2017 maintained 2016’s phenomenal momentum for another 12 furious months, where even the most headline-grabbing releases of the year – from Taylor Swift’s Reputation to Harry Style’s solo debut – came and went before Noisey could even pen a think-piece about them. Popular music itself spread it’s purview wider than in any year in memory; songs needn’t be released further than SoundCloud to find viral success, all while vinyl sales were at their highest number in decades. Some of the year’s hottest rap records were barely twenty minutes long, while Purient released a three and a half hour record; BROCKHAMPTON put our three albums and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard released five.
While the decades-old UK/US centrism of music perpetuated, the sounds of international music continued to penetrate further into the mainstream. Tinawiren and Ibibio Sound Machine shone light on the rhythms of Mali and Nigeria respectively, Rosalia and Gabriel Garzon-Montano brought hispanic music further into the mainstream, just as Luis Fonsi’s Spanish-Language ‘Despacito’ took over the world with a helping hand from born-again Bieber.
On the other side of the spectrum, indie icons MacDemarco, Spoon, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes put in strong records, proving claims of the death of ‘pitch-folk’ to be somewhat exaggerated. These records helped make 2017 a year of fulfilled expectations. After the loss of giants of popular music such as Cohen, Prince and Bowie in 2016, successors like LCD Soundsystem and Bjork released records which somehow managed to fulfil the weighty expectations placed before them. Of course 2017 saw yet further greats leaving the mortal plain, with Malcolm Young, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Charles Bradley, Chester Bennington, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry and Chris Cornell sadly joining the Hall of Fame in the sky.
2017 was also the year hip-hop became America’s most listened to genre for the first time in history, meaning that pop music is no longer means Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga but DJ Khaled and Lil Uzi Vert. With great power comes great irresponsibility however, and the music industry was rocked by the death of 21-year old ‘emo rapper’ Lil Peep, at the hands of the prescription drug addiction currently dominating the mainstream. Elsewhere, underground icons Milo, Uncommon Nasa and Open Mike Eagle dropped thick and fast, and the genre continued to define itself as the politically-conscious successor to countercultural folk and punk from decades past, with leaders Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rhapsody and Vince Staples releasing politically-minded LPs in a year where eyes eyes turned to art for guidance through frankly-disturbing political developments.
What truly defined music in 2017 though was the listening public’s response to the sheer cascade of sounds, genres and styles presented before them. A new popular eclecticism has descended upon those with even a casual relationship to popular music: artists like Forest Swords can be spoken of in the same breathe as Code Orange; factionalism is a thing of the past, and while teenage cloud-rap stars have more opportunity to shine than ever, so too does a has-been like Morrissey have chance to find a willing ear too. So open are the public to new ideas, Drake can call his new album a playlist and Brian Eno can release his latest available to be re-mixed on an app and nobody bats an eyelid. It represents a torrent of open-mindedness that leads one to wonder for how many more years a ‘greatest album list’ will be representative of the way people listen to music at all…
This list was compiled by three music fans based only the albums they heard this year, featuring bias and ignorance of critical consensus. It is instead based solely on the music which impacted us, and which we enjoyed and listened to the most. From top to bottom, we consider all of these albums to be produced by incredibly talented individuals whose music this year will provide pleasure and inspiration for many more to come.
75. Goths – The Mountain Goats
74. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic