Favorite popular music from 2017

by on December 8, 2017 at 12:56 am in Music, Uncategorized | Permalink

It’s wrong to call this “popular music,” because most of it isn’t that popular, but we certainly can’t call it rock and roll any more, can we?

First, here are the ones that everyone else recommends too:

Run the Jewels 3, not a let down.

Kendrick Lamar, Damn, a common pick for best of the year.

Tyler the Creator, the album has an obscene name, which I won’t reproduce, but I can list the name of the Creator.

King Krule, Ooz, “The world is a filthy, utterly debased place, his music suggests, but there are rewards of sorts for those determined to survive it. In this spirit, The OOZ drops at our feet like a piece of poisoned fruit, a masterpiece of jaundiced vision from one of the most compelling artists alive.”

Migos, Culture, rap from Atlanta.

Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory, but not theory as they do it as Northwestern.

SZA- Cntrl, from New Jersey, “Her forebears are more Keyshia Cole and Mary J. Blige, who have hurt and have been fearless enough to sing about that hurt…”

Lorde, Melodrama, “the New Zealand century” is gaining on “the Norwegian century.”

Taylor Swift, Reputation.  This one is kind of popular.

Perfume Genius, No Shape, “The body has become sturdier, less despotic.

My summary remark is that I didn’t intend to listen to so much rap/hip-hop, but it remains the most vital genre.

Here are some more original selections:

Jlin, Black Origami, “…a gorgeous and overwhelming piece of musical architecture, an epic treatise on where rhythm comes from and where it can go.

Juana Molina, Halo.  Argentina, avant-garde songstress, vivid vocal and instrumental textures, she has almost abolished lyrics.

The Secret Sisters, You Don’t Own Me Any More, folk for 2017, “They went from opening shows for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to cleaning houses to make ends meet.”

Django Bates, Saluting Sgt. Pepper.  A jazzy, big band, music hall take on the album, works surprisingly well, one of the freshest takes on the Beatles since Laibach.

Paul McCartney, Flowers in the Dirt, remastered, an underrated album to begin with, this release also includes the previously unavailable acoustic demo tapes with Elvis Costello.

Death Grips, Bottomless Pit.  Has the information density and partial unpleasantness of the old Skinny Puppy recordings, “seesawing from grit to gloss to back again.”

Beach Boys, Wild Honey, titled 1967 — Sunshine Tomorrow.  This remix brings out what was supposed to be just a “blues/soul/Brian cooling his heels” album as an acoustic masterpiece and proper successor to Pet Sounds and Smile.

Philip Glass, Piano Works, by Víkingur Ólafsson. One of the two or three best Glass recordings I know, here is an interview with the pianist.

Overall, if I had to push any of these on you it would be the last two.  Soon I’ll cover jazz and world music.

1 jc December 8, 2017 at 1:00 am

Run the jewels again? Ugh

2 A clockwork orange December 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm

J HUS, Mura Masa is what they been playin at trafe.

3 UncleMartyPants December 8, 2017 at 1:02 am
4 JC December 8, 2017 at 1:31 am

I’d like to know if Tyler still listens to any of the albums he put in his 2013 list.

5 RPLong December 8, 2017 at 9:47 am


6 Will December 8, 2017 at 1:46 am

Ah, the classic Pitchfork hipster formula. Mainstream rap to prove that you’re multicultural. Indie music to prove that you’re underground. Classic rock to prove that you’re well rounded. And a handful of popular songs to prove that you’re not a hipster.

7 msgkings December 8, 2017 at 2:47 am

Oooh so edgy and ironic.

8 Will December 9, 2017 at 1:02 am

Lighten up, lunatic.

9 Oreg December 8, 2017 at 7:51 am

Great analysis! 🙂

10 Jeff R December 8, 2017 at 7:57 am


11 Roy LC December 8, 2017 at 8:41 am

Like the 10 rating Pitchfork gave “Rubber Soul” not everything trite and hackneyed and/or the product of hipster performance is actually wrong. The same can be said for almost all the snark heaped on Pitchfork and its ilk, it is pretty dead on accurate as well.

12 the5chord December 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

Yeah that was a bold review. Giving Rubber Soul a perfect 10 nearly 44 years after its release. No one else gives the Beatles the credit they deserve.

13 dan1111 December 8, 2017 at 8:57 am

What if Tyler actually likes the music that he says he likes?

