The 19 “97” Singles of 2017

Singles of 2017

Whether it be one of many iconic remixes, a scathing diss track, a bonafide money making anthem, or a one off song… our list this year feels rather random, but full of bops all the same. Scroll down to delve into our favorite singles of 2017.

At EST. 1997, we chose the 19 “97” singles of 2017, which simply means the 19 best singles of 2017. If you’re familiar with the way we review singles/albums, then you know that “97” is our top score. We love every song on this list, ranked them according to how much, and weighed in with a few thoughts about each. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts, as well! We’d love to hear from you and engage in any discussion.

 

EST. 1997’s Top Singles of 2017: The 19 “97” Singles

 

19. “Caught In The Middle” Anastacia

After years of building a solid catalog, Anastacia finally came through with something progressive. “Caught In The Middle” takes a touch of the influence of “Sick And Tired”, but keeps it fresh. -Andrew

18. “Love So Soft,” Kelly Clarkson

It was the Kelly Clarkson single we’d all been waiting for. Not since her debut on American Idol had Kelly Clarkson released a single so soulful, so R&B. “Love So Soft” is a soul bop of mighty proportions with soaring vocals, just vague enough innuendo and pristine production (Earth Wind & Fire play in the band! C’mon!). While it’s still poppy, treading dangerously close to Meghan Trainor territory, Kelly’s genuine love for the genre and her undeniable vocal talent makes “Love So Soft” an authentic reading of 1960s soul. It is respectable blue-eyed soul. Oh, and the video is glorious. -Vincent

17. “Love Galore,” SZA

 

In “Love Galore”, R&B songstress SZA basically says what a lot of single black women like myself want to say, but are probably afraid to… at least publicly. In the Travis Scott assisted track, SZA lyrically takes a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” stance towards love and relationships, opting for casual liaisons with her lovers, as opposed to full blown romantic attachments. At the surface, it seems like a very narcissistic take on matters of the heart, but in a world where Issa Rae’s hit show reins supreme, this song is one where many young women may find common ground. On top of all of that, the song is an absolute vibe. Mood for this year, next year, and the next decade. -Jordan

16. “SHEther” Remy Ma

Call it the diss track that shook a million teenagers. Remy Ma released one of the most seething, aggressive, and lengthy attacks in recent memory. Opening with Nicki Minaj yelling “fuck you! Free Remy!”, Remy unloads round after round after round after round of attacks on Nicki, over the unparalleled beat of Nas’ “Ether”. From her relationship with Meek Mill and the authenticity of her body, to attacks on Nick’s spars with pop stars and the child molestation accusations against Nicki’s brother Jelani, Remy lets it all hang out. It’s unprecedented. Crown achieved. -Andrew

15. “LOYALTY,” Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna

When you take Kendrick Lamar, one of the greatest lyrical rappers from the new era of Hip Hop and pair him with Rihanna, one of the past decade’s biggest chart topping artists, you’re bound to find an epic smash. Hip Hop and R&B jam “LOYALTY.”  is just that, plus much more. The mid tempo cut finds Kung Fu Kenny spit verses alongside Bad Gal Riri who holds her own rapping on the tune as they each question what loyalty means to different people and circumstances. In addition, the duo get some help along the way from a few well utilized samples from tunes by Bruno Mars (“24K Magic”), Jay-Z (“Get Your Mind Right Mami”) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (“Shimmy Shimmy Ya”). You can bet this likely won’t be the last time we see Kendrick and Rihanna collaborating on a project. -Keenan

14. “Slow Hands” Niall Horan

The black sheep rides ahead of the pack as One Direction’s left fielder comes through with the strongest post-1D single to date. Who expected Niall Horan had this in him? This song is absolutely irresistible, and arguably the best solo single post-One Direction from any member of the band. -Andrew

13. “U + Me (Love Lesson),” Mary J. Blige

This was the second single released from Strength of a Woman and the moment I knew the album would be amazing. The production is contemporary, but still has that throwback gusto and Mary took us through what was going on in her mind after the divorce. It’s a reflection on her relationship with Kendu and all the feelings separation brings to the surface. -Mario

12. “Mi Gente,” J Balvin, Willy William and Beyoncé

After each and every national or worldwide tragedy, a group of musicians usually gathers to record a charity single to benefit relief efforts. Usually, these songs are some sort of overwrought yet heartfelt ballad. Unfortunately, that more often than not results in a song you probably won’t want to stream, listen to on the radio or even buy. Not in this case. In reaction to the devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, Houston, Texas and other areas of the Caribbean, Beyoncé teamed up with Colombian artist J Balvin and French DJ Willy William to remix their hit single “Mi Gente.”

