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Spin or Bin Music Writers' Picks: Top 10 Best Singles of 2017

By  December 25, 2017

Another entry for listicle season is here! This time round, we've gathered some truly outstanding singles of 2017, while making sure our selections are sufficiently diverse. Let's cut to the chase- here are our top 10 picks:

 

10. Dua Lip - New Rules

Post-breakup complications are candidly dissected in this tropical hit, nominated by fellow writer Letazia. When Dua Lipa declares her ‘new rules’ in the standout pre-chorus, the ominous synth melody prods at her projected confidence, betraying her underlying disquietude. The chill-out drop is a respite that is only momentary, for she admits in the verses that she has yet to learn. New Rules isn’t an Aunt Agony column imparting wisdom, it’s a song that deeply empathizes with the struggle, while finding strength in it.

 

9. Lorde - Perfect Places

I used to overlook this track for not being as musically adventurous as its Melodrama counterparts, but over time, I fell in love with the song’s unpolished beauty, the way it bares a burning malaise too raw and real. Lorde astutely depicts what it means to oscillate between self-denial and self-loathing, to feel hopelessly lost in attempts to escape it all, as every reiteration of the deceptively modest phrase ‘perfect places’ stings sharper than before. 'Green Light' may be a more compelling showcase of nontraditional pop songcraft, but 'Perfect Places' sticks harder, and cuts deeper. 

 

8. Selena Gomez - Bad Liar

Fascinating how the bassline from a classic Talking Heads hit four decades back found home again in a Selena Gomez song- the original’s sinister tension is reinterpreted as a game of coy flirtations with a crush. The minimalistic production complements her introverted persona’s stream-of-consciousness musings- a stylistic direction that reconciles her technical vocal shortcomings perfectly. I'd take this over her unconvincing attempts at seductive crooning (which resurfaced in her subsequent single... never mind) anytime.

 

 7. LOONA 1/3 - Sonatine

This unconventional K-pop ballad may be easily overlooked in favor of the genre’s more upbeat offerings, but a closer listening unveils the beauty of its arrangement- unique harmonies, a tango interpolation, orchestral flourishes that unfold the song layer by layer, like doors opening into unknown worlds. The chorus’ chord progression never fully resolves itself, kindling a sense of distance and longing, though its major key ending glimmers with hope. In search of the elusive, the girls come close, yet not quite there. 

 

6. Haim - Little of Your Love

“This single made up for the lack of overall appeal for Haim’s latest record.” Writer Teejay wrote, “There might only be a few bangers from the album, but this is certainly one of them. It’s propelling melody complements Haim’s percussive voices so well it makes you want to buy your own disco ball (which I did) - definitely one of the most jammable singles released this year.” It's evidence that Haim is indeed at their best when they are serving infectious power hooks.

 

5. Mondo Grosso - Labyrinth 

Feathery vocals dance atop a beat that recalls Daft Punk’s rawer, more sentimental work. Mondo Grosso makes an incredible comeback after more than a decade with this celestial deep house gem, which features vocalist Hikari Mitsushima asking her lover to be immersed in the moment. At the same time, hesitation lingers in her delivery, like a body dipping into the waters. Radiating with warmth, Labyrinth captures romance in its silent thrills and tension. 

 

4. Harry Styles - Sign of the Times

Harry Styles’ immense power ballad was fellow writer Donwei’s pick of 2017: “After the announcement of One Direction's hiatus and months of anticipation for the his solo debut, Harry could not have released a better single. Sign of the Times single-handedly shut the naysayers up and prove that he is more than just a pretty face. The beauty of this track lies in its repetition, that oddly doesn't feel dreary but instead grows onto you with each listen.”

 

3. Kendrick Lamar - DNA

I don’t know why HUMBLE. is the standard critic's pick when 1) its rhymes are average for Kendrick standards 2) its beat is (below) average for Mike WiLL Made-It standards 3) DNA. exists. Kendrick delivers sharp braggadocio while critiquing systematic racism over a heavy bass and distorted guitar, but the defining moment truly arrives at the beat switch- a brilliant sardonic sample of FOX news, warped into abrasive, borderline claustrophobic sonics, which the rapper absolutely tears at without any mercy.

 

2. Rina Sawayama - Alterlife

In this busy track about “finding yourself through trying to become other people”, as described by the British singer herself, classic R&B melodies are bent and repurposed into an euphoric futuristic anthem, propelled by a retro video game guitar line. The production is incredibly dense and teeming with all sorts of influences from industrial to 80s glam metal, but the real magic lies in how cohesively everything falls into place. It's a musical window into an alternate cyberpunk universe, where people race through neon-saturated cityscapes into the night.

 

1. Lil Uzi Vert - XO TOUR Llif3

Soundcloud rap is the new emo, and XO Tour Llif3 is the crowning masterpiece of the genre. It does not make for a comfortable listening experience: it reeks of nihilism, destruction and manic episodes, via a murky beat that evokes a twisted kind of high. The first line, “I don’t really care if you cry”, is delivered with a chilling apathy, and the indifference drags on throughout the song before it all collapses with Uzi’s sudden, almost incoherent cries for help. Yet those cries feel oddly distant at the same time, as if they came from a broken, corroded being. It's not just another #edgy song, and neither is it trying to be. This is genuine pain distilled into a devastating blow of a track, a powerful release that will go down as a classic in years to come.

 

 

Photo Credit: Megan Eagles, Erskine Records Ltd, Getty / Raymond Hall


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