From hard-hitting hip-hop to mellow radio-friendly pop, and world-dominating K-pop to edgy indie rock, 2017 saw a slew of great albums across all genres.
While it’s hard to pinpoint five albums that were the best of the best, there are some that you just could not ignore, and some that stood out not just because the music was great, but because the stories and the hype behind them were just so great.
Here are five albums that 2017 will be remembered for.
÷ by Ed Sheeran
The British singer’s third album was crowned Spotify’s Most Streamed Album of the year, clocking 3.1 billion streams worldwide, and the single Shape Of You was named Most Streamed Track of all time on Spotify, now with over 1.4 billion streams. Heck, Sheeran himself said he was tired of hearing Shape Of You on the radio.
Overplayed as it may be, it doesn’t deter from the fact that ÷ has a solid mix of consistently catchy hit songs, making it arguably the most unmissable pop album of 2017.
We said: “÷ has everything that an Ed Sheeran fan has been waiting for and more.”
Reputation by Taylor Swift
It has been a great year for female pop artistes. Lourde’s Melodrama was a masterpiece of an album, and there were welcome returns from the likes of Bjork, Lana Del Rey and Katy Perry.
However, there’s one artiste that overshadowed them all. And, that’s Taylor Swift.
Her latest album, Reputation, sees the artiste in love and not afraid to sing about it. There is a significant departure from the snide barbs she aimed at ex-lovers in previous albums, as the artiste takes control of her narrative and proves that she doesn’t give a damn about what others say about her.
We said: “Swift takes ownership of her narrative in a way listeners haven’t heard before.”
Concrete And Gold by Foo Fighters
There were plenty of solid offerings in the rock genre this year, including U2’s return to form with Songs Of Experience, The National’s moody class act Sleep Well Beast, and the Gallagher brothers’ solo albums, which were released within weeks of each other, making it the closest we’ll ever get to a new Oasis album.
That said, the most rock and roll album of the year comes courtesy of the nicest man in rock and roll, Dave Grohl, who delivers an album that is the Foo Fighters’ most accessible in years, but one that isn’t afraid to try new things at the same time.
We said: “There are moments of gold in this album, but for the most part, it’s as solid as concrete.”
Love Yourself: Her by BTS
K-POP has had a rollercoaster year, one that ended in tragedy with the suicide of SHINee’s lead singer Jonghyun. One of its brightest sparks, however, was the rise of BTS to the top of the world.
The seven-member boy band’s latest album, Love Yourself: Her made its debut at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 album charts, marking a monumental K-pop moment – it was the highest an album from that genre had ever gotten on the chart.
A snappy pop album that checks all the requisite K-pop boxes, the album also showcases a willingness to experiment with different music styles. K-pop is taking over the world, and this album’s success is proof of that.
We said: “Love Yourself: Her’s success is very much a victory for the genre.”
4:44 by Jay-Z
REMEMBER when Beyonce called Jay-Z out on his infidelity on her acclaimed 2016 album Lemonade? Well, this is Jay-Z’s reply. In it, he lays bare the emotional turmoil he feels over his infidelity, and apologises to Beyonce for what he has done. It’s an album that feels like his most personal yet, as he raps about his family and social issues at the same time.
Musically, Kendrick Lamar’s Damn is a much better rap album, but for the sheer hype and the story surrounding Jay-Z and Beyonce’s family dynamics, we’ve plumped for 4:44 as 2017’s biggest hip-hop album.
Besides, seven Grammy Award nominations can’t be wrong.
We said: “Jay-Z has bared himself like rarely before in the new record, 4:44.”
Spanish-English songs seem to have a renaissance of sorts in the international arena thanks to Justin Bieber.
Although Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was already a popular song in Latin America, it was not until the inclusion of Bieber in the remix version that the song became a certified smash hit. It became the song of the summer – clocking in 16 weeks at No.1 on Billboard Hot 100.
Soon enough, we heard an influx of Spanish-English collaborations – J Balvin and Willy Williams recruited Beyonce for Mi Gente; Camilla Cabello had help from Daddy Yankee for the remix version of her hit Havana; Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato teamed up for Echame La Culpa.
Looks like this trend might just continue in to 2018 ... especially if Despacito wins one or more of the three Grammy categories it is nominated in. – Gordon Kho