Without any comment, herewith is my list (and playlist) of my 100 favorite tracks of 2017.
Okay, one comment: I was a Johnny-come-lately regarding Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” so I’m saving that for my 2018 list.
1. On Hold – the xx
2. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
3. Slide – Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos
4. Young, Dumb & Broke – Khalid
5. Mask Off – Future
6. Los Ageless – St. Vincent
7. The Story of O.J. – JAY:Z
8. Pills – St. Vincent
9. New York – St. Vincent
10. Everything Now – Arcade Fire
11. Praying – Kesha
12. Pure Comedy – Father John Misty
13. Passionfruit – Drake
14. Havana – Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug
15. Feels – Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean
16. Bad and Boujee – Migos feat. Lil Uzi Vert
17. HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
18. Be the One – Dua Lipa
19. Love on the Brain – Rihanna
20. We the People… – A Tribe Called Quest
21. Green Light – Lorde
22. Candy May – Alex Cameron
23. To the Moon and Back – Fever Ray
24. Name for You – the Shins
25. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles
26. rockstar – Post Malone featuring 21 Savage
27. It’s a Shame – First Aid Kit
28. (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano – Sampha
29. Bank Account – 21 Savage
30. Hot Thoughts – Spoon
31. The Way You Used To Do – Queens of the Stone Age
32. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
33. Chanel – Frank Ocean
34. Liger – Young Thug & Carnage
35. 4:44 – JAY:Z
36. High Ticket Attractions – The New Pornographers
37. Stranger’s Kiss – Alex Cameron with Angel Olsen
38. Tonite – LCD Soundsystem
39. Thinking of a Place – The War on Drugs
40. Over Everything – Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
41. Ascension – Gorillaz featuring Vince Staples
42. All Night – Beyoncé
43. Little of Your Love – Haim
44. Waiting on a Song – Dan Auerbach
45. Accelerator – Paul White ft. Danny Brown
46. iSpy – Kyle featuring Lil Yachty
47. Shine on Me – Dan Auerbach
48. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness – The National
49. No. 28 – Methyl Ethel
50. I Feel It Coming – the Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
51. Better Than Me – Blood Orange feat. Carly Rae Jepsen
52. Call the Police – LCD Soundsystem
53. Love Galore – SZA featuring Travi$ Scott
54. DNA. – Kendrick Lamar
55. No Plan – David Bowie
56. Holding On – The War on Drugs
57. Runnin’ Outta Luck – Alex Cameron
58. Amputation – Jesus and Mary Chain
59. Love – ILoveMakonnen featuring Rae Sremmurd
60. Malibu – Miley Cyrus
61. Want You Back – Haim
62. Carin at the Liquor Store – The National
63. Long Time – Blondie
64. Secrets – The Weeknd
65. Wyclef Jean – Young Thug
66. Slip Away – Perfume Genius
67. Bop N Keep It Dippin’ – Dizzee Rascal
68. XO Tour Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
69. Dis Generation – A Tribe Called Quest
70. Play the Field – Partner
71. PRBLMS – 6lack
72. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – DMX
73. Colors – Beck
74. BagBak – Vince Staples
75. I Think of You – Jeremih feat. Chris Brown
76. Perplexing Pegasus – Rae Sremmurd
77. Wreath – Perfume Genius
78. Swang – Rae Sremmurd
79. Shining – DJ Khaled feat. Beyoncé and Jay-Z
80. Say Something Loving – the xx
81. Dear Life – Beck
82. Heatstroke – Calvin Harris feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams & Ariana Grande
83. Zayn Malik – Swet Shop Boys
84. Give It Up – Angel Olsen
85. Sky Walker – Miguel featuring Travi$ Scott
86. Total Entertainment Forever – Father John Misty
87. Hallelujah Money – Gorillaz feat. Benjamin Clementine
88. Ballad of the Dying Man – Father John Misty
89. I’m Better – Missy Elliott featuring Lamb
90. Told You So – Miguel
91. Mad as Hell – U.S. Girls
92. LOYALTY. – Kendrick Lamar featuring Rihanna
93. Bam – JAY:Z featuring Damian Marley
94. I Dare You – the xx
95. Andromeda – Gorillaz featuring D.R.A.M.
96. Rage – Vic Mensa
97. Whiteout Conditions – The New Pornographers
98. Stick to Your Guns – Watsky feat. Julia Nunes
99. When I Was Young – MØ
100. Never – J.I.D.
Per the email I received from Spotify in mid-December, my most-streamed track of 2016 was Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” While that is a great song, I don’t recall playing it more than once or twice this year. However, I did spend hours listening to music by those taken from us by the Grim Reaper. I’m not the only person to feel incredible sadness at the seemingly non-stop loss of great talents, which started on New Year’s Day when we heard the report that Natalie Cole died the day before.
With this playlist I want to celebrate the contributions these folks made to our lives and our culture. If I missed someone, forgive me. There were a lot of folks to remember.
Before we get to the Spotify playlist, videos from two whose music is not on Spotify.
