Songs We Loved in 2017 — Our Six Pack Playlist
When the news is too much and tomorrow is unclear, there’s music. Just the way it’s always been. Here are our favorites.
We may find ourselves on the precipice of another great musical wave. That’s usually what happens when reality becomes less the environment musicians inhabit, and more the Rubik’s cube they need to propose a solution for.
The ‘60’s and ‘70’s offered a singer-songwriter explosion, while the early 2000’s gave way to an angrier breed of rap and rock. What lays ahead remains to be seen, but its fair to say 2017 was fertile ground for musicians of all eras and genres.
Here are the songs we couldn’t get enough of this year: the 2017 Six Pack Playlist.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
We love old-guy rock. We love anyone in the Springsteen musical family tree. We love The Sopranos. So you better believe we love Steven Van Zandt.
In 2017, Little Steven released his first solo album in over two decades, Soulfire. The title track feels like the image you’d conjure up just hearing the word. A rapid opening guitar riff and lyrics that testify reintroduce the world to the longtime E Street Band consigliere.
The entire album is terrific, including a particularly strong James Brown cover, and his live shows were critically acclaimed, complete with a 13-piece band.
Want You Back
Haim snuck up on us. Their first album solidified them as one of those bands that you hear on the radio, but you don’t expect to find yourself seeking out at your desk on Tuesday afternoon.
Then they released Something to Tell You — their sophomore album — just in time for every summer party you attended this year. “Want You Back” became a go-to for our emotions-heavy playlists, and late-night, somewhat-drunken sing-a-longs. It’s one of those songs whose meaning changes just a little bit with every listen. It’s made even better by the music video — a one-shot take of the Haim sisters singing and dancing to the track through their hometown.
2017 gave way to some excellent pop music. DJ Khaled’s lush synth beats owned plenty of radio real estate. Former One Directioners worked different corners in the same town. But like much of pop music — in any era — it is unique because it is disposable. It’s confectionery.
The fifth track on Chris Stapleton’s sophomore album, From a Room: Volume 1, incinerated our Spotify playlists. It’s austere instrumentation and Stapleton’s blazing, anguished cannonblast voice make for a song that will make you feel like you’re sitting in a wind tunnel.
Stapleton is the torchbearer for the new class of southern-inspired, whiskey-soaked troubadours. Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson et al have created tremendous work in the past two years, but Stapleton’s boundless vocal talent, and ability to tell a devastating story, make him the gold standard.
Lou may take aim at the One Directioners of yore while talking up Stapleton, but we won’t fault him because he knows this song GOES.
Released in early May of this year, this was the second single off of Horan’s debut album as a solo artist. (Literally could not tell you what the first single is, but it doesn’t matter.) “Slow Hands” is raunch personified. If you’re looking for a track to get you feelin’ some type of way, this is it. It’s the perfect song to timestamp summer flings of 2017. It’s Niall’s way of saying “Harry Styles, who?”
I think we should all take a minute, put our slow hands together, and applaud Horan’s attempt to get us all a little revved up.
Easy To Love
“In a more just universe, Marc Broussard would be a superstar.”
This is the opening line to a Performer Magazine profile of my favorite artist of 2017, Marc Broussard. Top to bottom, his 2017 album, Easy to Love, is strong. Two recognizable covers will draw you in, but it is his original work that will make you sit up and take notice.
There are some songs you may find on repeat more than this one, but this song best displays his vocal acrobatics and musical essence. If you have to describe Marc Broussard to someone, this is the song you’d choose to frame your discussion.
His aesthetic is part coffee cup, part beer mug, warm Louisiana swamp and blue-eyed soul. On cold winter nights, reach for this one.
Trying to Drive
Zac Brown Band
Welcome Home. It’s ZBB’s fifth, and latest, studio album. And through trying political times, the loss of musical giants, and pop culture icons, and personal evolution, it’s also the feeling we all were searching for in 2017. Zac and the boys have historically had a way of vocalizing what we’re feeling, but this album seemed to come at a particularly appropriate time for us Side Streeters. We have to admit, when the album came out, “Trying to Drive” was not our immediate top pick. (Looking at you, “Long Haul.”) But, if we’re talking songs that really have taken over this year, this is the one.
“Trying to Drive” was the perfect song for 2017 as we tried to navigate life’s backroads. With an ambling melody, and lyrics that speak to taking the wheel, choosing a path, and a passenger, this track was perfect as we were winding, swerving, crashing at times, trying to get where we were going. Finally, we’ve arrived at the end of 2017, and as we look forward to the new year, we’re hopeful that the ride is a little smoother, the GPS a little more sure, and that the person riding to your right is “on your side.”