Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pop Candy Arcade: The Songs of 2017, Pt. 1 (1-50)

Let's do this as quickly as possible, shall we? The annual mixtape is longer than ever. I keep inflating the numbers, and it seems crazy that it ever started with something as contained as a 50 track limitation. Over the years, we've moved from 50 to 100 to 125 to now, well, a 150. Believe me when I tell you that there's a discard playlist with 219 unused tracks on it. Believe me when I tell you that there are so many beloved tracks that wound up outmatched by songs on the same album. Lorde's "Green Light" (a song I like quite a lot) isn't the representative for Melodrama, for example, or "All Things Pass" didn't make the cut from the Jesus and Mary Chain's Damage and Joy, or I swapped song after song from Taylor Swift's Reputation until deciding that I just don't like a single track enough to include on the list at all (even as it's an album I've enjoyed, critics be damned). 

Instead, I'm trying to create a capsule of 2017 sounds that's true - at the end of the day - both to what I wind up listening to the most (there's a lot of work-playlist electronic on here) and to a cataloging of larger sonic trends. The list has inflated in part because it's what would be spread - on sites with real staff or for magazines - across multiple genre lists.

Here's the lot: in alphabetical order and for your binge consumption. The Spotify embed will be at the end of all the lists, and due to the size: the commentary will truly be minimal. Happy New Year.

The Spotify playlist will be posted at the conclusion of the list.

1. "X22RME” / Actress  A beat, a pulse, a fraction made whole.

2. “Horizon” / Aldous Harding A voice that howls like its been wounded, an urgent gesture.

3. “Dreams Tonite” / Alvvays A shifting, melodic, appropriately-named bit of dream pop.

4. “Take Me” / Aly & AJ A surprising return from a pair of once-Disney popsters, a ballad for 80s vampires. (Check out "Promises" as well, which almost made the cut)

5. “Higher Moment / Amor Skewed, jangly electro, building, soaring, made for city streets.

6. “Holding On” / Anna Ternheim Is this what Swedish "folk" rock sounds like? If so, the Swedes do that better too.

7. “Run to You” / Annie Hart Solo, synth-driven work from Au Revoir Simone's keyboardist. 
8. “Piel” / Arca  Is Arca a religious experience? Could be. 

9. “Virtual Light” / Asok Deep house that feels like someone drawing clean, methodically geometric lines. 

10. “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself” / Austra Airy, roomy, danceable sadness. 

11. “Phantom of Aleppoville” / Benjamin Clementine From an artist at the intersection of a half-dozen 70s subgenres, with strains of Grace Jones, threads of Bowie, and something vaguely of the Magnetic Fields.

12. “Glue” / Bicep Music for breathing.

13. “Bellyache” / Billie Eilish So familiar, so singular, the kind of pop song that feels easy to ignore if only because it feels prematurely worn-in.

14. “Arisen My Senses” / Bjork, Arca Well, if Arca alone isn't a religious experience, Arca + Bjork just might be. Big. Ticking. Noise.

15. “Territory” / The Blaze I'm not entirely sure this is a song of the year, but the video is so damn good that I've returned to it over and over and over again.

16. “No One Like You” / Blue Hawaii A duo that blends twee indie with early aughts pop impulses that play like pure sugar.

17. “Rodent” / Burial I don't know that I've ever made an annual list without a Burial song at this point. 

18. “Rollin” / Calvin Harris ft. Future and Khalid I know you like "Feels" and "Slide" more, but look, I have tested this song repeatedly and IT IS AN A+ DRIVING SONG. A+.

19. “Bodak Yellow” / Cardi B The first half-dozen times I heard this it didn't stick. I'm willing to admit it. I didn't know what made it so special, honestly, but then I basically got Stockholm Syndrome.

20. “Cut to the Feeling” / Carly Rae Jepsen CRJ made us all talk about a cartoon ballet movie for a minute, so, that's a feat.

21. “The One to Wait” / CCFX This is what I want to hear at the end of the day. 
22. “Boys” / Charli XCX Behold, children, the Female Gaze. 

