Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 4th 2019
2017 wasn't as bad as they say
I recently put up an article about the songs of 2018 that I liked. While I did not list as many songs as I did for the year 1981 or the year 1982, I did find more than enough to make for a fun column. However, one of my regular readers (a mate, yes) emailed me and, well: "Okay I'll give you 2018 had some good (stuff) (…language changed) but I'll bet you couldn't do that for 2017 or 2016. Those years were (crap) (…language changed)."
Now, first and foremost, I was not exposed to a lot of rock music in 2017. Most of what I personally encountered was commercial pop. So, despite my predilection for rock, pop dominates this list. I'm not saying the songs are bad – far from it – just that it's not my usual fare.
Second, I enjoyed more songs in 2017 than 2018, but less albums from the year. I have read some reviews of the year claiming 2017 was the worst year for music since 2016, with which my mate concurs. I actually have to disagree. As you shall see, I did not think this year was bad at all.
Warning! Your mileage may vary.
So, the honourable mentions list to start with: 'Beautiful Trauma' by P!nk; 'Big Enough' by Kirin J Callinan and Alex Cameron feat. Jimmy Barnes and Molly Lewis (a song made by the Jimmy Barnes screaming accompaniment!); 'Bless This Acid House' by Kasabian; 'Come Together' by Gary Clark Jr; 'Coming Home' by Sheppard; 'Dirty Laundry' by All Time Low; 'Galway Girl' by Ed Sheeran; 'Good Old Days by Mackelmore feat. Ke$ha; 'Green Light' by Lorde; 'Hard Times' by Paramore; 'Hold On' by Jon Stevens; 'IDGAF' by Dua Lipa; 'In My World' by Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie; 'Life's About to Get Good' by Shania Twain; 'Mob Rule' by Bad//Dreems; '…Ready For It?' by Taylor Swift (sorry); 'Run' by Foo Fighters; 'Song #3' by Stone Sour; 'Sugar Pie Honey Bunch' by Kid Rock; 'Symphony' by Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson; 'Tears On Fire' Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood; 'The Fighter' by Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood; 'The Highway' by Bob Seger; 'The Man' by The Killers; 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons; ' Walk On Water' by Eminem feat. Beyoncé; 'Wall Of Glass' by Liam Gallagher; 'Want You Back' by Haim; 'You're the Best Thing About Me' by U2.
Now, two that almost made it. 'Delete and Fast Forward' by Willie Nelson is a good ol' fashioned protest song, basically saying America stuffed up in their selection of president, and, damn if it isn't a good track as well! 'Is This The Life We Really Want?' by Roger Waters was a welcome return to form from the frankly magnificent album of the same name.
Now, two other songs. I'm not sure what to do about these cover versions, done for Australia's ABC. Both deserve to be in any list of awesomeness on their own, but I'll put them here. 'Time After Time' by Stella Donnelly
Not sure if it was ever released as a single or on an album, but it was played at the New Year's Eve telecast by this young lady, the Triple-J Unearthed winner (I believe). Magnificent. 'Torn' by Alex Lahey
From the Triple-J Like A Version album of the year, this is simply the best version of this song (and there's been a number of them) and is, again, magnificent.
Okay! To the list proper!
'Castle On The Hill' by Ed Sheeran
In 2017 you could not turn on a commercial radio station or TV pop show without coming across one of the vast number of Ed Sheeran songs released from the very good Divide album. This is my favourite from it, no matter how played to death it was.
'All I Want For Christmas Is You by Polish Club
I've talked about this song before, and it still stands. More than that, it is definitely one of my favourite songs from the year. I could not stand the Mariah Carey version; listening to this, I realise it's just Mariah Carey's singing I don't like. This is the better version. By far.
'I Love You Like A Brother' by Alex Lahey
Yes, second Alex Lahey song, but I didn't set any rules this time, so I can do it, because this is also one of the very best songs of the year. It's not just the singularly awesome lyrics, but the guitar playing and rock feel of it make it more than just a song. The future of Australian music is in safe hands here.
'selfie#theinternetisforever' by Brad Paisley
Yes, a country song. Yes, a protest song. Yes, a great song. Brad Paisley is one of my favourite country singers (I've even talked about his Christmas album!) and this is another great song to add to his list of fine tunes. It is also quite funny and smart, railing against the Internet fascination so prevalent in modern society.
'Stranger's Kiss by Alex Cameron and Angel Olsen
I don't know what it is about this song, but from the first time I heard it I was mesmerised. The two voices, the odd lyrics, the strange story it tells… it's just an amazing blend of everything. I can't explain why I like it – I just do.
'Without You' by Avicii featuring Sandro Cavazza
When Avicii died so young it was a loss to the music world. He was already contributing so much fine music to the arts, it would have been incredible to see where he would have evolved and what he would have created. As it was, what he left behind was really strong, and I love this song, a simple "I want you back" song, made glorious by stirring orchestrations, heartfelt singing and amazing production.
'The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows' by Gang Of Youth
Gang Of Youths released a good album, Go Father In Lightness, but this song was incredible. Its build, its chorus, its really deep and intelligent lyrics… all of it meshed together to form an amazing whole that grabs me. Another song I can't really explain why it grabs me like it does, but it does, and that's all that matters.
'You're In Love With A Psycho' by Kasabian
Yes, I admit, the lyrics dragged me in. Completely. They are smart and funny and literate and everything else, but backed by a fine musicianship, the song as a whole is awesome. From lines you just would not expect in a pop/rock song like "thousand yard stare" to "recites from Charles Bukowski" to a video clip with its little cameos, it is just superb.
'Yodel It!' by Ilinca featuring Alex Florea
Admission time: I'm a sucker for a Eurovision song contest. I will get up at some ungodly hour to watch the live broadcast on SBS and then buy the CD sets. Well, in 2017, this song played and suddenly I have a new favourite Eurovision song, taking over from Bucks Fizz and 'Making Your Mind Up'. The combination of yodelling, pop, back-and-forth duet singing and sheer joy of it all (mixed with poor Alex struggling with his English pronunciation) makes it the perfect example of what Eurovision is all about. I so love this song…
'Not Too Late' by Ricki-Lee
I heard this song before I knew anything about it. Wow! My favourite song of 2017. When I discovered it was by Ricki-Lee Coulter, one of the Young Divas, pop starlet, I couldn't believe it. Who would have thought she could really sing, and then belt out a tune as powerful and impassioned as this one? I don't mind saying my impressions were wrong when confronted with a track as magnificent as this. I love the way they let her voice remain raw, and not autotune it to hell. I love the lyrics. I love the fact the music doesn't overwhelm her frankly incredible voice. This song is brilliant. I'm not sure how it went in the charts, especially as it was a digital download track, but however it did go, it didn't do well enough. This song should have become an Australian classic. No; it is an Australian classic – the rest of Australia just doesn't know it yet.
And there you have it. A year, when you look at the top 10 songs, as good as 2018; when you look at the number of good songs, better in many ways.
Now, I know this list is not going to appeal to everyone, but what did I get wrong? What from my honourable mentions should have been in the main list? What did I forget completely? Comments always welcome!