2017 Recap: Martin Canine's Top 30 Favorite Songs of the Year

Martin_Canine
NOTE: This list was compiled on January 1st, 2018 and the text of the post was finished and released on January 4th. Of course, I do not know all songs of 2017 and the list could change in the future (e.g. because I discover songs of the year I did not hear yet, or simply because my opinion on the ranking changes). This post captures my opinion, taste and emotion at the moment and is supposed to reflect on what I thought of the year right after it was over. So, have fun!


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So, 2017 has been quite the depressing year for me personally. And surprisingly, for many others as well. In 2016, a lot of terrible stuff happened that affected the world. But 2017 apparently was the year of personal crisis. I heard many stories of people who suffered much this year... stories of people who were affected by domestic abuse, people who became life threateningly ill or people who, like me, lost someone dear. Nevertheless... life goes on for us. And it wasn't an all negative year, despite this might be what we remember now. Life has so much to offer and while the dark times may seem to tear us down, the good sides more than outweigh every temporary situation that may seem to eat us up.

So enough of all the negativity!
What I do remember, apparently unlike many other people, is that I heard some awesome music in 2017. I know, it’s “the worst year in music history” and so on and so forth. Quite funny, since I remember that all the 21 years I lived in were “worst years”. Well, at least until the next one started. And 2018 started just now, so… I think it’s time for a recap.

May I present to you…
...my Top 30 songs of 2017 (and one sentence per item as a short “justification”).

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30. ApeCrime - Zombie
Length: 4:02
Album: Exit
Genre: German hip hop, conscious hip hop, trap

One sentence review:
This morbid yet very modern tale of how superficial beauty and the longing for more attention overtake an internet star’s personality, performed over one of the year’s three greatest hip hop beats, marks the beginning of ApeCrime as a legit rap group, in contrast to their previous light hearted music aimed at YouTube audiences.

29. Anastacia - Stamina
Length: 3:46
Album: Evolution
Genre: pop, soul

One sentence review:
Wonderfully written, this powerful ballad about not giving up even if weak and beaten, is performed and composed in the tradition of the classic divas of soul, and gives the year its share of nostalgia.

28. Kollegah & Farid Bang - Jung brutal gutaussehend 2017
Length: 3:58
Album: Jung brutal gutaussehend 3
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop

One sentence review:
Drenched in testosterone and peppered with intelligent word play, “Der Boss” and “Der Banger” aim at the entire German hip hop scene and leave a trail of devastation and multisyllabic rhymes wherever they kick in.

27. Cardi B - Bodak Yellow
Length: 3:36
Album: -
Genre: American hip hop, trap

One sentence review:
Female strength that is delivered with iron will charisma, a flow so smooth that it’s almost liquid, as well as a feverish dream of a trap beat equals one of US hip hop’s most irresistible jams of the year and introduced me to the best newcomer of the year.

26. Eat Your Heart Out - Shape of You
Length: 3:56
Album: Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 7 (various artists)
Genre: emo, pop punk

One sentence review:
Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” topped the charts of almost every country it was released in, and while the melody and premise always struck me as good, it is this completely unknown cover version by a newcomer band on the rise that truly got through to me with its rough emotion and punkish attitude (also much is owed due to the singer being female).

25. Cardi B feat. Josh X - Never Give Up
Length: 2:40
Album: Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2
Genre: American hip hop, pop rap

One sentence review:
As proven on this pop rap ballad about peer pressure and pill addiction, one of Cardi B’s major qualities is her ability to know what strength and independence truly means, and how it can be found - or lost - in different situations by different people.

24. Asking Alexandria - Into the Fire
Length: 3:58
Album: Asking Alexandria
Genre: emo, metalcore

One sentence review:
“Into the Fire” feels like the passionate, vivid love child of the Sin City trailer music and a carefully compiled selection of the best traits of 2010s emo music, merging the roughness of metalcore, the desperation of alternative rock and the sheer epicness of a big, massively atmospheric movie experience.

23. Marilyn Manson - Saturnalia
Length: 7:59
Album: Heaven Upside Down
Genre: industrial

One sentence review:
Relatively peaceful and little frustrating times can be quite the creativity killer for an artist who has something to say, and it feels like in the last years, Marilyn Manson’s inner rage was boiling quietly and now, in darker times, was finally ready to explode in a big way, as can be heard on the darkly poetic, unsettling imagery filled “Saturnalia”.

22. Eisbrecher - Was ist hier los?
Length: 3:33
Album: Sturmfahrt
Genre: Neue Deutsche Härte, political rock

One sentence review:
Greed, egoism, laziness and comfort is what motivates much of our actions, and of course causes the world to crumble to pieces - this statement has never sounded as frustrating and disillusioning as on the lead single of Eisbrecher’s first chart topping album - it also barely sounded as awesome.