Thank you for enriching my life:
Glenn Frey (of Eagles)
Muhammad Ali (nee Cassius Clay)
Maurice White (of Earth, Wind and Fire)
Carrie Fisher (actress best known for Star Wars)
Paul Kantner (of Jefferson Airplane)
Signe Toly Anderson (of Jefferson Airplane)
Sir George Martin (record producer best known for his work with The Beatles)
Attrell “Prince Be” Cordes (of P.M. Dawn)
Garry Marshall (television/film director/producer/writer, creator of Happy Days)
Pete Burns (of Dead or Alive)
Alan Vega (of Suicide)
Don Ciccone (of The Four Seasons)
Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
Steven Young (of M/A/R/R/S)
Joan Marie Johnson (of The Dixie Cups)
Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor (of A Tribe Called Quest)
Bernie Worrell (of Parliament)
Gary Paxton (of The Hollywood Argyles)
Rick Parfitt (of Status Quo)
Mack Rice (songwriter whose credits include “Respect Yourself”)
Milt Okun (record producer best known for his work with John Denver)
Marni Nixon (singer/actress best known for dubbing the singing voices of Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady)
Rod Temperton (of Heatwave)
John Chelew (record producer best known for his work with John Hiatt)
Nicholas Caldwell (of The Whispers)
Trisco Pearson (of Force MDs)
Gayle McCormick (of Smith)
Gary Loizzo (of American Breed)
Paul Upton (of The Spiral Starecase)
Carlo Mastrangelo (of The Belmonts)
Fred Tomlinson (co-writer of “Lumberjack Song”)
John D. Loudermilk
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Here’s the thing…I started writing today’s blog entry about mishaps I’ve recently encountered in on-line dating, specifically with an app I downloaded last week that despite my creating a profile that says I’m a man looking for a man, keeps trying to set me up with straight guys. I tied that into today’s birthday, Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, by saying he’s one straight guy who wouldn’t date me. I quoted lyrics from Tribe’s song “Georgy Porgy.” While I was typing those lyrics, my stomach turned. I had trouble finding the humor in a song that refers to a gay guy as gross, ill, a fag, wounded, weak, a fucking faggot, and then some. The post started out funny but when I got to Q-Tip’s lyric “You can call me homophobic but I know it and you know it/ you’re filthy and funny to the utmost,” I decided I may be funny, but he isn’t, nor is he worth celebrating.
Odd that such a hateful bigot should appear on a record by Deee-Lite, a trio of gay and gay-friendly performers. Q-Tip appears on a lot of good records.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Today’s playlist doesn’t celebrate the loathsome Q-Tip, but rather twenty great club tracks, a few of which feature Q-Tip. I’ll fill you in on my dating app experiences later.
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There was an article on the site Gawker yesterday about a woman named Zoe Fennessy who, when she hears the music of Ne-Yo, “freezes up and begins vomiting uncontrollably.” You may say the same thing happens to you when you listen to Nickelback, but Ms. Fennessy’s reaction to Ne-Yo’s music is due to a rare medical condition called musicogenic epilepsy.
Some of you may be saying “Who’s Ne-Yo? Is he/she/they someone whose music gets played a lot?” The answer is, apparently. Since his first hit in 2006 (“So Sick,” which went to #1 on the US and UK pop charts), Ne-Yo has had 17 top forty hits on the US pop chart and a half-dozen more on the r&b chart. He has had just as many hits in the UK, where Fennessy lives.
Ne-Yo isn’t the only artist to cause seizures in people with this condition. Around ten years ago there was a report of a six-month-old who had seizures when she heard The Beatles. The Beatles! That shit ain’t right, yo. One may get a reaction from all classical music, another from the lower notes played on a brass instrument.
The reactions people with the condition have vary as well. Some have convulsions, others become incontinent, and others become incredibly sleepy.
Ms. Fennessy had part of her brain removed to try and cure the problem, but the operation was not a success. She still needs to steer clear of Ne-Yo’s music.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and if Ms. Fennessy is reading, she’ll be happy to know there is no Ne-Yo on today’s playlist, which kicks off with the Jason Nevins remix of “It’s Like That” by Run-D.M.C., whose Joseph “Run” Simmons turns 50 today.
Ten Facts about Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”
1. Yes, the word “don’t” is repeated in the parenthetical.
2. Melle Mel was the most prominent rapper in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash was the DJ, not a rapper.
3. Though credited to Grandmaster & Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash does not appear on “White Lines,” nor did he appear on the classic “The Message” (“it’s like a jungle sometimes / It makes me wonder how I keep from going under”). Forced out of the group that bore his name, Flash sued Melle Mel and their label, Sugarhill Records, over the use of his name to sell records, the result of which was the odd artist credit on the “White Lines” single.
4. Flash heard “White lines,” about the dangers of cocaine addiction, while on his way to buy crack.
5. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel reunited in 1987 at a charity concert hosted by Paul Simon.
6. The bassline was lifted from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern.”
7. The record credits Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson as the song’s writers. Robinson was the head of Sugarhill Records. Previously, she had a hit in 1973 with “Pillow Talk,” a song she wrote for Al Green, who declined to record it, and as one-half of Mickey & Sylvia, she took the classic ”Love is Strange” to #11 in 1957.
8. The lyrics include a reference to car manufacturer John DeLorean (“A businessman is caught with 24 kilos”). In 1982 the FBI arrested DeLorean for purchasing 24 kilos of coke. The song compares his fate (“He’s out on bail and out of jail”) with that of an inner city youth (“A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time. He got out three years from now just to commit more crime.”).
9. An unofficial music video for the song was directed by an NYU student named Spike Lee. It starred Laurence Fishburne, the actor who at that time was playing Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
10. The record hit the top ten on the US dance chart in 1983. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.