The 20 best songs of 2017 (so far)
With the first six months of 2017 behind us, EW is rounding up the best songs of the year (so far), ranging from Lorde’s catchy comeback “Green Light” to Calvin Harris’ summery “Slide” with Frank Ocean and Migos. Read on for our picks, and head here to check out the 20 best albums.
20. “T-Shirt,” Migos
The ‘migos have become omnipresent, guesting on songs by artists like Katy Perry, Calvin Harris, and Liam Payne, but they’re still arguably better on their own. Exhibit A: This swaggering standout — “Bad and Boujee” notwithstanding — from the trio’s latest album, Culture, where Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff ebulliently trade verses over a skittering trap beat. And don’t miss the cut’s essential, Revenant-channeling music video. —Eric Renner Brown
19. “Bad Liar,” Selena Gomez
The most delightful use of a sample this year: The bass riff from the Talking Heads’ jittery post-punk tune “Psycho Killer” underpins a bright and buoyant pop ditty from the Queen of Instagram. One of her most undeniable jams yet. –Kevin O’Donnell
18. “J-Boy,” Phoenix
The French foursome brings a shimmering, summery disco to life on this synth-heavy, sci-fi-tinged love song made especially otherworldly by frontman Thomas Mars’ dreamy falsetto. —Ariana Bacle
17. “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Sigrid
Scandinavia’s reputation for world-class pop music gets a re-up courtesy of this Norwegian singer, whose impassioned debut single makes her one of 2017’s most thrilling new discoveries. Get on board now. —Nolan Feeney
16. “Ballad of a Dying Man,” Father John Misty
“Ballad of the Dying Man” distills Father John Misty’s 74-minute opus Pure Comedy to its essence. On the shambling, Randy Newman-esque gem, the raconteur addresses the futility of modern social media addiction though the lens of a terminally ill patient. “Eventually the dying man takes his final breath, but first checks his news feed to see what he’s ’bout to miss,” he sings. “It occurs to him a little late in the game, we leave as clueless as we came.” —E.R.B.
15. “I’m the One,” DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne
No matter your tax bracket, this star-studded affair will make you feel like you’re bouncing on a trampoline on a private island thanks to its infectious cheer and luxe, gummy-bear beat. —N.F.
14. “Want You Back,” Haim
No, it’s not a Jackson 5 cover, but the sister trio’s sweet, sunny harmonies and Springsteen-y guitar work are still one for the family-band hall of fame. —N.F.
13. “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” Sampha
The British R&B singer has emerged as the secret sauce for artists like Kanye West, Drake, and Solange; he’s delivered star turns on each of their recent LPs. He’s equally stellar on his own—especially on this tender tune about the childhood piano in his mother’s London home. —Madison Vain
12. “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar
Lamar’s biggest commercial smash to date — “HUMBLE.” ended Ed Sheeran 11-week “Shape of You” reign atop the Hot 100 in early May — is a three-minute, Mike Will Made-It-produced burner that also contains some of the MCs best lyrics: “I’m so f—in’ sick and tired of the Photoshop,” he rhymes at one point. “Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” —E.R.B.
11. “Swish Swish,” Katy Perry
Whether this is Perry’s scathing response to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” is the least interesting thing about “Swish Swish.” With its ’90s-house throwback groove, the pop star’s Witness single deserves to be the party-starting jam of the summer — it’s already inspired a dance-club move as memorable as Madonna’s “Vogue” and Janet Jackson’s “If.” —K.O.
10. “Give Me a Reason,” Ibibio Sound Machine
Throw on a headband and grab your leotard: British-Nigerian party starter Eno Williams’ kinetic trip through highlife music and ’80s pop is guaranteed to make you want to move. —N.F.
9. “9 (After Coachella),” Cashmere Cat feat. MØ and SOPHIE
No mind-altering drugs necessary: The Norwegian producer offers the most shocking, off-the-wall drop of the year while MØ provides a cathartic hook. —N.F.
8. “Thinking of a Place,” War on Drugs
If Neil Young recorded his 1975 epic “Cortez the Killer” at an ashram, it’d sound a lot like this dazzling 11-minute Zen-out from rock journeyman Adam Granduciel. —Kevin O’Donnell
7. “Ascension,” Gorillaz feat. Vince Staples
This standout from Humanz is both party and protest. Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn throws it back to ’90s drum and bass with a frenetic groove, but Staples brings fresh perspective as he condemns racial injustice. —A.B.
6. “Issues,” Julia Michaels
“I got issues/But you got ’em too”: Oh, honey, don’t we all. After writing hits for half the Hot 100, Michaels proves her own pop-star bona fides on this plucky ode to the neurotic mess love makes of the best of us. —Leah Greenblatt
5. “Passionfruit,” Drake
Sad Drake strikes a perfect balance between grooving and grieving on this breezy dancehall-flavored jam. —M.V.
4. “Love,” Lana Del Rey
No stylistic 180s, no wild surprises. Just Lana doing what she does better than almost anyone: sumptuous production, thousand-thread-count melodies, and that intoxicating siren of a voice. —L.G.
3. “Green Light,” Lorde
With a wonky rhyme scheme and an out-of-nowhere key change, there’s a lot about “Green Light” that shouldn’t work, but all those twists build up to 2017’s most explosive chorus. —N.F.
2. “Happy People,” Little Big Town
The quartet’s acoustic ditty is the sonic Be-In of the year, with a heartwarming message of inclusivity that transcends party lines. —K.O.
1. “Slide,” Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean and Migos
The track’s roster sounds like it was programmed by iTunes’ shuffle button, but what a weird, sweet union it is: a Tigger bounce of a beat, Ocean’s lazy-Sunday vocals, and a piano line so purely summertime it should come with its own inner tube. —L.G.