40. Timber Timbre – ‘Sewer Blues’
When the ugliness of 2017 meets the tenderness of a neo blues pop melody you can be sure that Timber Timbre are involved in some form. The folks didn’t disappoint when it comes to making the miserable less frightening.
39. Ho99o9 – ‘War Is Hell’
Sometimes you have to state the obvious as ugly as you can to make the message more efficient. The American rap punks deliver the right sound to give the frustration of the US youth under Donald Trump the voice it deserves. And of course, a song about that subject was never intended to be a pleasant affair.
38. Gorillaz – ‘We Got The Power’ (feat. Jehnny Beth)
It was a wise choise for Damon Albarn to let his mixtape-sounding album experiment ‘Humanz’ end on a powerful and uplifting note, despite the record’s whole ‘doomsday disco’ theme. In the end we all got the power to make things better and change the world. In the end even Noel Gallagher accepted that and finally joined his former rival for this pop beauty.
37. Inner Tongue – ‘Underworld’
Did we all scientifically fact-checked by now whether there’s actually water on the sun? Well, we leave the answer in the dreamy haze of Inner Tongue’s single. And although the Austrian newcomer keeps the rate of his musical ouput pretty manageable, that doesn’t make it less exciting. Underworld is a catchy sun-dried piece of dream pop that deserves its moment in the limelight.
36. Shame – ‘Tasteless’
Another year of hype build-up towards these gentlemen’s debut album (which will finally arrive in January) gave us more reasons to worship these reckless ruffians. On this one Charlie Steen and the gang prove why they could actually save British guitar rock while simultaneously not caring at all about that fact.
35. The National – ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness’
Forgot to research whether this is actually the first The National track with a proper progressive guitar solo in it. No matter if it’s true or not it surely does work and that is not even the biggest argument for this mighty comeback single.
34. Temples – ‘Strange Or Be Forgotten’
The strongest tune from the second Temples’ LP is a wall-of-sound-building piece of psychedelic power pop, one that instantly gets in your ears, carry you through the whole day, beyond the horizon and right over the rainbow. Peace out, folks!
33. St. Vincent – ‘Los Ageless’
Annie Clark perfected the St. Vincent persona on MASSEDUCTION, proving that she’s finally ready to conquer the world of mainstream pop by her own terms. This song should work as a door opener for that conquest.
32. Fazerdaze – ‘Lucky Girl’
Sometimes with all the mess in the world you tend to forget that there’s actually a lot of reasons to consider yourself lucky. Amelia Murray from New Zealand delivers the soundtrack in the form of probably our favourite indie-pop summer tune about the good ol’ feeling of love. See, not everything’s lost, right?
31. The Boxer Rebellion – ‘What The Fuck’
There are moments in life when all that is left to say is a simple and honest ‘What The Fuck’ … Nathan Nicholson wrestled with his demons and personal loss in the past months, resulting in one of the most breathtaking songs The Boxer Rebellion have released so far. A new album arrives in 2018.
30. Susanne Sundfør – ‘Undercover’
Her new album Music For People In Trouble saw the creatively restless Susanne Sundfør reducing her sound to the bare emotional core of her songwriting, offering a new unfiltered and naked perspective. And seriously, does it need more than this voice?
29. Alvvays – ‘Dreams Tonite’
Isn’t life sometimes just a merry-go-round? Molly Rankin and her band always manage to add a lovely little melancholic note to the otherwise quite powerful and uplifting sunshine indie-pop. And that’s the special sort of magic good pop is made of.
28. Kat Frankie – ‘Bad Behaviour’
Following various other musical adventures over the past years, the restless Berlin-based Australian songwriter is ready to launch her first solo album in six years in early 2018, already making a point with its catchy lead single. This will be the year for her to shine and to get in the well-deserved leading position of that indie-pop game.
27. Kraków Loves Adana – ‘Never Quite Right’
Deniz Cicek surely knows how to make the weight of human existence sound quite tempting and sensual. The singer’s distinctive voice carries this bittersweet wave pop anthem and harsh messages like ‘A crushing weight pressed to my chest’. Life often sucks but as long as it sounds like this, we might just be okay in the end.
26. Spoon – ‘Hot Thoughts’
Spoon always symbolized the more sensual side of the 00s indie movement but even that couldn’t stop the level of surprise after witnessing ‘Hot Thoughts’ for the first time. Britt Daniel want to make out and we’re not even trying to resist.