21. TJ_beastboy & Mary Man - Modus
Length: 3:34
Album: CY-Beast lvl1
Genre: German hip hop, cyber hip hop, rap rock

One sentence review:
Taddl and Marley from Dat Adam created a more fun, more experimental and less conscious side project for the sole sake of creating a much less mainstream fashion of flexing, and on “Modus”, with its Daft Punk-ish chorus, Kanye-ish autotune crooning and Beastie Boy-ish rock attitude, they fully lived up to that premise.

20. Amy MacDonald - Dream On
Length: 3:19
Album: Under Stars
Genre: folk-pop, country

One sentence review:
I truly believe Amy MacDonald when she sings that she’s on top of the world, accompanied by her guitar, as there’s just something so naturally alive and honestly positive about her entire presence - voice, songwriting, guitar and melody - that we seem to forget all our sorrows.

19. Eko Fresh feat. Nedim Hazar - Life Goes On
Length: 3:16
Album: König von Deutschland
Genre: German hip hop, conscious hip hop

One sentence review:
The musically orient inspired storytelling song about a Syrian family that was raped, partly deadly wounded and robbed of their home, then fled to Germany hoping to have finally survived only to be killed by a radically right wing group, is the saddest song of the year - nothing to add from my side.

18. Björk - The Gate
Length: 6:33
Album: Utopia
Genre: avant garde

One sentence review:
Björk probably did the absolute impossible and painted a musical picture solely out of pure, unfiltered emotion, ignoring any known structure, conventional or unconventional, and just letting it all flow.

17. Fall Out Boy - The Last of the Real Ones
Length: 3:50
Album: Mania (2018)
Genre: emo, pop punk

One sentence review:
Even though Fall Out Boy gradually grew more melodious, poppier and even somewhat electronic, they never seem to lose that spark of personality, instead it feels like an expansion of their original qualities, adding new elements, as “The Last of the Real Ones” perfectly shows with its abstract melodramatic poetry, massive instrumental and a sledgehammer of a catchy chorus.

16. Kollegah & Farid Bang - Es wird Zeit
Length: 4:30
Album: Jung brutal gutaussehend 3
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop

One sentence review:
The beat and flows of “Es wird Zeit” have more testosterone than hormone tablets, and at the same time the song has a catchier chorus than anything Shakira released this year - really, the lyricism and word play is great and all, but this musicality is just pure awesomeness.

15. Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do
Length: 3:30
Album: Reputation
Genre: pop

One sentence review:
I don’t care about feuds - and up to this point not even that much for Taylor Swift, positively or negatively - but it’s pretty damn clear who nailed the perfect straightforward mainstream pop song of the year, with everything from verses to pre-chorus to (semi-rapped) chorus to bridge to beat being an irresistible earworm.

14. NF - Intro III
Length: 4:28
Album: Perception
Genre: American hip hop, horrorcore, conscious hip hop

One sentence review:
It may sound a bit blasphemous, but when a rapper releases an epic, orchestral song in the form of a conversation between him and his own personified fear that contains every trait Eminem has on his best songs, and at the same level, I just have to include it highly on my best of the year list.

13. Lana Del Rey - Love
Length: 4:39
Album: Lust For Life
Genre: indie pop

One sentence review:
In a fast paced world, Lana Del Rey slows it down for a musically and lyrically timeless, almost meditative ballad that embraces the beauty of the universally known feeling of being in love.

12. Amy MacDonald - From the Ashes
Length: 3:36
Album: Under Stars
Genre: folk-pop, country

One sentence review:
With maximum songwriting craft, Amy MacDonald created and recorded this heartbreaking guitar song about how fate took her home (which can be interpreted as standing symbolically for a relationship), and how she found the strength to start from scratch.

11. Kollegah & Farid Bang - Sturmmaske auf (Intro)
Length: 3:50
Album: Jung brutal gutaussehend 3
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop

One sentence review:
Epically structured, orchestrally produced and wittily written, “Sturmmaske auf” is not only the intro of “Jung brutal gutaussehend 3”, it is also the album’s lead single and the first chart topping song for both rappers (who already had number one albums though) that already announced that the album will blow everything the German hip hop scene away - and no less.

10. Cardi B - Leave That Bitch Alone
Length: 2:49
Album: Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2
Genre: American hip hop, hardcore hip hop, trap

One sentence review:
They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and if it is Cardi B who is the scorned woman, the rage unleashed on “Leave That Bitch Alone” shows that this saying is heavily understated.

9. Casper - Sirenen
Length: 2:38
Album: Lang lebe der Tod
Genre: industrial

One sentence review:
On the “Lang lebe der Tod” album Casper captures the zeitgeist of a Europe that faces fear, terror and radical views, with an outstanding sensitivity for contradicting and often uncomfortable opinions, as heard on “Sirenen”, which has a group of people excited about the forthcoming devastation.

8. SpongeBozz - Started From the Bottom
Length: 9:05
Album: Started From the Bottom / Krabbenkoke Tape
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop

One sentence review:
SpongeBozz recaps his early life and the beginning of his career up to the release and indexing of his chart topping 2015 debut album, not only giving a bit of insight on his previously entirely anonymous personality, but also delivering arguably the best rhyming ever heard on a hip hop song over the best hip hop beat of the year.

