EDIT: a full 16 days after publishing this piece, I finally got round to making a Spofify Playlist. The best songs of 2017. In May 2018)
OK, 20th April and we’re almost done. Never apologise for your own timing: genius cannot be standardised by your plebeian calendar. Good things are always worth waiting for. Patience, motherfuckers, patience.
Remember (kayfabe) last year, when I broke the Legit Bosses down into about a million parts? Ten freaking YouTube videos every post?
That was a really dumb idea. You’re getting all 65 songs in one list this year.
There were exactly sixty five amazing songs released last year. If you believe that there were any more or less then you are either massively mistaken or just plain stupid. Listen and learn:
65 Vince Staples: Alyssa Interlude
Finding out that the voice sample explaining the pain that’s sometimes needed to inspire creativity is actually Amy Winehouse pushed this interlude into ‘AMAZING’ classification.
Barely two minutes long, but exhibiting the kind of experimental genius that was slightly lacking on the rest of the album. More of this in the future please, Mr Staples, and less of… erm…
Less of, like, whatever I said in my review. It was quite a long time ago…
64 Young M.A: M.A Intro
Freaking perfect introduction to the record, which I can’t help but shout along to the “Who dat?/Who dat?/Never who dat” intro with all the gusto and passion a middle aged white guy is legally allowed.
63 St Vincent: Los Ageless
Despite what my review may have led you to believe, not actually about my ex-wife wrongly claiming credit for my suicide.
My ex-wife read that review, by the way, and got in touch to correct a lot of my false assumptions. Yeah, I’ll definitely talk about that at some point. Make sure to click ‘subscribe’…
62 Tove Lo: Hey You Got Drugs
A lovely ballad about a subject that I think is vastly underrepresented in sad songs. I may have slightly overrated it in my review of the album, which shows how relatively underwhelming the rest of the album is.
Also: invest in a comma maybe, Ms Lo?
61 Big Thief: Objects
A gorgeous little tune, with a beauty so fragile that you worry the entire song would shatter if you sneezed too close to it
60 Billie Eilish: Burn
Billie Eilish is almost brilliant. Like, if she switched her earrings and brushed her hair in the opposite direction she’d be there, y’know?
Her debut album didn’t quite make Necessary Evil, but this song makes the cut chiefly because of the line “If we were meant to be we would have been by now”
59 Kendrick Lamar: Humble
A lot of people say this is the best track on the album. These people are really odd. I mean, it’s great and everything, but come on!
Absolutely amazing video though, I’ll give you that
58 Lupe Fiasco: Dopamine Lit (Intro)
An outstanding introduction of angular saxophones and off-kilter rapping that promises an absolutely classic album that the subsequent collection sadly fails to deliver on.
Proof that, when he’s on his game, Lupe Fiasco is absolutely challenging Kendrick for the title of world’s greatest rapper. Yeah, I said it, ah do whadda wan‘!
too many gifs, Alex…
57 Moses Sumney: Doomed
This is Moses Sumney. This is his whole ‘thing’ succinctly crafted down to four minutes and twenty four seconds.
Pretty gorgeous, isn’t it? Go and get the album
56 dvsn: Run Away
Has dvsn’s ship sailed? Their debut was consistently fabulous, but the second effort saw the band retreat into themselves a little and lost a lot of the sparkle that made their debut such a treat.
The opening song, however, is one of their greatest musical achievements to date, and reason to still hope the band can reach some rather special places in the future.
Loses major points by giving up after barely two minutes: Run Away has all the makings of a seven minute epic! I don’t want no two minute man!
55 Harry Styles: Sign Of The Times
Firstly: Harry, you can’t have that name! It’s taken!
Secondly: your debut album was absolutely terrible in places
Thirdly: this debut single was irresistible beauty, a overwrought explosion of pretension that Richard Ashcroft would kill for
54 Sufjan Stevens: The Hidden River of My Life
“I’m a walker, I’m a drinker, Safeway shopper, thunder egg reader
I’m biker, yeah I’m a beaver, web-foot walker, trail blazing fever
I’m a lover, yeah I’m a reaper, Subaru driver, satellite receiver
I’m a trucker, yeah I’m a chaser, Pig-n-Ford rider, I’m a Nike racer”
Testament to the glory of ‘Carrie and Lowell’ that even its scraps can contain such overwhelming beauty and irresistible melody
53 SZA: Prom
In my entry on SZA’s phenomenal debut, I mentioned how my one wish was to get back in contact with Hejjy so I could introduce her to an artist who I felt was detailing her inner turmoil so well.