14 charlies December 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

if you have followed these lists over the years, the drift in content makes that hypothesis pretty unlikely.

15 Niroscience December 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

The idea that liking rap is considered a signal of being ‘multicultural’ made me lol.

16 ilovetacos December 8, 2017 at 1:59 am

No Stoney – Post Malone?

Definitely a better album than Kendrick’s latest offering.

17 chrisare December 8, 2017 at 2:16 am

I wonder if Tyler actually listens to this simplistic tripe or is just virtue signaling.

18 msgkings December 8, 2017 at 2:49 am

Take THAT, Tyler!

19 dan1111 December 8, 2017 at 8:58 am

Ha ha, exactly.

“You don’t actually like stuff; it’s just signalling” is about the most tiresome critique imaginable.

20 chrisare December 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

No it’s more like how could such a bright person actually enjoy such mindlessly vapid stuff. It’s suspicious.

21 msgkings December 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm

It’s music, it sounds good no matter how many PhDs you have. Not every pop song has to be a 7/8 time signature prog rock math problem to be enjoyable.

You must be kind of young, planting your flag about how YOUR music is so much better than that OTHER crap people listen to is a teenager/young adult pose. As you get older you realize it’s just taste, and Tyler’s doesn’t matter to yours.

22 Chuck December 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm

“such a bright person”


23 Tristan December 8, 2017 at 2:54 am

Get Philip Glass on Conversations with Tyler!

24 drew December 8, 2017 at 3:09 am

you coulda just posted tyler’s album name as ‘flower boy’, nothing offensive there.

25 drew December 8, 2017 at 3:10 am

jlin, and juana molina are hella tight tho.

26 John F December 8, 2017 at 3:26 am

For me the only 2017 album that’s stuck is…Nightmare Logic – Power Trip.

27 o. nate December 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm

I agree. It’s kind of a consensus pick in metal this year, but it lives up to the hype. If you’re looking for something a bit more obscure, check out “Misantropologi” by Undergang. It’s a bit more OSDM than thrash, but has a similar raffish energy. Couldn’t tell you about the lyrics though cause they’re in Danish.

28 John F December 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Will do, thanks!

29 Pearl Y December 8, 2017 at 4:11 am

I don’t doubt Tyler’s list is sincere, but these are nearly all albums that sound cool if you listen to them once, as if they’re performance pieces, as if you can review them as an intellectual exercise. But the music that endures is the stuff that gets stuck in your head, and it’s impossible to judge that unless you listen to an album at least a few times.

30 Another Truth Seeker December 8, 2017 at 8:51 am

Kendrick Lamar: its nice to listen to a couple of times, but after awhile its just annoying. He is definitely overrated.

31 Vic December 8, 2017 at 5:45 am

What’s so unprintable about « Flower Boy «  by Tyler the Creator?

32 jmcsf December 8, 2017 at 6:39 am

Betty Who’s The Valley was a great pop album. I have a hunch that there are several genres Tyler completely ignores.

In Jocelyn Glei’s recent podcast, Tyler said that you can hear the difference in music made in 1965 compared to 1967 where as comparing 2015 and 2017 is exactly the same (example of complacency). That may be true in many cases, but there has been a massive shift from Progressive House to Future Bass. I would credit the Jack U song Where are U Now featuring Justin Bieber with the dolphin sound that has since been copied and is everywhere (of course this song was also released in 2015, but at the time nothing else mainstream sounded like it).

33 Enrique December 8, 2017 at 6:56 am

Noooo, not the dreaded “end of year” lists again … instead of these inane lists, I would prefer to know the selection criteria for inclusion on the list. If it’s mere aesthetics, then the list tells us more about its creator than it does about the intrinsic worth of the music itself.

34 RPLong December 8, 2017 at 9:49 am

Good comment.

35 msgkings December 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm

“intrinsic worth of the music” The hell? Tyler likes it, that’s its worth.

36 Sebastian Franck December 13, 2017 at 2:01 am

If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nothing to dread …

37 Jan December 8, 2017 at 7:16 am

Ok but not Migos.

38 A Truth Seeker December 8, 2017 at 7:56 am

And nothing from Brazil…

39 Another Truth Seeker December 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

This what America has become in terms of music. Nothing interesting at all.

40 A Truth Seeker December 8, 2017 at 10:14 am

Such is life in America…

41 Another Truth Seeker December 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm

I wouldn’t even call it life. This is what America has become, a land of uninteresting music without any samba.