7. Falling in Reverse - Broken
Length: 3:54
Album: Coming Home
Genre: emo, alternative rock

One sentence review:
On the surprisingly melodious “Broken”, Ronnie Radke’s voice gradually moves from apathetic melancholy towards tormented, desperate screams of angst, without ever using his louder techniques as a mere gimmick, but to slowly increase the level of emotional pain throughout the verses as he goes on expressing his feelings, only to hit you with maximum force in the chorus, thus creating the definitive emo song of 2017.

6. Nickelback - Feed the Machine
Length: 5:02
Album: Feed the Machine
Genre: political rock

One sentence review:
Even as a fan knowing their strengths, I would not have expected this level of sociocriticism from Nickelback, and surely the casual listener and the ever grumpy hater wouldn’t have either, but truth is, “Feed the Machine” is not unlikely the most powerful political statement of a music artist to get worldwide mainstream attention in 2017, and the track about not blindly following a seemingly strong leader who appears to offer simple (or rather simplified) solutions can be applied to every country around the world - and it’s also among Nickelback’s most stunningly performed and composed pieces.

5. Eisbrecher - Krieger
Length: 3:29
Album: Sturmfahrt
Genre: Neue Deutsche Härte, political rock

One sentence review:
Martial and anthemic, Eisbrecher’s “Krieger” (the title translates to “warriors”) urges you to fight for your free speech and against political lies (without taking a stand for the right or left wing positions), accompanied by riffs that are heavy and static like iron will, a percussion to march to, and a chorus that is ideal for chanting along… for example when taking part in political protests.

4. SpongeBozz - Apocalyptic Infinity
Length: 18:29
Album: Started From the Bottom / Krabbenkoke Tape
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop

One sentence review:
In the first 11 minutes of “Apocalyptic Infinity”, SpongeBozz slaughters his way through the entire German hip hop scene, claiming a well deserved relevance and a spot on the throne of the genre by demonstrating a variety of hundreds of different flows paired with complexly structured rhyming schemes, and the fastest doubletime part to have ever been delivered by a German rapper, but it’s not until the final 7 minutes that Dimitri Chpakov (his real name) drops the masquerade of his rap persona and confronts his friend-turned-archenemy Kollegah with realtalk.

3. Björk - Body Memory
Length: 9:46
Album: Utopia
Genre: avant garde

One sentence review:
Never vulgar or trivial, Björk’s spiritual journey that she shares on her masterful “Utopia” album leads to the meditative and deeply inspiring station of sexual pleasure, creating fanciful, almost transcendental imagery as a ballet of poetic words and impulsive soundscapes unfolds.

2. Cro - baum
Length: 3:50 (6:59 with hidden track)
Album: tru.
Genre: German hip hop, conscious hip hop, art pop

One sentence review:
On “baum”, Cro crashes into a tree (captured using a musicless interior monologue only consisting of heavily panted lines and the loud beating of a heart - the beat will later come back) and sees his life flash before his eyes, in non-chronological order, seeing both the joyful and somewhat hurtful moments from his childhood to his recent lifestyle as a nationwide superstar, as well as seemingly trivial episodes that suddenly gain a new meaning to him, and also coming to terms with him admittedly not having the best, but also not the worst person.

1. Cro - unendlichkeit
Length: 3:36 (main edit), 3:46 (video edit)
Album: tru.
Genre: German hip hop, conscious hip hop, art pop

Review (since it is my number one spot, allow me a few more words):
“unendlichkeit” has Cro realizing his own mortality, especially as an artist. Prior to 2017, he lived for the moment, and being young and easily impressed by the many possibilities of being one of the biggest stars of his generation (his first two albums and his live album all topped the German charts and spawned countless hit singles, making him one of the most famous celebrities of the 2010s in German speaking territories, his trademark panda mask being known all across the countries), he spent his wealth on luxury, and used his success to sleep with many attractive women, but never making love. And even if it seemed like living a dream to him, he began to question what comes afterwards. One day, his career will be over, either because he will lose relevance or because he will die. And this made him think… will he and his music be remembered? He wants a legacy, he wants his artistry to be important and he wants to leave a mark in the music landscape of Germany. He doesn’t want to be forgotten when his sales decrease, doesn’t want to be a trend and nothing more, like so many before him. It’s not as much an egotistical, megalomaniac sentiment than a realization that temporary fame is not the same as being a great artist, and that what you leave to the world should be carefully worked on.
All these thoughts are shared with goosebumps inducing musical quality. Known as mainly a rapper-producer, Cro sings the chorus (as well as the English language bridge and the outro) with a passion that’s hardly heard in modern day mainstream. He really means and believes every word he wrote. Whether you listen to the video edit or the main edit, the song’s only verse may be sung or rapped, and while having different lyrics, both are perfectly interpolated into the song and are equally gripping in their content.
Congratulations, Cro, “unendlichkeit” is my number one song of 2017!

So, that’s about it. And what are your thoughts after having read this? Comment!

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