Keeping with tradition, here’s my disclaimer -
Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of rap. In as much as I love to explore music and try not to confine myself to particular genres/sounds, like my friend Pascal said – art is to be enjoyed, not endured.
Kindly note that the absence of Kendrick Lamar’s widely acclaimed album (DAMN) in this post doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s not a good album. I just don’t do rap. Though I enjoy one or two rap songs, but generally that genre just doesn’t work for me.
2017 saw a lot of albums churned out by big names but then, most were below par. Basically, 2017 in music was the year for the debut albums. These saved the year; new artists with fresh sounds.
Major downside of 2017 was the increasing trend of rock bands crossing over to pop. Pop songs are mostly the chart toppers, but seeing my favourite rock bands sell out crossover was saddening.
Here are my top 10 albums of 2017 starting from number 10:
10. So good by Zara Larsson
For a guy who isn’t a huge fan of pop genre, having this album on my list is huge. This is a proper Pop album. It’s very different from a typical pop album characterized with shallow lyrics. This one ticks all the boxes of a well-produced and properly written album. Zara is not just some pop artist with assisted vocals over groovy beats, but a true singer who can actually sing with remarkable vocals.
Personal Favourite Track – Funeral
9. Tell me you love me by Demi Lovato
Listening to this album, I could feel Demi Lovato’s musical growth. This album shows she has found her voice and knows exactly just what she is about. The songs on the album flow easily without her characteristic shouting as in her previous albums. She sang like she had nothing to prove, knowing her vocals indeed are great. This is no more the Disney girl we knew, this is Demi Lovato – a woman in charge of her craft.
Personal Favourite Track – Hitchhiker
8. One more light by Linkin Park
This was one of the most controversial albums of the year. So many persons felt betrayed by the surprise switch over to pop by the band. Personally, I felt pained. I mean, if Linkin Park could go pop, then how bleak could the future of Rock music be?
Critics went hard on this album mostly ‘cus they saw it as a sell-out. Well, for me the album worked and they were one of the few bands that got it right with their experimentation. One more light is a sound pop album with less noise and lyrics that spoke volumes. If only we knew it was indeed a cry for help by Chester, especially the track Heavy.
R.I.P Chester Bennington, your voice helped millions of teens through hard times.
Personal Favourite Track - One more light
7. Feel Something by Jaymes Young
When you hear a sound different from what’s out there…that refreshing feeling that washes over you. I felt that the first time I played this album. The genre is alternative rock/indie pop rock. This was one of the albums I played back to back for weeks. Feel something is his debut album, though he had earlier released an EP. The clarity of his voice over thick drums is something worth listening to. Lyrical content on point also.
Personal Favourite Track – Stone
6. Meaning of Life by Kelly Clarkson
When she announced this album I was skeptical about it for two reason; her last album wasn’t as strong as her earlier works and she said this was the album she always wanted to make. When artists make this statement, most times they come out with a bore e.g – Joanne by Lady Gaga.
Kelly has since drifted from rock genre which she started with. Though it was a steady move not as drastic as most bands these days. If you follow her albums you’ll notice she became less rocky with each album.
Meaning of life turned out to be so great that even the intro track is excellent stuff! I was blown away honestly. Her vocals were so strong and bold, like she found this confident space within her and just let go.
The tracks of the album are a mixture of different genres and she nailed every genre effortlessly. Kelly snapped on this album and gave us one of the best vocal albums we’ve heard in a while.
Personal Favourite Track – Move you
5. Safe Haven – Ruth B!
About 5:00am one beautiful day, a friend – Ose, sent me a song - Mixed signals by Ruth B! On first listen, I knew I had to get the full album. Like what!! Who the hell is Ruth B! Her vocals! The way her voice flows effortlessly over minimal instruments helps drive the weight of her lyrics into your senses. I sent the song to Lynda and she replied with ‘I can’t be happy listening to this’.
That’s just how great her ballads are that they can break you emotionally. The album also has up-tempo tracks as well, giving a balance on the album. What stands out throughout the album is the uniqueness of her sound and her deep lyrical brilliance. Yea, it’s also a debut album from her.
Personal Favourite Track – If this is love
4.Memories…do not open – The Chainsmokers
This is reminisce of Charli Puth’s 2016 Nine Track Mind album that was heavily panned by critics. The critics didn’t love this one at all. It was the lowest reviewed album of 2017 on Metacritic with a score of 43/100.
Oh well…despite the negative reviews it was commercially successful and boasts of two top charting singles.
Not exactly a standout album yeah, feels very safe and unstretched but the songs are easy to listen to and the entire album makes for a good sing along. Every track on the album is single worthy, unlike most Pop albums that have one or two radio friendly songs with lots of fillers on the album.
Personal Favourite Track – Something just like that (ft Coldplay)
3. Human by Rag and Bone Man
First track I heard off of the album was Grace. Hearing his baritone voice sent shivers over me and I knew this was one album I needed to have. I ended up playing this album all through first quarter of 2017.
This is his debut album and he did excellently well with the lyrical content and sound. Personally, this is my breakthrough album of 2017. Hearing Grace used as soundtrack on Season 13 of Grey’s Anatomy made the series complete.
In the age where EDM and Pop/hip hop has taken over the airwaves, it’s refreshing to hear someone bring a fresh breath to the table. Human is of soul/blues genre. The album reminds one of what real music is.
Personal Favourite Track – Grace
2. American Teen by Khalid
I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned that 2017 was saved by debut albums. This was another proof of that. The uniqueness of Khalid’s sound, the way he sings easily and the almost perfect arrangement of the tracks on the album. 15 tracks and I’m always left wanting more when the album plays out.
Listening to the album, you can hear his confidence. It is commendable that someone that young on his first album would be true to himself and dare to release a sound outside the corporate pop genre. So young, but on his debut album he knows just what he wants to deliver.
Listening to the album is like a journey you are taking with him, going easy reminiscing your teenage puppy love years as each feel good track easily flows to the next. Till date, I still play this album back to back. Definitely the best debut album of the year, argue with the 5 Grammy nominations he has (though the Grammys is shit these days anyway).
Personal Favourite Track – Shot down
1. The thrill of it all – Sam Smith
2017 was far gone, some good albums already released but something still felt missing. I wasn’t satisfied and I felt this emptiness, like there was this gap within. I hadn’t found that album to light a spark in me. Then came The thrill of it all and my year was made. Definitely worth the wait. Being playing this album endlessly for three months now and I’m still thrilled with each listen.
When you hear the name Sam Smith, you think falsetto, heart wrenching ballads, back up church choir. What can be heard clearly on this album is Sam’s growth. He’s finally found his footing and confidence. He is not scared of pleasing who ever, but baring his all just as he feels it.
The message on each song is clear and not open ended like his previous album. It’s so clear who each song is directed to. Good Lord! Have you listened to the track titled Him? So much truth and vulnerability in this album. Sam wears his crown as the king of falsetto and best male vocalist perfectly well on this album.
Personal Favourite Track – Midnight train
Bonus albums that did it for me in 2017
1. Something to tell by Haim
2. Places by Lea Michele
3. Beautiful trauma by P!nk
Disappointments of 2017
1. Freedom child by The Script
2. Witness by Katy Perry