Somehow, Hejjy read the review. She got back in touch. She loves SZA.
More to come. Hit that ‘subscribe’ button
52 Alvvays: Plimsoll Punks
I love to pontificate on how important musical evolution is, and how we should stop holding the past in such high regard and focus on moving the art forward, but give me a great old fashioned pop punk banger like Plimsoll Punk and watch me hypocritically melt in adoration.
That sentence was far too long, wasn’t it?
51 alt-J: In Cold Blood
I’ll hand over to Genius
“11001110 10010100 is the UTF-8 code for the Delta symbol Δ in binary; Δ is the name of the band as per their Twitter handle, and alt-J is how you type Δ on a Mac.
This line and the next spell out the code in a slightly convoluted way: the first eight bits sung backwards, and the second loosely described. alt-J start the song by giving their name.
Or, as I would put it: it’s a fuckin’ bangin’ tune, y’nar?
50 Fever Ray: Red Trails
Stands out on the already generally outstanding (if strangely disappointing) ‘Plunge’ album, for reminding the listener that, on an album wall to wall with bangers, Ms. Ray can still create aching beauty when she sees fit.
(I put ‘Plunge’ ahead of SZA’s debut? Hmmm…)
49 Taylor Swift: Gorgeous
A simply perfect pop song. I already told you in the review, remember? Jeez, do I need to say everything twice? Fucking idiot…
48 Charli XCX: Emotional
Charli XCX is absolutely one of the greatest things on Earth. Better than strawberries and the 16th century and wool. Not quite as good as masturbation, but definitely better than wanking off into a pot plant or getting women to watch you pull yourself off.
Sigh… I really liked Louis CK
47 Lupe Fiasco: Made in the USA
I’ll say it again: when Lupe Fiasco is on his game he is absolutely in the conversation for world’s greatest. When he’s consistent over an entire album, like he was on ‘Tetsuo and Youth’, then he’s absolutely the best in the world.
Highlights like Made in the USA show why ‘DROGAS Light’s inconsistency is so exasperating.
46 Miguel: Pineapple Skies
This song just… gets me…
…even if I evidently don’t love it enough to learn the correct lyrics…
45 Lorde: Homemade Dynamite
Must… resist… urge… to dance again…
Astonishing song that’s really only this low to give the other artists a fair chance. The drop when Lorde songs “Let’s let things come out of the woodwork…” would make a dead lemur run to the dancefloor.
This is definitely the only Lorde song on this list, we won’t be seeing her agin, will we? Nope…
44 Jaden Smith: Icon
Previously I would say my goal in life was to ensure freer movement of refugees and a liberalisation of the world’s immigration policies, perhaps to the extent that Hejjy could move in with me.
Not any more. Now, my one goal in life is to convince people that Jaden Smith is a more than worthwhile rapper and, while badly in need of a good editor and more stringent quality control, is making some of the best hip hop out there at the moment.
It’s not helped by stuff like his fucking Dad making an ‘hilarious’ parody of his son’s video, less anyone dare imagine that Jaden was talented enough to stand out without his famous father’s influence. Listen, William, maybe you honestly believed that you were just trying to bring a little bit of extra media attention to your son’s debut album, but what you actually did was steamroller any debate about your son’s talents and selfishly ensured that only you were the biggest story. Nice going, Dad…
43 Blanck Mass: The Rat
Du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dung-du-dick-du-du-du-du-dick, du-dun…WAH-DA-WAH-WAH! DO-DO-WAH-DA-WAH-WAH! WAGGLE! WA-WA-WA-WA-WA…
Join in at the back
42 Perfume Genius: Wreath
Well hello there, sir! It’s near impossible to pick the tracks that stand out on an album as consistently awesome as ‘No Shape‘, and the third AMAZING song could well have gone to the opening track Otherside simply for the fantastic way the song takes half a beat before kicking in after the intro.
