After a soul-sucking 2016, 2017 has proven positive in regards to music. From Cardi’s come-up to Kesha’s comeback, women have dominated the charts and twittersphere as they have shown fans and critics alike what the music is all about.
From the notorious “a hoe never gets cold” vine to bumping Taylor Swift out of her #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Cardi B is the best friend you’ve always wanted. The song that quite literally stops time no matter where you are, “Bodak Yellow” lets us all talk our shit…. youknowwhatimsaying? Most notably, the debut single from the Bronx rapper is the first solo female rap song to reach No. 1 since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. Accolades aside, Bodak Yellow is a moment for women and anyone who has been told they’ll never make it because of their environment. Bodak Yellow is about celebrating success because you know you got it, no matter what they say. Go off, Cardi.
— billboard (@billboard) September 25, 2017
No pun intended, but 2017 was quite clearly the year SZA took CTRL. After long periods of hiatus between projects, fans speculated that the leading lady of Top Dawg Entertainment had, had enough of the music industry. “My life has just been falling the fuck apart,” she revealed in her 2016 Complex cover story. “I buried, like, three ex-boyfriends, my granny died, I buried someone two days ago… I’m devastated by the state of the world and the hatred.” When fans finally got their hands on her most recent record, everything seemed to make a bit more sense. “I can’t hide in my music anymore,” she tells Complex. No longer using a heavy reverb, SZA’s voice shines through as she weaves through the topics of loss, grieving, acceptance, and ultimately, self-love. Inspiring as ever, CTRL is proof that you have the power to stand up to your demons.
Forever known as the the NYU student that made Pharrell cry during a masterclass, Maggie Rogers has been living her best life this year. Selling out shows and packing festival crowds all around the world with a debut, five-song EP isn’t something normal for many artists, but for Maggie, this is her current reality. Now That The Light Is Fading tells the story of growing up, graduating from college, and leaving old parts of yourself behind. So yes, I have absolutely cried in my car listening to it multiple times.
LANA DEL REY
Cult favorite, Lana Del Rey has been no stranger to critics. Building an aesthetic around American flag visuals, luxury, and love, some listeners just simply don’t get it. With the 2017 release of her fourth studio album, Lust For Life, Lana set out to let the music speak for itself. With the nation’s current political climate, the 32 year-old singer ditched her old concepts as the America she once was inspired by changed in front of our very eyes. In a video interview with Complex, when asked if she worries about losing fans with her candid views, she responded “I think you just don’t negotiate when it comes to your work or your art, you just stand totally firm and take the consequences. In terms of losing fans, I don’t care. Period.” One thing’s for sure, Lana isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With features from Stevie Nicks, Sean Ono Lennon, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and The Weeknd, Lana is able to effortlessly weave through changing times with elements of underground and mainstream, classic and new-age, and everything inbetween. Oh, and those listeners that don’t get it? Well, she obviously doesn’t seem to care.
Proof that you can do it all yourself, Princess Nokia is here to spread her message. Her debut album 1992 was released on Spotify and other streaming services this summer, but make no mistake, it’s been a ride for the D.I.Y. New York City superstar. Her podcast Smart Girl Club Radio allows listeners to get a better idea of the daily life of their favorite rapper. Empowered by her individuality, she identifies as a tomboy, a queer woman, a bruja – product of “the system” who made it out. In a recent episode while talking about her accomplishments, she states, “See? She does many things, wears many hats. Doesn’t even need to talk about it… Power to the people, and power to my paycheck.”
Kesha has had to fight tooth and nail to get to where she is today. Years of public legal disputes have put the singer on standstill, but with her first release in five years, Rainbow, Kesha finally gets to speak up and speak out. Moving on from the chaos, Kesha looks forward with songs like “Learn To Let It Go” and “Praying,” allowing listeners a look at the journey she’s taken these past few years. A triumphant return, Rainbow shows Kesha’s bare vocals; no autotune, no gimmicks—just pure, raw, unfiltered talent.
. The lyrics speak for themselves; see for yourself, and watch her return to late-night TV with her performance of “Praying” here.