2017: A year in music

Press photo of Paramore via Billboard
Press photo of Paramore via Billboard

Bests, worsts, and everything in between

By Joshua Toevs, Columnist


Here is a list of lists and superlatives for the year that was 2017.


Music’s Best New Act: Cardi B

This is really just an excuse to praise the rise and cultural impact of Cardi B. In less than a year, the stripper-turned-reality-star-turned-rapper has shaken the musical landscape to its core. With the release of her hazy trap banger, “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi reached heights that female rappers haven’t hit in years. The song oozes confidence and glistens sonically. The song is constantly played at parties and the club but even more importantly it found charting success, halting Taylor Swift from a lengthy stay at the top of the Billboard Charts as Cardi found herself sitting at number one for seven weeks. Cardi at number one marked the first time a female rapper had a solo number one record since Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly,” and she has translated that to greater successes. While we have yet to see an album from her, she has released a number of great features and the sky is the limit for the young rapper.


Most Interesting Story of 2017: Kim Kardashian has receipts

In 2016, Kanye West released a song titled “Famous,” a song in which he says he could probably have Swift romantically because he made her famous. Kanye claimed that Swift gave her blessing for that line and everything seemed okay. A little while later, Swift refuted this claim and stated she would never give the okay for something like this. Usually everyone would just side with Swift, but unbeknownst to her, Kim Kardashian West had video evidence to refute her claims. Kanye recorded all of his conversations and on one faithful night, Kardashian went on Snapchat to play the recordings of Swift giving her approval. It was a big deal in that we rarely see holes in the Swift armour, and for one of the first times we were able to see Swift as less than perfect.


Comeback Record of the Year: Paramore’s After Laughter

After Laughter presented a new sound for the veteran rockers of Paramore. Gone is the edgy and abrasive pop punk production and in its place are silkier guitar strings, softer drum compositions, and electronic overtones. It is a welcome new sound as the music is fun and easy to listen to. “Hard Times” is an up-tempo bop, “Told You So” is a groovy electro-rock mishmash in all the right ways, and “Tell Me How” is a crushing ballad. There are so many different styles and sounds that blend so well together without ever feeling too uniform. If this is a sign of things to come for Paramore, then I am personally excited.


We take a break from the superlatives for some lists!


Interesting Hip Hop Albums

  1. Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples
  2. Saturation I by Brockhampton
  3. Saturation II by Brockhampton
  4. Still Striving by A$AP Ferg
  5. More Life by Drake


Five Albums You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

  1. Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle (hip-hop)
  2. Rina EP by Rina Sawayama (pop)
  3. Semper Femina by Laura Marling (singer-songwriter)
  4. Now That the Light is Fading by Maggie Rogers (singer-songwriter)
  5. Ash by Ibeyi (art-pop)


Five Albums So Boring, They Might Help You Sleep

  1. Everybody by Logic
  2. Relaxer by alt-J
  3. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom by Halsey
  4. Trip by Jhene Aiko
  5. Reputation by Taylor Swift


Most Disappointing Album of 2017: Haim’s Something to Tell You

The California trio released Days Are Gone in 2014, which featured beautiful melodies, rocking chords, and great rock songs that were reminiscent of bands of yesteryear like Fleetwood Mac. In 2017, Haim returned with an album that was anything but. This album is lyrically flat, sonically boring, and features changes to the sound that just don’t make sense. They incorporated electronic samples try and bring their sound into 2017 but it sounds manufactured and shallow. Where Days Are Gone was a love letter to the ’70s without sounding dated, Something to Tell You is a bargain bin reject.


Favourite Album of the Year: Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 3

The hip hop duo El-P and Killer Mike does it again with their third album as a duo. The production is denser and in your face, mixing newer, fresher sounds with the timeless boom bap beats. The lyrical content is more politically charged given the landscape while also keeping with their bully attitude. Songs like “Legend Has It,” “Talk To Me,” and “Hey Kids” are hard-nosed and aggressive, while “A Report to the Shareholders” is a dark, sombre look at the world during the Trump era. Run the Jewels takes more risks and are more introspective on this record than previous efforts, and as a result it is my favorite album of 2017.