By Jack and Alex
It’s fair to say 2017 has been a pretty mixed bag thus far, offering up a wealth of excellent new music along with some absolute stinkers. So with the year halfway through, we decided to cast our collective eye over the last six months and pick out some of the best – and worst – music 2017 has given us so far.
Best New Act
Alex: Harry Styles
Harry’s been around a while, but never like this – washing in a bathtub full of swirling pink water, jumped up on The Rolling Stones, delivering feisty, spunky rock’n’roll to a starving public who never knew this was exactly what they needed. 2017 has seen Harry solidify his pop icon status – and he shows no sign of slowing down.
Jack: Will Joseph Cook
Sweet Dreamer is a thoughtful indie-pop album with breezy charm. WJC melds new wave optimism with a clean, digital edge. From the anthemic ‘Beach’ to the terrific & kooky ‘Take Me Dancing’, Will stood out as a winner in a year with no shortage of stellar home-grown indie.
Best Pop Track
Alex: Scared Of The Dark – Steps
AKA the best pop comeback of all time. ‘Scared Of The Dark’ gets it right on so many levels, they’re too numerous to go into here. Let’s just all agree Claire is an angel and leave it at that.
Jack: Chained to the Rhythm – Katy Perry ft Skip Marley
Whether this is smart or just wannabe woke is up to you, but it’s still a jam. Easily the best produced thing released all year: sometimes big budget pays off, especially when it’s in the hands of creative people. A collaborative track that’s built around funky bass and slick eletronica, it’s the most credible track Katy Perry’s ever released.
Best Rock Track
Alex: In Cold Blood – Alt-J
Personally, my favourite track about a stabbing at a pool party.
Jack: Hard Times – Paramore
Less a rock song, more a bona fide new wave song. Fans of The Cars will be pleased, as will fans of fun music – this is a fucking good time.
Worst promo campaign
Alex: Witness – Katy Perry
From the disco ball listening posts scattered around various famous locations to a 24 hour Big Brother style live stream, everything about Perry’s attempts to whip up some publicity for her fourth album felt try-hard, embarrassing and downright desperate.
Jack: The Man – The Killers
To celebrate the release of their awesome comeback track, Brandon Flowers conducted a live stream Q&A. The first question – what are the inspirations behind the new album? “I do not divulge these types of things anymore” explained Flowers. Well how rude of me for having some interest in the creative process of your band. Guess I’ll just go fuck myself then.
Song of the Summer
Alex: Feels – Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean
A jaunty reggae-tinged burst of summery pop, ‘Feels’ somehow does the impossible and makes Katy Perry briefly cool again. That alone deserves an accolade.
Jack: Malibu – Miley Cyrus
Fans of Bangerz era Miley may have felt rightly scorned by her abrupt change of direction, but this is irrepressible pop. Breezy surf rock that recalls fond memories of Sheryl Crow, Cyrus’ throaty croon and heartfelt delivery completely sells it.
Worst Solo Song By A 1D Member
Alex & Jack: Strip That Down – Liam Payne ft Quavo
Alex: It’s not that ‘Strip That Down’ is a terrible song, just that Liam Payne is a terrible pop star. Any word on whether he’s finally got rowdy?
Jack: This was hard for me because I don’t really give a shit and 1D is firmly within Alex’s remit. However it’s pretty clear that Liam is our joint winner here, being outclassed even by gurning quiff Niall Horan and that other prick whose only really achievement this year was twatting a paparazzo in LAX. Liam you’re a nice lad but if brains were bird shit, you’d have a clean cage.
Alex: Swish Swish – Katy Perry ft Nicki Minaj
After a campaign to decide whether or not this song is a heaping pile of trash, I have finally found an answer. It’s trash, but enjoyable trash, Perry and Nicki making a formidable duo on this Taylor Swift-bashing, UK dance-referencing, colourful bit of fun.
Jack: Show You The Way – Thundercat feat. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins
Do I even need to say more?
Pop star most likely to save 2017
There’s no sign that Rih is gearing up to release a new album this year, but let’s not give up hope just yet – a follow up to 2016’s Anti is just the antidote we need.
The spectre of One Hit Wonderdom hung over Lorde like a big grey cloud, but with the release of Meldorama, that spectre is gone for good. A solid album, respectable chart placement, and an upcoming UK tour suggest Lorde may be able to save us yet. It’s a reminder that mainstream pop can be done another way.
Most overplayed song
Alex: Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
I didn’t mind Sheeran’s marimba-pop hit when it first hit the number one spot, but fourteen weeks later, any affection I once had for the Sia rip-off is well and truly dead.
Jack: Rockabye – Clean Bandit feat. Anne Marie & Sean Paul
Clean Bandit’s mega hit went No.1 last year, it just never went away. Not only is this a pop song referencing a nursery rhyme, it’s also pandering chart-aping schlock. Clean Bandit can do better.
Best song you haven’t heard
Alex: 16 Shots – Stefflon Don
Stefflon Don is just about the coolest person in music right now. ’16 Shots’ packs a hell of a punch, Don wearing her Jamaican heritage on her sleeve on a track that simmers with violence, despair and anger.
Jack: Memory – Com Truise
Com Truise is the enigmatic weirdo you need in your life. His second full length Iteration is full of glassy dystopian synthscapes and massive beats. This is the definition of retrofuturism: It’s the 1980s alright, but seen from a future only the man himself can imagine.
Biggest Pop Disaster
Alex: I’m the One – DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
DJ Khaled is like a joke without a punchline. His brash, boring, trend-hopping production style is as bland as it is annoying. I hate this song so much I don’t think I’ve actually heard it all the way through. Once the nausea sets in, I can’t help but reach for the stop button.
Jack: Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
Chris Martin and the Chainsmoker boys tease out the very worst that both are capable of. Chris Martin’s lovelorn croon sounds like a gradually deflating lung, and when you factor in a beat ripped wholesale from the track ‘Roses’, you have a royal mess. Like meth addicts in love, this is not a healthy relationship. Talk about enablers…