Keeping with tradition, the final words I offer on a just-closed year of music come in the assembled as a celebration of a quintet of tracks that stood out for me. I’m not proclaiming these to be the best five songs of 2017, nor do I intend the assemblage to make some broader statement on the current landscape of rock and pop. They’re just great songs.
Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”
I was lukewarm on the latest Arcade Fire album, but I think there are true gems to be found there. “Everything Now,” both the title cut and the lead single for the album, is fabulous in every way, infusing the band’s trademark moony charms into a gentle neo-disco song that sounds like an audition for a indie-scruff remake of Xanadu.
Haim, “Want You Back”
It’s an open question as to whether or not Haim will be able to grow beyond their mellow-groovy nineteen-seventies pop influences, but why worry about that now. “Want You Back” proves there’s ample pleasure to be had in the shimmering singles they deliver with earnest charm that feels thrillingly effortless.
Slowdive, “Sugar for the Pill”
The lovely delicacy of the opening moments of “Sugar for the Pill” is an irresistible invitation in the first new music in over twenty years from one of the trailblazing acts of dream pop. The track is a cozy sonic blanket. It makes for the best sort of reunion, defined not by a return to form, but instead the sensation that the band was there all along, evolving with the times.
Diet Cig, “Tummy Ache”
In this annual exercise, I try to spread the accolades, highlighting acts that didn’t make my list of the best albums of the same year. Leaving this track aside because of that arbitrary rule would feel phony. There’s probably no song from 2016 that I returned to more, always getting energizing jolt from its spunky empowerment.
Selena Gomez, “Bad Liar”
Selena Gomez is not an artist whose latest material I would typically seek out, but am I ever glad I found this. With its chugging rhythm and tender pining, “Bad Liar” is the best stealth indie pop wonder from a mainstream artist since Kelly Clarkson snapped them off like fizzy soda bottle caps.