hoping that Missy gets a solo #1 in 2018.
Favorite Music Videos of 2017
- “Despacito,” Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee. We already know everyone on God’s green earth loves this song, so there’s not much more to say here except: this video is the perfect bisexual male fantasy and no one can tell me after watching it that Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee aren’t desperately in love with each other.
- “Lemon,” N.E.R.D. feat. Rihanna. Does having Rihanna shave your head make you an incredible dancer? I’m not sure, but Mette Towley could convince me that’s true. She absolutely steals the show here.
- “Green Light,” Lorde. Lorde is the reigning queen of awkward dancing (sorry CRJ). Here, she brings her rage and resentment to life in sometimes explosive, sometimes sputtering movements over the course of an evening dedicated to hitting the town alone after a breakup.
- “Feelings,” Hayley Kiyoko. This video is very goofy, charming, and seductive. I love that Kiyoko directs most (all?) of her own videos, and that this one was shot in a single take. It complements the song’s notion of being such an emotional dork that you always come on too strong (#relatable).
- “Boys,” Charli XCX. I’m sure a lot could be said about how effectively this video does or does not subvert the male gaze, but instead I will say: Khalid with puppies! Aminé’s impish smile! Joe Jonas’ insatiable love of pancakes! Mostly boys are the worst but I like this video anyway.
- “New York,” St. Vincent. Annie Clark delivers exactly the type of aesthetic feast you would expect: minimalist scenes awash in bright colors and an eclectic mix of textures. Amid all of it, she looks unflinchingly into the camera with a hardened expression that somehow simultaneously hides and betrays her heartbreak.
- “Family Feud,” Jay Z. Part of the premise of this 8-minute, Ava Duvernay-directed video is that a multiracial group of women revises and updates the U.S. Constitution in 2050, with a grown-up Blue Ivy Carter at the helm. Even if the video didn’t feature so many of my favorite celebs, I would love it for the concept alone. Can we make Blue Ivy president, like, yesterday?
- “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar. After the first chorus, where Lamar exhorts his listener to “Sit down/Be Humble,” the shot pans to him sitting with his friends at a table akin to that in the Last Supper. Comparing yourself to Jesus will always be the ultimate flex.
- “Drew Barrymore,” SZA. What I love about this video over, say, “The Weekend,” is that it really captures the sense of SZA just being on the cusp of superstardom. It’s at once silly, grungy, and melancholic. Plus it features a cameo from the actual Drew Barrymore.
- “LMK,” Kelela. Another choice YouTube comment from Namir Fearce: “FUTURISTIC R&B // FAITH EVANS/JAGGED EDGE VIDEO IN 2098 A.D.”
Favorite Random Musical Moments of 2017
- When a pregnant Beyoncé blessed the Grammys far more than they deserved with a performance of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.”
- When Maxine Waters inspired the greatest gospel song of our time.
- When a lovely dude I went to college with showed up in Aminé’s Tiny Desk Concert.
- When Harry Styles covered Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and I felt a lot of feelings.
- When Solange performed on The Tonight Show (okay this technically happened in December 2016 but Solange did so much awesome stuff this year that I can’t find videos of and I want to include her okay!!!).
Favorite Concerts of 2017
- SZA, The Gothic Theater, Englewood, CO.
- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, with Frank Turner and Amanda Shires, Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Morrison, CO.
- Arcade Fire, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO.
- The Drive-By Truckers, Ogden Theater, Denver, CO.
- Lucero with Paper Bird, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, CO.