Topher’s top 100 songs of 2017

Editor’s note: Topher Parks is one of our most prolific writers and I don’t know of another person to turn to for advice on the next big alternative rock band, that is as on point as this guy. Enjoy his top 100 songs of the year!

100. Nothing But Thieves – Amsterdam

99. Caro – Eyes on the Ground

98. Juanes – El Ratico [featuring Kalis Uchis]

97. Au/Ra – Outsiders

96. Dirty Heads – Freedom

95. John Mayer – Helpless

94. The xx – Dangerous

93. Twiceyoung – Change Your Love

92. Radiohead – I Promise

91. Death Therapy – Self Mind Dead [featuring Andrew Schwab]

90. Simpson Ahuevo – Jaque Mate

89. Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill

88. COIN – Feeling

87. Banks – Underdog

86. Alcolirykoz – Changó

85. Beck – Up All Night

84. Daddy Yankee – Yo Contra Ti

83. Brick + Mortar – One Little Pill

82. deadmau5 – Long walk off a short pier

81. Residente – Somos Anormales

80. Local Natives – I Saw You Close Your Eyes

79. Gorillaz – Submission [featuring Danny Brown & Kelela]

78. The New Respects – Something to Believe In

77. Skip Marley – Lions

76. Prophets of Rage – Hail to the Chief

75. Joywave – Rumors

74. Hembree – Had It All

73. The Shins – Name for You

72. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Vampires

71. Bad Suns – This Was a Home Once

70. Centavrvs – El Punto Final

69. U2 – The Blackout

68. N*E*R*D – 1000 [featuring Future]

67. the wldlfe – Oversentimental

66. Katy Perry – Chained to the Rhythm [featuring Skip Marley]

65. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

64. Taylor Swift – …Ready for It?

63. MUTEMATH – Hit Parade

62. WALK THE MOON – One Foot

61. RDGLDGRN – Opera [featuring Method Man]

60. Incubus – Glitterbomb

59. Moses Sumney – Lonely World

58. Big Boi – Mic Jack [featuring Adam Levine]

57. Morrissey – Spent the Day in Bed

56. Spoon – Can I Sit Next to You

55. Miguel – Caramelo Duro [featuring Kali Uchis]

54. Moon Taxi – Two High

53. Harry Styles – Sign of the Times

52. Sampha – Reverse Faults

51. Alex Cuba – En Mi Guitarra

50. Foo Fighters – Make It Right

49. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You

48. Local Natives – The Only Heirs

47. Foster the People – SHC

46. From Indian Lakes – I Feel It on the Back of My Neck

45. Arcade Fire – Everything Now

44. Prophets of Rage – Unfuck the World

43. Mozart La Para – El Orden

42. LordeGreen Light

41. Kendrick Lamar – DNA.

40. MUTEMATH – Placed On Hold

39. St. Vincent – Los Ageless

38. Noah Gundersen – THE SOUND

37. Paramore – No Friend [featuring Aaron Weiss]

36. WALK THE MOON – Headphones

35. Future Islands – Cave

34. Step Rockets – Money

33. Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

32. Adam SaxeSandcastles

31. Foster the People – Pay the Man

30. Grouplove – Torso

29. Enjambre – Nudo

28. Dinero – Bajo cero

27. Ania – Danza Animal

26. Residente – Desencuentro [featuring SoKo]

25. bnqt – Hey Banana

One of two songs from Volume 1 written and sung by Alex Kapranos, “Hey Banana” is lyrically nonsensical, but musically it’s very reminiscent of Kapranos’ primary outlet, Franz Ferdinand, with a riff that makes it one of the highlights from this indie rock supergroup (pronounced “banquet”) debut.

  1. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Long-time indie rockers Spoon continue to churn out quality material, even two decades after their 1996 debut – their latest, Hot Thoughts, is no exception. The metallic riffing and tight bassline drives the album’s title track, but it’s the keys over top and the soft ending that really help it stand out.

  1. Skip Marley – Refugee

Skip Marley has had a big year, from being featured on Katy Perry’s hit single “Chained to the Rhythm,” to most recently collaborating with Seeb on “Cruel World.” It’s his own three singles from this year, however, particularly the horn-infused island rocker “Refugee,” that really have me excited about a full-length from Bob Marley’s maternal grandson, coming hopefully early 2018.

