Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 40 albums of 2017

40. Nelly Furtado – The Ride
39. Francesco Gabbani – Magellan
38. Walk The Moon – What If Nothing
37. Frida Sundemo – Flashbacks & Futures
36. Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
35. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
34. Yaşar Gaga – Alakasiz Sarkilar, Vol.1
33. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
32. Hey Violet – From The Outside
30. Nerina Pallot – Stay Lucky
29. Ten Fé – Hit The Light
28. Galantis – The Aviary
27. P!nk – Beautiful Trauma
26. Loreen – Ride
25. La La Land OST
24. The Sound of Arrows – Stay Free
23. Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra – Ibiza Classics
22. Helene Fischer – Helene Fischer
21. Sia – Everyday Is Christmas
20. Hurts - Desire
19. Beauty & The Beast OST
18. Jessie Ware – Glasshouse
17. Shakira – El Dorado
16. Kelly Clarkson – The Meaning Of Life
15. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
14. Lorde – Melodrama
13. The Fizz – The F-Z Of Pop
12. Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
11. Alex Christensen & The Berlin Orchestra – Classical 90s Dance
10. Take That – Wonderland
9. Frances – Things I've Never Said
8. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
7. Zara Larsson – So Good
6. The Kelly Family – We Got Love
5. Taylor Swift – Reputation
4. Katy Perry - Witness
3. The Corrs – Jupiter Calling
2. Ed Sheeran - ÷
1. Steps – Tears On The Dancefloor

Some fantastic albums this year, including long-awaited debuts from Zara Larsson, Dua Lipa and Frances as well as strong returns from Katy Perry, Take That and Taylor Swift, even if the critics and sales figures didn't really agree. Also a surprising but great collection of old and new songs from Irish/American family band The Kelly Family, one of those acts that are huge in parts of mainland Europe, particularly Germany, but are not well known elsewhere.

Surpisingly only third, probably the first time ever that a new album by The Corrs hasn't finished at either No.1 or No.2 in my end of year chart, is Jupiter Calling, the family foursome's new offering that was released last month. A more traditional, organic offering than the band's previous few albums, it had to battle against two very strong albums that I've had most of the year to enjoy but there's no denying that it's not as good as White Light or Borrowed Heaven.

Nevertheless, a lesser Corrs album for me is still better than most albums by anybody else and there are plenty of gorgeous highlights on here - SOS, Son Of Solomon, Dear Life and Road To Eden are my absolute favourites but Bulletproof Love, Chasing Shadows, Butter Flutter and Hit My Ground Running are also all very good. And their October return to the Royal Albert Hall, where they played many of these tracks for the first time ever, was absolutely excellent.

At No.2 is Ed Sheeran with ÷. As a fan of Ed for coming up to a decade, it's been great to see him grow and grow, I don't think anybody would have expected him to become the world's biggest male artist. And ÷ is definitely the sound of an artist at their peak, every song sounding like a hit (and actually becoming one) despite most of them also sounding quite different to everything in the charts at the same time.

÷ is a grab bag of styles and gave me plenty to enjoy this year. Along with his four giant hit singles - Shape Of You, Castle On The Hill, Galway Girl and Perfect, my favourite tracks from the album include Dive, What Do I Know, Supermarket Flowers and Nancy Mulligan.

And at No.1 - the album I never expected to happen, but one that has completely defined and dominated my year and is probably my favourite album released by anyone since Sheppard's Bombs Away in 2014. 90s pop band Steps released a Christmas album, Light Up The World, in 2012, which limped into the top 40 and it looked as if that would be it in terms of new music from them. But the demand for brand new, original material was clearly still evident in 2017 and it turns out the band had been beavering away on preparing a new album for their 20th anniversary.

Everything about this campaign was perfect - Scared In The Dark was a monster lead single up there with their all-time best while the album was packed with songs just as good, including the other singles Neon Blue and Story Of A Heart. But it was far from filler beyond that - Happy and Firefly are both triumphant modern pop while I Will Love Again is a soaring cover of the Lara Fabian song. Glitter and Gold and No More Tears On The Dancefloor were amongst the other highlights. 

Later in the year Faye, Claire, H, Lisa and Lee released a deluxe edition, and made the best even better by covering a Delta Goodrem track, Dancing With A Broken Heart, to lead the re-release with. This was joined by a beautiful Xmas song, Dear Santa, and the excellent September Sun, along with a couple of other nice new tracks. The supporting arena tour was an absolute moment, perhaps the best concert I've seen in years with great polished new versions of the classics plus many of the aforementioned tracks from this album, stellar live vocals from the entire band and incredible staging.

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