In 1955 a movie called Blackboard Jungle used Bill Haley’s song Rock Around The Clock and music spread like wildfire through car radios into the ears and souls of the teen population. In 2017, the landscape is radically different. The teenagers of the rock n’ roll era are aging boomers today. There is so much on offer that today’s young consumers take it for granted. Spotify alone boasts about 10,000 to 30,000 new songs per day. Gaining the mass cultural influence wielded by Rock Around the Clock is a far bigger task. Today, many great songs can get lost in multiple streams. In the spirit of great music that makes you feel alive, we have compiled a playlist of our favourite rooted, vital and expansive tracks from 2017 that run the gamut from overlooked treasure to mainstream megahit. Enjoy!
1. MJ Cole, Pictures in My Head
MJ Cole brought UK Garage music into the top 40 in 1998 with his luminous, sensual track Sincere. His latest offering, Pictures in My Head, is a fantastic track that deserves much more attention than it has been getting. It shows Cole’s masterful UK garage sensibility, with a syncopated three-beat motif in rapid-bloom synth sweeps under a strong yet moody, pop female vocal.
2. Coldplay and The Chainsmokers, Something Just Like This
This global smash hit is a perfect blend of EDM and arena pop rock. It’s a great collaboration that neither sounds derivative or contrived and sits perfectly in the pocket of the pop mainstream.
3. Beck, Fix Me
Beck makes the #3 position with Fix Me, a beautifully sweet and happy acoustic song guaranteed to keep a skip in your step. As Fix Me is the last song on his recent Colors LP it could easily be overlooked. But it’s a sweet treat in its own right and a perfect bit of luminosity for the drab days of winter. Check out how the gentle acoustic guitar seems to be swallowed up in Beck’s vast sonic palette, yet ends up setting the tone for the whole thing.
4. Sigrid, Don’t Kill My Vibe
Sigrid is a Norwegian pop singer/writer who knows how to write really hooky pop music. The chorus and her voice in this song are fantastic. Don’t Kill My Vibe is Sigrid’s debut and we hope you enjoy her as much as we do.
5. P!nk, What About Us
Punk has always been the counterculture voice that demands its rights to be heard and make change. What About Us is an anthemic pop song with a heart of punk. It’s authentic, timely and sincere, with the same fierce emotional rawness from P!nk that drove Try and Just Give Me A Reason to the top of the charts.
6. Ed Sheeran, Castle On The Hill
Parvati Magazine has had its eye on Ed Sheeran since before he made it big. I knew back in 2012 that it was going to happen. Castle On The Hill is a GenX anthem about what it’s like to have grown older, but still feel the moments of your youth so vividly. There’s a real sense of joy and fullness in reacquainting with your roots. The song has a U2-esque start but quickly segues into Sheeran’s more personal, frank storytelling vibe that feels almost like Tracy Chapman at times.
7. U2, You’re the Best Thing About Me
U2’s recent blistering rendition of Bullet the Blue Sky on Jimmy Fallon shows that they can still be ferociously relevant when they want to be. You’re the Best Thing About Me plays it a little safer, with U2’s familiar driving arena rock beat, insistent guitar fills and musing verses, but it’s harmonically adventurous, taking the listener to totally unexpected keys and moods. And the video poignantly ties in all that the Statue of Liberty stands for.
8. Elbow, Magnificent
Guy Garvey’s voice is like a more contemplative Peter Gabriel in this bright, deeply optimistic and heartfelt song of interconnection. It holds a steady and kind presence for the listener, over the rumbly bass, edgy guitar and pure, high sine-wave pad sounds that flesh out to orchestral strings.
9. Mary J Blige, Love Yourself
As I wrote in the July 2017 issue of Parvati Magazine, the leadoff track, “Love Yourself”, is the strongest song on Blige’s album Strength of a Woman. It’s a smoldering, slow-building groove with an excellent bass line and vintage feel. A repeated high-squealing trumpet motif is an insistent summons to the message she delivers: “You’ve got to love yourself, if you really want to be with someone else.” She’s hurting, but she never lets go for a second of the real value of love. Featuring a rap by Kanye West about empowerment, this song is a keeper.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.