Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Top 35 Albums of 2017

 Another year has come to a close and it is once again time to count down the hottest albums of the year. In 2016, we ranked the top 50 albums. We could have done that for 2017 as well, but there did not seem to be 50 albums worth mentioning, so we have knocked the chart down to 35 albums. 2017 was the year that ended many hiatuses with the studio LP return of P!nk, Fergie, Shania Twain, and Eminem to name a few. 

2017 was a tumultuous year between the current state of the US government, personal struggles, and the loss of some great musicians such as Chester Bennington. These challenges inspired some great music. On the political homefront, we heard from Eminem, Katy Perry, and P!nk among others. Without further ado, let's count down the best albums of the year. 

35. Train – A Girl A Bottle A Boat
Release Date: January 27

Train kicks off the year in music with another rather solid installment into their discography. Led by the insatiably catchy single Play That Song, they quickly lit up the singles chart, peaking just outside the top 40 at #41. The album packs mostly solid tracks with just a few duds that could have been left on a demo tape somewhere.

Tracks: 7/11 – 64% - 640 points
Plays: 111 points
Total: 751 points
Keepers: Play That Song, Drink Up, Loverman, The News, Silver Dollar, Valentine, Working Girl
Duds: You Better Believe, What Good Is Saturday, Lottery, Lost and Found

34. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues

Release Date: November 3
Maroon 5 took their sweet time unfolding this era and they delivered some solid pop gems, but I expected much more for the wait. The album is heavy with features, most notably including stellar performances from SZA and Julia Michaels. 
Tracks: 9/15 – 60% - 600 points
Plays: 155 points
Total: 755 points
Keepers: What Lovers Do (feat. SZA), Wait, Help Me Out (feat. Julia Michaels), Who I Am (feat.  LunchMoney Lewis), Don’t Wanna Know (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Cold (feat. Future), Best 4 U, Bet My Heart, Whiskey (feat. A$AP Rocky)
Duds: Closure, Plastic Rose, Girls Like You, Lips On You, Denim Jacket, Visions

33. Lee Ann Womack – The Lonely, The Lonesome, and the Gone
 Release Date: October 27 
It doesn't seem that country radio is doing much checking for Lee Ann Womack these days, but her album is one of the best country releases of the year. The darker, heavy vibe mixed with the 1960s-ish, Hollywood sound makes for a remarkable work of art. Don't miss this.
Tracks: 10/14 – 71% - 710 points
Plays: 63 points
Total: 773 points
Keepers: All the Trouble, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone, Bottom of the Barrel, Mama Lost Her Smile, Wicked, Hollywood, Sunday, Long Black Veil, He Called Me Baby, Talking Behind Your Back
Duds: Take the Devil Out Of Me, Shine on a Rainy Day, End of the End of the World, Someone Else’s Heartache

32. Fifth Harmony – Fifth Harmony

Release Date: August 25
Without Camila in the ground, the 4 remaining girls set out to prove they could survive without her. As Camila saw much more commercial success than the group, they released their most generic album to date. There are a few good tracks, but most of the album is unremarkable.
Tracks: 7/10 – 70% - 700 points
Plays: 91 points
Total: 791 points
Keepers: Down (feat. Gucci Mane), Sauced Up, Messy, Bridges, Lonely Night, Deliver, Make You Mad
Duds: He Like That, Angel, Don’t Say You Love Me

31. The Chainsmokers – Memories… Do Not Open
Release Date: April 7
After the Halsey assisted Closer infected radio waves for what seemed to be eternity, The Chainsmokers moved onto their first full LP, which surprising did not include the massive hit. The album is a solid first effort, though some of the tracks sound vaguely similar. The Coldplay track is definitely a highlight.
Tracks: 8/12 – 66% - 660 points
Plays: 152 points
Total: 812 points
Keepers: Paris, Something Just Like This (feat. Coldplay), The One, Honest, Bloodstream, It Won’t Kill Ya (feat. Louane), Young, Break Up Every Night
Duds: My Type (feat. Emily Warren), Don’t Say (feat. Emily Warren), Wake Up Alone (feat. Jhen√© Aiko), Last Day Alive (feat. Florida Georgia Line)

30. The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful
Release Date: September 22 
The Killers swept into the final portion of 2017 with their most solid album since 2004's Hot Fuss. With the catchiness of Somebody Told Me, The Man did not see much radio success, but that does not go to say that the track wasn't completely amazing. There are some other awesome tracks that you shouldn't miss as well.  
Tracks: 8/11 – 73% - 730 points
Plays: 91 points
Total: 821 points
Keepers: The Man, Rut, Life to Come, Run for Cover, Money on Straight, The Calling, Tyson vs. Douglas, Some Kind of Love
Duds: Wonderful Wonderful, Out of My Mind, Have All the Songs Been Written?

