Dua - I think I felt the same way, but it's more because we already had heard most of the album and had known the songs for so long. We only got a handful of new songs, most of which weren't quite as good as the ones we had already gotten. But! If you step back and look at it as a package, you realise it's a pretty good album. Her husky vocal definitely elevates it, some of the songs on here would go nowhere if sung by a basic bish like Maggie Lindeman or something.
Kesha - It's a good comeback album, I agree that it's her right where she would like to be. Although not listing 'Learn to Let Go' as a highlight is a crime and I'm activating a temp ban on your account right now, ok?
Taylor - It's not as good as '1989' that's for sure, but it definitely is one of the best albums of the year.
Karin Dreijer Andersson, both as a solo artist under the pseudonym of Fever Ray and as part of The Knife, is known for taking extended breaks. Between The Knife's third and fourth albums (Silent Shout and Shaking the Habitual) seven years passed, from 2006 to 2013; similarly, between Fever Ray's solo debut in 2009 and her sophomore album, there are eight long years. The world has changed a lot in the meantime, and both The Knife's final album and Fever Ray's Plunge reflect that change, in their more socially-involved perspective. However, unlike Shaking the Habitual, Plunge is bright, colourful, open, catchy, while still keeping a political focus, which comes across greatly in the magnificent dance tunes of the album. It's like Fever Ray found a more effective way of conveying her feminist and queer ideas, without having to resort to 10+ minutes long ouvres that were the bulk of The Knife's Shaking the Habitual. The change is so welcome, and I hope this is not the last we see of Andersson for another decade.
Must listen: Wanna Sip, Mustn't Hurry, IDK About You, This Country, Plunge, To the Moon and Back, Mama's Hand
Ranking my top 6 was extremely difficult, and I even swapped a couple of positions after starting this year-end chart. That is because I think all the albums from now on are absolutely exceptional, and Kelela's debut is one of them. After catching my ear in 2015 with her Hallucinogen EP, she confirmed her place as one of the emerging stars of Alt-R&B with Take Me Apart, an album as modern and cutting-edge as it is classic. To some extent, it calls back to the 90s with some melodies and singing style; on the other hand, the song structures and the production are idiosyncratic, shifting towards unexplored territories for R&B. The lyrical content is sexy and dark at the same time, and it reminds me of Janet's masterpiece The Velvet Rope, clearly an inspiration for this record. Take Me Apart is an absolutely unique debut as well as a testament to Kelela's incredible talent, one I hope I will be able to hear more from in the future.
Must listen: Waitin, Take Me Apart, Better, LMK, Truth or Dare, Blue Light, Bluff, Turn to Dust
When I heard Jamie xx' debut solo album in 2015, I thought it was better than anything The xx had released up to that point. A mix of electronica, dance and techno beats, the album heavily influenced the band's third album too. Instead of just rock music, I See You is a mix of genres, perfectly conveying where The xx are now. The album offers rock ballads (Performance, I Dare You), dance numbers (On Hold), songs heavily influenced by electronica, where synthesizers take the place of guitars and pianos (A Violent Noise, Replica), and even R&B-influenced cuts (Lips). The lyrical content seems brighter compared to their previous albums, even when they sing about death and break-ups: it's the sign of a newfound clarity, of three people that can see things for what they are (perhaps explaining the title I See You), analysing feelings without resorting to cringeworthy clichés. I See You is nothing short of a triumph, and a new beginning for the band.
Must listen: Say Something Loving, Lips, A Violent Noise, Performance, Replica, Brave for You, On Hold, Test Me
Thank you for all your comments, unfortunately I haven't had time to catch up with them! I am just pulling through to finish this top 20, but work is keeping me quite busy I am glad y'all can find something for your taste
The second Charli XCX mixtape of 2017 storms in my top 5, after only one month since its release (a month spent without listening to barely anything else). Pop 2 is a celebration of all things Charli: the inescapable pop melodies (Out of My Head, Unlock It), the experimentation (I Got It, Femmebot), dream-pop ballads (Lucky, Track 10), all united by the omnipresent use of autotune. The mixtape also shows an impressively long list of collaborators, including SOPHIE, Carly Rae Jepsen, Brooke Candy, cupcakKe, Pabllo Vittar, Mykki Blanco and MØ: it almost sounds like the product of team work, where Charli is the A&R. It might be less easy-listening than Sucker and Number 1 Angel, but it's a much more rewarding listen once you get used to it, and pretty reminiscent of her immaculate debut True Romance. Pop 2, much like Björk, strives to express true, real feelings in the 21st century, the era of dating apps, internet, all involving technology, finding the perfect balance between the two. The conflict results in a lyrical content often euphoric and grandiose, but always tinged with hovering melancholy.
