With 2017 behind us I’m here to review the best songs of such a great year for music. We saw a lot of strong pop songs dominate the charts, with producers like Alex Da Kidd, The Chainsmokers and Cheat Codes bringing us a huge number of radio hits. Pop stars sung about love and heartbreak, electronic producers found inspiration around the globe and in their backyards teaming up with big names to help them deliver a hit. Hip-hop morphed and changed at light speed and we saw the continued growth of a genre dubbed ‘mumble rap’. So with all this in mind here are my picks for the top 20 songs of 2017.
20. Niall Horan – Slow Hands : Former One Direction member Niall Horan embarked on a solo career and released a contemporary radio hit back in May. It was written by Horan, Alexander Izquierdo, John Ryan, Julian Bunetta, Ruth Anne Cunningham and Tobias Jesso Jr., while the production was handled by Bunetta. It gained huge traction on the charts peaking at number 2 on the Australian charts, number 3 in Ireland and Scotland and hitting the number 1 spot in the US. “Slow Hands” was a different sound then we’re used to hearing from One Direction as Niall took his music from Gaga to Ed Sheeran, and gained a lot of praise doing so. I wasn’t a fan of Niall’s other singles but this song I rather enjoyed.
19. Camila Cabello – Havana : Cabelllo caused short controversy with pop fans of Fifth Harmony when she made the decision to leave the group to pursue a solo career. This was either going to be the right decision for her or a very bad one, and her first single didn’t really prove she had made the right decision. It wasn’t ’til August when the song Havana dropped and went viral on radio with it’s catchy beats and hooks. The song charted well internationally, reaching number one in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Scotland and the United Kingdom as well as the top ten in a number of countries including Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, while peaking at number two on the US Billboard charts. The single has Cabello embracing her Cuban heritage, and whilst this was a success for her, I still believe she made a bad move leaving Fifth Harmony as I can’t see her solo roller coaster going very far.
18. The Killers – Run For Cover : The rock world was lit with joy when popular band The Killers released their new album “Wonderful Wonderful”, and the first single “Run For Cover” proved to be the right song to kick the albums success off. The bands vocalist Brandon Flowers actually said this track was actually written for their 2008 record “Day & Age”, but due to it being incomplete the single never made it to the LP. While the song didn’t peak well in the charts, only reaching as high as 22 on the US rock charts, it still managed to get critical acclaim from music critics. Rolling Stone magazine said about the song “glossy, buoyant track that proves the band hasn’t strayed from their textbook sound.”
17. Zayn Malik – Still Got Time (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR) : Yet another One Direction member who managed to go solo and top the charts. “Still Got Time” was the first single released off Malik’s second album and hit radio back in March. The track was produced by Murda Beatz and Frank Dukes and was described by The Fader as a “dancehall inspired pop music with a slow tropical beat”. One thing I have to say about this song is how catchy it is. Once you listen to it, it just gets stuck on repeat in your head. “Still Got Time” hit the top 20 in a lot of countries including Australia, Spain, Lebanon and peaked as high as number 3 in Belgium. It was certified gold in Australia, United Kingdom and the US. I love a song that manages to add both pop and urban in it’s mix.
16. Loote – Out Of My Head : Yes this song wasn’t a commercially released single on radio but I feel it should of been for it’s brilliant production, catchy hooks and great vocals. Loote the songwriting duo behind the hit single “No Promises” by the Cheat Codes decided to go out on a limb and release their own music on a digital platform. Emma Lov and Jackson Foote I think work so well together, and not only did they create this hit I think they have the ability to manufacture a catalog of hits. With songwriting credits for artists like Shawn Mendes and Mike Posner mark my words Loote are the ones to watch in 2018.
15. X Ambassadors – Torches : One of my favorite bands brought to us by the musical genius Alex Da Kid, dropped their second single “Torches” back in April. Whilst it didn’t cause waves in the charts it still managed to get substantial air play and even made it’s way onto the soundtrack for the Transformers movie “The Last Knight”. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll notice “Torches” is played as the credits begin. The single is a combination of heavy rock, great lyrics with a soulful edge.
