When I listen to music, I listen for the chorus. I listen for the turn around. I listen for the drop. This is a list of my favorite choruses of 2017. All of these songs are earworms and have been stuck in my head since I first heard them. They will surely haunt me until the dawn of the New Year, and now, assuming you check these tracks out, the hook will haunt you. Beware.
#10. Gorillaz – “Hallelujah Money” (feat. Benjamin Clementine)
I felt that this album missed the mark in a lot of ways, but this song on it’s own merit is just wonderful. A song released just after the 2016 election – “Hallelujah Money” ironically preaches to it’s listeners to pray to money: our new president and God. The irony of one of the richest and most well connected men in the world running as an anti-establishment candidate has always baffled me. Clementine carries this song with a smirk behind his incredible vocal work.
#9. The Dopamines – “Ire”
The new Dopamines record is an ultra depressing and self-deprecating ball of anxious energy. In all of this, the song “Ire” laughs manically in the face of self-pity – a song about a romantic disagreement without being sexist nonsense (a feat for the pop-punk genre). The brutal chorus, being a culmination of the narrator’s frustration, insists they’re going to “spit it right back into your lying face.” It’s nice to hear this band swing back since they’ve spent their whole career punching themselves in the face.
#8. Fool Heavy – “Canada Dry”
Soda Bomb was a band I really liked. They broke up, and Fool Heavy is the new band made up of former front-person plus new faces. Their debut record Gusto was self released and features extremely powerful hooks and harmonies, courtesy of Taylor Berke and Sam Coughlin’s dual vocals. “Canada Dry” is slacker-rock anthem, and this LP my favorite DIY release of the year.
#7. Tyler, The Creator – “See You Again” (feat. Kali Uchis)
Tyler’s new album Flower Boy is a triumph for someone who has spent much of their musical career being a pest. The horror-core raps of his youth have been left behind for high fashion, signature production, and brutal lyrics. On this track, Tyler pens a love song in the only way someone like Tyler can. The neo-soul production with the accompanying piano makes for a truly special experience – one that can only exist on this album. The singing from Kali Uchis ties this all together in a sweet package that makes for a track that sits high on the list of Tyler’s songs.
#6. Charly Bliss – “Percolator”
“I’m gonna die in a getaway car/ I haven’t tried but it sounds too hard.” This band surprised me. After being recommended this record, it immediately clicked.“Percolator” is described by front-person Eva as “declarative”- a double-edged anthem about labels and pejoratives given to her. It’s the album’s opener, a sweet and sour blade, sharpened by the driving guitars. This band is one to watch out for.
#5. Single Mothers – “A-Ok”
I’m a big fan of the extended pre-chorus. It makes you think you’ve already heard the turnaround, until something you weren’t expecting punches you in the face. This song is front and center on the pedestal of modern sassy Rock and Roll. The way Drew Thomson curses his city, saying that he’s going to stay “with the slums and the losers” despite only wanting to be in his bed, is the perfect summation to the cold world that is the year of our lord two-thousand-and-seventeen.
#4. Alvvays – “Dreams Tonite”
Antisocialites is a record I have wanted to hear my whole life – I just didn’t know it. I think it’s an Indie Rock achievement that will stand the test of time and be a true classic in years to come. This song is one of the quieter ones on the record, but carries such a chest-caving depth that it’s nearly impossible to turn away from. I imagine listening to this song comes with the same feeling you’d get if you saw inside of the Pulp Fiction briefcase – peering into dream-pop perfection that only lasts about three minutes.
#3. Kendrick Lamar – “ELEMENT”
The first time I heard this song I was on tour, barreling down a highway at 1:30AM so in Michigan. The moment the dissonant note hits in the chorus, I felt like my brain tripped over itself. I said out loud to my band, “did he just play a wrong note?” Luke explained to me that it was on purpose, and why it works. It’s such a small and brilliant move in a song that lulls you into such a sense of relaxation, only to pull that rug out from under you, but subtly so.
#2. Paramore – “Rose Colored Boy”
Admittedly, I haven’t spent a lot of time with Paramore’s music. They’re a band that I can thank my partner for introducing me to over the course of a road trip. She played this song and it absolutely blew my mind. The production calls back to the Madonna days – “Rose Colored Boy” is an argument for having a good cry. The recently divorced Hayley Williams pens several of these anxious anthems on After Laughter, creating an atmosphere for personal growth, positive problem solving, and admitting to yourself that it’s okay to be not okay.
#1. White Reaper – “Judy French”
Have you ever heard music that made you nostalgic for a time in which you weren’t even alive? White Reaper gives me false memories of shotgunning beers at Van Halen concerts. The first time I heard this song, I didn’t want to like it. I am of the opinion that Garage Rock has currently peaked. White Reaper insists on getting through the closing gate, and squeezes through with force. “Judy French” is my favorite song of 2017. It’s so fucking good. It defies all reason. If I don’t hear this song in a Walmart when I’m Christmas shopping in my fifties, then all hope for the human race is lost.