Must listen: Backseat (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen, Out of My Head (feat. Tove Lo & ALMA), Tears (feat. Caroline Polachek), I Got It (feat. Brooke Candy, cupcakKe & Pabllo Vittar, Femmebot (feat. Dorian Electra and Mykki Blanco), Unlock It (feat. Kim Petras & Jay Park), Porsche (feat. MØ)
This album being so high on my list might leave some people skeptical, as it was generally not well received by Björk's listeners and casual fans. However, I truly think that Utopia is riding the wave of new-found creativity that began with the release of Vulnicura, two years ago. Both albums were produced by Björk herself and Arca, who has proved to be the perfect match for the Icelandic queen. Her music has evolved and become more airy, embracing new topics and concepts and mixing them with instrumentations that don't necessarily go hand in hand. Utopia, for instance, is mostly characterised by an organic sound (as opposed to the heavy electronics you would expect from Arca) created by a flute orchestra and various strings, which severely contrasts with the lyrical content: in the lyrics, Björk tries to build a future Utopia of digital love, all-embracing feminism, and environmentalism. The album is primal yet modern, soft yet hard. It's from the contrasts that Björk draws beauty, a beauty that you can only catch with multiple, repeated, attentive listens of the album. But once you do, there is no going back from Utopia.
Must listen: Arisen My Senses, Blissing Me, The Gate, Utopia, Features Creatures, Losss, Tabula Rasa, Saint, Future Forever
If there's one album that had longevity for me in 2017, that was Lorde's Melodrama. I have been a fan since she debuted with Royals, but she really raised the bar with her sophomore album: Melodrama is the perfect example of how to make a record that is both instantly catchy and artistic. Taylor might have sold 10x than her, but Lorde is the true winner here. By taking pages from Kate Bush' book, Lorde delivered an album that reminisces on her just-finished teenage years, finding the right way to describe in lyrics what is arguably the most complex period of human existence. The songs mostly start from a breakup, but are told from the perspective of a girl who is willing to continue to love, to have her heart broken, but next time with the experience and maturity to deal with it. It's something that most of all have felt in their lives: while the lyrics are very detailed, sometimes even abstract and full of enigmatic metaphors, the experiences that she sings about are universal, and that is the main strength of the album and the reason why it resonates so much with me.
Must listen: Green Light, Sober, Homemade Dynamite, The Louvre, Liability, Sober II (Melodrama), Writer in the Dark, Liability (Reprise), Perfect Places
Now I will recap my most listened albums of 2017. The order differs quite a bit from my actual chart, so it is nice to point that out.
#1 my yet-to-be revealed #1 (3XP) #2 Taylor Swift - reputation (2XP) #3 Lorde - Melodrama (2XP) #4 Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life (2XP) #5 Björk - Utopia (2XP) #6 The xx - I See You (P) #7 Charli XCX - Pop 2 (P) #8 Kelela - Take Me Apart (P) #9 Kesha - Rainbow (P) #10 RuPaul - Essential Vol. 2 (P) #11 Fever Ray - Plunge (P) #12 Dua Lipa - Dua Lipa (P) #13 Tove Lo - Blue Lips (G) #14 Susanne Sundfør - Music for People in Trouble (G) #15 SZA - CTRL (G) #16 Katy Perry - Witness (G) #17 Sevdaliza - ISON (G) #18 Charli XCX - Number 1 Angel #19 Perfume Genius - No Shape #20 St. Vincent - Masseduction #21 Goldfrapp - Silver Eye #22 Muna - About U #23 Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens #24 Miguel - War & Leisure #25 Hercules and Love Affair - Omnion