10. Selena Gomez – ‘Bad Liar’
This genius pop song – based around a Talking Heads sample – is all about playing down a crush, a fact mirrored by Gomez’s near-whispered delivery and the breezy pat-a-cake handclaps. Simple, but sophisticated.
9. The Killers – ‘The Man’
There are at least 16 choruses on this delirious, stardust-flecked blast of pop brilliance. Brandon Flowers mocks his younger self with this peacock strut through shimmering disco, promising, “I got gas in the tank / I got money in the bank”. He really is the man.
8. Cardi B – ‘Bodak Yellow’
This masterclass in braggadocio hit Number One in the US, making Cardi B the first female rapper to achieve the feat since Lauryn Hill in 1998.
7. Calvin Harris – ‘Slide (ft. Frank Ocean and Migos)’
‘Slide’ is the standout on the Scot’s boldly titled ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1’ album. Not just because of Frank Ocean’s lucid, free-flowing verses, or Offset and Quavo’s smart interchange: Harris’ timeless production holds everything together. Released in February, it set 2017’s ‘song of the summer’ bar high.
6. Wolf Alice – ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’
If you’ve not yet fallen in love and wonder what it might feel like, allow us to direct you to this giddy head rush of a track. With yearning lyrics and throbbing swathes of synth, its whirling dreampop builds to a heady crescendo: “I’m electric / A romantic cliché / And yeah, they really are all true”. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
5. Stormzy – ‘Big For Your Boots’
The south London don harks back to grime’s garage roots with this frenetic, confrontational, tightly coiled attack on all dissenters. When ‘Big For Your Boots’ was first released, one person wrote on Twitter, “F**k me Stormzy’s new tune makes me wanna boot my f**king grandma into next week,” which might be the greatest piece of music writing of all time.
4. Kendrick Lamar – ‘HUMBLE.’
Both a statement of intent and an epic boast, ‘HUMBLE.’ is anything but. As the man himself says, “If I quit this season / I still be the greatest”. If you thought the mighty lead single from ‘DAMN.’ was good, then the epic video ups the ante even further with its high-end religious imagery. Scrap the ‘King’ stuff; Kendrick Lamar might just be God.
3. Paramore – ‘Hard Times’
If any song made the NME office start dancing when it came on the stereo in 2017, it was this. From the brisk chorus straight out of a John Hughes movie to the synthtastic finale, it’s a near-perfect pop triumph. Even the morose lyrics (“Walking around with a little rain cloud”) couldn’t dampen our spirits. If only sadness was always this fun.
2. Charli XCX – ‘Boys’
The kawaii catnip of ‘Boys’ has Charli XCX pouring dreamy vocals over a candyfloss wonderland populated by Super Mario plinks, and singing savage lines such as, “I’m sorry that I missed your party… I was busy thinking about boys”. Surely the best excuse since “the dog ate my homework”.
1. Lorde – ‘Green Light’
Ella Yelich-O’Connor champions the redemptive quality of music on this stone-cold banger that’s so vibetastic, hearing it is like being pumped full of helium. ‘Green Light’ is instantly familiar yet is idiosyncratically structured (hitmaker Max Martin called it “incorrect songwriting”), pointing to her supernatural talent.
You can listen to the entire top 50 using the playlist below:
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