Edited by Sophie Buck, Blueprint Arts Editor
CNs: bereavement, job search, dating
We asked you what your favourite songs/albums of 2017 were and why. You can find all the songs listed in this article on this Spotify playlist, ‘Blueprint Best of 2017’ . Please note that we are unable to provide content notes for the songs listed.
One of my fave songs of 2017 was Laura Marling’s ‘Soothing’ from Semper Femina. Music has been a massive guideline for me after experiencing bereavement, and soothing filled those moments where I didn’t want to be sad, and didn’t want to be ‘cheered up’, but just wanted to occupy my own brain naturally. Musically I also love its blend of jazz, soul and folk that was a nice counterbalance to all the (brilliant) but often more dramatic music that I have been listening to in 2017.
Tyler Cole’s album ‘We’re in Love & the World is Ending’ album because they somehow managed to blend genres so, so perfectly that each song takes me through different phases of my life. Also, beautiful songwriting that is very organic and poetic, yet so subtly profound in places? Sociopolitically, ‘in the eyes of the law / I’m below all the nice things’ is an incredible line (in ‘Blow Up Your TV!’).
Dirtwire’s song ‘Sailing the Solar Flare’ because it literally takes me to another world. Probably the best piece of instrumental music I’ve ever heard.
Drake’s album ‘More Life‘ – for me this album feels personal as it incorporates a lot of the old Dancehall sounds I grew up with. It manages to be both nostalgic and contemporary, also dipping into UK grime, and generally has been such a great feel-good/motivational album for me this year.
While perhaps surprisingly given it barely has words, the most significant album to me of 2017 is Four Tet’s album ‘New Energy‘. The album came out when I was struggling to find a job, and my life and living surroundings were particularly messy. I listened to it on repeat in almost every waking hour for at least a week (as I like to listen to all my favourite music in order to absorb the full meaning embodied by it). It gave me a much-needed burst of hope and, indeed, ‘new energy’. Even now, every time I listen to ‘Scientists’ I feel in a sorting-my-life-out mode. I love the simplicity of the building repetitive electronic sounds and find a certain calmness and clarity in them amidst the unpredictability of the world; they also help to manage my executive dysfunction.
A recent but much-loved discovery: Rostam’s (formerly of Vampire Weekend) album ‘Half-Light‘. It’s about navigating the experiences of being the child of Iranian immigrants in the US and being queer – the perpetual in-between. It’s also full of beauty – every song is impeccably produced and the lyrics are so painful and yet so hopeful at the same time.
At the beginning of the year I was taken by Maggie Rogers’ ‘Alaska‘, which spoke to a feeling of restlessness, and of needing to create distance between myself and things I was experiencing. The lyric ‘You and I, there’s air in between’ felt like a goal. Later in the year, another song about movement began to speak to me more (in a year which was filled with new beginnings and travel): Dillon’s ‘Regular Movements‘. The lyrics are a perhaps a little clumsy in parts but they capture the same restlessness, almost becoming a necessity, and ‘timed by each day’s changing length’
Paramore’s album ‘After Laughter’ – this album has a beautiful mix of summery, bright and danceable tunes that are fun to sing along to, with lyrics that are actually quite sombre and contemplative. The band was on the verge of splitting up completely between this album and the last, but in that time they’ve also injected a new flavour to their sound and the type of music they’re making. That mixture of sadness and joy is really present in the music and gives it this really beautiful complexity. I played it over and over this summer.
Sza’s album ‘CTRL’ – I really really fell in love with how relatable this album was. It’s like taking all the complexities of dating men and being young, a female, millennial of colour, distilling it to its essence and mixing it with all these gorgeous melodies and the intermissions with her grandmother sharing wisdom. It’s nice when a long-anticipated first album for an artist actually lives up to the hype.
Betty Who’s song ‘Mama Say’. I’ve been listening to a lot more pop this year to cheer me up in spite of all the bad news and frustrations that have been bringing us down. This song is just the kind of catchy, danceable, but still musically interesting pop song I’ve needed. It’s constantly stuck in my head.
Jhene Aiko’s album ‘Trip’. 22 tracks dropped with little-to-no advertising, alongside a visual art piece and accompanying book of poetry. She’s a queen of alt RnB and this new release made my year. The album covers everything from love to heartbreak (‘Never Call Me’ is actual fire) to her brother’s passing, and features not only some of today’s heavies (Big Sean, Swae Lee) but also members of Jhene Aiko’s family (her daughter and Dad). It’s super personal, it really feels like she’s shared her life and her truth with us.
Header image by Sophie Buck