60 – Location by Khalid
We are all in need of more communication and physical affection. At least, that’s what Khalid drives at in “Location”. The theme is not new in pop music. It shares the same truth 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake spoke of in “Ayo Technology”. But Khalid relied solely on his voice. It may be true that technology has not always been good for relationships. And honestly, the same can be said about music.
59 – Heatstroke by Calvin Harris featuring Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams and Young Thug
While most DJs are making beats strong enough to blow your heart out, Calvin Harris took the creative decision to relax and soothe our senses. “Heatstroke” is for the party animal in us that wants to retire for a second, lie by the beach and have a tropical drink. We knew Pharrell would be perfect for this track. But even Ariana held back her big voice and opted to take a break. It was refreshing and magical.
58 – Boys by Charli XCX
Yes, music can be thought provoking. But occasionally, it can also be fun. And that just means music can center on pleasure and no artist should feel guilty making them. The song is simple enough that it invites the playful side in our DNA. “Boys” is the anthem to our less restrained selves and more in tune with our worldly desires. And the music video – not bad at all.
57 – Say Something Loving by The XX
I’ll get a lot of flak for saying this but 2017 was the first time I’ve heard of The XX or their music. Better late than never, I guess? So, “Say Something Loving” is the last thing you’ll hear me say or the feeling that I want to publicly be associated with. Just the thought of being at someone’s mercy makes me cringe. But the way its construction and delivery makes the plea shift from pathetic to romantic and obsessive to intuitive.
56 – What Lovers Do by Maroon 5 featuring SZA
While critics have been talking about SZA since she made waves in the R&B circuit in early 2017, I’ve only heard of her thanks to Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do”. This time, I think the group got it right. While Kendrick Lamar, Christina Aguilera, Future and Wiz Khalifa all had parts that could’ve been removed from Maroon 5 singles, SZA’s role was integral in making the song memorable. Their harmonies and voices blended well and felt natural instead of artificial.
55 – Lost in Your Light by Dua Lipa featuring Miguel
As the newest breakout star of 2017, Dua Lipa has little street cred to go by. And I’ve got to give her props for collaborating with Miguel. Not only because he lies in between the commercial and the critical. But because his voice infuses soul and flavor to everything he sings on. There is nothing groundbreaking about the track. It’s simply two great artists joining forces and sounding great on an upbeat and feel good tempo.
54 – Waterfall by Stargate featuring Pink and Sia
With many pairings, you just know they are a match made in heaven. I never thought of Pink and Sia making sense together. But in hindsight, now that they have collaborated, it’s perfect. They have two of the most emotionally charged voices in the industry. It’s a battle round waiting to happen in The Voice. Unfortunately for Stargate, no one will remember them in this track.
53 – Malibu by Miley Cyrus
After Miley Cyrus pushed boundaries with “Wrecking Ball”, and her stint with Robin Thicke at the VMAs, you’d imagine she’d continue to shock audiences and go into unchartered territory. But just like Lady Gaga and Madonna before her, she changed gears and went in the completely opposite direction. Her transformation has its charm. But it’s ultimately her fragility and vulnerability laid out in “Malibu” that captivated our hearts.
52 – No Vacancy by OneRepublic
OneRepublic decided they will relieve themselves of the pressure and effort expected of a normal album release. They should’ve promoted Oh My My and toured in support of it. Instead, they decided to take a break and release a single not from the album within a year of the latter’s release. The back story makes for a good “fuck this world” theme. The fast-paced beat and Ryan’s vocals, where he is almost out of breath, sounds aggressive. But at its core, “No Vacancy” is about romance and the completion it brings anyone.
51 – Back to You by Louis Tomlinson featuring Bebe Rexha
Am I the only one surprised that all members of One Direction had successful solo careers? That seems premature considering most of them are a single album in. But they’ve all managed to break out one way or another. Creatively, I feel Liam Payne made the worst decision. Louis Tomlinson took a route less traditional. Or is it just me giving him credit for a sound I feel One Direction never would have made?