14. Fifth Harmony – Down (feat. Gucci Mane) : Once Camila Cabello announced she was leaving Fifth Harmony the rest of the girls had a anxious move to make by releasing a new single that was going to continue the successful growth of this chart topping girl group minus one member. In June “Down” was released and became a massive world wide hit on the charts, in the United States, it debuted at number 42 on the Billboard charts with first week sales of 36,000 copies, 9.2 million streams and a 7.1 million audience reach. This marked their second highest debut on this chart, following “Work from Home”, which debuted at number 12. It was certified gold in Brazil, Chile, Canada and the United States. The girls proved they hadn’t missed a beat and created a perfect path for an album that was just as good.
13. DJ Khaled – I’m The One (feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper and Lil’ Wayne) : “I’m The One” was the first single released off Khaled’s tenth studio album “Grateful”. Yes you’re reading that correctly, tenth and yet it took probably the last few years before Khaled became a household name. The single debuted at number one and became Khaled’s first record to debut at number 1 and also became the first hip hop song to do so since Eminem’s “Not Afraid”. It was certified platinum and gold in 16 countries and made the top 10 in 32 countries, making it one of the most catchy songs of 2017.
12. The Chainsmokers – Something Just Like This (feat. Coldplay) : What’s better then having one of the biggest EDM producers teaming up with one of the biggest names in British rock to create a track. This blissful teaming brought us the smash hit “Something Just Like This” taken from The Chainsmokers debut album “Memories….Do Not Open” and was nominated for a Grammy award at the 60th annual Grammy awards. The record debuted at a shocking number 56 on the Billboard charts, before in just it’s second week soaring to the number 5 spot becoming the Chainsmokers third top 5 entry into the charts. In the United Kingdom, “Something Just Like This” debuted at number thirty, reaching its number two peak position the following week. It spent nine consecutive weeks in the top 10. It hit number 1 amazingly in 11 countries and was certified platinum, gold and diamond in 13 countries.
11. Kygo – It Ain’t Me (feat. Selena Gomez) : It was a huge year for EDM music crossovers and Norwegian DJ Kygo was going to continue this dancehall phenom when he teamed up with pop artist Selena Gomez for the smash single “It Ain’t Me”. The song dropped in February and was taken from Kygo’s debut EP “Stargazing” which was written by Kygo, Gomez, Andrew Watt, Brian Lee and Ali Tamposi and produced by Kygo. “It Ain’t Me” had a big year with it reaching number one in Croatia, Lebanon, and Norway, and attaining a top five peak in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. It also reached the top 10 in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. In just it’s first day of release it sold 19,000 copies and accumulated 1.7 million streams, and by the first full week it had achieved sales of 67,000 copies, 15.5 million streams and a 19 million airplay audience.
10. Martin Garrix & Dua Lipa – Scared To Be Lonely : Dutch DJ Martin Garrix teamed up with British singer Dua Lipa back in January for the single “Scared To Be Lonely”. Garrix premiered the song at the AVA Festival in 2017 in Myanmar for the New Year. The record got massive airplay on the radio and Garrix called it the follow up to his other huge hit “In The Name Of Love” in which he teamed up with BeBe Rexha. “Scared To Be Lonely” hit the top 10 in 19 countries and peaked at number 1 in the Netherlands, and was certified gold and platinum in 12 countries one of which was the United Kingdom in which it sold over a massive 400,000 copies.
9. Cheat Codes – No Promises (feat. Demi Lovato) : EDM was firing this year with smash hit after smash hit and back in March DJ group Cheat Codes teamed up with Demi Lovato for the single “No Promises” which debuted on mainstream radio in April. The song made a mark on the charts in several countries including reaching the top 10 in Latvia, Malaysia, and Poland, as well as the top 20 in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, and the United Kingdom, and the top 30 in Denmark, Hungary, and Serbia. It was written and produced by Demi Lovato, Ari Leff and pop duo Loote, and it certified gold and platinum in 14 countries including selling over a million copies in the US alone.
8. Imagine Dragons – Thunder : The Dragons are another band brought to you by the amazing musical mind of record producer Alex Da Kid, and while this song is probably not their favorable of mine it still managed to capture the ears of fans. The song was taken from their third studio album “Evolve” and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard charts making it the bands fourth top 10 single. Billboard critics gave it high acclaim naming listing it as the No. 84 best song of 2017. It peaked at number 2 in Australia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and peaked at number 1 in the US selling over 540,000 copies and certifying gold.
