For every great record that came out of 2017 was a disappointing music release to match it. I’m not talking about your obviously terrible releases. We all knew what was coming from your Swifts, Perrys, and Maroon 5s. I’m talking about albums that had all the trimmings and preamble of something good. Something worthwhile. But fudged the execution in the last minute. And well… left us with whatever the Hell this is.
Here are the music releases that got our hopes up throughout the year, only to leave us sitting by the curb on our suitcases, waiting for a stepdad who would never come to take us to Disneyland.
Jay-Z – 4:44
Hova brings it. Hova always brings it. Right? Apparently not. And that broke my heart. With the exception of The Story of OJ where he depicts the racial politics of being a black man in the US with blistering sincerity, the album as a whole fell spectacularly flat. While the spirit of the work is mature and very restrained, complemented by shiny sound production, it was just too dragging-your-feet-paced and middle-of-the-road. Thankfully, that still didn’t stop Jay from going platinum.
Lorde – Melodrama
This one will seem a bit nit-picky, but I’ll cop to it. Lorde demonstrated phenomenal talent in her artistic range with Pure Heroine back in 2013, and even her Love Club EP a year before that. This sophomore studio album was the perfect opportunity to explore new territory, and broaden the Lorde ethos in a sense. Which just did not happen. What did happen felt a lot like the same old, same old (though feel free to disagree with me). And for that, it was disappointing.
Gorillaz – Humanz
There was no way this could have possibly lived up to the lofty expectations of the Gorillaz’s past. That’d be like if Francis Ford Coppola came out with an Apocalypse Now sequel (and we got a peak into the window of that dark eventuality with the third Godfather, but moving on). Even when you did remove that inflated hype, however, you’re still left with an underwhelming few tracks that almost tries to coast on credit and cache from the days of yesteryear. Similarly to 4:44 and Melodrama, it did nothing to break new ground, expand the Gorillaz’s artistic definition, nor did it situate itself on any discernible side of the road (middley, it was middley).
Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces, Vol 1
Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces, Vol 1 was nothing more than an unmemorable piece of output with a star-studded roster that aims to be cinematic but only achieves melodrama at most (no, not thatMelodrama). Sure, it’s probably an accurate snapshot of the cultural zeitgeist at the time. And yes, there were a few radio friendly tracks that got shown some love around a few platforms. But it held nothing that will age well or be remembered non-ironically. Ten years from now, those songs will be played for the same reason we play old Chris Brown and 3OH!3 songs today. The lols.
XXXTentacion – 17
With all the hype, meme and otherwise, surrounding XXXTentacion, you’d think that he’d be able to back it up with a killer debut studio album. Well, he wasn’t. And only went on to prove how cringey and tween-edgelord-angsty he really is with a pretentious and opportunistic body of work. Though Jocelyn Flores admittedly has a decent amount of replay value, it was ultimately overshadowed by a gross capitalisation of supposed “dark” and “vulnerable” emotions more 2D than his fanbase. Which speaks to the depth of the entire album. On a side note, what in the sweet name of Chief Keef was up with the opening track?
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
You ever talk to someone you just met and feel how half-hearted the conversation is? The polite smiles, the strained laughter. Well that’s what Everything Now felt like. And I’m speaking as a fan. It was the usual trap of OK lead singles that you hope weren’t indicative of the baseline quality of the entire album (“Oh maybe it’ll get better…”). Only to find out a few months later that rock bottom has a basement. A little harsh, I admit. But I’m not half-arsing this article with half-jokes for half-laughs. Committing to something and following through is what people respond to. Ya hear that, Arcade Fire? What remains after all these punchlines is a deeply uneven album.
Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
Villains faced an opposite issue to the majority of this list… kind of. Where many albums failed to go somewhere new, Villains failed to recapture what we know and love about Queens of the Stone Age. And that isn’t to say it was too different, or that too different is bad. It was more so the fact that it was lacking the same spark we saw in the rawer Songs for the Deaf and even the more polished Like Clockwork (how fitting for them to have a track named The Way You Used To). It was like the musical equivalent of seeing your mate settle down and have kids instead of coming out and sending some through with the boys.Which is a shame, because excitement positively peaks when you hear Mark freaking Ronson is set to produce an album.