Monday, 20 March 2017

BEST SONGS OF 2017 SO FAR

MUSIC SAVES
I turn now to our quarterly report into some of the key popular songs that have made their way as ear-worms into the hearts and minds of the writer of this post, since January 1, 2017 - in short, for the first 25% of the year, what are the top songs so far?

Note, only songs that one can find on Spotify count. It has been a good year so far, for pop and indie music... new Shins, and Depeche Mode albums in the same month as the first album from The Jesus and Mary Chain in 19 years can hardly be said to be a bad time.... so, counting down from Number one, in anti-climactic order.... here goes.... the 11 best songs so far, for 2017.... (and be careful, what with the allusions to a decade now as long ago as the 50s was to the Reagan era, this might be the best of 1987).

1. 'Love' - Lana Del Rey
Arguably her best song - and, like all her songs - a microcosm of her entire canon - like Dylan Thomas', her work is always imploding inwards to achieve a sort of Ur-perfection of its own self-style.

2. 'Doomsday' - Ryan Adams
It is unclear who Adams thinks he is - this song sounds as if Bruce Springsteen had decided to rip-off Tom Petty. That being said its metaphysical conceits, and references to Dante are lovely, and the overall achievement is to generate a classic American rock song of rustbelt heart-break.

3. 'Crying On The Bathroom Floor' - MUNA
I have done this, have you? Sounding like 'Sweet Dreams...' had been slowed down like a sex-robot doused in an acid bath, the whole synth-sound melts into a mournful expression of utter loss. Beautifully cold and sad. A pure class-A coming down track.

4. 'Feel It' - Georgia
In similar vein, the cold, stabbing synth lines from this song could be from Men Without Hats, 1980. But the vocals and pop nous are Robyn's. A haunting dance track with an angry core of noir.

5. 'Going Backwards' - Depeche Mode
Arguably the most didactic track on a major new album - the band's best in 20 years - this is still startling for its misanthropy and bitterness. You might think a band whose leitmotif is kinky sex-play might be counted among those revelling in the end-times of the BrexiTrump Era. But no, they actually mourn for a time when we were not cavemen, and had something "inside". Oddly powerful, vintage DM.

6. 'Automaton' - Jamiroquai
This track is a bizarrely perfect melange of early 80s tropes, beeps and blips in place, Billy Idol references, and a few Mr Roboto echoes... you actually expect a flock of seagulls to gust in. A fun retake on the new digital age, and hugely danceable, with undertones of ennui and isolated sadness.

7. 'Can I Sit Next To You' - Spoon
Speaking of 80s, who expected Spoon, those cool journeymen of American indie, to craft a tune vaguely in hock to Peter Gabriel's classic hits from So? Anyway, this is as smooth, slinky and sexy as INXS at their best. Retro? You mean, the new normal? No problem.

8. 'B.H.S.' - Sleaford Mods
This is the song that most resembles, in terms of moral and cultural import, 'Ghost Town' during the Thatcher era. It means British Home Stores - a massive chain closed by a greedy set of hedge fund managers and knighted entrepreneurs, leaving thousands of workers marooned without proper pensions after decades of loyal service. In short, this is a political song. However, it is insanely catchy, in a DIY fashion that makes many punk ancestors appear like Prokofiev in terms of complexity. It sounds like a drum machine and a few angry lads who never had a chance. But it is stirring, funny, and hugely critical. The Brexit anthem.

9. 'Bad Bohemian' - British Sea Power
A band with a great name, and no discernible pattern of hits or misses (who are their fans?), they've been around for years (featuring in a top list way back in the last decade here) - and here, in yet another 80s nod, they've written a great new New Order song - and inflected it with their own whimsy and craftsmanship.

10. 'Evermore' - Granddaddy
Immensely moving, ennobling pop-rock tune from an American indie band that sounds like autumn creeping over the summer like an opiated whisper. "This was never yours"... ghosts of a Beach Boys track that fell into a muddy creek and drowned haunt this classic slice of Americana.

11. 'All Things Pass' - The Jesus and Mary Chain
Instantly among their best, sleaziest, most inspiring songs - and indeed, up there with the finest alternative/indie tracks imaginable - this dark, clever, and pure rock joint - regretting vows and drugs taken, "girls touched", fearing death and the relinquishing of sins in equal measure - this is a classic lament to be saved, but not just yet.... as if The Ramones and The Bunnymen were rutting in a cavern.

SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Sofi Tucker's 'Johny' is Gallic pop bliss; Priests express the shock of the post-truth era with 'Nothing Feels Natural'; Goldfrapp return with their utopian synth-pop in 'Anymore' - their best song in half a decade or more; and Sundara Karma create an anthemic slice of Springsteen apple-pie pop with 'Olympia'.


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