BEST OF 2017
Sometimes we get it right and that was certainly the case when we touted JP Cooper as one
of our ‘one’s to watch’ in 2017. His debut album Raised Under Grey Skies was a No 9 back
in October and it showcases the beautiful songwriting at the core of his music - blending
elements of folk and soul against the backdrop of his Manchester hometown. Even Stormzy
approves, dropping by on Momma’s Prayer.
Syd left behind Odd Future and The Internet (temporarily), along with ‘the Kyd’ part of her
moniker, to become a star in her own right. Debut album Fin displays a gentle and sensual
R&B which conjures up memories of Aaliyah and other 90s stalwarts. There is also an
added sophistication and, as with Frank Ocean, by embracing LGBT themes Syd’s music
feels like a bold move in a genre so often dominated by overt masculinity.
Tummy Ache is such a great song that it could well have garnered the New York duo this
award singlehandedly. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that their debut album Swear
I’m Good At This is a delightful riposte to all those who doubted that Alex Luciano and Noah
Bowman had the chops to make it. That’s not all, with Sixteen they have produced a classic
anthem for all confused teenagers and this is only the start.
We definitely weren’t expecting to include this year’s X Factor winners in our list, but then
a certain four-piece from Watford came along and charmed us with their original
compositions. By mixing urban grooves, catchy lyrics and infectious melodies (plus some
dance moves never seen before on UK television) the quartet won us over in style. That
runner up Grace Davies also flourished with her own material suggests that the 2017
competition was something truly unique.
Stormzy probably deserves this title for Gang Signs & Prayers
alone, a thrilling debut which brought grime to the masses.
Throw in a show-stealing appearance at this year’s Brits, a
blistering set at Glastonbury and a trio of MOBO awards and he
didn’t so much as breakthrough as bring a giant sledgehammer
to 2017. Having previously endorsed Jeremy Corbyn, Stormzy
continues to be an artist with a political voice, engaging a new
generation with both his music and his message. The future is not
just bright, it’s his for the taking.
Born in Cameroon before moving to New York,
Laetitia Tamko burst out of the Brooklyn DIY
scene this year with her debut album Infinite
Worlds. Of all the releases we heard in 2017, it’s
the one that feels most relevant for the troubled
times we’re living in. Her questions of identity
and belonging mirror those being asked by large
proportions of society, and hint at an artist that
is here to stay.
Who are we to ignore the listen-
ing tastes of over 4 billion YouTube
viewer? Helped along by rapper
Daddy Yankee and further boosted
by Justin Bieber’s remix,
Despacito truly went global
this year and is already the most
streamed song of all time. With
sensual Latin rhythms falling over
an urban backdrop, it taught us
how they do it down in Puerto Rico.
Judging by the success of the song,
it’s a party we all want an invite to.
THE GIFT OF
From the global dominance of Luis
Fonsi to the relative obscurity of
Aye Nako, but in many ways these
Brooklyn punks are even harder to
ignore. If you’ve not already dis-
covered this “community-oriented,
LGBT-friendly” band then The Gift
Of Hell is an ideal entry point. It’s a
near-perfect blend of 90s punk and
emo which bursts out of its sludgy
beginnings to reveal discordant
harmonies and prickly guitar
detours. What’s not to love.