The result reminded us of Bilingualoncé, who has been hiding since 2008. She flawlessly rides the song’s Reggaeton beat while singing in Spanglish before dropping a new few bars of her own in English. The remix catapulted the song to #3 on the Hot 100. That makes it J Balvin his biggest hit to date. It’s also Beyoncé’s biggest hit since “Drunk In Love” in early 2014 (until, of course, that other duet came out…). –Vincent

11. “Unforgettable (Mariah Carey Remix),” French Montana, Mariah Carey & Swae Lee

“Unforgettable” was already a certified summer hit in its original form, but the addition of Mariah Carey took it up a notch. This was what people want a Mariah single to sound in 2017 and she gave us what we wanted. Her echo-y vocals slide smooth over the beat and elevate the already infectious track. The “Mariah Carey Remix” package also came with an acoustic version of the song. That version is only has piano, guitar and a minimalistic drum beat that showcase the Queen’s contribution. Too bad the label chose the wrong week to release it and never properly pushed the remixes. This collabo would and should have been a smash. Know that. -Mario

10. “What About Us,” P!nk

P!nk really put her foot down as one of the Pop greats this year when she came back with her new album, Beautiful Trauma. The lead single, “What About Us,” was an unusual choice from what we were expecting from her. Instead of being the classic rocker single, full of attitude, the song is an anthem for love, equality and unity. P!nk sounds as great as ever on the track and it rightfully became a hit on the charts as well. It was also really good to see her finally getting recognition for her consistent achievements in music. -Mario

9. “The Star,” Mariah Carey

With her eyes clearly set on Oscar gold, Mariah Carey fulfilled her latest calling as the Queen of Christmas by delivering this impeccable new ballad about the birth of Jesus for the animated Nativity story film, The Star. No stranger to penning her own classics, whether they be for Christmas or in general, the legendary diva does not disappoint with “The Star.” She teamed up once again with the extraordinary Marc Shaiman to co-pen and co-produce this gorgeous ballad, featuring guest vocals from her children. Already nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, “The Star” is a welcomed addition to Carey’s iconic Christmas catalog. -Vincent

8. “Took Us a Break,” Lil’ Kim

The buzzing of the introduction creates the buzz, and then that voice! On the warm up single to an album more than a decade in the making, Lil’ Kim makes it clear: She’s back. Marrying mumble rap with her own flow, she doesn’t mince words. She fires off everything from “bitter bitches, got em mad now” to “givin y’all my old clothes, my old flows, like hand me downs (y’all can have that!)” 21 years later, Kim still has No Time for the haters, and still knows how to turn heads with her lyrics (case and point: “Bomb pussy, that’s a boom box”). -Andrew

7. “Wild Thoughts,” DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

Sometimes all it takes is a simple 808 to take you back. When I first heard the opening seconds of “Wild Thoughts”, I was taken back to third grade, and the little girl who sang “Maria Maria” by Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean. In this updated track, Khaled masterfully blends a classic hit with very some contemporary vibes, accented with the partnership between Rihanna and Bryson Tiller (though it remains questionable if Tiller’s involvement was really needed). The lyrics, which speak to seduction, and lust, mixed with Santana’s patented guitar riff, and Rihanna’s sex appeal, made for one of the hottest songs of the summer, and one of the best of the year, hands down. -Jordan

6. “Skywalker,” Miguel ft. Travis Scott

Miguel glided into Star Wars season on the Millennium Falcon alongside Luke Skywalker with his latest single. Not really, but that’s how metaphorically fly this new song is. It won’t hit you in the face right away, but “Skywalker,” featuring Travis Scott, is an infectious mid tempo house party jam. It’s no wonder its walking toward sky-high levels on Billboard’s R&B charts. -Vincent

5. “The Cure,” Lady Gaga

Nobody expected Gaga to debut a Pop single at Coachella this year because she had just wrapped her Joanne era with the Superbowl. And yet, she came with one of her strongest bops in a long time. Supposedly written during the Artpop era and then scrapped for the album, “The Cure” is dedicated to one of Gaga’s closest friends who was, at the time, battling cancer. Its personal nature is probably why it never got the promotional push that it deserved or a music video, but she finally decided to give a live performance at the AMAs, live from her tour. If this is what it feels to have a focused Lady Gaga then we can’t wait for the next album because she sure hasn’t lost her touch! -Mario

