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Morning Shift

The Year In News: Best Music Of 2017

Politics dominated the headlines — and popular music — this year.

“Artists are finally writing good protest music again,” Vocalo Morning Amp co-host Jill Hopkins told Morning Shift.

Hopkins joined music critics Althea Legaspi and Jim Kopeny to discuss the year in music and their favorite songs. 

Below is the music from 2017 that they can’t get out of their heads.

Note: Videos may contain explicit lyrics and content.

Kendrick Lamar - “Humble”

Jill Hopkins: It is impossible to not listen to that song as loud as it’ll go. Just the intro of it is a call to action. And then the beat kicks in and it’s amazing. So now you’ve got one of the best rappers of the 21st century making just a club hit again.

Carly Rae Jepsen - “Cut to the Feeling”

Jim Kopeny: I think that this Carly Rae track — which is actually maybe a year or two old and just wasn’t released until this year — is indicative of the idea that this was kind of a B-side castoff from her last album. So if this is what a castoff sounds like, that tells you how good she is as a songwriter. And it’s just a fun song in a year when we desperately needed some fun, uplifting music.

Fever Ray - “To The Moon And Back”

Althea Legaspi: This song sort of stands out from the rest of the album in that it’s in a major key. It was the first single that she put out and I remember talking to one of my friends and going, “This is way more bouncy than I was expecting from Fever Ray,” who’s usually very icy and chill.

Queens of the Stone Age - “Domesticated Animals”

Hopkins: Queens of the Stone Age in the last few weeks have become a topic of conversation for all the wrong reasons with singer Josh Homme kicking a photographer during a performance, but before that they were touring on an album called “Villains,” which is on the top of my rock album list of the year. 

Hopkins: “Domesticated Animals” comes in in the middle of the first side, and I think really does a good job of giving you Queens of the Stone Age in a nutshell. You really get a good taste of the kind of guitarist that Josh and the rest of the guys have always been. I think it’s a return to the kind of music they were making with “Songs for the Deaf.” 

Hopkins' other favorites:

SZA - “Normal Girl” 

Legaspi: I don’t think I’ve played a record more this year than this one.

Legaspi's other favorites:

Taylor Swift - “Getaway Car”

Kopeny: One of the things that I think confuses people about Taylor Swift is that they’re so used to her writing music as a perceived personal narrative, that when she does do something rather straightforward they assume there’s some sort of ulterior motive for it, like her first single from the album. I think people misheard that and it actually got the album launched off on a weird, wrong foot, because people thought Taylor was suddenly turning dark, and like, angry and cynical and fighting with people.

Kopeny: But then you have a song like “Getaway Car,” co-written with Jack Antonoff — who I think you could also credit with a lot of the sound of the last year between her and Lorde and his own band Bleachers — and it’s just one of those songs that I can’t get out of my head. 

Kopeny's other favorite:

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. It was adapted for the web by producer Justin Bull. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.

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