There is no single song that defines We live in an age in which music is more accessible and easier to make than ever before.
A kid with a computer could become the most popular artist in the country over night. This is a time when Spotify averages 13, new songs every month. Instead, we bring you 55 songs from —unranked—that provide a cross section of the music that commanded the charts, pushed the boundaries of genre, and captured the political and cultural zeitgeist of You can also listen to the playlist on Spotify. That album marked the moment when the young Odd Future-affiliated rapper started to find his own identity.
He had already defined himself as a brilliant, versatile lyricist, but his sound was still something majorly in the works. Earl is very much back. And while it might seem bizarre for a young rapper to focus on a dying medium, Staples seems to be commenting for the most part on how we consume pop music. As the sounds of Colombia and Jamaica and Mexico have been been co-opted in American pop and hip-hop music, Rosalia arrives with an album that celebrates the tradition of her own Catalan culture.
The lush production puts the American fascination with global textures into a new perspective, working in a complex mix of swirling hand claps, stomping drums, and organ synth swells. As Leikeli47 has explained , the title of her new album, Acrylic , comes from a defining characteristic of black neighborhoods. When he died shortly after the release of Part One, he had just defined himself as much more than a Soundcloud oddity.
The kids were listening. Lil Peep connected with audiences for his open and honest discussion of his own anxieties and self-destructive addictions. He knows all too well the challenges of anxiety, depression, and life. I think that life is beautiful. After the gossip sites went nuts with her sudden engagement to Davidson after a few weeks of dating in June, the relationship became the biggest entertainment news story of the summer. While Grande kept to herself after the break-up, Davidson used it as comedy material at appearances and on Saturday Night Live.
In response, Grande released this empowering break-up anthem, which is at once a mature response to the tabloid drama and an affirmation of her own strength.
The self-titled debut EP from supergroup boygenius is tragically short. Historically groups like these comprised of different individual artistic personalities and ideas can be a disaster. Both sonically and artistically, however, Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus work impeccably as a unit.
This fluid musical relationship is immediately apparent in the opening track of the EP, in which their swirling harmonies find a perfect balance. No single artist anchors this song; rather each verse, bridge, refrain, and chorus has each vocalist sharing an equal and integral part of the space. The Harlem rapper explains how he grew up too quickly, living a life in which the only options left for him were being involved with drugs and violence and robbery.
On his first proper studio album, Joey Purp arrives to make a statement. After the success of his excellent mixtape iiiDrops, Purp firmly establishes himself on Quarterthing as yet another inventive Chicago rapper. Maybe this is your answer for that, a crack era.
The Reagan administration that niggas are still scared of. Lyrically she can do more in a few lines than many rappers can do with an entire song, creating something more like spoken-word poetry. That combined with the high-brow, jazz influenced beats gives Noname an air of true intellectualism without ever feeling pretentious. Since the death of Lil Peep late last year, hip-hop has become an open place for artists to discuss their fears and struggles with substance abuse.
A squad of some of the best songwriters in the business lent a hand to the creation of the A Star Is Born soundtrack. And it shows, too. Yes, the song is more or less just three hooks and a brief bridge, but, my god those hooks are like crack. No wonder the album immediately skyrocketed to Number One on the charts. This is a song that reaches the full spectrum of music fans—a crossover between country, Americana, and pop that is a perfect musical recipe.
Hell, I heard this played at a hipster backyard party in Brooklyn and at least five people with mustaches started singing along. First teased on an episode of Girls a year and a half ago, "Honey" was the first hint for fans anxiously awaiting a new Robyn album. In late September, the song finally arrived as her second single from her first album in eight years. And the final version was a little bit different than the one first teased so long ago.
This one is a pulsing and boiling club ballad. At five minutes long, it's a patient song that rides a four-to-the-floor beat getting close to erupting but never going full force. And it doesn't need to either. For years, Elton John has been an avid fan of Young Thug, having heard the rapper on Beats 1 in Shortly after that, the two started working on a collaboration, and a song featuring Thug and Elton John's vocals from "Rocketman" has been rumored ever since.
