By James Pavel

  1. What Lovers Do – Maroon 5 feat. Sza

Pop/rock is currently defined by one band – Maroon 5. Radio advertises mega stars, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, etc., along with one face standing among the crowd as the sole survivor of pop/rock – the dude with a tiger wrapped around his arm. The track is an overdose of morphine gone horribly right. Maroon 5 knows their role and they play it perfectly – keep it simple and keep it fun. Mission accomplished this year.

  1. Telefono – Phoenix

Thomas Mars grumbles aloud about the paranoia surrounding a long-distance relationship with Sophia Coppola. He ponders her latest casting decisions and perhaps he is merely old news. He pines in French and in English, the transition between languages perfectly reflecting his wishy-washy emotions. Phoenix remains one of the quintessential bands of the summer and will forever define July/August skies.


  1. The Man – The Killers

In case you didn’t realize the Killers were all about Brandon, you do now. Brandon is at his ego maniacal finest, swinging his dick around the casino table like an elephant swinging its trunk at an opponent. At first listen, it’s the worst song the Vegas group has ever released. Second hearing demonstrates a humorous side to the track. Finally, after three or four re-starts, the heavy bass and thundering drums become the center pieces, and the genius of ‘The Man’ ensues. It has David Bowie at his funkiest with Brandon’s unmistakable showmanship all tied into a fancy bow on a brand-new Cadillac.


  1. Bad Ones – Matthew Dear feat. Tegan & Sara

Tegan and her sister team up with what sounds like a Calvin Harris fill-in, for what was a sneaky treat for us in 2017. It showed the strength of the two sisters harmonizing together with a beat that couldn’t be better for their range and overall sound.

  1. Slide – Calvin Harris

The world’s house DJ was at it again in 2017, this time pairing with the mysterious Frank Ocean. If you didn’t enjoy the song, you were shipped off to the insane asylum or declared deaf. Hearing people yell ‘I might’ in the voice of an 8-year-old grew annoying after a while, but it was all in good taste.

  1. Unforgettable – French Montana feat. Swae Lee

    Heavy bass paired with soulful vocals is always going to be a smash. French Montana has a cool name, but he could use a few dope tracks to back up the title. He managed to do just that in 2017, pumping out one of rap music’s go-to joints.


14. Call me Pretty – Alexander F

An Apple iPod commercial waiting to happen. This song is practically bursting at the seams by the time the chorus explodes into a thousand multi-colored balloons blasting out into the sky. The 80s’ hyper-synth mashed with 50s’ doo-whop, made fans grab for their comb and quickly transform it into a pretend microphone.

  1. Passionfruit – Drake

We might officially be Drake’d out. He still runs the 6, he is still the Toronto Raptors head cheerleader, and he was still able to put out one of the hottest numbers we heard all year. But I swear we have had it up to our nostrils with Toronto’s finest. That is, until the next banger comes out. Here we go 2018.

  1. In Undertow – Alvvays

Ever wonder what hipsters dream about? Look no further, Alvvays captured it on camera. So shoe-gazey, so synth-warming, so ridiculously hipster. Oh, did I mention it was a fantastic song? That too.

  1. Congratulations – Post Malone feat. Quavo

Welcome to emo-rap. No genre is more self-indulgent than rap, and this song doesn’t help that reputation. Malone congratulates himself for working so hard, that he forgot how to book a flight to Mexico. A life-time of back-slaps would not suffice, and only a brilliantly-constructed rap banger would suffice for one of the new faces of hip-hop.

  1. You’re the best thing about me – U2 vs. Kygo

If Coldplay can mash with the dance scene, why not U2? Bono and company recruit one of dance music’s hottest acts and dare him to go toe-to-toe with planet Earth’s greatest band. It’s Bono at his cheekiest and most self-deprecating, a man who refuses to stop smiling regardless of how any haters try to tear down his walls. The ‘Songs of Innocence’ and now the ‘Songs of Experience’ albums, mark a new era of U2. The band recognizes that they aren’t supposed to matter anymore, but when did Bono ever listen to anybody?

