The 50 Best Songs of 2017

Here are the tunes that made us laugh, cry, rage, relax and generally feel better about ourselves.

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40. Frank Ocean, “Biking”
After the smash success of 2016’s Blonde and Endless, Frank Ocean has taken no breaks. Though the Long Beach rapper didn’t put out a new record in 2017, he kept thirsty fans satiated with the release of a few singles. Of these, “Biking” is a standout banger. From the first “I don’t get weak in the knees” to the outro of “50 thousand racks,” “Biking,” featuring Jay Z and Tyler the Creator, makes it almost forgivable that Ocean didn’t put out a new full-length album. Almost. —Claire Greising

Check out Frank Ocean’s alternate, solo version of ‘Biking

39. Jessica Lea Mayfield, “Sorry Is Gone”
“It’s nice to have a guy around / for lifting heavy things and opening jars / Should we really let them in our beds? / Chain ‘em to a little house outside.” So declares Jessica Lea Mayfield on the title track of her career-best effort from 2017. Written in the aftermath of the collapse of her marriage, which she has described as being abusive and violent, “Sorry Is Gone” is the sound of personal liberation, set to Mayfield’s flangey guitar and Midwest twang. If you’re looking for an anthem of empowerment in this year of calling out predators and pigs, look no further than “Sorry Is Gone.” It’s the last apology this woman is ever gonna give. —Matthew Oshinsky

Watch Jessica Lea Mayfield perform live at Paste Studio

38. New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
Carl Newman’s love of words and wordplay can sometimes trip up even his catchiest songs, but he keeps things well aloft on this fantastic single. Said to be about the encroaching feeling of panic that was rising as he watched his fellow Americans fall under the spell of Trump (“With no respect for the warning/the violence of yearning / defiance of learning”), he turns that fear on its head with neon-glow new wave and always welcome call-and-response vocals from bandmate Kathryn Calder. —Robert Ham

Read Paste’s 2017 interview with New Pornographers’ Carl Newman

37. Future Islands, “Cave”
Future Islands have always been the first guys to belly-flop into the emotional pool. So it should come as no surprise that The Far Fields synth-rock single, “Cave,” is a frantic paddle through the deep end. Frontman Samuel Herring may spend most of the song rhetorically recapping his own state of brokenness. (“Is this a desperate wish for dying, or a wish that dying cease?”), but over a delicate wash of synths and caffeinated Cure baselines, he delivers the ultimate chorus kicker, “I don’t believe anymore,” over and over again. In his bleeding-heart below, it’s less the isolated cry of one hopeless romantic and more the universal anguish of a generation. —Laura Studarus

Read Paste’s 2017 profile of Future Islands

36. Lowly, “Still Life”
Danish dreamers Lowly flew under the radar this year with Heba, their gorgeously atmospheric debut full-length. Opening track “Still Life” is an immediate stunner, a lilting crawl of ringing arpeggios, mournful synth droplets, with Nanna Schannong’s bell-clear voice and background sound detritus draping the whole thing a distant sense of sadness—beautiful, beautiful sadness. It’s only a relationship coming to an end in this song; Lowly make it sound like the entire galaxy. —Matthew Oshinsky

35. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, “French Press”
One of our SXSW standout bands, Melbourne’s Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever (RBCF) grabbed our attention on the strength of their first single, “French Press.” The Aussies have three guitar players and they’re on full display across this song’s swooping and enthralling five-and-a-half minutes. At its core, “French Press” is a surf-rock jam, but vastly different from what we’ve accepted as such on the American mainland. All of the band’s songs from their Sub Pop debut were recorded in their modest rehearsal space, and their gritty-yet-effortlessly-polished sound rings sublime on “French Press.” —Adrian Spinelli

Read: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: The Best of What’s Next

34. Lilly Hiatt, “The Night David Bowie Died”
The lead single off Lilly Hiatt’s crackling LP Trinity Lane, “The Night David Bowie Died” was written when it says it was. But it’s not to do with the White Duke, exactly. That’s just the night, probably one of many, when Hiatt happened to think about her ex and dive back into all those feelings of regret and guilt. Grungy Peter Buck-esque guitars lead up to a stomping confessional chorus: “I realize that I screwed up / I love you baby / What we had, it was good enough.” —Matthew Oshinsky

Watch Lilly Hiatt perform live at Paste Studio

33. Slowdive, “Sugar for the Pill”
No song this year better evoked that delicious ache that forms in the pit of the stomach when thinking about an elusive lover or that secret crush. Neil Halstead’s impressionistic lyrics only hint at those feels. Really it’s all about the slippery pull of the guitars and a vocal melody that heads straight for the head and the base of the spine like a particularly strong intoxicant. If this isn’t on the slow dance playlists for a millennia of proms, then there truly is no hope for the next generation. —Robert Ham

Read Paste’s review of Slowdive’s self-titled 2017 comeback album

32. Ron Gallo, “Temporary Slave”
“There’s a smokestack in my mouth / Living on the couch in my step-cousin’s house,” Ron Gallo sings at the beginning of “Temporary Slave,” a B-side from his psych-rock, satire-folk LP, Heavy Meta. The song, a playful but biting rumination on the current economic situation and eternal power of money, tempers lines like “Trying’s the first step to dying” with Mac DeMarco-esque guitars and sunny “la-la- la’s”—making it a bittersweet gem that doesn’t pull punches. —Madison Desler

Watch Ron Gallo perform live at Paste Studio

31. Alex Lahey, “Lotto in Reverse”
Melbourne upstart Alex Lahey released her debut album, I Love You Like a Brother, earlier this year, filling it with anthemic guitars and wry observations about her own relationships. Album standout “Lotto in Reverse” slings out sexy-cool verses that detail an almost-relationship gone terribly wrong, before exploding into a shout-along chorus that’s custom-built to help you get over whatever asshole did you just as dirty. —Madison Desler

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