The 10 best songs of 2017

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Published December 19, 2017

10. “Walking Away,” Haim

The Haim sisters were ubiquitous in 2013, around the release of their debut full-length, Days Are Gone. So for them to return four years later with material that advanced their manic pixie dream pop seemed nigh impossible. But they did it with “Walking Away,” a song so expertly crafted that the intonations of the lyrics (“Walkin’ a-way / walkin’ a-way”)—which fall just after the beat with which they’re intended to match—create an aural stew that’s both discordant and refreshing at the same time. — Trey Taylor

9. “Woman,” Harry Styles

While his former One Direction bandmates wander in the wilderness of limp EDM (Liam) and sterile acoustic strumming (Niall), Styles’s self-titled debut solo album came with a blessedly hammy rockstar strut. He starts living up to his paisley suit aesthetic on this spacey anthem, complete with purple guitar licks and wonky synths. It may not have been a massive hit, but the song is a future karaoke classic—just supply your own hip thrusts. — Ezra Marcus

8. “Bad Liar,” Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez shines on this Talking Heads-sampling anthem with a powerful message about resisting temptation. Her breathy vocal offers no obstacle to the song’s status as a sing-along anthem; she’s even been credited as spearheading the genre of whisperpop. The song demonstrates how a sultry melody and a funky bass-line can be more powerful than a sky-scraping vocal performance. — Austen Tosone

7. “Altadena,” Kelela

Come-to-bed crescendos run throughout this slow jam, the final track on Kelela’s LMK.“There’s a place for everyone / Let me remind you,” she sings. In an interview with Genius,the alt-R&B star describes “Altadena” as a message of empowerment for black women who are “on their grind and operating in spaces where they’re not appreciated.” Perhaps a deeper cut than the more obvious choices on the critically praised album, “Altadena” doubles as a bedroom ballad and a rallying cry of empowerment. — Trey Taylor

6. “Another Weekend,” Ariel Pink

This woozy dispatch from rock’s laziest lothario, who sounds like he can barely get out of bed—“Log me in and out of my life” he purrs—is a relatable mantra for a world with new horrors lurking on every breaking news alert. This year was an endless hangover; Pink’s drippy guitars and whispered melodies provided a cool washcloth to drape over your mind. Anhedonia never felt so good. — Ezra Marcus

5. “Lens,” Frank Ocean

If there’s one person on the planet who doesn’t need an auto-tuned assist, it’s probably Frank Ocean. Still, on this surprise track, which the mercurial singer debuted on his blonded RADIO show back in April, Ocean beams his already otherworldly voice through the processor and launches it into a galaxy far, far away. The song is vintage Ocean: transparent, confessional, and deeply personal, with lyrics about ex-lovers, fame, nights out, and cars. The song’s title refers to the eyes that are always on him. While it’s true that the reclusive singer is constantly being watched, he’s definitely being heard, too. — Ben Barna

4. “Disco Tits,” Tove Lo

Swedish pop singer Tove Lo released this jolt of energy in early September, just in time to conquer end-of-summer dance floors. Calling a song “Disco Tits” is an act of carnal defiance; where most of her peers stick to coy metaphor, this Scandinavian star lets it all hang out (one of her signature on-stage moves is flashing her, ahem, disco tits). Setting unbridled raunch to cutting-edge beats is an ideal recipe for a successful pop song in 2017. “I don’t know how to dial it back,” she sings. Good—that’s the last thing anyone would want her to do. — Trey Taylor

3. “Ric Flair Drip,” Metro Boomin feat. Offset

Two Atlanta generals reduce rap’s dominant mode—minor chords, major lifestyle signifiers, and aerodynamic ad-libs (whew!)—down to a skeletal chassis. Offset doesn’t just eulogize luxury vehicles; he embodies one, dancing over Metro Boomin’s keys and claps like a Rolls-Royce Wraith dodging raindrops on the interstate. The year’s best soundtrack for unsafe driving. — Ezra Marcus

2. “Homemade Dynamite,” Lorde

Lorde makes a late-night rendezvous at a club sound like poetry. The singer-songwriter crafts her own language for the internal explosions we feel while experiencing undeniable chemistry. She deftly turns cliches on their head—“Let’s let things come out of the woodwork / I’ll give you my best side / Tell you all my best lies,” she croons. Nobody else in pop handles this familiar terrain with such crackling originality. — Austen Tosone

1. “Boys,” Charli XCX

Charli XCX’s thirst trap “Boys” captures the late-night-Grindr vibe perfectly. In the accompanying video, perhaps as important as the song itself, a cascade of hunky musicians (Joe Jonas! Diplo! Stormzy!) coalesce in a hot, hot soup of male beauty. Looks aside, XCX maintains her status as the most underrated pop star this side of 2014. Built around a Super Mario coin sound effect, “Boys” has more replay value than your favorite video game, and is underpinned with an innocent message anyone with a pulse can relate to. — Trey Taylor