  1. Vince Staples – Big Fish

Vince Staples released his follow-up full-length to 2015’s Summertime ’06 in June, and in many ways Big  Fish Theory feels more accessible than its predecessor. Take the thumping club banger “Big Fish” for instance, which, thanks in part to Juicy J’s gusto on the hook, is one of the year’s strongest hip-hop cuts.

  1. Lorde – Perfect Places

Lorde became a household name at the tail end of 2013 with her hit single “Royals,” but the Jack Antonoff-produced Melodrama sees the 21-year-old really coming into her own. While there are some killer tracks on Melodrama, none of them quite hold a candle to the booming closer “Perfect Places.”

  1. Nothing But Thieves – Sorry

As I’ve mentioned in my review of Broken Machine, I was initially underwhelmed by the power ballad “Sorry,” but the more I’ve listened to it, the more I’ve fallen in love. Broken Machine as a record belongs in more discussions for rock album of the year, and that’s partly due to this track.

  1. Taylor Swift – Call It What You Want

In addition to his work behind the scenes on Melodrama, Jack Antonoff also cowrote and produced much of reputation, which sees Taylor Swift stepping even further into pop territory than she did with 2014’s 1989. The electronic beat is characteristic throughout reputation, but it’s the orchestral-like layering and Antonoff’s rich backing vocals that really give this song an edge.

  1. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

This year saw the return of indie rock conglomerate Broken Social Scene on Hug of Thunder. I’d consider the entire record one of the better releases from all year, but the brooding title track is next level. The Feist-led tune feels like one continuous build, with a subtle but driving bassline that serves as the glue holding it all together.

  1. Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending

I usually refrain from featuring tracks scheduled to release the following year, but considering that I first heard “Always Ascending” when I saw Kapranos and company back in May, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since, I felt compelled to include it on this list. The driving title track from the Scottish rockers’ forthcoming album features a classic post-punk beat, Franz Ferdinand’s signature riffing, and electronic overdubs that truly make this lead single feel like it’s constantly “ascending” in sound.

  1. Vetusta Morla – Te lo Digo a Ti

Madrid-based rockers Vetusta Morla are back with a phenomenal new album, and while Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar is very much picking up where they left off on 2014’s La Deriva, the album’s lead single was a bit of a departure for the sextet. At 2:27, the shortest track the Spaniards have ever released as a single starts out as a soft stomper before quickly evolving into an upbeat rock chart.

  1. THE FEVER 333 – Hunting Season

2016 saw the end for letlive., but that hasn’t stopped frontman Jason Aalon Butler from putting out music. This time around, Butler has teamed up with The Chariot’s Stephen Harrison and Night Verses’ Aric Improta to form THE FEVER 333, a relentless hardcore collective that channels the attitude and ferocity of the great Rage Against the Machine, particularly on the trio’s second single, the brief but raucous “Hunting Season.”

  1. Noah Gundersen – NUMBER ONE HIT OF THE SUMMER (FADE OUT)

Noah Gundersen blew me away this year with his latest, with this visceral rocker being a big reason for that. The rock and roll attitude pairs rather nicely with the atmospheric backing elements, something that proves to be a consistent theme on WHITE NOISE. Needless to say, “NUMBER ONE HIT OF THE SUMMER (FADE OUT)” is easily a highlight.

  1. The Killers – The Man

2017 was the year for 2000s era alt.-rock – the genre made a killer comeback with all kinds of new releases. Las Vegas heavyweights The Killers made their own return with an incredibly danceable, driving lead single from Wonderful Wonderful that is as electric as it is electronic. Musically it’s a fresh take on the band popular for the angsty mid-oughts hits “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me,” making “The Man” an instant summer smash for me, and I’m sure for others as well.

  1. The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness

Nowadays a hit record usually prominently features one of two instruments, the piano or the guitar, not both, but The National does just that, in addition to showcasing some effervescent horns, on the Cincinnati natives’ first taste of new music in over four years, and incidentally the fourth cut on Sleep Well Beast. Add in a deep bassline and frontman Matt Berninger’s gruff baritone vocals, and it’s no wonder I loved this tune so much.

  1. Queens of the Stone Age – Feet Don’t Fail Me

Queens of the Stone Age opens their latest effort with a bang, starting off eerie before eventually kicking into a nasty, electro-tinged groove on “Feet Don’t Fail Me.” Before even releasing a single from Villains, the quintet unveiled a teaser video which contained a clip of this epic tune, and at that point I knew that the album opener was going to be my favorite. Four months after Villains first hit shelves, no other track has come close.

