This is typically the time of year when the music industry, for lack of a better term, goes to hell. The deadline for Grammy nomination submissions concludes in mid-November, artists take time off to prepare for winter/spring’s productive boom, and the remaining month and a half is filled with the ceaseless infatuation of repetitive holiday jingles.
Surprisingly enough, this year was a little different. Procrastinators grasping for a final creative breath forced their end-of-year singles into the last stretch of days that 2017 had to offer with more vigor than usual. Some artists prefaced anticipated 2018 albums with teasing singles like Tash Sultana’s “Mystik” or Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke.” Other artists however, stirred up innovatory supplements to their 2017 albums like HAIM’s Shania Twain cover “That Don’t Impress Me Much” or Dagny’s acoustic version of “Love You Like That.” Either way, industry leaders managed to find fun ways to make 2017’s final three months stay just as fresh as the first nine.
Who’s the biggest surprise this quarter had to offer, you ask? Willow Smith, that’s who. The little girl who made a name for herself as Will Smith’s hair-whipping preteen daughter shined an unexpectedly prolific light in the direction of modern pop. Although she may have aged a mere seven years, her character sponged decades-worth of experience from the “super bright stars” referenced in the album’s opener “Boy.” Her visionary spirit has drawn her away from childish, bubblegum hip hop to a style defined by slow, meaningful vocals backed by an eloquent orchestral symphony. Some lyrics off of her sophomore album The 1st may sound like cringe-worthy lyrics written by an angsty 17 year old, but that’s because they are. The amount of promise bottled up into this blossoming star isn’t just exciting, it’s encouraging of a permanent reinvention.
Slacker rock finally witnessed the marriage of it’s king and queen. Only half the world separated Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile and Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett prior to their breakthrough collaboration album Lotta Sea Lice, but that didn’t stop them from traveling across the globe to ironically preach universal disinterest. Whether you’d rather call it a duet or a monotone conversation, Barnett and Vile turn the concept of “doing nothing” into a series of captivating stories. The most exciting of these ballads from a historical perspective is “Peepin’ Tom,” a Kurt Vile cover sung by Courtney Barnett while Kurt Vile himself provides the supporting acoustics. Barnett’s shared interest in laughably understandable contradictions like “I don’t want to work but I don’t want to sit around all day frowning” or “I don’t want to give up but I kind of want to lie down” leave listeners smirking in unmotivated empathy.
Alright, alright, enough with the jibber-jabber. My favorite 25 songs from the past three months are in the playlist below. As always the songs in this playlist are in no particular order with a restriction of only one song per artist. Stay tuned, the release of the top 100 songs, top 10 albums, top 10 music videos, and more “best of 2017” lists that will be released over the next several weeks.