Going into 2017, standards were set to low since 2016 was such a beast of a year for music. "Formation" was the song of the year, Chance the Rapper made it to the mainstream with "No Problem", and Drake and Rihanna hits were inescapable. To everyone's surprise, 2017 bit back and gave us monster tracks from Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B exploded, and Migos were the ones to collaborate with if you wanted any credibility. The following are my 50 favorite singles of the year.
50 / "Despacito (Remix)" by Luis Fonsi (ft. Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber)
It was impossible to escape the reggaeton sounds of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito." Throw Justin Bieber on the remix and what do you get? The biggest Spanish sung single since "Macarena" over two decades ago. Not only that, but it's tied with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" for the most weeks at the top spot on Billboard's Hot 100 at 16 weeks (another song from 1996).
49 / "Unforgettable" by French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Montana's biggest hit of his career (so far) comes in the form of a dancehall collaboration with one-half of Rae Sremmurd. It peaked at Number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Number 1 on the US Rhythmic and US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. Thank the catchy hook for that.
48 / "Chanel" by Frank Ocean
If you think this track is simply about a luxury brand, then you are mistaken. Frank Ocean opens up more than ever about his bisexuality and satirizes his fame. The result is a lounge-like R&B kickback track.
47 / "Bad Liar" by Selena Gomez
46 / "Dat Side" by Cyhi the Prince (ft. Kanye West)
45 / "rockstar" by Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
44 / "No Frauds" by Nicki Minaj (ft. Drake & Lil Wayne)
Nicki's diss-track response to Remy Ma's "shETHER" is a real heater and she doesn't hold back one bit. She makes it personal and there are plenty of bars that'll make any listener go "oooh!" even if they don't know what the beef is about ("Heard your pussy on yuck / I guess you needed a pap"). With the help of her label mates, Drake and Lil Wayne, it's just more salt on the wound.
43 / "MotorSport" by Migos (ft. Nicki Minaj & Cardi B)
There was a lot of speculation that Nicki Minaj and Cardi B had some type of beef for whatever reason, so when Migos dropped their new track with both of them on it, the world lost their minds. Then again, they're not in any scenes together in the music video, but hey, they still technically collaborated. The mixture of them with triplet rappers from Atlanta makes for one banger that'll have you switching lanes.
42 / "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles
This rock ballad from the former One Direction member is proof that he was the most talented one of them all. His self-titled debut album is just as solid as his performance in this past summer's Dunkirk.
41 / "Pray" by Sam Smith
40 / "Havana" by Camila Cabello (ft. Young Thug)
39 / "Yeah Right" by Vince Staples (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
38 / "The Weekend" by SZA
This particular track from SZA's debut album is said to be "controversial." She even said so herself in a Genius "Verified" video, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a smooth, soulful song that'll have you trying to piece together the puzzle she's describing ("My man is my man, is your man, heard that's her man too"). The Justin Timberlake sample is a very nice touch as well. See also: Calvin Harris' "Funk Wav Remix".
37 / "Crew" by GoldLink (ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy)
I'm glad that the DMV hip-hop scene is heavily represented on GoldLink's "Crew" (because that's where I'm from as well). Sure, there's Wale and Logic, but this song is an extra special shout out from where they come from and what they're about.
36 / "Uh Huh" by Julia Michaels
35 / "What Lovers Do" by Maroon 5 (ft. SZA)
34 / "No Limit" by G-Eazy (ft. A$AP Rocky & Cardi B)
33 / "Mi Gente (Remix)" by J Balvin (ft. Willy William & Beyoncé)
32 / "New Rules" by Dua Lipa
31 / "Sky Walker" by Miguel (ft. Travis Scott)
30 / "Little of Your Love" by HAIM
It's been four years since HAIM's excellent debut album, Days Are Gone, so their return with "Little of Your Love" was more than well-received. Their Shania-inspired single is so infectious that singing along with the chorus is fun in itself.
29 / "BagBak" by Vince Staples
Vince's star has been rising very quickly in the past couple of years and it seems like he's not slowing down any time soon. "BagBak" is that bass-rattling single that'll destroy your speaker system, but make it all worth it. It's not clear what the song is about, but who cares? It's a banger.
28 / "Get Low" by Zedd (ft. Liam Payne)
27 / "Rake It Up" by Yo Gotti (ft. Nicki Minaj
26 / "I'm the One" by DJ Khaled (ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)
25 / "Young Dumb & Broke" by Khalid
24 / "Stay" by Zedd (ft. Alessia Cara)
23 / "Silence" by Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
22 / "Sorry Not Sorry" by Demi Lovato
Unapologetic Demi and feeling herself Demi is a Demi I strongly support. Her DGAF attitude and incredible vocals made for a perfect late-summer anthem. It's the musical version of "Bye, Felicia!" in 2017. You just keep doing you, Demi.
