By Jack and Alex
With the sun about to set on the turbulent year that was 2017, we’ve decided to take a look back on the very best and the very worst the last 12 months had to offer. While we can’t afford a glitzy ceremony just yet, these are the people who’d receive our coveted Hey Nineteen awards… if Hey Nineteen awards (i.e. The Hey Nineteenies) were a thing. Watch this space!
Hero of the Year
Alex: Ariana Grande
It’s no secret that Ariana Grande is an actual living, breathing angel sent from Heaven to be God’s representative on Earth. Though some heathens will tell you this position is already occupied by the Pope, I think you’ll find it was Ariana, not the Pope, who brought about world peace through her One Love Manchester concert in June. While still in shock after a bomb killed 23 people at her Manchester show (and under fire from right-wing scrotbags likes Piers Morgan), Grande organised and starred in the benefit concert with the aim of promoting love over division. While some corners of the press tried to drum up hatred, Grande helped heal a fractured city and spread a message of unity and strength.
Jack: Dua Lipa
Delivering on all her hype, and then some. Dua Lipa was packed with bangers and ‘Be The One’ is one of the most beautiful pop tracks of the year. Meanwhile, ‘New Rules’ was a genuine pop culture moment. The beginning of what is sure to be an amazing career, in 2017 a star was born.
Least Deserving Hit
Alex: Galway Girl
Ed Sheeran has been like a louse on the top ten’s pubic hair this year, clinging to the number one spot like a determined little crab. But of all the hits spawned by his dull as dishwater album ÷, none are as trying as ‘Galway Girl’, a gimmicky and grating track that relies on old clichés and an irritating fiddle loop. It’s one of the laziest tracks on ÷, an obnoxious little song that sees Sheeran’s songwriting at its weakest and his cynical appetite for a chart hit at its most insatiable.
Read our full review of ÷ here
Jack: rockstar ft 21 savage
Not a bad song, but seriously, why did this spend four weeks at the top of the charts? This is fucking miserable. Listening to ‘rockstar’ is like drinking mercury. The multiple-week No.1 spot is held for pop bangers; your ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’ and ‘Africa’ and ‘You Can Call Me Al’ shaped hootin’ and hollerin’ feel-good Now compilation fodder. Why do children love depressing trap music so much? We may never know.
Most Unnecessary Pop Collaboration
Alex: Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé
In a year filled with calculated collabs, Sheeran and Yoncé took the biscuit with their schmaltzy ‘Perfect Duet’. Because they both know exactly what they’re doing here. Sheeran had his sights set firmly on the Christmas number one spot while Beyoncé was trying to wriggle her way back to the top of the charts after a drought that lasted over a decade. And of course they succeeded, the two biggest pop stars on the planet putting zero effort into this boring but big-selling number one smash. Beyoncé cruises her way through the easiest hit of her career, knowing damn well this is a cop out, but going along with it anyway, adding one final career misstep to her growing list before the year’s out. Still, after her seminal album Lemonade failed to earn her the Grammy she’s coveted for so long, it’s no wonder she’s resigned herself to making radio-happy pap like this.
Read our full review here
Jack: Eminem and Beyoncé
Y’know there’s a reason people don’t write songs about not being able to write songs. It’s fucking boring. It’s even more boring when you turn rap into a power ballad; which is basically what ‘Walk On Water’ is. A syrupy, curdled mess of weak rhymes. “I walk on water / but only when it freezes“? What is this shit? Beyoncé delivers the chorus and she may as well be on a different planet to Marshall Mathers because it bears no comparison to the rest of the song. Sorry Bey. Your paranoid isolationism was bang on all along. Stop collabing with these people.
Alex: Alice Glass – Alice Glass
A twisted web of dark electronica and tortured, distorted vocals, Alice Glass’ debut EP was released amidst claims her former Crystal Castles bandmate, Ethan Kath, had abused her for years. The EP deals with issues of control, mind-games and manipulation, while Glass desperately tries to carve out a future free of the turmoil of the past. Alice Glass is an uncomfortable, unsettling listen from start to finish, Glass purging her demons on an EP that’s as raw as it is rewarding.
Read our full review here
Jack: Anoraak – Black Gold Sun
Fresh, stylish and sleek synthpop. An absolute pleasure to listen to, ‘Evolve’ opens the EP with twinkling synth arpeggios and the clipped idiosyncrasies of singer Lydmor. From there the quality never lets up, with catchy pastel melodies, dancey grooves and synthesizers that burst with colour and life. The highlight, ‘Skyline’, is minimalist synth music at its best, propelled by a gently ascending beat and a synthesised riff.
Alex: Pure Comedy – Father John Misty
There have been a few serious let-downs in 2017, but none greater than the fall of the once great Father John Misty who descended into pompous parody on his latest album, Pure Comedy. An album of truisms and bloated musings on the state of mankind, Pure Comedy is a largely tuneless, boring affair based around Misty’s lazy observations on the human condition. Misty has long had a reputation as a pretentious misery-guts, but even by his standards, Pure Comedy is a fetid swamp of smug self-congratulation and unrelenting folk rock dirge.
See our list of similar pop disappointments here
Jack: Evolve – Imagine Dragons
Album 1 was great, Album 2 was good, Album 3 was garbage. How did it come to this? Vacuous toss designed to fill arenas and literally nothing else. Night Visions was a fantastic record, and to this day when I want to remember what the zeitgeist was in 2012, I listen back. No one will be listening to Evolve in 5 months, let alone 5 years.
