Top 50 Songs of 2017

Here are the tracks that by and large reacted to the year with beauty and positivity


    So much of 2017 has related to excess, and whether you have it or you’re annoyed by it. Whether in noise, media, social media, words, money, things, or more — MORE?! — we’re constantly bombarded by volume; some of us come away from that wanting more, and others just want it to stop and shrivel away. Songs may not be able to change all of that, but they can certainly do a good job of explaining the situation.

    Looking through our list of the best tracks of 2017, it’s littered with artists taking a side in that debate. Whether you want everybody to sit down and be humble, or you’re happy to swim through love galore, the whole world is reacting to the gigantic-ness of everything. And despite all of the noise and the frustration, there’s been a whole lot of positivity and beauty, as expressed here as well. Living in 2017 is reacting to 2017, and it’s a beautiful thing to see so many people doing so with real care.

    These songs don’t deny our reality, but could well lay a path to a new one.

    –Lior Phillips
    Associate Editor

    50. Arcade Fire – “Everything Now”

    Everything Now

    Sounds Like: The Flaming Lips trying to cover an ABBA song but getting interrupted, continually and fruitfully, by a rogue faction of the Polyphonic Spree.

    Key Lyric: “We can just pretend/ We’ll make it home again/ From everything now”

    Why It Matters: The album’s grander ambitions (and seemingly endless, satirical guerrilla-marketing campaign) may have fallen flat, but the title track, aided by ambitious production from Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Pulp’s Steve Mackey, clocked in as one of the Arcade Fire’s most confident songs of all time.


    Song in a GIF:

    –Tyler Clark

    49. Sam Smith – “Too Good at Goodbyes”

    The Thrill of It All

    Sounds Like: The ending to every breakup you’ve ever had, only two hours later, when the weight of change hits you in every possible way.

    Key Lyric: “I know you’re thinkin’ I’m heartless/ I know you’re thinkin’ I’m cold/ I’m just protectin’ my innocence/ I’m just protectin’ my soul”

    Why It Matters: Sam Smith conquers the ballad yet again with a hit that’s less Tom Petty and more CW. This is unadulterated emotionalism that finds the blockbuster singer-songwriter sounding stronger and more confident than ever. It’s kind of contagious.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Michael Roffman

    48. Khalid – “Young Dumb & Broke”

    American Teen

    Sounds Like: Klonopin in a song: A Gen Z lullaby drifting through a hazy high school basement party, where everyone is the right amount of happy, in a paradise hidden far away from expectations.

    Key Lyric: “I’m so high at the moment/ I’m so caught up in this/ Yeah, we’re just young, dumb, and broke/ But we still got love to give”

    Why It Matters: Nineteen-year-old Khalid speaks of what he knows on this mesmerizing and anthemic ode to embracing the bliss of simple youthful contentment. You’ll be swaying along to the chorus of “Young, Dumb & Broke” hours after you hear it.


    Song in a GIF:

    –Kayleigh Hughes

    47. MØ – “Linking with You”

    When I Was Young EP

    Sounds Like: A neon-flooded roller rink after a few too many Pixy Stix.

    Key Lyric: “On my own/ Pretending that I’m not at home/ Act like I don’t check my phone”

    Why It Matters: Three long years after her debut, the Danish powerhouse’s confident vulnerability makes “Linking with You” a sugary pop high. She sings about dreaming that that special someone finally calls, but with , even the waiting is sublime.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Lior Phillips

    46. Danger Mouse feat. Run the Jewels and Big Boi – “Chase Me”

    Baby Driver OST

    Sounds Like: A hard, drifting left turn around the corner of a damp city street, shot in high-def slow-motion.

    Key Lyric: “The reign of our ascension makes statisticians feel sickly/ Accountants, they get snippy, they never counted so quickly” or “Show some respect, or you’ll get showered like parade confetti/ Made man, I’m made already, nobody safe from petty/ 450 horse up in the Porsche, 600 in the Chevy”

    Why It Matters: Soundtrack themes are hard to nail, especially when you have the acclaim of the film to live up to. Bringing together this much talent on a song that perfectly fits the movie and makes for a banging standalone track only serves to elevate Baby Driver, which should be a benchmark for any OST single.


    Song in a GIF:

    –Ben Kaye

    45. Nine Inch Nails – “Less Than”

    Add Violence EP

    Sounds Like: A sly protest song, sung with teeth bared, set to a beat by La Roux. Or if you prefer, it sounds like a demon, a party boy, and an anti-war activist having a freaky threesome in the bathroom of an all-night club.

    Key Lyric: “And you can always justify/ The missile trails across the sky again”

    Why It Matters: In recent years, as Trent Reznor has explored all the different sounds he’s good at making, he’s occasionally neglected the kinds of songs that made him great. “Less Than” hearkens back to Nine Inch Nails’ hits from Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral – it’s a howl of rage you can dance to. The difference here is that Reznor’s rage is turned outwards instead of in.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Wren Graves

    44. Migos – “Bad and Boujee”


    Sounds Like: The song the Peanuts gang might rage and blow a few stacks to if they were as lit as Migos. “Bad & Boujee” is a testament to their signature flows that pair them with deconstructed synth piano gold from Metro Boomin.


    Key Lyric: “Raindrop, drop top/ Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox/ Fuckin’ on your b*tch, she a thot, thot/ Cookin’ up dope in the crockpot/ We came from nothin’ to somethin’, n*gga…”

    Why It Matters: “Bad & Boujee” is Migos’ first single to top the Billboard Hot 100. The group turned rap’s aspirational flexing into a nouveau riche trap anthem that speaks to their love of women and iced-out excess but also makes clear their willingness — if tested — to adhere to the code of the streets.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Karas Lamb

    43. The Kickback – “Hotel Chlorine”

    Weddings & Funerals

    Sounds Like: A one-man tug-of-war for emotional stability across wet, slippery tiles as indifferent locker doors slam shut all around

    Key Lyric: “I could be your swim mate/ I could be your slave”

    Why It Matters: In a year that many of our favorite rock and roll go-tos tasted bland, we found ourselves turning to up-and-coming flavors like The Kickback more and more. The brutal catchiness, wit, and manic desperation of songs like “Hotel Chlorine” have kept us feasting all year — always allowing time to digest before jumping back in.


    Song in a GIF:

    –Matt Melis

    42. Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean and Migos – “Slide”

    Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

    Sounds Like: Relaxing by the pool in the moonlight with your significant other while sipping on margaritas.

    Key Lyric: “Put some spotlight on the slide/ Whatever comes, comes through clear.”

    Why It Matters: Frank Ocean comes together with Migos’ Quavo and Offset on a breezy, disco pop jam that’s as deep or superficial as you want it to be. While the chorus contemplates intimacy and meaningless sex, two-thirds of 2017’s hottest trio enjoy bouncing back and forth over a groovy bass line.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Eddie Fu

    41. Brian Eno and Kevin Shields – “Only Once Away My Son”

    Adult Swim Singles 2017

    Sounds Like: It’s like some ancient recording of an alien world, where silence is replaced by what can best be described as aural embalming fluid

    Key Lyric: That part where your mind goes full David Bowman about three minutes and 53 seconds into this nine-minute odyssey.

    Why It Matters: Brian Eno and Kevin Shields are responsible for some of the most groundbreaking music of the last few decades, and while their collaboration for Adult Swim isn’t exactly changing history, it’s certainly a little Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson: some kind of wonderful.

    Song in a GIF:

    –Michael Roffman