To be honest, which is always a bad idea, I just didn’t want to award the AMAZING award to the first, second and last songs after the mini stink I’d kicked up about the Lorde album earlier in the entry.
I also wanted to film myself aping the way the chorus is sung here (“Ah seen da sun go down/Ah seen da sun cerm urp“), but I worry after the entry on Pineapple Skies that I may be to quick to video myself.
Isn’t it horribly unfair that there isn’t a male version of Babestation? Like, Blokestation? I’d be straight on that…
41 Rina Sawayama: Alterlife
On which Rina utilises synthesised guitar licks and slightly off kilter production to craft the absolutely perfect version of the early 00s Britney Spears prototype she freuently aims for on her debut record. Having completed that goal, in the future she should focus more on…
40 Rina Sawayama feat. Shamir: Tunnel Vision
…less obvious and more playfully experimental beauty like the majesty she manages to create with Shamir.
39 Migos: T-Shirt
I’d love to say that the Migos album surrounding this banger was excluded from the Necessary Evil list because of the groups rather unsavoury views on honosexuality. But it wasn’t. Firstly, because that wouldn’t make much sense, would it? And secondly: the album simply isn’t very good
38 Spoon Do I Have to Talk You Into It?
There’s a sort of undefinable clattering and almost off-key guitar rock that is just catnip to me, and that Spoon have always excelled in. While they never hit the heights of the previous album‘s Rent I Pay, the (ahem) slight blurring of consent that’s Do I Have to Talk You Into It? is by far ‘Hot Thoughts‘ best example.
37 Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel: Pulp Fiction
The perfect album introduction that isn’t really an album introduction at all. On first listen you imagine it will be an admirably underplayed and delicate calm before the storm that the following album with inevitably be.
But, no: the rest of the album consists of near identically paced and inferior copies of Pulp Fiction for 40 minutes, which is why it can so often be a drag. This song though, aye??
36 Jaden Smith: The Passion
Are you seriously going to stand there- listen to this outstandingly passionate and epic hip hop masterclass, sprinkled with an admirable desire to dab outside the box- and still claim that Jaden Sith’s laughable public profile extends to his talent as a rapper??
Get over yourself, you’re fucking pathetic.
35 Charli XCX: Babygirl
Charli XCX, as I might have mentioned before, is a fucking genius. I love her. She’s 26, that’s not weirdly too young for me, is it? I mean, yeah, too young obviously, but not weirdly so, yeah?
Babygirl manages a near impossible trick: performed as obnoxiously as possible for the benefit of the characters defined in the song, yet still coming across as the opposite of obnoxious.
God, I love her. Maybe I’ll send her a lock of my hair. And some of my teeth. And a shotgun cartridge…
34 Lil Yachty: Bring It Back
I’ve long made peace with the fact that Lil Yachty will never write a song as amazing as Minnesota again, but in his (kayfabe) current guise as obnoxiously over autotuned troll king of bubblegum trap, Bring It Back is his absolute creative peak, a irresistible pop charmer that you will hate yourself for loving. It even survives a fucking saxophone solo!
(I say this is only his kayfabe current guise, as we are still operating within the end of 2017. He has since then released a record that suggests he might have got cold feet and thin skin, and jettisoned everything that made him unique in a cowardly retreat back to normality. More in NE2018. Click that ‘subscribe’ button as hard as you can)
33 Lorde: Sober
Amazing. Obviously. Without wanting to give too much away about the reminder of this list, I feel that if I’m not careful I’ll run out of superlatives to describe the wonder of Lorde, so for this entry please accept instead a dancing bunny rabbit:
32 Lupe Fiasco: NGL
“Ay, ay, disproportionate convictions
Especially when it come to our case (our case)
You seen the movie, they killed the nigga
Why you still wanna be like Scarface?
