Entertainment’s songs of the decade: 2017

2017 gave way to new talent and several artists jostling for the throne. Check out the wide variety of the year’s best music below.


(Shane Guilfoyle / Amherst Wire)

For the next few weeks, Amherst Wire entertainment is bringing the best of the decade right to you. We’ve taken the best and most memorable songs of the decade to give you the ultimate nostalgia trip. Check out our 2017 picks for a blast from the past.

“House” – EARTHGANG ft. Mick Jenkins

Jonathan Kermah, editor in chief 

Atlanta based rap duo EARTHGANG has been releasing projects at the highest of quality for years, but it wasn’t until they were backed by J.Cole’s Dreamville that the duo received proper recognition on the commercial level. Their three EPs released under Dreamville “Rags,” “Robots” and “Royalty” showed Dr. Dot and Johnny Venus’s wide range of styles.

“House” is the ultimate example of (for lack of a better term) vibe music. The second Venus sings “I pray some day you find what you need in this lifetime,” me and my headphones are lifted into the stratosphere from the divine vocals alone.

Each of the three rappers carry their own weight on this track, but when Chicago native Mick Jenkins’s verse comes, it feels like the song shifts as Jenkins brings the listener back to reality. As he tells a story of rags to riches, and then has fun surprising likely racist waitresses and retail workers that assume he’s broke.

“That’s why I could never do it so casually
Any moment I could be another casualty
In the Gucci store, they ask “Just browsing?”
I told the b**** purchasing actually” -Mick Jenkins

With every listen, this song feels more therapeutic. Take a second to hear “get what you need” on the hook, and just let your mind and soul rest.

Other picks: “Slippery” – Migos ft. Gucci Mane, “Brown Steel” – Choker

“DNA.” – Kendrick Lamar

Trevor Wilson, editor

Despite releasing instant classics like “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” and “To Pimp a Butterfly” earlier in his illustrious career, Kendrick’s biggest year to date was 2017. With his best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning “DAMN.” Kendrick’s third studio album sold over 1.3 million units and is 3x platinum.

With “DNA.,” the album’s second track ramps “DAMN.” up to 11, and slaps listeners in the face with aggression and poise. King Kendrick is boastful and adopts multiple viewpoints with lyrics addressing his heritage and culture. Produced by the legendary Mike WiLL Made-It, the beat maintains an uptempo, booming crossbreed of trap and Kendrick’s own style. With a little over a minute left in the track, “DNA.” flips on its head and delivers a wicked beat switch that literally brought me to tears.

“DNA.” was just one of the many standout tracks on Kendrick’s acclaimed “DAMN.” and the entire record could find a spot on this playlist.

Other picks: “See You Again” – Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis, “Incredible” – Future

“Bodak Yellow” – Cardi B

Brianna Silva, writer

While Cardi B appeared on season six of the reality TV series “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” it wasn’t until the release of her breakout hit “Bodak Yellow,” that put her on the musical map. The song — which features a distinct rhyme and rhythm — spread like wildfire and quickly became a modern feminist anthem. Cardi B asserts her dominance with brutally honest lyrics like, “If I see you and I don’t speak / That means I don’t f*** with you / I’m a boss, you a worker b**** / I make bloody moves.” Simply put, “Bodak Yellow” has put the fresh female twist the hip hop industry and created a pathway for a whole new generation of female rappers. Cardi B is challenging the industry one song at a time.

Other picks: “Despacito” – Lusi Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee, “Sorry Not Sorry” – Demi Lovato

“1-800-273-8255” – Logic ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid

Nasya Blackshear, writer

Love him or hate him, Logic had a global impact when he released the song “1-800-273-8255.” Using the Suicide Prevention Hotline’s number as a title and featuring two up-and-coming artists like Alessia Cara and Khalid, Logic created a socially conscious masterpiece. Speaking towards his one dark thoughts with lyrics like “I don’t want to be alive / I don’t want to be alive / I just wanna die today / I just wanna die,” Logic opens up a dialogue about suicide and suicide prevention. However the song takes an uplifting twist when shifting the lyrics to “I want you to be alive / I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die today / You don’t gotta die.” There is something so amazing about this song and the impact that it’s had on people’s lives, even my own. This song is an empowering fight song that speaks to those young and old in order to hopefully make a difference.

Other picks: “Feel It Still” – Portugal. The Man, “idontwannabeyouanymore” – Billie Eilish

“Drew Barrymore” – SZA

Astghik Dion, editor

Many women feel as if they have to cater to men’s desires in order to uphold the power dynamic in a relationship. Insecurity, loss of self worth and comparison to other women can manifest as a result, such is the topic of SZA’s first single off of her debut studio album, “Ctrl.”

The song – titled after SZA’s favorite actress, “Drew Barrymore”- repeatedly questions the listener if she’s good enough to be loved. “Am I warm enough for you?”

Drew Barrymore is someone who a lot of young girls have grown up with and feel a certain familiarity with, including the R&B star. 

“She was lashing out because she was lonely and pissed that her life was like this. I felt that,” said SZA in an interview with Rolling Stone

The entire album explores feminine power, and how it can get deteriorated by people who don’t deserve to hold the power. It is composed like a traditional R&B record, with elements of indie rock and electronic influences. 

She had already made her imprint in the music industry long before “Ctrl” with her highly praised projects such as “S” and “Z,” as well as her collaborations with fellow Top Dawg members, Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad. Yet, after her mainstream debut not only did her voice grow to achieve various awards such as Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Female Artist, but she became a recognized beacon of motivation for young women. Through her music, and her platform she is preaching independence and the right to live a life apathetic towards the judgement of others. 