25. Maggie Rogers – ‘Dog Years’
This young lady made everything right following 2016’s viral video sensation with the whole ‘Alaska/ Pharell Williams’-momentum by simply not rushing into things. Just a small EP and a testament of her honest songwriting and talent instead of a huge major label album campaign or a feature on a David Guetta track. Dog Years is a charming little glimpse of what good mainstream pop could actually sound like if done with love and musicality.
24. Chromatics – ‘Shadow’
There goes another year without the way too often delayed new Chromaticas album Dear Tommy. At least, Johnny Jewel’s involvement in the ‘Twin Peaks’ revival was an excuse we could actually live with. Their performance of Shadow at the iconic Road House fitted just to perfectly to the Lynchian cosmos and if they didn’t get lost in the black lodge they’ll hopefully show more of that next year. Well, maybe.
23. Louise Lemón – ‘Egyptian Darkness’
Although only four minutes long the mighty single by the crafted Swedish singer feels like one hell of an epic cinematic journey. This dark diamond of alternative gospel pop is a track about the continuation of walking on your own path, even if you’ve been completely blinded. And that might explains the mighty sound of it. What a tune!
22. Broken Social Scene – ‘Halfway Home’
The comeback of the Canadian indie music collective surely felt like a musical homecoming for a lot of us early 00s indie kids. And a song like this world-embracing anthem makes that welcome even warmer. You just need to see these guys perform to witness the full joy.
21. Lea Porcelain – ‘Bones’
Dark, mighty and pretty intense. The participants of NBHAP’s ‘Class Of ’17’ surely didn’t disappoint on their debut album Hymns To The Night. Bones is a goth pop gem that shakes your room in the middle of the night and that should be enough to click on the ‘Play’ button right here.
20. Fever Ray – ‘To The Moon And Back’
‘Hey, remember me? I’ve been busy working like crazy.’ – Yes, we did remember, Karin Dreijer. How could we ever forget? The result of the artist’s way too long absence is both – a continuation as well as a total reinvention of everything we’ve come to love about Fever Ray. And this confident tune is just the beginning of it.
19. Alt-J – In Cold Blood
You never know what you get from a band like Alt-J. The trio is sill refusing to embrace their status as arena indie act this nervous little monster is the closest they’ve gotten to a proper hit single on their new album Relaxer. And that’s quite a compliment.
18. Future Islands – ‘Ran’
Tempting as always, Ran proves that the whole ‘Singles’ hype from 2014 wasn’t just a one-off lucky strike for Sam Herring and the gang. It might not be a second Seasions (Waiting On You) but it proves that Future Islands still write outstanding pop songs while sticking to their DIY-indie roots.
17. Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker – ‘Your Time’
What’s in a name, anyway? Nick Murphy’s constant attempts to leave the Chet Faker shadow behind take him to ongoing new heights right to the anticipated new studio album. The KAYTRANADA-produced Your Time is a song for the here and now, but takes a funky look into the future.
16. Adna – ‘Overthinking’
Before you can go home you need to find out where home actually is. The Swedish songwriter travels to a dark place inside of her, shakes hands with her demons and learns to live with them somehow. Overthinking is a raw self-reflection that delivers a surprisingly hopeful solution.
15. Foxygen – ‘Follow The Leader’
One might argue that Foxygen are one hell of a crazy bunch of folks and those people aren’t entirely wrong. But then the psychedelic pop ruffians suddenly unleash such a magnificent piece of 60s pop, backed by a 40-plus-piece symphony orchestra and carried by harmonies that would even make Brian Wilson jealous.
14. Portugal. The Man – ‘Feel it Still’
To say that Portugal. The Man suddenly broke the mainstream would be the fakest of all news. But after over a decade of hard work, countless releases and a determined will to constantly progress these guys truly deserve their international top hit. Pass them the Grammy already, dammit!
13. Elbow – ‘Magnificent (She Says)’
No matter how shitty the world has become or how bitter life sometimes is, there’s still Guy Garvey left to tell us that love does exist and it will all be alright in the end anymay. In the case of the Brits’ latest anthem it’s even going to be magnificent. Thanks for the lovely reminder once again, Guy!
12. Bonobo – ‘Break Apart’ (feat. Rhye)
This feature was overdue. The tender electronic patterns of Simon Green and the distinctive and unique voice of Mike Milosh? Those two were just meant for each other and this delicate musical dance which turns from a slow romantic waltz into something even more intimate.