  1. Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE.

Kendrick Lamar only further solidifies himself as a rap legend as time goes on – this year, the Compton-based rapper scored his first number one single as a solo artist in “HUMBLE.” With swaggering verses and a subtly dissonant piano line, it makes sense that this trap banger from DAMN. was the hip-hop record of the year.

  1. Dream ChiefNovocaine

Indy-based bands have been getting my attention quite a bit in the past few years (usually with a single) – in 2016, it was the wldlfe’s “Text Me?”; in 2017, it was “Novocaine.” Dream Chief’s hit electro-banger was on repeat for weeks when it first dropped, and now, with this vibey smash leading the way, I have a funny feeling that the indie pop duo of Tuttle and Tuttle is going to have a huge year in 2018.

  1. Kinky – Te Vas

While I had heard of Mexican rockers Kinky before, I must say I was guilty of not really listening to their tunes – that is, until I heard the infectiously spacey “Te Vas” when it first released back in February. The second single from Nada Vale Más Que Tú was my obsession for what felt like the entire first half of the year, and upon listening, you’ll understand why this was the case.

  1. Manchester Orchestra – The Moth

I’ve always appreciated how Manchester Orchestra can bring out a certain heaviness in their guitar tone, while remaining an undeniably indie rock act, but “The Moth” takes this concept to a whole new level. With a head-bobbing yet foot-stomping rhythm as the song’s main backbone, the blistering riff on the chorus never fails to send chills down my spine.

  1. Foo Fighters – Run

Maybe it’s the syncopated reggaetón-esque drumbeat on the chorus, or maybe it’s frontman Dave Grohl’s vicious yet melodic screams he’s come to be so well-known for. Whatever it is though, there’s a sheer intensity about “Run” (much like many of the other tracks on Concrete & Gold) that sets it apart from other rock tunes released this year.

  1. Nothing But Thieves – I’m Not Made by Design

Speaking of blistering and intense rock and roll, the heaviest song from Broken Machine is this gem of a track. “I’m Not Made by Design” is a relentless rocker that never once lets up, with an instrumental intensity that matches Conor Mason’s powerful voice, and more importantly, his convicting message.

  1. N*E*R*D – Don’t Don’t Do It! [featuring Kendrick Lamar]

If 2017 was an album, it would be N*E*R*D’s eponymous full-length, so it’s fitting that the highlight from the record is a fiery sociopolitical commentary taking aim at police brutality and the systemic injustices therein. Musically “Don’t Don’t Do It!” is part lounging R&B chart, part jamming funk rocker. Add to that an incriminating verse from Kendrick Lamar, and it’s hard to top this banger.

  1. Los Mesoneros – Caiga la Noche

2017 found me stumbling upon quite a few bands that I wish had discovered sooner, particularly of the Latin persuasion. Take Los Mesoneros for instance – the Venezuelan alt.-rockers now based in Mexico City released a fantastic effort this year in Caiga la Noche. It’s the rocking title track, however, which at times channels Brit.-rockers Keane, that has remained one of my favorite tunes of all year, Latin or not.

  1. Making Movies – Spinning Out

Never have I heard a sound so unique, and never have I been so blown away by a first-time discovery than with the Latin American rockers Making Movies. On “Spinning Out,” the Kansas City-based quartet unabashedly touts their Mexican and Panamanian roots, while frontman Enrique Chi hits the type of notes that would make Matthew Bellamy and the rest of Muse proud. With this groundbreaking single, two 2017 releases (an LP followed by an EP), and a shoutout from salsa legend Rubén Blades at this year’s Latin Grammys, it’s inconceivable to me that this literal band of brothers hasn’t gone viral already.

  1. MUTEMATH – War

For over a decade, no band has combined electronics and rock and roll better than New Orleans’ MUTEMATH, and with “War,” the quartet proves once again that they are in uncharted territory. It’s the third single from the alt. collective’s self-proclaimed “overindulgent” fifth record, so it’s no surprise that the massive rocker is just shy of five minutes in length. To me, “War” is the band’s best composition in six years, and if Play Dead is truly the last hurrah for MUTEMATH as many fear it may be, this song and record were both a fantastic way to go out.

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