Other picks: “Y U DON’T LOVE ME (MISS AMERIKKKA)” – Joey Bada$$, “Slush Puppy” – King Krule

“Lights Out” – Royal Blood

Adam Buckley, writer

Royal Blood’s “Lights Out” is the heir to the swaggering fuzz riff dynasty founded by bands like Kyuss and the White Stripes. The band, a two-piece from Brighton UK, makes up for a lack of a guitarist by incorporating a variety of effects onto lead singer Mike Kerr’s short-scale bass, processing the grooves into something between guitar squeals and subwoofers on overdrive. Drummer Ben Thatcher lays a machine-efficient groove under the bassline, propelling the track forward and keeping those processed bass riffs in tight. 

Hail to the kings.

Other picks: “One More Light” – Linkin Park, “Highway Tune” – Greta van Fleet

“New Rules” – Dua Lipa

Chloe Lindahl, writer

Despite it’s upbeat tempo and empowering lyrics, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” defines the heartbreak and struggle it takes to get over an ex. The innovative pop anthem resonated with fans everywhere charting no. 1 in the U.K and no. 6 in the U.S. The accompanying music video is meant to empower and inspire women to have one each other’s back and lean on each other’s strength. The visuals taken from the Confidante Hotel in Miami create a stunning video that helped promote the song to fame

“It’s the breakup song that I wish I had when I was breaking up with someone … This is me taking charge,” Lipa stated in an interview.

“New Rules” helped launch Lipa’s career to the success story it is today and only gives us a taste of what this break out artist is capable of.

Other picks: “Caroline” – Amine, “Perfect” – Ed Sheeran ft. Beyonce

“Might As Well” – Future

Shane Guilfoyle, writer

Today, we’re turning our attention backward to Future’s 2017 self-entitled album, “Future.” Over 20 tracks, the project spans a run time of an hour and 14 minutes, with features from Kendrick Lamar, Drake and YG. Hendrix maintained the bulk of this project for personal records that position contemplative lyricism atop production that feels both familiar and new. On Metacritic, the album saw a score of 67, with generally favorable review based upon 84 ratings. 

“Might as Well” falls within my Mount Rushmore of Future songs, with “The Percocet and Stripper Joint,” “Temptation,” and “Codeine Crazy.” Nearing the decade’s end, the record remains amid my top 25 most played songs as number 16. 

Produced by Tarentino, the track carries moody 808s, with high hats and kicks that induce a persistent bounce. What binds the melody together, for me, is the incorporated piano sample, “Owl” by Arcade Fire – a score that was pulled from Spike Jonze’s “Her.” 

Future’s lyrics here are one of the few which I can recite front to back. With undefeated flow and a habit of flexing, Hendrix delivers notable lines like “Child support gettin’ heavy, it’s hard not to get offended / Oh, you maxin’ out your credit card? Like it wasn’t hard for me /I just bought a new Bugatti for you / So I ain’t have to scheme (fact)” with and chorus that gives props to Hakeem Olajuwon, “Raw diamonds on lean (hey) / I took off just like a Rocket (I’m gone) / Olajuwon, Hakeem (fact).

Overall, “Might as Well” is a song I regularly find myself returning to. Brimming with references and notability, the track repeatedly offers a new aspect to unpack over the numerous listens. If I were to recommend Future to a new audience, I would say “Might as Well” is essential. 

Other picks: “Slide” – Calvin Harris ft. Frank Ocean, Migos, “Negro” – Chief Keef

“The Story of O.J.” – Jay-Z

Julia Donohue, editor

Sparking a shift toward global diversity, 2017 marks the beginning of a dormant volcano exploding. “4:44” and “Melodrama” sustain the build up of a space for everyone in music and the ability to transform. When Jay-Z started, he sold CDs out of his car, with “The Story of O.J.” he plays into his wealth and acknowledges the power he has acclaimed. Yet his wealth allows him to overtake the woes that plague his community.

“I told him, “Please don’t die over the neighborhood/ That your mama rentin’/ Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood/ That’s how you rinse it.” – Jay-Z

Other picks: “From The Dining Table” – Harry Styles, “Writer in the Dark” – Lorde

“Praying” – Kesha

Kacey Connolly, editor

From 2009 to 2012, pop artist Kesha gave us iconic bops like “Tik Tok” and “Your Love Is My Drug.” However, after her 2012 “Warrior” album, the singer seemingly disappeared from the spotlight. What the general public didn’t know at the time was that Kesha was battling various lawsuits against her producer Dr. Luke and the alleged physical and emotional abuse he had caused her.

In 2016, Kesha’s story broke the internet, circulating the hashtag #FreeKe$ha as she was unable to create any new music. This event sparked even more protest from the #MeToo movement that had already been taking over social media. After a heavy battle, Kesha eventually dropped the charges, stating, “this lawsuit has been so heavy on my once free spirit, and I can only pray to one day feel that happiness again.”

In July of 2017, Kesha released her first single since 2012, “Praying,” that eluded to the abuse she had been suffering throughout the years. With the lines, “Oh, but after everything you’ve done / I can thank you for how strong I have become” and “we both know all the truth I could tell / I’ll just say this is ‘I wish you farewell,’” Kesha confronts Dr. Luke in both empowering and humbling ways.

A truly iconic song not just to 2017 but to the music industry as a whole, Kesha did more than impress with her debut single after five years of silence, triggering full body chills at her first live performance of “Praying” at YouTube Space LA.

Other picks: “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles, “Stay” – Alessia Cara

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