11. Wolf Alice – ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’
Love can be an intense journey sometimes and Ellie Rowsell found the right words again by simply saying it like it is again. While the beginning sees the protagonist painfully questioning what happens if love’s not meant for her, the second verse delivers it a lovely surprising happy end. In the background the music constantly heads towards its cinematic climax, ultimately producing one of the band’s finest moments so far.
10. Anna Of The North – ‘Oslo’
Everything you’ve come to love about contemporary Nordic pop can be found in this one. Anna Lotterud’s gentle melancholic voice over pumping and dreamy synthpop, combined via those clear images of a Scandinvavian winter. Oh, and then there’s the title as well, obviously. In the end it’s one of the most tempting pieces of pop we witnessed this year.
09. Cigarettes After Sex – K.
We really don’t know whether Kristen ever made it back to the cosy warm bed of Greg Gonzalez but he surely got the best arguments it seems. The singer makes the intimate sound natural, the sexy sound classy without falling for the clichés love songs are usually packed with. It’s all in the flow and that makes this song so efficient.
08. Sampha – ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’
Sampha’s raw and emotional tribute to his mother who passed away in the fall of 2015 is one of this year’s best ballads as it keeps things pure and unfiltered. There’s actually nothing to add here. Let the song speak for itself.
07. LCD Soundsystem – ‘Call The Police’
That’s how you master the whole ‘Comeback’ thing: Returning with an epic 7-minute long glam/wave pop bastard that channels the finest of Bowie and New Order while sill showing that the sound of LCD Soundsystem is all about. James Murphy is on the loose, delivering a call to arms in a more subtle way. ‘The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold’ he says and that’s how new beginnings should sound like, even for a 47-year old.
06. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Humble’
It’s the credo of the year because we all could be a bit more humble every now and then, a bit more honest, real and less frightened. Kendrick’s wisdom disguised within his flow is the one we can and should all agree on. ‘I’m the realest n*gga after all’ he states in the end and, b*tch, we’re not arguing against him.
05. The War On Drugs – ‘Thinking Of A Place’
Eleven minutes to shut the world outside, forget the madness and join Adam Granduciel and his gang on a psychedelic trip to a better place. The epic length of the first single from this year’s new War On Drugs album plays a crucial part for its enjoyment. If forces you to actually take your time and allows you to sink deeper and deeper into its meditative character. If you do that, ultimate bliss might reward you in the end.
04. Algiers – ‘The Underside Of Power’
The situation is urgent, so the time was right for Algiers to finally shine. The American four-piece delivered the finest ‘call to arms’ anthem in the era of Trump because distinctive Franklin James Fisher manages to deliver the message of uproar with a great mixture of anger, determination and empathy. The result is a sinister but soulful raw gospel/ post-punk bastard that simply speaks out as it is. ‘It’s a game that can’t go on’ … Amen, brother!
03. Lorde – ‘Green Light’
Young love can’t happen without the god damn melodrama and there’s no more qualified person to write a proper pop song about that feeling than one in her early twenties. Green Light celebrates the bittersweet joy of a drunken night as Lorde plays the jealous ex-lover who drowns her pain by simply keeping the euphoria of the night alive to an unhealthy degree. In Green Light the story is as important as its catchy hook and that’s what true pop greatness should be about.
02. Slowdive- ‘Star Roving’
If you made your fanbase wait for 22 years you’d better make your comeback a good one. Easier said than done probably but not for a band like Slowdive whose first single since 1995 is a stunning return to form, a powerful and uplifting shoegaze rock anthem that might channel the band’s past glory but also shows that this second coming isn’t a pure retro affair.
01. Father John Misty – ‘Pure Comedy’
Has the world suddenly gone mad? Sorry folks but that’s always been the case. In six and a half minutes Josh Tillman sums up most of humanity’s absurdity and that challenge itself deserves all the credit in the world. All the flaws, all the madness, all the unnecessary conflicts, dogmas and beliefs – what’s it worth in the end if we’re blowing us all to hell anyway? It’s not about Trump (because it was written before him) it’s about all of us, an existential truth packed in one song. The ironic jokes might make you want to laugh but there’s just too much plain truth in every word of it. Pure Comedy defines 2017 better than any other song written this year. And we really hate to say it but each other’s all we’ve got.
Of course, this is just a small piece of the bigger picture. Find our Top 40 right next to an additional selection of the favourite NBHAP music from the past year in our accompanying playlist. Enjoy the best songs of 2017 while they are sill hot.