21 / "Heebiejeebies" by Aminé (ft. Kehlani)
Don't get it twisted. These two are West Coast natives, but not the West Coast we're used to (LA). Aminé hails from Portland and Kehlani reps Oakland. Them together on one track is nothing less than magic. The groovy melody is a back-and-forth between the two fictional love birds.
20 / "1-800-273-8255" by Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Arguably the most important song of the year comes from Maryland rapper Logic. With the support of Alessia Cara and Khalid, Logic raps about a topic that is essentially left out of the hip-hop community: mental health and suicide. The powerful lyrics matched with the perfect beat makes it an obvious shoo-in for a Song of the Year Grammy.
19 / "4:44" by JAY-Z
18 / "Undercover" by Kehlani
17 / "Passionfruit" by Drake
16 / "Feels" by Calvin Harris (ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean)
15 / "Biking" by Frank Ocean (ft. JAY-Z & Tyler, The Creator)
14 / "Wild Thoughts" by DJ Khaled (ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller)
13 / "Location (Remix)" by Khalid (ft. Lil Wayne & Kehlani)
The El Paso, TX teen came out of nowhere and recruited a heavy hitter, Lil Wayne, and a quick up-and-comer, Kehlani, for the remix of his excellent "Location". A song fit for the new generation, Khalid tells us to only use our technology to tell each other where to meet up and have some real, human interaction. That's a strong stance from someone who was born in 1998.
12 / "RAF" by A$AP Mob (ft. A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert & Frank Ocean)
Three words: Frank Ocean rapping.
11 / "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B
Where do I start with Cardi B? Do we like her? Do we hate her? Both, maybe? I'm not sure, but there's no denying that she had one of--if not the--biggest year for any new artist. "Bodak Yellow" took over the entire planet and everyone started picking her up to make their songs pop (i.e. G-Eazy, Migos, etc.) Multiple songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and she doesn't even have an album out yet? That's talent.
10 / "The Story of O.J." by JAY-Z
9 / "Mask Off" by Future
8 / "XO Tour Llif3" by Lil Uzi Vert
7 / "Lemon" by N.E.R.D (ft. Rihanna)
Frank Ocean isn't the only R&B singer to get his shot at rapping. After RiRi gave us a tease of her quick bars on Kendrick Lamar's "LOYALTY." is was only a matter of time that we got more from her. Her execution is flawless on N.E.R.D's New Orleans bounce-inspired "Lemon" and it makes for one of the year's best tracks even if it was released in the fourth quarter.
6 / "Love Galore" by SZA (ft. Travis Scott)
SZA had a major 2017 and gave the world probably the best debut albums of the year. The best song to come from it was also her biggest smash to date. "Love Galore" may seem like a cutesy song, but it's actually about being played by a dude. Don't let her sweet voice or looks fool you. She's a Scorpio with a "mean streak." Her words, not mine.
5 / "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran
In a year that was dominated by hip-hop and R&B, Ed Sheeran came through with "Shape of You". Yes, he's a pop artist, but this song actually incorporates dancehall sounds and rhythms. In fact, Sheeran himself thought it'd be a better record for Rihanna to have, but in the end, he kept it to himself. It's a good thing he did because it went Number 1 in almost every country and went 7x platinum in the US alone.
4 / "HUMBLE." by Kendrick Lamar
The first single from Lamar's perfect album, DAMN., will go down as a classic in his musical library. Produced by Mike Will Made It, the bouncy beat and staccato piano matched with K. Dot's instructions ("Sit down, be humble") made for his most mainstream track to date. The music video also deserves all the awards thanks to Dave Meyers.
3 / "Slide" by Calvin Harris (ft. Frank Ocean & Migos)
When Calvin Harris release the album artwork for this particular record, people were a little confused and taken aback. An EDM DJ collaborated with the biggest hip-hop trio and the biggest male R&B artist on the SAME SONG? We all wanted to know what that sounded like. To everyone's surprise, it was an instant hit and became one of many perfect summer anthems.
2 / "Homemade Dynamite (Remix)" by Lorde (ft. Khalid, Post Malone & SZA)
What do Lorde, Khalid, Post Malone, and SZA all have i common? I'm older than all of them. Oh, and they also dropped the best remix of the year. I was glad to see Lorde back in the game since Pure Heroine, but this super-collab blew me away. She took three of 2017's breakthrough artists and asked them if they wanted to concoct a beautiful monster and the rest is history.
1 / "DNA." by Kendrick Lamar
The Number 1 spot on these lists are usually reserved for a song that was overplayed on the radio or spent weeks at the top spot on Billboard's Hot 100, but that's not the case for 2017. This year was such a fantastic year in music and Kendrick Lamar's "DNA." deserves all the attention it can get. It kicks off his best album to date, DAMN., and he hits you with supersonic speed, a hardcore beat, and meticulously crafted bars. The music video is also not to be missed. You get to see Don Cheadle rap alongside Kung Fu Kenny. When else are you ever going to get something like that? In 2017. That's when.