  1. Gravity don’t pull me – Rostam

Rarely do we hear a love song so blatantly gay. But here we are, and it’s a beautiful thing. Vampire Weekend sidekick Rostam, delivered one of the boldest albums of the year, with ‘Gravity don’t pull me’ being one of many highlights. The closing dub-step portion magnifies the heart-break while elevating the overall track’s significance.

  1. Creature Comfort – Arcade Fire

If social media could provide one PA message for the entire world, they need to recruit Arcade Fire. ‘Some girls hate themselves, stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback,’ – Is that not everything wrong with the selfie/social media culture in one carefully-crafted verse? No band is as conscious of the times we live in, exemplified by yet another thematic album, ‘Everything NOW.’ Instant gratification is our motif, regardless of the suicidal consequences.

  1. Sign of the times – Harry Styles

    Styles does what we did not necessarily expect. It would have been an obvious step for him to go the route of a Justin Bieber of Nick Jonas. But Styles has decided to show off his true colors, which look and sound remarkably like a young David Bowie. ‘Sign of the Times,’ was a total throw-back, an almost miracle that it was given proper airplay. Only someone of Styles magnitude and promise could pull off releasing an instant-classic sounding hit made for the 70s and get away with it in the generation that has the attention span of a puppy.


    6. Wild Thoughts – DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller

If there ever was a guitar slaying that deserved repeating, it is Santana’s ‘Maria, Maria.’ If you remember when Santana’s song was originally released, you my friend, are officially getting old. The good news is that Rihanna managed to somehow turn what was a classy dame of a song, into a sultry, half-drunk senorita begging for trouble. Basically it’s ‘Maria, Maria’ on Cialis.

  1. Slow Hands – Niall Horan

Easily the sexiest song of the year. Fast hands are overrated, and even criminal, in 2017. ‘Take it slow’ remains advice to be taken seriously. The song hovered over the summer like California smoke. We spent half the year enjoying the best offering from One Direction and the other half trying to determine if, after all this time, dirty laundry is an aphrodisiac.


  1. Too good at goodbyes – Sam Smith

He looks a little thinner, but he sounds even more powerful this year. How could you follow up such an insanely successful first album? Passing this exam is always a sign of the greats. George Michael left a massive role for an English bloke to fill, and Sam Smith already seems on his way to trumping any of Michael’s greatest feats. While most of us are pathetic at saying goodbye, Smith has mastered the art as a twisted defense mechanism. It likely helps that he can sing his way out of any pain or emotion, a tactic that hopefully continues for the decades to come.

  1. Prisoner – Ryan Adams

A refreshing metaphor for love encapsulates the most recent dish served up by Adams. If love is a crime, then Adams is a brutal and sadistic prisoner, worthy of the electric chair. It’s an exceptionally beautiful concept and perhaps the premier album of the year. Adams songwriting and harmonica abilities make him a less grumpy version of Neil Young.

  1. Something just like this – Coldplay feat. The Chainsmokers

Could the biggest band in the world somehow remain relevant in an EDM-obsessed planet? Of course they could. In the ultimate case of ‘if you can’t beat em, join em,’ Coldplay joined forces with the dark side and put out, incredibly, one of the biggest songs of their career. While the other tracks to contend for their best offering are funeral-ready slobber fests, this song is a bombastic, bouncy castle of fun.

  1. Humble – Kendrick Lamar

In the year of fake news, ‘Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks,’ was the realest shit said all year. Kendrick is real news, and we’ve never needed a subscription this badly. Do you want to see a pack of teenagers go bonkers? Surprise them by blaring ‘Humble.’ It sounds like a beat by Dre for millennials, by the closest rapper we will ever see that could be considered the resurrection of Tupac. Substance and clear-sounding, Lamar is the greatest rapper today. While Drake may finally be suffering from over-saturation, Lamar has managed to strategically pick his spots and maintain integrity with the hip-hop hardcore, and yet appease the pop masses.