29. The Script – Freedom Child
Release Date:September 1
The Script pulls its act together after the last abysmal album to drop a solid pop album in 2017. The title track and Divided States of America take on the political climate and are both pop perfection.
Tracks: 10/14 – 71% - 710 points
Plays: 113 points
Total: 823 points
Keepers: Rain, Divided States of America, Love Not Lovers, Make Up, Written in the Scars, Freedom Child, Mad Love, Arms Open, Rock the World, Deliverance
Duds: No Man is an Island, Wonders, Eden, Awakening

28. G-Eazy  - The Beautiful & The Damned
Release Date: December 15
As one of the final releases of 2017, G-Eazy gives us his best album yet and one of the best hip hop/rap albums of the year. The sultry, smooth Him and I is radio gold, while No Limit is a banger. The introspective tracks, specifically Eazy, are definitely highlights.
Tracks: 15/20 – 75% - 750 points
Plays: 79 points
Total: 829 points
Keepers: No Limit (feat. A$AP Rocky & Cardi B), Him & I (feat. Halsey), Sober (feat. Charlie Puth), The Plan, The Beautiful & The Damned (feat. Zoe Nash), Crash & Burn (feat. Kehlani), But a Dream, Legend, Pick Me Up (feat. Anna of the North), Leviathan (feat. Sam Martin), Pray for Me, Eazy (feat. Son Lux), Charles Brown (feat. E-40 & Jay Ant), No Less (feat. SG Lewis & Louis Mattrs)
Duds: Summer in December, Gotdamn, Mama Always Told Me (feat. Madison Love), Fly Away (feat. Ugochi), That’s A Lot
27. Nickelback – Feed the Machine
Release Date: June 16 
Nickelback releases their best album since 2008 this year. The political nature of the album is immediately apparent from the artwork, but hits its peak on the song Silent Majority. Another solid highlight is the reminiscent song Every Time We're Together. Say what you want about Nickelback, but they knew what they were doing this year. 
Tracks: 8/11 – 73% - 730 points
Plays: 99 points
Total: 829 points
Keepers: Feed the Machine, Song On Fire, For the River, Silent Majority, Every Time We’re Together
Duds: Coin for the Ferryman, The Betrayal (Act I), The Betrayal (Act III)

26. Danielle Bradbery – I Don’t Believe We’ve Met
 Release Date: December 1 
Danielle's sophomore album grows in maturity in leaps and bounds from her first studio effort. Potential, Worth It, and Human Diary are the definitive highlights of one of the best country albums to drop in 2017.
Tracks: 8/10 – 80% - 800 points
Plays: 82 points
Total: 882 points
Keepers: Worth It, Potential, Human Diary, Hello Summer, Can’t Stay Mad, Messy, Laying Low, What Are We Doing
Duds: Sway, Red Wine + White Couch

25. Lea Michele – Places
 Release Date: April 28
Lea Michele’s haunting vocals are back on her sophomore effort. The lead single, Love Is Alive, was decent, but underwhelming. Luckily, she was holding back and this album delivers. Tornado and Getaway Car are not to be missed, nor is the Corey Monteith tribute Hey You. Michele still hasn’t segued her way into the world of mainstream radio, but continues to be a solid artist.
Tracks: 8/11 – 73% - 730 points
Plays: 167 points
Total: 897 points
Keepers: Hey You, Tornado, Believer, Run to You, Anything’s Possible, Getaway Car, Sentimental Memories, Love Is Alive
Duds: Heavy Love, Proud, Heavenly

24. Kelsea Ballerini – Unapologetically
 Release Date: November 3 
It has been a long time coming, but Kelsea finally gives us her sophomore studio effort in 2017. Like Danielle Bradbery, Kelsea matures drastically and the music is so good. She crashes the country scene unapologetically and we're certainly not sorry.
Tracks: 10/12 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 71 points
Total: 901 points
Keepers: Graveyard, Miss Me More, Get Over Yourself, Machine Heart, In Between, End of the World, Legends, Unapologetically, Roses, Music
Duds: High School, I Hate Love Songs

23. Shania Twain – Now
 Release Date: September 29
As you can imagine, my hype factor for this album was off of the scale, given her 15 year hiatus since her last full length LP. We were all rooting for her triumphant return to put her ex-producer & ex-husband Robert “Mutt” Lange to shame for his misdeeds. However, it appears that Mutt, a fitting name for a cheating dog, was what made Shania successful. The lead single, Life’s About to Get Good, was fun and upbeat, but the majority of the album reads as monotone. The mid-tempo tracks do nothing to compliment Shania’s voice and the album drags on. Some tracks aren’t terrible enough to mark as duds, but they certainly aren’t surefire hits either. I hope she can rebound from this on her next studio effort.
Tracks: 11/16 – 69% - 690 points
Plays: 216 points              
Total: 906 points
Keepers: Life’s About to Get Good, Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed, Poor Me, Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl, We Got Something They Don’t, Because of You, All in All, Home Now, I’m Alright, Roll Me on the River
Duds: More Fun, Let’s Kiss and Make Up, You Can’t Buy Love, Soldier, Light of My Life