This year, the two finally made good on that promise, releasing the melodic and thoughtful "High" featuring John's iconic hook. It's a flawless melding of two generations of pop stars, one that on paper could have been a disaster, but is genius given the talent of both musicians involved. Instead, his song is a lonely piano ballad. This is heartbreaking, not horrifying. But as the frontman of a band whose music is the stuff of vast cinematic soundscapes, his voice is the perfect companion piece for film.
Four years after her deep and pensive debut, Empress Of returns having honed her song craft between the albums. The sound feels at once familiar and timeless, and also has Lorely Rodriguez singing in Spanish. Robyn has been gone for eight long years, but her music has never been too far away.
Welcome back, Robyn. It could be a broken heart, it could be one of the many atrocities on the news. In just the first verse, they touch on the opioid crisis, systemic racism and fake news.
From there they hit Kanye, Trump, and the death of Lil Peep. These days, a kind of winking hope is the best kind we have. Just two years later, that idea has changed drastically. The Carters are pop music.
The video places black dancers and the Carters in front of white artwork in the Louvre in Paris. Even Pusha said her K. Music projects. The highlight of that release comes on "Rose in Harlem" a song that acts as a biography of her making it out of her home neighborhood. Charli XCX is a genius at producing infectious glittering pop music.
She has the power to turn off every nagging thought in the back of your head and just transport you to some euphoric late night party. She's no angel, Charli admits, but she can learn. Hey, acceptance is the first step. Although let's hope Charli doesn't calm down any time too soon, because we need her to fuel those 4 a. With a bouncing, buoyant beat, Sophie champions the freedom of gender identification with a scrambled reference to Madonna.
It's the perfect example of a modern pop song in —thematically and musically. Along with providing an anthem that this year desperately needs, "Immaterial" demonstrates Sophie's mastery of creating lush, layered pop compositions. On April 25, Meek Mill was released from prison, where he was sentenced two to four years for parole violations. The sentencing set off waves of protests with Jay-Z and Pennsylvania's governor supporting the rapper. He knows first hand how the criminal justice system in America is working against young black men.
And on "Stay Woke," his first new track since being released, he uses his moment to carefully outline the horrors of mass incarceration. The surgical summer officially began on May 29, A decade-long beef sizzling in the subtext of hip-hop, exploded into the most vicious diss track in years with Pusha T's "The Story of Adidon. Drake's response to Pusha's "Infrared" was good, but "The Story of Adidon" took this feud to a mythical status. There's possibly never been a diss track as rhetorically sound, calculated, and damaging as what Pusha wrote Drake was even forced to issue an explanation of the questionable album art.
This ranks among the greatest diss tracks in rap history, and one of the most game-changing songs of the year. Music, movies, TV, unmade cartoons, writing—the list of his talents goes on and on. Taking cues from Ocean's masterpiece, "Purity" is anchored by a gentle, bubbling guitar. Like the geological formation, Mitski's "Geyser" is an eruption that you might miss if you look away. At a brief two and a half minutes, the first single off Be the Cowboy doesn't leaves you wanting more, but it also doesn't feel incomplete.
Somehow she packs a transformative linear build into a short amount of time. It's a concise and beautiful statement on passion and sacrifice. Beach House has been one of the most consistent indie bands of the s, steadily releasing music that sounds like it should be played at a very sad and very cool prom.
And "Drunk in LA" might be Beach House at its most pristine—a lonely, patient meditation on empty high school hallways, drunken nights, and dead-end dreams. Like much of Beach House's music, the track is hypnotic, putting the listener into a wistful trance. Drake is having a hell of a year. We all knew—or know—that person. The one who breaks hearts, the one who got stoned, the one who was so effortlessly cool and was the envy of everyone in school. Effortless relatable and delightfully honest, Soccer Mommy can make our deepest self-doubts seem so much more universal.
And this British pop duo brings a sound that is capable of providing some variation to Top 40 radio stations. While best known for her thoughtful slacker rock, Courtney Barnett often switches it up with a few more somber tracks on each album.