This year music-wise has been insane, seeing old artists reinvent themselves and new artists take centre stage in the industry. Here’s arguably some of the best artists of this year…
While Taylor Swift has been in the spotlight for just over ten years now, her ongoing scandals with Katy Perry and Kanye West means her name has been dragged through the mud time and time again. This year Swift decided to bite back with her album Reputation, introducing a brand new Taylor, her romance lyricism being replaced by words of hatred and revenge.
Fans loved it, and the album sold over a million copies within a week of its release. She has transformed not only her themes and lyrics, but has given up her the girl-next-door girl vibe, with her new Instagram bio being a line from Reputation’s lead song ‘Look What You Made Me Do’: “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now”.
I look forward to what else she has in store for us, and which other celebs are on the ‘list of names’ she references in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’…
Miley Cyrus is another country-turned-pop star that isn’t afraid of reinvention. This year Cyrus released her sixth album Younger Now, a record filled with songs reflecting on who she was and who she wants to be now.
Cyrus, opposite to Swift, has gone from years of crazy lyricism (and dancing) to calm songs that see her revert back to her country roots. ‘Malibu’ was the album’s most popular track, a song inspired by her re-engagement with fiancé Liam Hemsworth. Fans are almost in complete agreement that Miley’s new songs, with their mix of pop, country and a slight rock feel, showcase the singer’s vocals like never before.
Ed Sheeran has been announced as the Number One Artist of the Year on the Billboard charts. His album Divide (deluxe) had way too many successes: ‘Castle on the Hill’, ‘Shape of You’, ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Perfect’ to name just a few. It seems Sheeran is never short of catchy lyrics and never causes any media scandal like most chart-toppers tend to. Undeniably, his unassuming guy-next-door look also helped him along the way.
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey has been MIA for the last two years because she has been focusing on her song-writing – but oh, was it worth the wait.
Del Rey released Lust for Life earlier this year, her first album that sees the singer smiling on its cover. Del Rey admitted that her previous albums have been somewhat static in their content – boys, drugs and emotions. Lana, alongside the likes of Katy Perry and Kendrick Lamar, has a new-found political agenda behind her lyrics, particularly in the album’s songs ‘When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing’ and ‘Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind’.
A happy and self-aware Lana Del Rey is one that we’ve all been waiting for and can’t wait to see more of.
— Exclaim! (@exclaimdotca) December 5, 2017
After a four-year hiatus, Jay-Z finally released his thirteenth album, 4:44. This album is extremely authentic, seeing the rapper talk about how he wants to be remembered and what he is trying to do for others. Most importantly, the album hints at the betrayal of his wife, Beyoncé, an issue her Lemonade album made public last year. Arguably it’s not one of his best albums lyrically, but it’s one of his truest.
Up and coming artists
In the 24/7 information era, music, just like everything else, emerges fast. New artists from all genres pop up constantly and some of 2017’s best are profiled below.
Trap music was again the most dominant hip-hop scene in music this year. Having exploded since the release of Future and Drake’s collaborative mixtape What a Time to Be Alive in 2015, the genre has enjoyed consistent success.
However, this year has perhaps been its most dominant. Some of the most notable singles include ‘Rockstar’ by Post Malone feat. 21 Savage, and ‘Gucci Gang’ by Lil Pump. Trap may turn off the hip-hop purists of the world, but the genre is clearly here to stay, and we can expect 2018 to deliver on this.
Rex Orange County
19-year-old British singer-songwriter Alex O’Connor – aka Rex Orange County – burst into the mainstream this year with multiple features on Tyler, the Creator’s acclaimed album Flower Boy.
He followed this up by performing ‘Man’ by Skepta with the London-born rapper at the 2017 Mercury Awards. Rex also dropped his second album, Apricot Princess, to good reception. His upbeat blend of pop, jazz, RnB and electronic, along with adoration from some of music’s biggest names, is a sure sign that his star will shine brighter than ever in 2018.
Loyle Carner is perhaps the most important artists culturally of the year. Exploring themes of alcoholism, absent fathers and loving mums, Yesterday’s Gone, Carner’s debut LP, brings conscious-rap this side of the Atlantic for a new generation.
Not only is Carner a skilled storyteller, but his east-coast inspired beats have impressed. Predominantly jazzy and gospel-based, the 23-year-old is a skilled producer. Frequently referencing his left-wing politics, many young Brits who were upset by the Leave vote last year, as well as by the Tories’ marginal victory in the election, look to the London rapper as a sign of hope in a worrying time.
The self-proclaimed ‘boyband’ released a trilogy of albums this year: Saturation I, II and III.
The Texas collective primarily embraces hip-hop, but their music is littered with inspiration from every genre; pop, alternative, experimental, electronic and soul. Brockhampton’s personnel is just as diverse, representing a true demographic of modern America, being led by Kevin Abstract, whose album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story served as his personal coming out story.
Whilst the boyband have been likened to Odd Future, Brockhampton have proved in 2017 that they deserve to stand alongside the California collective as equals, not their apprentices. Brockhampton’s music is exciting and brave, two features that are seemingly less evident in emerging artists. So let’s hope their upcoming album Team Effort, set to be released next year, reinforces that Brockhampton truly does deserve these definitions.
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