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50. Big Boi “Kill Jill (feat. Killer Mike & Jeezy)”
Big Boi’s album was all over the place, “Kill Jill” serves as an example of that, backed by a Japanese voice sampler, that turns epic rather than cheesy thanks to an impressive guest verse by Killer Mike and chorus by Jeezy.
49. From Planetarium “Mercury”
48. Nana Grizol “Bright Cloud”
47. Grace VanderWaal “I Don’t Know My Name”
I discovered this twee acoustic track thanks to Apple Music’s curated “New Music” playlist. I enjoyed it and kept listening to it over a couple of months. One day I decided to look up Grace VanderWaal and discovered that not only did she rise to fame thanks to America’s Got Talent, but that she is only 13 years old. There’s a surprising gravitas here, along with its catchy melody.
46. Calvin Harris “Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)”
Katy Perry’s chorus is the highlight of Harris’ album which brought a lot of summer fun this year.
45. Gordi “All the Light We Cannot See”
Gordi makes some really catchy indie pop, “All the Light We Cannot See” was a standout, offering an epic chorus akin to the very best work of Florence + the Machine (whom I love).
44. 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin’ “Ghostface Killers (feat. Travis Scott)”
Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin’ surprise released Without Warning the day after Halloween, it was great, but also a missed opportunity considering it’s a perfect album for the holiday. The album’s opener, “Ghostface Killers”, sets the tone brilliantly, with the second best gong usage in a song produced by Metro Boomin’ and featuring Offest of the year (the best is coming later). Boomin’s producer tag is slowed down, leading into Offset’s verses which are then brilliantly complemented by 21 Savage’s lethargic meter (I don’t think there’s another person this side of Kendrick Lamar that I enjoy guesting on songs). It’s an epic and haunting track.
43. Sorority Noise “No Halo”
42. Diet Cig “Maid of the Mist”
Diet Cig is both colorful and raw, you’ll find yourself smiling and chanting along with adrenaline to Alex Luciano’s witty and aggressive lyrics.
41. The Shins “Name For You”
The Shins can still craft quite the indie rock gem, “Name For You” is a delightful transportation back to when we all thought Zach Braff could change our lives.
40. Lil Uzi Vert “XO TOUR Llif3”
The story of this song, which says that Uzi Vert haphazardly released it on Soundcloud so that he could beat whomever had found his phone that he lost while stage diving, is brilliant enough to get it into the top 50 alone–I mean it’s got typos in it and became a legit radio hit this year. Uzi Vert was the most prominent example of the emo/goth/hiphop movement, which was surprising considering he started the year as the guy with the verse nobody liked on “Bad and Boujee” (let the record state that I like that verse). “XO TOUR Llif3” is great.
39. Miya Folick “Give it to Me”
This song escalates further and further beyond anywhere than you would ever expect it to, Folick is a powerhouse.
38. Nana Grizol “Nightlights II”
90s indie rock is still relevant (more on this in the best albums list).
37. No Thank You “Teeter”
36. Big Thief “Mythological Beauty”
35. Algiers “The Underside of Power”
34. Manchester Orchestra “The Gold”
One of my favorite high school bands released another solid record into their discography, “The Gold” features the perfect melodies of singer Andy Hull, rising and falling to a more tempered musical backing than the band’s last couple of albums.
33. Rapsody “Power (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Lance Skiiwalker)
32. DJ Khaled “I’m the One (feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne)”
This was the year of the collaboration, with albums released by multiple artists, and pop artists featuring slews of artists in the zeitgeist. Khaled nailed this combo here, a Bieber melody with a guest spot from the year’s hottest rap group (Migos’ Quavo), and an ever-sincere and perfect Chance the Rapper (oh and also Lil Wayne).
31. A$AP Ferg “Trap and a Dream (feat. Meek Mill)”
Just listen to how hard A$AP Ferg goes in that first verse.
30. Drake “Passionfruit”
Drake sure can craft a pop rap song.
29. Lomelda “Nervous Driver”
Such a subtly beautiful lo-fi track.
28. Cloud Nothings “Internal World”
27. Marika Hackman “My Lover Cindy”
26. Lil Uzi Vert “The Way Life Goes (feat. Oh Wonder)”