So Spotify does this thing where at the end of the year, they round up your 100 most listened to songs from that year and put it into a playlist for you. I LOVED my personalized playlist from 2016, so I was really looking forward to what they would come up with for 2017.
Sadly, I ended up being a little disappointed with my 2017 playlist. Admittedly, one of my problems with it was that, since I loved my 2016 playlist so much and subsequently listened to it on repeat for a few months straight, many of my 2016 favorites ended up on my 2017 playlist. I still love all those songs, but by the end of the year, they just felt a little bit like “old news” to me.
Another thing that I found odd about my Spotify-generated 2017 playlist was that it included songs that I felt like I had only listened to once or twice, while leaving out songs I knew I listened to more. (This has actually prompted me to try to learn more about how Spotify’s playlisting processes work, so if you know of any helpful resources I should look into, let me know!).
As a result of this weird combination of songs I thought only kind-of represented my 2017 experience, I decided to create a separate playlist to include both those songs that Spotify got right as well as a few of my own that weren’t originally included. The result was my “Real Top Songs of 2017” playlist. It includes songs you’ve probably heard of before, as well as some you might have missed out on thus far. Either way, give it a listen, save the songs you like, skip the ones you don’t, and thank me later.
Listen to the full playlist at the bottom of this post. I’ve also featured four artists that I especially loved below. These four artists are not necessarily representative of the entire playlist, but I chose to highlight them because I was basically obsessed with more than one of each of their songs this past year.
OMG, I kind of want to be Alice Smith. Just listen to “Fool for You,” and you’ll understand why. This woman has a voice that I want to live in, and her music seamlessly combines all the best elements of upbeat pop, moody rock, funky R&B and retro soul. Just trust me, you need Alice Smith in your life.
“Another Love” from She (2013)
Even though I listened to the entire She LP (2013) pretty regularly last year, “Another Love” was by far the one song I just couldn’t get enough of. (Also worth noting: “Cabaret,” “Shot,” and “I Put A Spell On You.”)
“Way Back” from 3:33am (2017)
The first Amber Mark song I actually heard was “S P A C E,” but it was “Way Back” that really caught my attention. It even inspired this journal entry:
(Yes, I realize this post is about my top songs of 2017, but I did first hear this song in 2016. It just happened to be one of those that I kept coming back to well into the next year.)
It’s Thursday, and you go into work as normal. The past two weeks have been far from normal, though, and you’d rather be almost anywhere else. Actually, that’s not true. You’d rather be at home in front of the TV – the only thing that keeps your mind off of itself. But someone’s got to pay your rent.
(Lol. If only that someone could be me.)
So you sit at your desk, hoping that if you stare at your monitor long enough, it will give you something to do. Anything would do, as long as it can provide a good excuse for having gotten out of bed this morning. The work never appears. You pull out your phone and hope that your crappy cell service is enough to stream some music. You just need something in your ears to adjust your mood until your mind is fit to be numbed by all the data you’re about to enter. Nothing sounds good to you anymore, though. More than anything, the noise just grates on your ears until you’ve finally had enough to make you take out your earbuds and listen to the sound of your own ears ringing for a while. Still, you’re determined. Just three or four short minutes of beautiful noise is all you’ll need to carry you through the rest of your day.
Then you hear it. It’s beautiful and smooth. Entitled, “Way Back,” you expect a song about nostalgia for a time “way back in the day.” Once you hear the refrain, though, you hear that the full line is “I found my way back.” It’s a song about overcoming. It does something to you – makes you think of all the dark places from which you have found your way back. You hear Amber sing, “May still be aching, but I see the sun come up,” and you think to yourself, You know what? I have found my way back. For months, you’ve been dwelling on all the things you think you can’t do and all the ways in which you’ve fallen short. Now Ms. Mark has given you permission to dwell on all the ways in which you’ve endured, despite the years of loss, emotional trauma, and moth-induced starvation.
Of course, the original journal entry was much longer and even more melodramatic (sometimes I like to pretend I’m Sylvia Plath and that everything I touch turns to literary genius). The point is, for a moment in my life, “Way Back” provided me with some much-needed relief, and I really appreciated it for that.
“Lose My Cool”
Another Amber Mark song I really appreciated, though for entirely different (and maybe a little more lighthearted) reasons:
The song that originally caught my attention was “That’s Alright With Me,” which is a more direct nod to that retro soul goodness I mentioned when I talked about Alice Smith. The comparison between these two vocalists ends there in my ears, though. Andreya Triana’s voice is every bit as captivating as Smith’s, but in a very different way. Whereas Smith’s voice is forward and crystal-clear, Triana’s vocals have a much airier tone – less extreme than Macy Gray’s rasp, but gritty enough to be satisfying.
“Keep Running” from Giants (2015)
As I explored Andreya Triana’s catalog on Spotify, though, I found myself gravitating to the more uptempo “Keep Running”, which is why I chose to include it here. I got really excited when I actually heard this song playing in a Ross a couple of months ago.
HERE (2016) by Alicia Keys
I’m certainly not the most die-hard Alicia Keys fan there is, but she has held a pretty special place in my (and everyone else’s) heart since her 2001 debut, Songs in A Minor. I did watch an entire season of The Voice when I found out she was a judge (which is saying something because reality game shows, even the ones about singing, are really not my cup of tea), which is what brought my attention to her 2016 release, HERE.
Here are two of the songs from that album that I really ended up loving and listening to a lot (although some highly honorable mentions are: “Pawn It All,” “Kill Your Mama,” and “Girl Can’t Be Herself“):
I love that this song, like “Kill Your Mama,” sounds almost like a protest song. I think that’s one of the qualities that made me love this album as whole.