4. “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars

You can always count on Bruno Mars for the perfect throwback jam infusing the greatest parts of 70s Funk, 80s Soul and 90s R&B with a modern day twist. “That’s What I Like” was just that, reminding older generations, while teaching younger ones, why the 90s was such a booming era for Hip Hop Soul, New Jack Swing and Contemporary R&B in general. A bonafide love song with an infectious chorus, blazing beat, alongside Bruno’s soulful runs made for a perfect hit that everybody still enjoys singing along to, it’s no surprise it topped multiple charts. Nominated for Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, at the 60th annual Grammys set to take place in 2018, you can pretty much rest assured Bruno Mars will certainly take home at least one of these well deserved awards! Either way… cheers with strawberry champagne of course, among other things which will forever remind people that that’s what they liked in 2017.  -Keenan

3. “HUMBLE,” Kendrick Lamar

Hip-hop and “HUMBLE” are oxymorons. They rarely fit together in a literal sense, and Kendrick’s “HUMBLE” is no exception. He relentlessly berates his peers on “HUMBLE.” He embodied a swag that was anything but humble and ordered everyone else to sit down. And they did… because they had no choice. King Kendrick reigned in 2017, and it all started with “HUMBLE.” -Vincent

2. “The Story of OJ,” Jay-Z

2017 saw the re-emergence/rebirth of the Jigga Man himself, Jay-Z. After a whirlwind three year period, which included the infamous 2014 MET Gala elevator incident, and Beyoncé’s revelatory album, LEMONADE, the world had long-awaited a musical response from the rap legend. The subsequent album, 4:44, resulted in a conglomeration of some of his most detail oriented, thematic, and introspective works yet. In the single, “The Ballad of O.J.”, Jay uses the plight of disgraced former football star O.J. Simpson as a metaphor for capitalism, and the financial status of blacks in America.

In the song, he muses about financial responsibility among black people, and more so the need for blacks to work more towards investing in a financial legacy, and in black commerce, as opposed to the instant gratification of purchasing materialistic things, all while saying true to one’s roots, and refusing to sell out. The track masterfully samples the Nina Simone classic, “Four Women”, in which the phrase, “my skin is black” hauntingly echoes all throughout, and the accompanying video, which was shot in the style of a classic Looney Toons short, is one of the best visuals I’ve seen in a really long time. -Jordan

1. “Bodak Yellow” Cardi B

Everyone loves a a come up, and Cardi B fulfilled that story line fully and effortlessly. “Bodak Yellow” is catchy and motivational, simple as that. She says it all, “I don’t dance now, I make money moves.” With the first #1 by a solo female rapper in 19 years and 2 Grammy nominations, it’s safe to say she makes a lot of money move. -Andrew

What makes “Bodak Yellow” a special song is not about the song itself but its performance. The fact that a Rap single by a female was able to dethrone a powerful Pop star like Taylor Swift and her lead single on the charts in 2017 is a victory for the genre. And it was definitely needed. -Mario

At some point in 2017, I found myself hearing about Cardi B incessantly but not knowing who the hell she was. And then I heard “Bodak Yellow.” And then I knew why. Unfortunately, it’s rare that a worthy female rap star comes along and has success. Fortunately, Cardi B came to see that changed. -Vincent

I have never wanted to see someone win so badly as I did for Cardi B. From stripper, to Love and Hip Hop star, to a genuine rap powerhouse in only a few years; Cardi reminds me of that friend that you watch struggle until they find their glo’ up. Should Bodak Yellow be praised for it’s lyrical prowess? Is Cardi a very technically sound rapper? No. But there’s a undeniable charisma that this Bronx bred artist has that is simply infectious. Make ya money moves, sis! I stan. -Jordan

Talk about a come up, glo up, #Goals, which ever way you see it, Cardi B is the 2017 definition of all that. Without featuring any other artists, her crossover smash hit “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” became an anthem that managed to make her the first female rapper to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill’s ’98 hit “Doo Wop (That Thing).” If thats not a money move, just think Cardi’s rise to the top saw previous stints like being a cast member of Love & Hip Hop: New York. Cardi B’s music career has quite easily become the biggest success story of any member from all incarnations of Mona Scott-Young’s Love & Hip Hop franchise. No wonder why Cardi gave Scott an epic shoutout, alongside her own bragging rights on her debut single. -Keenan

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