Last week we tallied up the best albums of the year so far, a task that somehow was completed successfully. But of course that only got us to thinking, “what about the best songs?”
From delectable summer jams from Drake and Playboi Carti to career-defining bests from Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples to grand returns from LCD Soundsystem and Phoenix to pitch-perfect pop from Selena Gomez and Lorde, we have sorted them all. These are the 25 Best Songs of 2017 (so far).
The entirety of Arca’s self titled album is basically a melancholic pop masterpiece, but “Reverie” gets us every time with its warped strings, clattering percussion, and intense vocals.
Charli XCX—“Drugs” ft. ABRA
Charli’s mixtape Number 1 Angel, a further collaboration with A.G. Cook and the PC Music crew, is one of 2017’s very best. And with “Drugs,” she has delivered one of her darkest pieces of sugary-pop yet, with a killer verse from rising R&B star ABRA to boot. Downward spiral-ing never sounded so fun.
Just when you think Drake doesn’t have another soulful summer jam in him, he give us “Passionfruit.” Seriously, how does he keep churning these out?
The first of the many singles Frank Ocean has casually dropped this year remains the best. “Chanel” is a piercing portrait of his conflicting duality, sung with one of the most soaring hooks he’s laid down in recent memory.
“Mask Off” may be Future’s highest-charting single to date, but in terms of his best song of the year (of which there are many), our money’s on “Incredible” off HNDRXX. It’s pure bouncy, breezy, beachfront bliss.
Gorillaz—“Andromeda” ft. D.R.A.M.
Humanz was a bit of a disappointment, but Gorillaz’ highly-hyped full-length wasn’t without its merits. It’s greatest? This serene electro-ballad that’s as cosmically transportive as its title suggests.
J Hus—“Common Sense”
The up-and-coming UK rapper flexes his savvy with a fresh take on classic hip-hop sounds and clever bars on the title track of his debut studio album, proving he’s one to watch.
Jorja Smith—“Beautiful Little Fools”
Rising neo-soul singer-songwriter Jorja Smith is one of our favorite discoveries of 2017. “Beautiful Little Fools” shows off both the Londoner’s vocal prowess and wisdom beyond her years.
Kendrick Lamar—“HUMBLE.” / “DNA.”
We couldn’t decide between the dual mastery of the tracks that are “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.,” so obviously we chose to highlight both. After thrilling us all with the sprawling, symphonic To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick has clapped back with proof that he can serve his hip-hop in lean, mean single form too in case anyone forgot.
With echoing, harmonizing vocals by Klein, Lafawndah and Halo herself, layers of lush synths, cascading piano and percussion, “Jelly” is the waviest bullying diss track we’ve heard in ages.
LCD Soundsystem—“call the police” / “american dream”
It has been an emotional time to be an LCD Soundsystem fan. After convincing yourself that they were gone forever for years, they decided to return. This really only caused more anxiety; how could their new songs possibly compare to the unparalleled genius of their original trilogy of albums? But as soon as “call the police” and “american dream” dropped, all fears were put aside. Simply put, they’ve still got it.
Lil Uzi Vert—“XO TOUR Llif3”
Much has been written on the profound ways in which Lil Uzi Vert is subtly shifting the sound of hip-hop with his distinctive, hybridized flow. Which is true and all, but we’d like to obsess first and foremost over this, this profoundly sorrowful yet irresistible ballad from the darkest depths of Uzi’s soul. Emo-rap for real.
Little Dragon really snuck up out of no where when they dropped this insanely catchy slice of electro-pop back in March. Moments of greatness like this are a reminder why the Swedish outfit are still a force to reckoned with.
An emotional beginning to Lorde’s Melodrama, “Green Light” successfully opens the floodgates to the spectrum of most feelings one can experience at a house party.
Mac DeMarco—“On the Level”
When Mac DeMarco cashes in his stoner guitars for stoner synths, magic things can happen. “On the Level” is the goofball’s latest in this category, and it practically melts in your headphones.
Nicki Minaj—“No Frauds” ft. Drake & Lil Wayne
Ma vs. Minaj is a rap beef that will definitely go down in hip-hop history, and “No Frauds” triumphantly brought the chapter to a close with the help of Young Money affiliates Drake and Lil Wayne.
The South London Grime MC breezily paves the way, spitting verses over a deep, plucky bassline with layers of synths. Here. For. It.
Phoenix returned with a concept album about taking a summer vacation on the Italian coast. And in a whole record full of songs about gelato, “J-Boy” is the dazzlingly sweet cherry on top of their sundae.
As far as breakthrough singles go, Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia” is among the most fun of the year. It laps at your ears gently, like waves on a shore at sunset. It’s also a divine accompaniment to smashing a pregame.
Selena Gomez—“Bad Liar”
Nothing about this song should work; no one should sample Talking Heads with such wanton abandon and get away with it. And yet here we are, faced with three and a half minutes of what can only be called a perfect pop song. Well played Selena, well played.
We’re loving Sevdaliza’s warped take on trip-hop, and “Hubris” with its soaring, at times distorted vocals, is an arresting anthem about a failed relationship we can’t seem to get enough of.
SZA—“Love Galore” ft. Travis Scott
It was a long wait for SZA’s debut Ctrl, but tracks like “Love Galore” are a reminder that it was well-worth the wait. Her voice takes the front seat in a track made extra-honeyed with the addition of Scott’s syrupy autotune. Did someone say sex jam?
Toro y Moi—“Girl Like You”
Toro y Moi took a swift departure out of the soft-rock/funk territory of his last full-length and dove into the world of steamy Travis Scott-esque bedroom confessionals. The result is the chillwaver’s freshest track in years.
We first caught wind of TORRES earlier this year, and we were so obsessed with “Skim” that it appeared in both Under the Radar and Best Tracks of the Week. We love a good, catchy, downtempo jam, and a healthy dose of guitar shredding doesn’t hurt either.
Vince Staples—“Big Fish”
Our personal pick for the song of the summer is the most assured rap Vince Staples has put to tape, which is saying something. The young emcee states his case quite clearly why he deserves to swim with the big fishes.
If you haven’t already, check out our list of the 25 Best Albums of 2017 (So Far) right here.
- Cover Image: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
- Text: Jake Boyer & Bianca Giulione