Worst Album Art
Alex: ÷ – Ed Sheeran
He painted this himself, you know. This sloppy divide symbol, the third instalment of albums named after maths shit. It’s a cover that’s as lazy as the title, and indeed, as the album itself. There is nothing to look at here, nothing that pulls you in, nothing that makes you want to listen. But then, who cares? When your reputation’s as big as Sheeran’s, you can slap an infected toe on your album and still set the charts alight.
Jack: Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
Look at it. Just look at it. Snapchat filters! On a legitimate, widely publicised pop album sold at full retail price. Jesus Christ. Levine you are honestly the mother, father, daughter and son of all twats.
Song That Should Have Been A Hit
Alex: ‘Scared Of The Dark’ – Steps
‘Scared Of The Dark’ is not just the best pop song of 2017, it is quite possibly the best pop song of the last 7 years. No one, not even in their wildest dreams, expected a Steps comeback single to be as good as this, but against all odds, the 90s stalwarts staged a resurrection of Christ-like proportions. From the slow build up, to the synth chorus, to the epic key change to end all key changes, ‘Scared Of The Dark’ is the epitome of an excellent pop track and, in any just world, would have sat proudly atop the charts for weeks on end, instead of crashing in at number 37 before disappearing down the plughole of pop the following week.
Jack: ‘Overnight’ – Parcels
This had crossover written all over it. ’70s disco riff, tight-as-hell beat, Daft Punk on production. This song may be simple, but everything it does it does well. Unfortunately, the Top 40 Gods decided to look it over.
Best Video By Pop Star Katy Perry
Alex: ‘Bon Appétit’
In a year of amazing pop videos, no one has committed quite like Katy Perry. The best of her four efforts this year, ‘Bon Appétit’ is a bright and bizarre romp through a hellish culinary nightmare in which Perry is prepped as the main course by a team of sinister chefs. Though we’re still undecided as to exactly how woke the video is, there’s no denying ‘Bon Appétit’ is a visual treat, and the image of Perry happily tucking into a plate of human offal is something that will surely stay with us much longer than any of us would like.
Read our review of the track here
Jack: ‘Swish Swish’
The Room of music videos. I honestly have no fucking clue what is going on here. Why a basketball game when we all know the song is really about what a b̶i̶t̶c̶h̶ bish Taylor Swift is? Who are all these people? Am I supposed to know who they are because I feel like I’m somehow supposed to know. Why is that larger girl eating basketballs? Isn’t that sort of a strange message? That weirdly graphic IV-insertion scene. Nicki Minaj looks like something out of Attack of the Clones. I’m done.
Worst Pop Star
Alex: Liam Payne
The sheer audacity of Liam Payne is just astounding. Swaggering around on American TV, lifting his shirt to reveal weak, fuckboy abs, strutting about like he’s Justin Bieber and not, in fact, the worst member of One Direction; a basic and boring knucklehead, a personality vacuum with all the charisma of a baked potato. His debut single ‘Strip That Down’ is an embarrassing bit of chauvinist posturing, Payne trying to establish himself as a serious pop star but ultimately looking like a bit of a spanner. If that weren’t bad enough, his American accent is enough to make your balls climb right up inside your body, although at least this provides a welcome distraction from the crushing inanity of everything he utters.
Jack: The Remaining Members of Fifth Harmony
Poor Fifth Harmony. Camila went it alone and now we honestly don’t need them. Just rattling about like the last biscuits in the barrel. You know they’re all sat there somewhere in a hotel room. The four of them around a coffee table. On the table there’s the door key. “Don’t even think about it” hisses Dinah. “It’s you we need to keep an eye on!” cries Normani, baring her perfectly glossed teeth. Intuition tells me we won’t be hearing their as of yet unannounced next album (Harmony Goes Fourth) any time soon.
Dickhead Of The Year
Top of the list of things best left in 2017 is Morrissey, a man we should have collectively kicked to the kerb a long time ago. But for many, Morrissey is wrapped up in nostalgia and idealism, his days spent as a dandyish flower-bearer in The Smiths giving him free reign to do as he pleases. But it’s time we accepted that the Morrissey of yore is long gone, replaced by a boorish, bigoted dullard with little of importance to say. We are long past the point of being able to deny his racism and his attempts to justify sexual abuse have been nothing short of disgraceful. Morrissey feeds off attention and headlines, so in 2018, we should make a global pact to starve him of both.
Leaving the issue of homphobia to one side – Quavo – whose rap name comes dangerously close to infringing Walkers copyright – has been overexposed to fuck this whole 12 months. Whether it was the insufferable, droning ‘Bad and Boujee’, a song that only became popular because of fucking Vine, or Migos’ innumerable cameos, or their many imitators, Quavo and his band are to blame for 2017 sounding so dour.
Album Of The Year
Alex: Arca – Arca
A disorienting fever dream of skittering electronica and harrowing chamber pop, Arca’s turbulent 3rd album is a masterpiece. Read why, and see the rest of Alex’s top 20 albums of the year here.
Jack: Com Truise – Iteration
An adventure into retro-futrusim. ’80s synths, anxious House beats and paranoid, glitchy melodies make for a synthwave album like no other. Read Jack’s full list here.