That’s why niggas gon’ lose
Oh yeah, I said it, niggas gon’ lose
And you can have a friend and you can have a Benz
One’s sittin’ down, the other’s traffickin’
If you get the car then your friend dies
Havin’ one keeps the other one from happenin’
I hope a nigga don’t lose
Fuck that car, nigga
Niggas gon’ lose…
…I never met a saint, from no color
From nowhere, from no other
From no castle, from no gutter
It ain’t nobody that don’t suffer
Some niggas gon’ lose
Some niggas gon’ lose
Promised land, I don’t believe that
Had a dream and I don’t need that
Please God, send us some jobs
‘Cause my niggas really really need that
Or niggas gon’ lose
That’s right, niggas gon’ lose, yeah
And we sell dope then we turn around
Give the white people all our profits
Take a percentage of that, set it to the side
And send these lil’ niggas off to college
So niggas don’t lose”
Fiasco’s third and final entry. I’m bored of screaming myself hoarse about how brilliant he is, so I’m glad we can move on for a couple of years or so.
Though, if you took a little extra time over your next album, Lupe, I really wouldn’t blame you…
31 alt-J: Deadcrush
Who’s your ‘deadcrush’? As in, who do you really fancy who’s sadly no longer with us? Mine’s Charlene Williams, she was (literally) drop-dead gorgeous, and you know she’d be into some freaky shit.
That bit in Deathcrush where the vocals are distorted and perverted after the line “You’re my DC oh Lee oh”? That’s the reason this song’s so high
30 Arcade Fire: Everything Now
A gorgeous and stirring pop masterclass, and an example of the kind of majesty that The Fire were aiming for on their recent album, but never consistently reaching.
Also: considering the video version includes the album’s opening track to amplify the exhilarating impact of the song, and as such might actually be a superior version of the song to the album track.
29 Queens of the Stone Age: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
Here, the long and elaborate intro comes already built into the track, meaning that when the song explodes into life it’s a 1:46 it is absolutely
one of the most stirring musical moments of the year
28 Public Service Broadcasting: The Pit
Wonderfully capturing the pride, strange beauty, chiselled masculinity, danger and approaching melancholy of life working in the coal mining industry.
The fact that the video attached finds the band somehow able to translate the song’s complexity live is an absolute marvel
27 Swet Shop Boys: Need Moor
While the EP Sufi La didn’t contain nearly as many highpoints as their debut album, the outstanding closing track promises that their second album proper still may well be a killer.
The cadence and rhythm when Riz MC raps “It’s deep bruv/Am I running to escape or just keep up?/Tours sold out but I ain’t got a visa/I was so sweet at the embassy, but/I shouldn’t have worn a keffiyeh” is just mmmmm-WAH!
26 The National: The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Likely the most inelegantly large song title on this list, but an absolutely killer track.
The surrounding album is consistently as good as this track, but I chose to elect The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness as the record’s advocate on the Legit Bosses list simply because the hands in the air chorus of “I can’t explain it/AH-OH!/Any other, any other way” proves that the band can also write stone cold crowd pleasing festival anthems with the best of them (eg: Elbow)
25 Lil Peep: Awful Things
I really like this song. I really like Lil Peep’s strange and wilfully repulsive ‘singing’ style. I really love his discordant combination of screamo and low quality hip-hop. I only investigated his record because of his death, and now I’m really upset that he died. There’s a lesson here…
That lesson is: never care about anything. We are literally all going to die, any effort you put in to anything is a colossal waste of time.
24 Out Lines: There is a Saved Place
I can’t stress enough how blown away I was by Out Lines (two words, not ‘Outlines’: that’s pretty gangsta, isn’t it?) debut record. This epic and devastating work of genius is their first entry on the Legit Bosses list, but it certainly won’t be the last…
23 Miguel: Told You So
Trust me, I’m dancing to this song too, I just won’t be filming it this time.
Or maybe, if I just…
No. No, Alex. No. You have a problem. Nobody as ugly as you should take so much selfies.
My post on the fabulous Miguel latest centred around how I had once tipped for greatness, how I it pained me to tell everyone I told you so, but… I… told you so. It was an extremely clever play on the album’s lead single.
(The thing is, it was completely accidental: I just wanted to congratulate myself on my prescience, completely oblivious to how appropriate it was. Regardless, accidental genius is still genius: intentions are meaningless, remember?)
