You know what?
We were a little disappointed with 2017 as a whole as far as pop nuggets were concerned.
The real pop highlights (as far as we’re concerned) were few and far between as producers and artists rolled out a succession of cookie-cutter pop tracks that sounded virtually identical to everything else on the radio.
But there were a few exceptions in our books. So before we roll out our No.1 Pop Single Of 2017 tomorrow, here are a handful of tracks we deemed worthy of honourable mentions in 2017.
We were thrilled to partner with Melbourne artist Chmbrs back in September to premiere her latest single ‘Rabbit Hole’, a track she described as “a very intimate view into my brain and how I was viewing my life at that time – I felt I had no one, no purpose and no idea what I was doing.” Gosh it was good. So good that its official video (link coming) deserves many more views than the 1250 or so it currently enjoys. Even more impressive is the fact that ‘Rabbit Hole’ is actually Chmbrs’ debut single; the pop force is very strong with this one and we forecast big things ahead. Listen HERE.
How cool was Paloma Faith’s single ‘Crybaby’ this year? Released as the lead single from her fourth studio alum ‘The Architect’, it was a little bit pop, it was a little bit disco and it was a little bit soul, all rolled into one triumphant single. Sadly it was criminally ignored by most radio networks here in Australia and subsequently failed to find its feet on the Australian charts. It did, however, place top ten in her native UK, proving that the Brits still know a thing or two when it comes to appreciating quality pop records. Inject a little sunshine in your day and listen to ‘Crybaby’ HERE.
We’re all painfully aware of the shit Kesha (now minus dollar sign) has had to wade through just to get to the point of releasing new music. And though often times audiences forget about artists if they haven’t dropped something new within the past couple of years, they responded in their droves when Kesha’s comeback single ‘Praying’ dropped in July. It was a strong, defiant, powerful step back into the spotlight, as well as serving as a big middle finger to those who’ve prevented her from doing so. That it also achieved platinum sales in the US as well as double platinum in Canada and here in Australia was just the icing on the cake. Listen HERE.
Credit where it’s due to Nathaniel… Yes, he lost his recording contract with Sony Music in 2016, but he’s kept the pedal to the metal in terms of his creative output. In January this year he dropped his new single ‘Vapours’. His loyal fanbase responded immediately, of course. But commercial radio was (not surprisingly) largely hesitant to take a chance on an independent. “My headspace at the time was I just wanted something different, honest and a little rebellious,” he said of the single’s creative process. “I wanted to experiment with different sounds and sonic landscapes.” Props to him for doing so. Listen HERE.
Here’s another sublime, summerly slice of indie-pop that dropped right at the head of the year. We’ve made no secret of our love for Melbourne-based pop starlet Nussy; the love harking back to her 2014 debut single ‘Dizzy’. But ‘Hard As Diamonds’ was another glistening pop gem in 2017. “With every release, with every single, Nussy’s pop powers get stronger and with ‘Hard As Diamonds’, she’s really hitting her strides,” we said of the release back in January. And the same still rings true. ‘Hard As Diamonds’ was glimmering local pop, primed for mainstream radio play. Just don’t ask our commercial radio networks to do something so ridiculous. Listen HERE.
In the year that Ed Sheeran came rocketing back into the charts with his No.1 singles and No.1 album, he was also busy busy writing for other artists; Rita Ora and her single ‘Your Song’ being one of them. The track was to become Rita’s ninth UK top ten hit, peaked at No.12 locally and notched up double platinum sales down under. It was short, sweet, stripped back pop perfection. There were also some great harmonies in the choruses, which featured none other than the man who wrote it on backing vocals. Yep… Ed’s had a great year. Listen HERE.
Five months before Brisbane’s Sheppard were doing alright for themselves with their single ‘Coming Home’ (thanks largely to a high profile TV sync deal with Channel 7), they released what we considered one of the year’s better pop singles. That single was June’s ‘Edge Of The Night’. Of the single, we said, “No doubt taking its lead from the pop earworms of the likes of DNCE, ‘Edge Of The Night’ is straight-up catchy pop, with the boys and girls of commercial radio land firmly in its sights. Not that they’ll care too much. After all, Sheppard IS an Australian band. And god forbid Australian radio should play Australian music. Fun music video too, which you can watch HERE.
To be honest, we didn’t know whether Sam Smith was going to be able to conquer the charts with his new material in quite the same way he had with his breakout debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’. But we needn’t have worried, because ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ was the perfect single with which to reintroduce audiences to that gorgeous smokey voice. It was familiar, but it also marked a slight progression in his sound – and in his songwriting; this time around a little more confident as an openly gay man and not worried about singing about matters of the heart and relationships past. Listen HERE.
Another artist who’d spent way too long away from the music world returned to the spotlight in 2017… the fabulous Shania Twain. Though she hadn’t released an album in 15 long years, Shania remains the highest selling female artist in country music history. And with her comeback single ‘Life’s About To Get Good’, she showed she’d lost none of her spark. Yes, the single was a lot softer than some of her previous offerings, but that familiar vocal was back shining brightly. And the song was semi-autobiographical and hopelessly optimistic, covering Shania’s transition from the darkness back into the light. Great to have Shania back on planet pop. Listen HERE.
We have a real soft spot for any track that gives good hook as much as Zayn and Sia’s duet ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ did in 2017. Released back in September, the track (which was co-penned by Zayn and Sia alongside super producer Greg Kurstin) hit its strides almost immediately, peaking at No.1 on charts across the planet alongside its top six placing here in Australia. It was a big, sweeping cinematic piece of pop that was accompanied by the kind of music video they used to make in the 1990s, when the music industry had a bit more cash to splash on their clips. Watch it HERE.