Top Ten Songs of 2017 with the Best LyricsSo, this one is for those who say that 2017's music was all style and no substance. Whether it is poetic wording, beautiful imagery, complex structure or serious conscious subject matter - these songs have something to say.
The Top Ten
This heavily emotional song is about Cro crashing into a tree with his car, and seeing his life flash before his eyes. This is intense and feels like straight from the heart. I also wrote an English translation which I will add as a post just now.
With symbolic imagery, Nickelback managed to capture the fear of what many cultures around the world are more and more likely to do: voting for a seemingly strong leader who blames a certain group, offering a seemingly simple solution for complex problems.
Even as a fan, I didn't know they had that much political power in them.
Björk has always been a poet who recites her work in the form of music (in fact, the lyrics of her "Debut" album were initially written as poems), but on the meditative and surreal journey that is "Utopia" she reached a new peak of lyrical artfulness. "Body Memory" is a song about sexual pleasure... and she savors this experience as a form of spiritual relevation.
As I said on an earlier list, this song's topic is a deep look into a specifially American topic, namely the African American community in this very society, but to me, as someome living in another country, it came like a big package of often devastating and always honest thoughts about belonging to one minority group within a nation's society. For example, the difference between house and field during the time of slavery is something nobody would know over here.
Eminem tackles the racism of the police following the frequent incidents of African Americans being shot. What I like about this and what makes it all the more impactful is how Eminem does it. He doesn't use a balladesque beat, and neither does he have a "hey, listen up, we got to talk" approach other similarly themed songs have. Rather than that, the beat is uptempo and punk-ish, and the lyrics cynical and satirical, without taking away the importance of the message. I think this way people are more likely to truly listen to it, because it doesn't off as pretentious.
Of course, my much praised favorite song of the year mustn't be missed on this list. And while the song's full impact is achieved by the symbiosis of music, performance and lyrics, the latter are also great on their own. Cro reflects on his own mortality, especially as an artist, and starts to realize that the god-like fame and insane amount of money he made since 2012 aren't the same as being of importance to music. It's all temporary, and when he dies, what will be remembered of him and his music? That's why he "doesn't see his bed for days" working on his music (he also produces, sings and writes), because he wants to leave a legacy, and be a great artist, not just a contemporary pop star.
The video edit has a different verse than the main edit. The latter has a rapped verse, while the one I featured here is entirely sung.
Although I might not agree with his religious views, one has to say that this essay about a hypothetical perfect world is brilliantly written, coming off as both lyrical and natural. Kendrick somehow manages to neither sound basic nor pretentious. His lyricism is way above standards, and he has a certain intellect, but he never has a gimmicky conscious approach.
SpongeBozz tells from his early days with a drug dealing stepfather to his battle rap days up to the release and indexing of his chart topping 2015 debut. While other artists already did that, and the idea is nowhere near as deep as other songs on this list, the lyrical quality is as brilliant as it gets. The entire 9 minutes we excitedly listen to what he has to tell about him (note that he stayed entirely anonymous before this track). The main reason I included it is because it has the best rhyming I have ever heard in a song. Even if you don't understand German, listen to the audio sample and try to count the rhymes.
"no. 105" is a tricky little song, because it has a twist in it. If you listen to the audio sample, you will hear a sung English language sample about breasts. Later on, Cro raps about artificially creating his perfect woman. In fact, it's on the border to the sexist. Doesn't sound like a song to quality for this list, right? Well, while you continue to casually listen to the track and still consider it a lackluster filler on an otherwise great and conscious album (my number one album of 2017, by the way), suddenly, it gets darker. Not only does the beat now sound as if broken and twisted, Cro also gets lyrically more frustrated, even somewhat frightened and paranoid: the "perfect" woman he created has no personality, she never disagrees, and always expresses his love to him on a level it's gotten too casual. It's getting repetitive and loses its meaning, and he starts to question if these feelings are even real or only part of the program. While the woman looks beautiful on the ...more
So, as for the other items on this list, I had a specific reason to put it there: conscious lyrics, clever twists, artful wordings, complex rhymes, and more. But I shouldn't forget that it doesn't take all that to have great lyrics. Sometimes it is enough if you capture a mood and emotion with your songwriting craft to get through to me, and Lana Del Rey did just that by her nostalgic song about teenage love. Truly masterfully written.
A deep track about Travis having a mental breakdown. Hits hard.
About a dead, lonely Mr. Bowie being agitated over his death and how he won’t be able to make more songs for us.