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Objectively Correct Lists

Well Goddamn, It's the Best British Tracks of 2017 So Far

Our top 5 plus all the other great shit that's come out since January.

by Noisey UK Staff
16 June 2017, 10:30am

Photos of Stefflon Don (L) and Mabel via PR

We love a bit of music at noisey dot com, don't we? It is what gets us up each morning, the very reason for our collective existences, what helps us pay the rent tbqh. And it's in no way our intention to alarm, but while record label execs have been working hair-thinning amounts of overtime to convince the public that the only music from Britain you need to care about in 2017 will come from either Ed Sheeran or Rag'n'Bone Man, musicians have been putting out bangers in every direction at a speed so dedicated you could easily miss the tunes.

That's where Noisey UK come in. We've gone back over the past six months of music – how's it June already?! etc etc – from this fine, Brexit-ing and politically confused island to give you a selection of Very Great British songs released so far. One of the benefits of living in a country in which so many different cultures and communities have laid down roots is the variety of music created when some of those Brits sit down and write a tune. From clear-as-glass electropop and rap bars skipping over ululating synths to gritty guitars, we've got you covered on tracks you may have missed on some key albums this year and others that have just floated around on the internet untethered to a big release. We kindly present you with the top 5 British songs we've not been able to get enough of this year, plus a selection of other greats (of which there were reams more) that you need to smash play on and turn up immediately.

THE TOP 5:

1. Mabel – "Bedroom"

"But she's half-Swedish," I hear absolutely no one cry because I'm bodyrolling and playing this on my headphones at a volume that would drown out a construction site. If you think a fine reading of Mabel's parentage – her English father being Cameron McVey, and Swedish mum being absolute legend Neneh Cherry – would stop us from putting her on top of this list then mate you must be new here. This is the best British track we've loved so far this year. Hands down.

"Bedroom" is your favourite song of the summer about a trash boy who pretends not to know you in public but then slides into your DMs with a quick ;), asking "what u doin". It is a piece of bassy, synthy pop brilliance, shot through with a chest pain that throbs somewhere between longing, regret and the visceral red-hot sizzle of being positively vexed. When Mabel sings "Two days of the week, I was your main thing / cos soon enough, I found out that the other days were taken" she distills that 'lol I'm catching feelings against my will' haze into something vulnerable and pure, in the way the best pop can. Brit or Swede semantics be damned: just play it loud. Tshepo Mokoena

2. Dave and J Hus – "Samantha"

There are three main components that make a good rap song: a colourful narrative, fiercely evocative bars and a hook capable of laying endorphin-like foundations in the listener's brain. Most of all though, it's about presence. On "Samantha", J Hus and Dave possess that final quality by the bucket-load, elevating the song from good to immortal. Separately, the two MCs have tracks that deserve to be in this top 5, but it's this collaboration that proves they're two of Britain's bright young talents. It simply operates on a higher plane: intricate, bold, bars and hook. Ryan Bassil

3. Danny L Harle – "1UL"

Danny L Harle is The Absolute Boy of holding party music in high regard while also acknowledging that it is a massive bloody laugh. A synthetic pop rager about shagging and longing, "1UL" continues the PC Music tradition of marrying modern, experimental production with something you'd find on a Now! That's What I Call Music compilation in the late 90s featuring a Korg M1 "house piano" preset. It's completely frivolous but drops anchor in your feelings in a very real way. It sounds innovative while scratching every familiar itch. It also sounds a lot like ATC's "All Around The World" (probably on purpose) which itself is a rework of a Russian pop song. It's steeped in pop history, boiling its shared language down to a single word and philosophy: Huge. Emma Garland

4. Stefflon Don feat. Giggs – "Real Ting (Remix)"

Stefflon Don is easily one of the best rappers to have come out the UK in a long time. Managing to embody all the uber-sexy, flamboyant glamour of US hip hop greats like Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Trina, while also oozing the cold, rapid-fire sound we've come to associate with London, Steff switches between the two so effortlessly you've barely had time to catch your breath. Nowhere is this clearer on this actually insane "Real Ting" remix with our boy Giggs, where she throws out the kind of bars that could probably kill a man. Read the profile we did with her earlier this year here. Daisy Jones

5. Charli XCX feat. MØ – "3AM" (Pull Up)

All the best breakup songs have synths and a drum machine, right? What's special about "3AM," the standout track from Charli XCX's March mixtape Number 1 Angel, is the fact that it manages to be wrenchingly emotionally honest about dead-end relationships ("forgive myself now this is over"), while also being exactly the sort of song you scream along to to in a club with your sweaty arms wrapped around a friend's equally sweaty neck. In all its straight-talking, day-glo glory, "3AM" is one of the best pop songs 2017 has hacked up so far, not least for giving me the only comeback I'll need whenever I'm romantically wronged in future: "Go fuck yourself, don't say you're sorry." Lauren O'Neill