22. Rachel Platten – Waves
Release Date: October 27
Rachel Platten's Waves crash down on us during the fall line up. Despite not churning out a radio hit, she kept it coming. The album sold minimally, but the release isn't bad at all. If you have yet to listen, you should do so. Hands and Grace are incredibly emotional.
Tracks: 10/13 – 77% - 770 points
Plays: 138 points
Total: 908 points
Keepers: Perfect For You, Broken Glass, Loose Ends, Labels, Loveback, Hands, Grace, Shivers, Fooling You
Duds: Whole Heart, Collide, Keep Up
21. Niall Horan – Flicker
Release: October 20
 It's hard for me to focus on an album that dropped a week after P!nk's. I wasn't ready yet to shift gears, but I do thoroughly enjoy this album. Too Much to Ask is the standout tracks, but This Town is close behind too. The best full studio effort by a Directioner this year. Spoiler alert: you're not going to find Harry Styles on this list.
Tracks: 10/13 – 77% - 770 points
Plays: 158 points
Total: 928 points
Keepers: Too Much to Ask, Slow Hands, This Town, The Tide, Seeing Blind (feat. Maren Morris), On My Own, Fire Away, On the Loose, Paper Houses, You and Me
Duds: Flicker, Since We’re Alone, Mirrors

20. Eminem – Revival
 Release Date: December 15 
Eminem was a late entry this year, which hurt him in the plays department due to limited time. However, there is some serious gold on the album. While delivering like Em always does, the album seems to lack much growth since The Marshall Mathers LP2. A lot of the matter feels recycled and nothing feels incredibly inventive like The Real Slim Shady or Without Me was.
Tracks: 16/19 – 84% - 840 points
Plays: 101 points
Total: 941 points
Keepers: Walk on Water (feat. Beyonce), Untouchable, Like Home (feat. Alicia Keys), Believe, Chloraseptic (feat. PHRESHER), River (feat. Ed Sheeran), Remind Me, Revival (Interlude), Framed, Nowhere Fast (feat. Kehlani), Heat, Offended, Need Me (feat. P!nk), In Your Head, Castle, Arose
Duds: Remind Me (Intro), Bad Husband (feat. X Ambassadors), Tragic Endings (feat. Skylar Grey)

19. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
 Release Date: June 2 
The musical landscape of the pop world saw a lot of new solo artists land during the year. No one made quite the impact across the world that Dua Lipa did. While she hasn't been consistently pumping out hits in the US, New Rules is finding chart success. Hopefully, this will lead to more people discovering this amazing album.
Tracks: 14/17 – 82% - 820 points
Plays: 126 points
Total: 946 points
Keepers: New Rules, Garden, Thinking ‘Bout You, IDAGF, Genesis, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), No Goodbyes, Homesick, Last Dance, Begging, Lost in Your Light (feat. Miguel), Room for 2, Bad Together, Hotter Than Hell
Duds: Be The One, New Love, Dreams

18. Miley Cyrus – Younger Now
Release Date: September 29
Miley tones it down after quite a few years of being off the hook. Unfortunately, Malibu was the only commercially successful single and Miley scrapped the promo for the album immediately after the release to focus on The Voice. The title track is the best track. 
Tracks: 9/11 – 82% - 820 points
Plays: 189 points
Total: 1,009 points
Keepers: Younger Now, Malibu, Bad Mood, Love Someone, Week Without You, Rainbowland (feat. Dolly Parton), Thinkin’, She’s Not Him, I Miss You So Much
Duds: Inspired, I Would Die For You

17. Lorde – Melodrama
 Release Date: June 16
Lorde’s long awaited sophomore album finds its way to light finally this year. It lacks some of the charm of her first album, but it still churns out some amazing pop gold such as Green Light, Perfect Places and Homemade Dynamite. In fact, despite it not being as explosive as Pure Heroine, it actually seems to have a more consistent lineup. Lorde is a complex character who does strange things, like her weird dancing-only VMA performance of Homemade Dynamite, but she has our hearts. A sharp decline in sales in comparison to her debut shows that her staying power may be lacking. Time will tell.
Tracks: 9/11 – 81% - 810 points
Plays: 203 points
Total: 1,013 points
Keepers: Green Light, Sober, Homemade Dynamite, The Louvre, Liability, Hard Feelings/Loveless, Supercut, Perfect Places, Sober II (Melodrama)
Duds: Writer in the Dark, Liability (Reprise)

16. Ed Sheeran - ÷
 Release Date: March 3
While I don’t fully understand the massive appeal of Ed Sheeran, it is undeniable that he is a juggernaut in the music industry. ÷ proves to be, in my opinion, his most solid record to date. Shape of You was a massive hit and he delivered one of the biggest opening weeks in the US for 2017. The music is infectious and I was hooked. It sucked me in, but the reason why still eludes me. It definitely helped him that he struck in March when the music scene wasn’t so busy, which allowed me to pay it more attention.
Tracks: 12/16 – 75% - 750 points
Plays: 264 points
Total: 1,014 points
Keepers: Castle on the Hill, Shape of You, Eraser, Perfect, Galway Girl, New Man, Happier, What Do I Know?, Barcelona, Bibia Be Ye Ye, Nancy Mulligan, Save Myself
Duds: Dive, Hearts Don’t Break Around Here, How Would You Feel (Paean), Supermarket Flowers