I love how to remind you how I once discussed how intentions are meaningless when compared to actual effect and impact I have to refer you, predictably, to a piece I wrote on Britney Spears. This blog is freaking awesome, isn’t it?
22 LCD Soundsystem: american dream
One of those LCD Soundsystem songs that goes “WAAAAAAAH-WAAAAAAAH-WEEEEEEEEEE-WAAAAAAAAAH!” that I swear he’s already done a million times before, yet the effectiveness isn’t dulled even slightly. A predictably gorgeous effort.
21 Anohni: She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss
“She doesn’t mourn her loss
She just loses
She doesn’t mourn her changes
She just changes”
As Anthony and the Johnsons, ANOHNI was frequently responsible for some of the most beautiful music that the human race has yet been able to make. This trait was sadly absent from her otherwise amazing debut album, the main crux of which was politicised bangers.
However, with the closing song on her follow up EP, she proves that she most certainly hasn’t lost the ability to craft songs beautiful enough to make a Russian stone weep.
20 Out Lines: These Three Desire Lines
The linked live video doen’t quite capture the epic majesty of their debut record’s closing track. Go and listen to it on Spotify.
See? It’s fucking banging, innit?
19 LCD Soundsystem: Oh Baby
He’s made this song before, hasn’t he? I’m sure there have been at least half a dozen LCD Soundsystem songs that sound exactly like this.
But, regardless as to whether Jimmy S System is pulling an elaborate prank, this one particular song manages to be just as effective as the other 45 times he did it. That first BONG to start the track off is the reason I love music and tolerate life.
18 Arcade Fire: Creature Comfort
The highlight of their uneven and unsatisfying album by a furlong. Creature Comfort is a thoughtful, touching and at times devastating tale of Win Butler being aggrieved the fact that, while other artists are thanked by their fans for helping them recover from dark places and brought them back from the brink, Arcade Fire instead only hear of how they’re early tales of loss and the pains of ageing only seems to have inspired fans to seriously consider the potential of suicide.
“Some boys hate themselves
Spend their lives resenting their fathers
Some girls hate their bodies
Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback
Saying God, make me famous
If you can’t just make it painless
Just make it painless
She dreams about dying all the time
She told me she came so close
Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record”
The ‘creature comfort’ referenced in the title isn’t how the band’s music can be used to help people get through life’s difficulty- the band are far too smart to boast of the ability to do that- but actually suicide itself being the ‘creature comfort’ that could possibly relieve life’s seemingly endless torture.
I can’t think why this song appeals to me so. Perhaps it’s the glorious and unsentimental ambigeous nature of the lines “On and on I don’t know what I want/Well if you’re not sure, better safe than sorry”…
17 Mark Lanegan Band: Nocturne
That voice, that chorus, that melody: Nocturne is perhaps the year’s best example of a perfect rock song. Unless there’s another rock song coming up further down the list, I honestly can’t remember
16 Cardi B: Bodak Yellow
I’m neither unaware nor pretensious enough to deny that the year’s biggest song was an absolutely megalodon sized tune. You know all the words, you can do a pretty mean impression, the video has 534 million views: there’s nothing new about this legitimate cultural phenomenon that you need to hear from me.
What’s your favourite bit to do? Mine’s this one:
15 Perfume Genius: Slip Away
A fabulous song about forbidden love, which might have been written to specifically relate to homosexuality, but seems to delight in how its themes can be understood by literally everybody on the planet.
Wins extra points for recognising the songs obvious links to classical literature by gifting it a video full of literary splendour.
14 The Hotelier: An Introduction to the Album
As the kids say: this song just makes me break the internet with all my Snapchat megafeels. It seems that each time I listen to it, which is as often as possible, I notice a new phrase or line that seems to speak to me more, and thus each time the song becomes more dear and conversely more devastating to me.
“Well show me the honest proper way
To disarm predatory gaze
That’s sucking dry and never satiated.
You’ve been misused, been rewired.
You’re short-circuiting now.