42 other derek December 8, 2017 at 1:49 pm

He said there would be a different post on world music, dude.

43 RPLong December 8, 2017 at 9:51 am

Why not choose one album you liked this year, and provide an in-depth post about what you like about it and why? It’s far more interesting to hear all the reasons a person likes something than to read a quick drive-by of albums you feel ought to be “raised in status.” Who cares about that? Tell me about your passion for the music you like, don’t just tell me that you like it.

44 msgkings December 8, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Now this is interesting, agreed. Or maybe both. Show us the list then pick one entry to really discuss.

45 Joel Ferris December 8, 2017 at 10:17 am

My favorite hip hop album of 2017 was Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice. From Gary, IN and very good. Soon will be his second album with Madlib- you should also give Pinata a listen from a few years ago.

46 dave December 8, 2017 at 10:55 am

Genuine Q: How do thoughtful people countenance the overt misogynism of Kendrick Lamar? I’ve only listened to him a few times. I admit to finding his beats catchy and some of his lyrics trenchant. But I am always appalled by his misogynism. And I wonder how “enlightened liberals” manage to approve.

47 the5chord December 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

The album has a 95 rating on metacritic. So apparently critics and writers of economics blogs do not mind the misogyny but has turned some heads


48 Samuel December 8, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Give an example?

49 Chuck December 8, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Your fantasy waifu will be extra attentive this evening Mr. White Knight.

50 Dan December 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Jlin certainly wins for most non-complacent album of the year, I would say. Not exactly a record I like to spend a lot of time with, though.

51 dave December 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm

thanks for that article. Though I don’t even understand that particular “feminist critique.” The claim there is that it’s misogynist to praise women–as Lamar evidently does–who don’t get plastic surgery and use lots of makeup?

I was thinking his problem was more about the objectification of women as sexual objects. Bragging about a “wifey, girlfriend, and mistress.” Of course, I haven’t analyzed his lyrics with any care, but it just seemed so apparent that “this is not a good way to regard women.” But I’ve never found a defense of his boorishness.

52 Josh December 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm

I don’t think backseat freestyle is a good example, not because it isn’t what you are saying it is, but because I think he is supposed to be “parodying” the culture or behavior of specific subsets of young males that he grew up in/around. I also in general just take that to be a not very serious song. I understand he is the one writing, performing and putting it out on his album, however I don’t view it as a reflection of his thoughts or views. Maybe I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.

I think his gratuitous use of b!tch or other derogatory terms for females could be interpreted that way, though they are generally used towards other males for example calling someone a b@tch n**ga. I don’t know if that makes it more or less misogynistic, and IDK how much the intent or his subjective meaning of the word vs. the objective or societal understanding of the words matters. Overall I think your criticism/observation, in terms of objectifying women, is fair and is true more broadly of music in general (especially rap, country, and pop).

I do think he is one of the most talented artists / entertainers / musicians, and this album was another great showing for him. I also think he should win album of the year and rap album of the year at the upcoming grammy’s.

53 Ali Choudhury December 8, 2017 at 5:58 pm

I liked the new album from At The Drive-in.

54 Panda December 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm

My favorite hip hop album of the year is Saturation II by Brockhampton. It is an aural feat made even more impressive upon realizing the band members are all young 20-somethings who met on the internet.

55 Doubtful December 10, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Isn’t “popular music” just singles and not albums these days?
Here’s in no particular order is some of what I couldn’t stop
listening to this year:

“Sign of the Times” Harry Styles
“Issues” Julia Michaels
“Believer” Imagine Dragons
“Thunder” Imagine Dragons
“Castle On The Hill” Ed Sheeran
“Feel It Still” Portugal. The Man
“Despacito Remix” Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee
“Bad Liar” Selena Gomez
“What About Us?” Pink
“Let Me Go” Hailee Steinfeld, Alesso

56 Trent December 11, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Hi Tyler

Good pics, but can I suggest three more (exceptional) hip hop albums from this year? You won’t be disappointed.

Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Oddisee – The Iceberg
Milo – Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!

57 Trent December 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Hi Tyler

Good pics, but can I suggest three more (exceptional) hip hop albums from this year? You won’t be disappointed.

Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Oddisee – The Iceberg
Milo – Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!

58 James December 12, 2017 at 9:44 pm

No Emperor of Sand? I thought that might have made the cut

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