ALL THE OTHER GOOD SHIT:

House of Pharaohs – "RWM [run with me]"

House of Pharaohs are the definitive sound of young London. Taken from their mixtape Real Faces is the very tall and loud track "RWM [run with me]" – seemingly designed not only for the Uber to the function but the moments before, after, and during. A brash as fuck turn-up for the ages. Ryan Bassil

Kwaye – "Little Ones"

Everyone in this office is sick of me banging on about Kwaye, but for real – listen to this track, soak up that silky smooth synth, feel those deep bass grooves, let that part-Prince part-Sade vocal wash over you like a musical ocean wave, and tell me this isn't one of the best four minutes six seconds you have heard this year and maybe even your life so far. Daisy Jones

Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos – "Slide"

Wild how the Song of Summer 2017 came out in February. It is unlike me to single Calvin Harris out for praise, but even I must admit that he deserves props for his transition from Boring Twat to Person Who is Mates with Frank Ocean – a transition that is encapsulated aptly by "Slide." It's an objectively excellent track that sounds exactly like how I imagine having a suntan and driving around in an open top car when it's warm feels. The Andy Murray of music did good. Lauren O'Neill

Fyfe feat. Kimbra – "Belong"

The ease at which Kimbra slides into her guest verse on "Belong" perfectly evokes how it should feel to move in with the right person. "Can we make a home together," asks Fyfe, to which she responds "I'd be willing if you're willing to try." That sounds basic on paper but in ears, it details the moment when explaining how one feels begins to override any element of being coy or shy. Ryan Bassil

Alimony Hustle – "Miss GB"

I don't want to get too deep in the It's Hard To Make Good Guitar Music In 2017 Isn't It conversation here, but I will say that: yes, it is. It is even more difficult, presumably, to make Good Guitar Music about the gender politics of someone off of Love Island doing sex on national television and then being dragged through the media for the privilege. Still, Alimony Hustle do a lot with a little here as understated vocals, skittish drums and intricate guitar parts continually coalesce, splinter off and interrupt each other to create a sum of its parts, rather than clubbing you over the head with one overriding element like a roast comprised entirely of potatoes. Emma Garland

Mount Kimbie feat. Micachu – "Marilyn"

Watching this video makes me want to cry my eyes out. I'm not broody. I am just a total sucker for the bonds that tie close family members together. Filmmaker Mark Lebon's snapshot into the intimacy of his home life perfectly fits "Marilyn," a song that uses the rasp of Mica Levi's vocal to sound exactly like the feeling you get when you creak open your eyes on a sunny morning and have fuck-all else to do besides hang out with people you love and not get sunstroke in the process. It's all very *sobbing emoji*. Tshepo Mokoena

Harry Styles – "Carolina"

When Harry Styles performed this live on Today in a bubblegum pink suit, I was finally convinced that his debut album would not be a corny AF shitshow. This Stealers Wheel-referencing, Rolling Stones-evoking chunk of reinvented blues was our first indication that he fully intended to embrace his role of millennial Mick Jagger: a swaggering, charismatic wearer of scarves with a genuine respect for pop, poured into the traditional mould of a rock star. Considering Harry could've gone in literally any direction with his solo sound, did you ever think you would be spending 2017 tapping your foot to a wedding-party-in-a-barn ass song that I'm going to go ahead and coin as "daddy rock" before watching him weep in shiny gold trousers during a duet of "Landslide" with Stevie Nicks? Emma Garland

Tom Misch feat. Novelist – "Feeling"

"Feeling" deserves more than 50 words, but that's all we have so here's some of the components at its core: energy, truth, learning about oneself through another, moving beyond the average paradigm of life, love, flavour, motivation, intuition, acceptance. Basically, a bunch of earthly yet very real shit you've yet to hear on a rap record that sounds so fucking wholesome. Ryan Bassil

Sampha – "Under"

On an album that deals predominantly with grief, Sampha's managed to sneak in an absolute bop. "Under" makes warm, sticky-palmed stress sexy from the moment its "underunderunder" vocal intro kicks in like a mantra. When you're working with an instrument as flexible as Sampha's thick-as-a-blanket voice, you only need the lightest touch to drive a point home. In this case, that of trying to banish from your mind a mind-fuck of a woman who won't leave your head. It's a suffocating plea and, from what I've seen, one of a few songs that slaps hard enough live to quieten the chatty fans near the back. Tshepo Mokoena

You can find Tshepo, Ryan, Daisy, Emma and Lauren on Twitter.

(Photo via Flickr)

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