Just remember when you’d call me to come,
Take a deep breath, and then jump”
Watch this video if you want an idea of what a quasi-religious experience me watching this song live was earlier this year. Also in Manchester. In a venue that looked very similar to the one in the video. Standing almost exactly in the same place this video is shot from. Hmmm…
Did I make that video…?
13 Mogwai: Party in the Dark
Where Mogwai decide to record their first straight up pop rock song in quite some time, presumably just to show they can, proving that they can also do that better than almost everyone else as well
12 Out Lines: Buried Guns
Signed to Mogwai’s record label and quite comfortably outperforming their bosses. Buried Guns is the opening track off their sublime ‘Conflats’ debut release, and sets an impossibly high standard that the remaining four tracks somehow manages to live up to. Dark, passionate, brooding, atmospheric and stunningly beautiful.
In case you’ve not been paying attention: this is the third Out Lines song to make this best of the year list. It’s a five track album. The other two tracks are fucking boss too (just not legitimately so)
11 Waxahatchee: Hear You
Once an album, Waxahatchee likes to shake off her disheartened and introspective shackles and make a song she believes that Pixies would be making if they were alive today. On her last album we got the rollicking La Loose, and on ‘Out in the Storm‘ we’re gifted Hear You, which is probably the greatest rock song she’s ever released.
10 SZA: Drew Barrymore
I think in my review I focused too much on how important SZA’s lyrics could be for you if your a woman. Literally a woman: I was only thinking of one woman in particular that I know very well, and I’m far too wary of sounding sexist to dare make assumptions on the rest of you bitches and hoes.
But SZA is far more inclusive than that: her experiences and emotions may come from a place that explicitly has a vagina, but she’s so good a writer that if your a human being with any form of emotional existence then you’re likely to find copious lyrics on SZA’s debut that will resonate with you. Drew Barrymore doesn’t necessarily contain the album’s best lyrics, but it deserves it’s place among the year’s best tracks because it’s an achingly gorgeous song and saddled with a cracking chorus. But even after nominating it for this list a lyric jumped out at me that had never resonated before.
9 PVRIS: Are You Ten Years Ago
The best track on the ‘Con X’ cover album by an embarrassingly large margin, managing to be superior to the Tegan and Sara original, and also significantly better than any track off the band’s debut album, on which every track was already brilliant.
Counter intuitively, this bodes extremely well for the band: if they are currently elevated from extremely good to AMAZING when performing other people’s music, then they will eventually become quite some band when their songs catch up to their general style and presentation. The ability to write songs can be learned, and is a facet that can be worked on and improved, but Are You Ten Years Ago (ever considered investing in a question mark? No? Trust me, it’ll look great on you) is proof of what magic the band are able to conjure up when working on songs as brilliant as the band’s general sound and atmosphere demands. I have high, high hopes for this band.
Their re-imagining of Are You Ten Years Ago is absolutely jaw dropping: they manage to take what was originally a slight and angular electro oddity and inject it with dangerous amounts of steroids deep in its anus, using their massive metal strap-on of electro goth. The song manages to go up a gear every verse, every chorus, taking it to levels of excitement you would never previously presume possible.
8 Kendrick Lamar: DNA
Wow, even as high as number 8, this feels low.
DNA best illustrates an aspect of Kendrick Lamar’s talent that I feel is underplayed. Sure, we know how smart he is, we know how amazingly he’s able to write lyrics that manage to document life in 2018 America better than anyone else, we appreciate his writing so much that we chuck Pulitzers at him, and we’re in awe of how accomplished his musical banking so often is.
But we never talk about quite how exciting a rapper he is. DNA is possibly one of the starkest examples ever of how bracing and thrilling an instrument the human voice can be.
7 Perfume Genius: Alan
The closing track of the year’s greatest album is so high for one simple reason: no song released in 2017 was as beautiful as Alan. Lyrically, it’s really about nothing more than how much one person can love another. Its majesty isn’t completely captured on that live video, so launch Spotify to experience its full power.
6 Kendrick Lamar: GOD
The greatest song on ‘DAMN’, which is quite an achievement. Kendrick begins by flaunting his successes and assuming such a lofty position must by what being God feels like, only to change perspective intermittently and rap from the viewpoint of the actual God, reminding himself that he is just a mortal and how transient everything is.