23. “Dreamer” (ft. Starrah and Raye) / Charli XCX Here's a true story: there were EIGHT Charli XCX songs on this list at one point. Why? Because Pop 2 is very good, but so is Number 1 Angel and Charli is a pop rogue in the best way. She's an auteur, y'all. An auteur.

24. “Deadly Valentine” / Charlotte Gainsbourg I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to Rest and, especially, this track. It builds and pulls you in. Magic.

25.  “Lying with You” / Charlotte Gainsbourg Really.

26. “Told You I’d be with the Guys” / Cherry Glazerr  "I WAS A LONE WOLF..."
27. “Poppy Flower” / Chloe x Halle A sibling duo picked up by Beyonce's label that sounds like the one true heir to the Knowles legacy.

28. “Shadow” / Chromatics Hey everyone, just a reminder that Twin Peaks: The Return IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO HAPPEN ACROSS EVERY MEDIUM THIS YEAR.

29. “K.” / Cigarettes After Sex Sleepy storytelling.

30. “Winter Dawn” / Colleen Watch me go back and put this on the mixtape I made for Sally Potter's adaptation of Orlando from so many years ago.

31. “Better Sit Down Boy” / Confidence Man Like a Girls Aloud song for people who would never admit to enjoying Girls Aloud.

32. “Invention III: Gifts from the Ebb Tide” / Coupler Pure atmosphere. I don't know what else to say, I listen to this all the time while I'm working, am slightly obsessed with how cinematic it is. 

33. “Minnesota” / The Courtneys Propulsive girl-band garage. 
34. “Face Your Fear” / Curtis Harding Curtis Harding is one of those talents that makes you ask what year it is. In the best way.

35. “Pemp ajour imposte” / The Dale Cooper Quartet Transformative. I want this on vinyl so bad and it is so expensive but jesus christ, when the vocals kick in it's like the world changes.

36. “Poly” / Daphni Is "Poly" a compete song? I don't know. I wish it stretched well beyond its 2 minutes. 

37. “Hidden Song” / Delia Gonzalez This song is supposed to be a DFA soundtrack to Revisionist Westerns, which, well, ok. 

38. “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” / Destroyer I have a couple friends who really hate Destroyer, but then I hear a song like this and I'm like "y tho?"

39. “Reduction Agent” / Dion Lunadon The loud loud. 

40. “Come Thru for U” / DJ Seinfeld I was shocked that I liked this album as much as I did. I mean, I would not have thought that such solid house would come from a person named ironically after a 90s sitcom.

41. “Passionfruit” / Drake Drake has never released a complete album that works, in my opinion, but every year he - without fail - seems to drop 1 to 2 compulsively listenable songs. I'm here for this and "Get it Together". 

42. “New Rules” / Dua Lipa The video for this transforms your whole perception of the song, doesn't it? 

43. “Always Bleeds” / EMA Exile in the Outer Ring is a powerful rock album in 2017's political climate, and tracks like "Always Bleeds" and "Aryan Nation" play like urgent communications from a land mythologized on the nightly news.

44. “Melodica Badness (ft. Addis Pablo)” / Equiknoxx This is the sort of experimental electronic track I put on here and automatically hear my friends telling me they skipped over it. But, like, it's noisy and sort of annoying, but also kind of cute, right? Like a Porg? What if we call this Porg rock?

45. “Love in the Days of Rage” / Exit Someone I'm going to call this smooth Yacht Rock for the tensions of the Trump administration.

46. “To the Moon and Back” / Fever Ray What planet is Fever Ray actually from, though? When she says "and back" does she mean here? Certainly that can't be right...

47. “Chemicals” (Original Mix) / Fixmer/McCarthy You'll only feel this if you've ever found yourself jumping around to a Nitzer Ebb song in a goth club, but, oh my god it is so that. 

48. “Planet” / Four Tet A whole mini adventure crammed into 7 minutes. 

49. "Unforgettable" / French Montana ft. Swae Lee Apparently there's a world of people who find this song as infectious as I do. WHY IS IT THAT I DON'T SEEM TO KNOW ANY?

50. "Mask Off" / Future Sometimes the strange rhythmic patterns of Future's broken flow do the trick, sometimes it's the sample. In this case, it's both...

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