7. Kendrick Lamar – Humble : Rap star Kendrick Lamar caused a huge amount of buzz in the rap world when he released his single “Humble” back in March and became Lamar’s lead single for his fourth studio album. It became Lamar’s second number one single on the Billboard charts and received four nominations at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. The song was produced by Mike WILL Made It and was originally pitched for rapper Gucci Mane, but later showed up on Lamar’s album “Damn”. It caused controversy with feminists who have debated over the second verse of the song, which states: “I’m so fucking sick and tired of the Photoshop / Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor / Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks,” claiming that Lamar’s attempt at body-positivity unintentionally puts other women down, which is yet another form of misogyny in the musical industry, particularly in rap music. Some prominent women in the music industry came to Kendrick Lamar’s defense though including singer SZA. The single won 6 awards at the MTV Music Awards and peaked at number one in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
6. P!nk – What About Us : Pink is certainly no stranger to topping the charts as she’s done it so many times before and this time it was no different as back in August the American singer dropped her lead single “What About Us” from her seventh studio album “Beautiful Trauma”. It topped charts in Australia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland, and has reached the top 10 in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as the top 20 in Norway, Sweden, and the United States. It was also nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. It was certified platinum and gold in 12 countries and continued the booming success P!nk has continuously had over the years.
5. Lorde – Green Light : New Zealand singer songwriter Lorde released her single “Green Light” back in March through Universal Music which she co-wrote and co-produced with the ever popular Jack Antonoff. Lorde uses a “green light” as a street signal metaphor that gives her permission to move on into the future. It has been received with acclaim by music critics, with many labeling it as a break-up anthem. Several sites including NME and the Guardian ranked “Green Light” as one of the best songs of the year. “Green Light” was a huge success for Lorde including hitting the top 5 in Australia, Israel, Scotland and peaking at number 1 in New Zealand. The record was certified platinum and gold in 7 countries.
4. Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill : When Ed Sheeran releases a single there’s no doubt it’s going to top the charts and “Castle On The Hill” didn’t disappoint. The song was released on January 6th off Sheeran’s third studio album and became one of the two lead singles. The great thing about this song is not only is it catchy the lyrics are brilliant as Sheeran tells the story of the people who shaped him and was compared to a U2 track by Billboards Taylor Weatherby. Like most Sheeran singles it smashed the charts hitting number 1 in 3 countries and peaking in the top 5 in 38 countries, whilst it managed to be certified gold and platinum in 14 countries. The lyric video alone for “Castle On The Hill” amassed over 230 million views on Youtube.
3. The Weeknd – Starboy : Yes “Starboy” made it’s debut at the end of 2016 but it made it’s mark on the charts in 2017, by hitting the top in January. It sat at the number 2 position for 8 weeks before peaking at number 1 becoming The Weeknd’s third and Daft Punk’s first number one on the Billboard charts. The song was certified 5 times platinum by the RIAA for 5 million units including streams and sold 1,548,000 copies in the US as of September. The song was praised by music enthusiasts comparing The Weeknd’s music style to that of the late pop great Michael Jackson. Billboard ranked the song at number 4 on it’s top 100 songs.
2. Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back : Canadian singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes back in April released one of the most catchiest pop songs this year when he dropped “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”. The song reached the top 10 in many countries including the US and the UK and hitting number 1 in Canada and South Korea. The song was apprently inspired by the early works of Timbaland and Justin Timberlake and was produced by Teddy Geiger. This is easily my second favorite song of the year and has proven it’s worth by selling well over 2 million copies in the US alone.
1. Lauv – I Like Me Better : The number one spot of this top 20 belongs to none other then Lauv, one half of the popular production team the Cheat Codes. Already owning one song on these charts, Lauv broke away from the group to make a solo name for himself, and this song no matter how many times played on the radio or on tv never gets old. It was the first single released off Lauv’s sophomore EP “Lauv” and was certified gold and platinum in 6 countries. While chart wise it didn’t have the same accomplishments as the rest of the tracks on this chart, for me it excelled everywhere else. From it’s brilliant songwriting and impeccable pop productions it became one of the most played radio songs. Not only has this single set Lauv up for a great solo career it’s also set him up for a prosperous break out year in 2018.