But this isn’t here because of the lyrics, it’s here because it’s a banging choon. There isn’t another more pitch perfect album closer released this year (well, OK, maybe one more…). The fact that it isn’t the album closer kinda highlights one of my issues with the record.
Obviously, the live video is terrible, head to Spotify
5 Fever Ray: To the Moon and Back
It’s self-referential, it’s funny, it’s one of the greatest pop songs you’re ever likely to hear, it comes with a video that sees Fever Ray awakened from cryogenic sleep before being urinated on: you can understand why after hearing this song I immediately named Fever Ray’s second album my album of the year.
4 Jane Weaver: The Architect
The centrepiece and crowning glory of ‘Modern Kosmology‘, which all of the proceeding album seems to be building towards, and the pay off is spectacular.
The single version is vastly inferior, however: its true epic genius can only be properly appreciated when it includes the full 35 second intro.
2= Lorde: Green Light
2= Lorde: Perfect Places
I couldn’t split Melodrama‘s opening and closing tracks. If pushed, I’d give the edge to Perfect Places mainly down to its extraordinary chorus of “All of the things we’ve taken/Cause we are young and we’re ashamed”. That… Like…
I can relate to that, OK?
Fun fact: these were originally going to be the top two tracks, but because I originally thought that Melodrama would be named number one album I wanted to avoid a monopoly so decided to name the next song instead.
After consideration I decided that Perfume Genius was actually the greatest album, which theoretically left the door open for Lorde to take the top two spots on Legit Bosses once again. Unfortunately, by that time I’d actually decided that the next song really is superior, so from initially losing one award through fears of lack of variety, Lorde actually ends up empty handed! She must be gutted!
Best Song of 2017:
Future: Mask Off
Without a shadow of a doubt. There was nothing released in 2017 that was as moving, incisively written (intentionally or not), morosely beautiful, morally ambiguous, and boastfully remorseful as Mask Off. There was no song close to being as fantastic.
It’s an astonishing tribute to the power of a simple choice of musical backing. Across his two albums this year (and, presumably the 76’703 records Future has released previously) Future told endless and repetitive tales of a coldhearted nihilistic lifestyle. He isn’t concerned with ‘celebrating’ his wealth and success, merely of affirming it: not once on either of the albums does Future celebrate anything! His music was only about confirming his stature and strength, emotionless observance of capital.
But… something changes on Mask Off…
When backed by an absolutely genius sample of melancholy flute work from Prison Song by Tommy Butler, Future’s raps about gang war and excessive drug use are reframed instantly. Whereas on other tracks such macho boasting and tales of gargantuan drug intake are backed by standard trap backings and sound at best a celebration of amorality and at worse betray a chronic lack of care in the effects of his decadence, Mask Off‘s morose backing frames Future’s tales how they should be framed: as almost overwhelmingly sad.
Future tells of all his possessions, all of his hangers on, all of his wealth, but it obviously has so little positive effect on his mental health that drugs are still a necessity (“Pink molly, I can barely move”). Each verse ends with the same mantra of “Percosets, molly, percosets” outlining the kind of assistance Future requires to appreciate life (as well as other attempts to fill the void: “Top off, that’s a liability.Hit the gas, boostin’ my adrenaline”).
Mask Off is less of a ‘rags to riches’ tale, but more of a question of ‘rags to riches to… where…?’ Future has achieved all of his goals, why does he still feel an emptiness he needs to fill with MDMA, percosets and promethazine (all name checked in the song)?
This is the true meaning of the song’s title, as it is Future taking off his mask of invincibility to allow us to briefly glimpse the vulnerability at his core. “Mask on, fuck it, mask off”
Disagree? I really don’t give a shit…
I did a YouTube playlist, but I can’t promise that I remembered to put every track on it. A lot of songs aren’t on YouTube, or are represented only by ropey live videos, so they’re instead replaced by tracks I threw back to in some of the ‘Song/Offs’ in (kayfabe) 2017
And here’s the Spotify nonsense, you greedy, greedy people:
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