Top 5 Albums of 2017
Originally Published On January 4, 2018
By Peter Wedlake
At the end of every year, I like to spend the last few days reflecting on the past 365 days. Looking back I can see the mistakes and what I’ve learned from them, but I also get to reminisce about my favorite things from the past year; moments with friends and family, the fascinating information I’ve learned, and the music that played in the background of all of it. 2017 was an interesting year for me, musically at least. A visual shift occurred from the traditional “pop” songs that took hold of the Billboard Hot 100 in the early 2010’s, to a resurgence of hip-hop and rap into the mainstream. For me, I’ve had a really hard time defining my taste in music; I’m a little bit all over the place but I tend to stay within a consistent base. Hip-hop and rap generally do not fall near that base.
This list definitely excludes the most popular albums and artists of the year, but that is no mistake; I just didn’t particularly like them. With that said, here is a list of what I did like this year:
5 — Double Dutchess by Fergie
After a decade-long solo hiatus, Double Dutchess is simply a really fun album. It does not push the musical boundaries, but Fergie was never really known for that. She knows how to make simple, enjoyable music and that’s exactly what she did. Although the music off Double Dutchess is definitely new for Fergie, the album just seems a little watered down as a whole and when comparing the record with how long it took to make, in my view it wasn’t particularly worth the wait.
4 — After Laughter by Paramore
When the emo-alternative staple of the early to late 2000’s released their first single “Hard Times”, and subsequently announced a shift to a more new-wave sound, I was intrigued. I had always stayed away from Paramore — mostly because my sister was obsessed. “Hard Times” really drew my attention with its light-hearted sound and upbeat melody, yet seemingly depressed lyrics. The single actually got me excited about their new album — I even had a countdown on my phone. While the album is really good and I highly recommend listening to it with its new-wave-alternative fusion, I found myself disappointed that Paramore stuck more to their roots instead of branching out to an unmarked musical territory.
3 — Witness by Katy Perry
Katy Perry quickly became a polarizing celebrity in 2017 with many comparisons to 2013 Miley Cyrus due to her short blonde haircut and weird public appearances on TV like her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and hosting of the 2017 VMAs. I, however, have always been a fan of Katy Perry; the first song I ever bought on iTunes was “Hot N Cold,” and I’ve even been able to see her in concert, so needless to say, I was looking forward to her upcoming release. Katy Perry, like Paramore, promised a new sound; she delivered. While the songs all sound “Katy Perry,” her production turned a new electronic, synth-driven direction; this is particularly evident in songs like “Roulette” (my personal favorite) and “Mind Maze.” Lyrically, the album is a little more depressing than her previous works but it brings a fresh page to Perry’s evolving career.
2 — Melodrama by Lorde
This was a really hard choice to make; putting Melodrama in second place. Mainly because I waited a long time for this album and I absolutely love it. Lorde’s songwriting is what first drew me to her, quickly followed by her production. She just knows how to capture the feelings of youth into music — both lyrically and musically. With Melodrama, Lorde tells the tale of a breakup out of order, starting with the post-breakup, “trying to get over it” phase; it then swoops into the beginning phase and crescendos with my favorite song of the year, “Liability,” about the breakup itself. The albums hits the reminiscent phase and ends with “Perfect Places,” the recovered” phase.
This album would be my favorite of the year if not for the number one pick and the second half of the song, “The Louvre”. For me, the song starts strong but derails halfway through into lyrics a little more childish than I prefer.
1 — Masseducation by St. Vincent
St. Vincent is known for experimenting with music more than the average artist. Her signature crowded guitar riffs have stayed with her for over decade; thankfully they are still present on her latest work, Masseducation. With her new material, St. Vincent writes in a more first-person tone than she previously had. The songs, while all different, flow into each other, not musically per say, but lyrically. With Masseducation, St. Vincent weaves together the fabric of life, love, sex, and death into a tightly packed, but never rushed 41-minute masterpiece. With its new wave and ambient rock embellishes, St. Vincent cements herself at the forefront of contemporary pop-rock.
With 2017 over, while it is important to look back and reflect, what is even more important is keeping an eye on the road ahead. Last year was a wild ride with a lot of personal issues, but also a lot of accomplishments (I mean, I helped start an online newspaper!). This music soothed me during the dark hours and kept me going when I was starting to tire out. At the end of the day, isn’t that what music is about Thank you to everyone that has supported us from day one here at Today’s Current, it really means a lot to all the staff to create something that reaches people and influences them, even in a small way. Happy New Year and here’s to the one in front of us.