Boy-oh-boy, it’s going to be a great year. Even in 2017’s earliest stages, a slew of future stars are being born and making cases for the year’s top songs/albums, while plenty of the past decade’s most popular alternative acts are throwing their hats back in the ring to remind us of their refined existence. Artistic involvement with political protests has simmered down the tumultuous last few months of 2016, while artists seem to have shifted their focus from legislators, lawmakers and civil servants to the citizens who elected them. Songs like Father John Misty’s “Ballad of a Dying Man” and Balto’s “Lost on the Young” satirically point fingers at the public’s inability to gratify self-satisfaction from anywhere other than online “like” conjuring social platforms. Meanwhile, songs like Jidenna’s “Bambi” are perpetuating such subjectively worrisome stereotypes by embracing all the makes today’s youth rebellious. No matter what side each artist wages war with, each one has vehemently expressed opinions sitting on the tip of their tongue just waiting to be belted out to a universal audience that’s consuming content at all time highs. In other words, 2017 has a lot of musical promise because it’s thriving artists are fiery with raw emotion. Everyone knows good music comes from passionate people!

Now if you told me months ago that John Mayer would still be relevant, let alone thriving in any sort of modern musical space, I probably would have laughed in your face. Haters will be haters I suppose; Jay May’s 2 successive waves of EPs titled “The Search for Everything” glimmer with shades of his early millennium masterpieces “Room for Squares” and “Heavier Things”. “Moving On and Getting Over” is the epitome of that revival, casually flashing the lovey-dovey aloofness that made him a household name over 15 years ago. Even with Mayer’s instrumental and vocal segments flourishing at surprisingly fantastic levels, he seems to be floundering for conceptual motivation, as I seriously struggled to press play on songs with titles like “Emoji of a Wave”. I unfortunately think that Mayer’s promoters and the American public also backed the wrong figurative pony, as the most popular recent release “Love on the Weekend” is the only track from the bunch that seems to garner all the headache-inducing symptoms of a washed up sellout relinquishing his roots to conform to modern pop standards.

Sampha, or as many people know him, “that guy from couple Drake songs” (specifically “Too Much” and “4422”), lays his emotions out in plain site with his 2nd studio album Process. The album as a whole is an affectionately rich fountain of sentiment that quenches a thirst for a musical exploration from an artist with incredible potential, while “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” puts an exclamation point on what it means to be a starving musician. The ballad is a tear-jerking source of beauty, digging deep into the backstory of the childhood piano that Sampha learned to play in his mother’s home. This song, along with several other songs from Process, was actually written using that very same childhood piano so that Sampha could tap into his original source of inspiration that first brought his fingers down on those worn slates of ivory year ago. Ugh, there’s almost too many feels to be felt. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

So what’s the main takeaway so far this year? Well, it seems that there’s a lot to look forward to. Julien Baker’s pair of soft and eerie singles are a sure indication of a phenomenal upcoming album; previously dormant big-ticket bands like Fleet Foxes, Alt-J, and Gorillaz have teased interesting songs that hint at future intrigue; and Frank Ocean keeps showing up as featured act in innately lovable smash hits. Per usual, the songs in this playlist are in no particular order, and there’s only one song per artist.

Enjoying the tunes? Digging the narrative? Want to just be my friend? Be sure to like the post, comment with your thoughts, and subscribe to email updates from the blog by clicking the “follow” button in the bottom right corner. Music is an obviously an opinionated subject, and I’m always open to hear what other songs you feel should have made the list…so let me know what you think!