In 2017, the hit single meant more than ever and the album meant less. Many artists released albums full of filler with only one or two good songs. The most ubiquitous artist of the year, Selena Gomez, had a string of hits, but didn’t release a proper album.
Still, there were a few great complete albums that stood out against the dreck.
Kendrick Lamar – Damn
Kendrick is at the peak of his MC powers. He raps about life as a Black man in Trump’s America, and conveys what that feels like to the listener. And he somehow makes that entertaining.
Lorde – Melodrama
There’s no sophomore slump here. Lorde continues and expands on her unique pop sound on Melodrama. Some gospel flair and more electronica flourishes can be heard. Her voice is more expressive as well. A fine follow-up.
Run the Jewels – RTJ3
Run the Jewels never let up. Their sound is doesn’t really ebb and flow, it’s always in your face. Their rhymes are clever, funny, and unafraid. It would be exhausting if each song wasn’t so great.
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
Stormzy breathes new life into the grime genre. The bass and rhythm on his tracks throb, while he spits at twice the speed. It’s a fresh sound and it helps that he’s an amazing technical rapper.
Taylor Swift – Reputation
While on 1989, Taylor abandoned country and embraced pop completely, on Reputation she adds electronica and rap influences to her sound. Lyrically she’s fully embraced her obsessed boy-crazy persona. That should be annoying but the wordplay is so clever that it’s almost charming. The singles on this album may not live up to her previous hits, but Swift and her songwriting team are still the most reliable hitmakers working today.
Honorable Mention – Arcade Fire – Everything Now, Macklemore – Gemini, Old 97’s – Graveyard Whistling, Pink – Beautiful Trauma, Paramore – After Laughter, St. Vincent – Masseduction, Wu-Tang Clan – the Saga Continues