Ask Billboard: Send in Your Favorites of 2017!

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Kesha performs on stage during the MTV EMAs 2017 held at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Nov. 12, 2017 in London, England. 

Plus, lengthy waits for songs to reach their peaks before Mariah Carey's "Christmas" & what Cardi B has in common with Jackie DeShannon when it comes to women on the year-end Hot 100.

Submit questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, tweet @gthot20

READERS FAVORITES OF 2017 … A PREVIEW

Hey Gary,

2017 is almost over and, I have to say, it was an amazing year! So many great things happened this year (both on and off the topic of music), so I'd like to present to you my favorite songs of the year.

Hope you like my picks!

Honorable mentions:
"Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)," Cardi B
"Meaning of Life," Kelly Clarkson
"Thumbs," Sabrina Carpenter
"The Cure," Lady Gaga
"You Don't Do It for Me Anymore," Demi Lovato

10, "Castle on the Hill," Ed Sheeran
I was excited when Ed Sheeran announced he was releasing new music. It's not that I particularly love this guy, but that his stuff is just so diverse, which is why I loved his double release delivering "Shape of You" and this masterpiece together on Jan. 6. I love the energy on the chorus!

9, "Drew Barrymore," SZA
Not gonna lie: I didn't know who SZA was, apart from her phenomenal feature on Rihanna's "Consideration," but I was blown away when she put out this vibe-y track. Since, she's become this huge, Grammy-nominated artist. Congrats, SZA!

8, "I Have Questions," Camila Cabello
I didn't know where both Camila and her ex-Fifth Harmony members would be going after her departure, but she really showed her potential on this ballad. I like its lyricism and her emotion on it.

7, "Younger Now," Miley Cyrus
The melodic intro, the instrumentation, the meaning. All factors that led to this being one of my favorites this year.

6, "XO TOUR Llif3," Lil Uzi Vert
I really love this song's production. I also really enjoy how Lil Uzi Vert delivers his lines.

5, "New Rules," Dua Lipa
Her self-titled debut is one my favorite albums of the year, and this song from it is the most obvious choice as my favorite. I actually really disliked it at first but, after further listens, it really hit me and has grown to be one of my favorites: its weird production, its f*ck-you attitude and everything else about it.

4, "Don't Kill My Vibe," Sigrid
This was a big grower as well. Similar to Dua Lipa, Sigrid delivers her lyrics so marvelously. I'd consider her music "aggressive pop" (a sub-form of my favorite genre, "experimental pop"), so that's a plus!

3, "Again," Noah Cyrus feat. XXXTENTACION
This year brought us this amazing artist (Cyrus). She is exactly what I mean when I talk about "experimental pop": crazy production, deep lyrics and weird voices! This collab works perfectly.

2, "Think Before I Talk," Astrid S
I got really obsessed with Astrid S this year. Her Party's Over EP is one of the best pop albums of the year. The catchy chorus and her beautiful voice make this song one to remember.

1, "Praying," Kesha
This song changed my life. It changed the way I think and observe the world and people around me, while sending chills down my spine every time I come back to it, when I rediscover how beautiful it is. I'm glad it's getting the recognition it truly deserves.

Hopefully, you enjoyed my picks. Happy holidays!

Norman Große
Dresden, Germany

Thanks Norman, you too.

Great way to kick off our annual "Ask Billboard" tradition: readers' favorites of the year! We'll open one more mailbag after this one in 2017, so please send in your favorite songs, albums and/or concerts of the year and we'll run down readers' top picks in the next "Ask Billboard."

The two ways to be a part of it: email askbb@billboard.com (the best and most complete way to share your favorites; please include your full name and location) or, for an up-to-280-character recap, on Twitter @gthot20. It's always fun to share a sample of what hits, and deep cuts and largely hidden gems, readers worldwide loved throughout the year.

As for Kesha at No. 1, great choice. I still remember hearing the song for the first time when Trevor Anderson and I went up to RCA's offices to record a Chart Beat Podcast (shameless plug) and thinking it sounded like the most honest version of Kesha we've ever heard, and easily her best vocal. It also sounded like a hit. So nice that it ultimately was, given the song's evident impact, especially in its empowering lyrics.

(I also remember being told in absolutely clear terms that we were not to speak of the song until it was released, so I always feel a twinge of fear every time I hear it. It is ok to talk about the song now, right? Just making sure …)

MARIAH'S CAREY'S 23-YEAR TRIP TO THE TOP 10

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Not sure if this counts, <a href="https://twitter.com/gthot20?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@gthot20</a> but Michael Jackson recorded his part for &quot;Love Never Felt So Good&quot; in 1983 and it didn&#39;t hit the Top 10 until May 31, 2014! Does the Timberlake/Timbaland remix disqualify it? <a href="https://t.co/so26KFKQhg">pic.twitter.com/so26KFKQhg</a></p>&mdash; Ryan Milowicki (@RyanMilowicki) <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanMilowicki/status/942848421517578241?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 18, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Hi Ryan,

As previously reported, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" reaches the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 at last, 23 years after its 1994 release. The same version that was released on Carey's album that year, Merry Christmas, continues to resonate, with the iconic singer telling Billboard this week, "I am proud of this song that I wrote basically as a kid on my little Casio keyboard."

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Jackson's "Love Never Felt So Good" took a roughly 31-year journey to the top 10, albeit in a new form, as a virtual duet with Justin Timberlake. (Second podcast plug! On the latest Chart Beat Podcast, Jackie Jackson joins to discuss Michael, Janet and The Jacksons' massive influence, as chronicled in Fred Bronson's new book, The Jacksons: Legacy.)

That song is similar to another that became a top 15 Hot 100 hit 40 years after one-half of its eventual vocal partners first recorded it solo. Nat King Cole released "Unforgettable" in 1951. In 1991, daughter Natalie's version, which incorporates his vocals, reached No. 14 on the Hot 100. It also went on to win record and song of the year honors at the Gammy Awards.

One more, for the season: Elvis Presley first recorded "Blue Christmas" in 1957 (in that July, in fact, an early entrant in the tradition of artists recording holiday songs in the heat of summer). The song didn't reach the top 40 of a Billboard country chart until 51 years later, as the King's virtual version with Martina McBride hit No. 36 on Hot Country Songs in the 2008-09 holiday season.

NO LEAD WOMEN IN YEAR-END HOT 100 TOP 10 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE …

Hi Gary,

This is a sort of follow up to your column from April 22, when you noted how, on the Hot 100 dated April 29, no women occupied the top 10 for the first time in 33 years.

Along those lines, there are no women in lead roles in the year-end Hot 100's top 10 for 2017.

That seems incredible to me. Is there a particular reason, in consumers' tastes, that can explain it?

Thanks,

William Nevers
London, UK

Hi William,

2017 certainly belonged to male artists on the Hot 100. As we covered at various times throughout the year, and as Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield mused in his recap of the Top Artists and the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 for the year, "Where did all the ladies go? In 2017, the top of the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts were flush with hip-hop acts (generally a male-dominated genre), thanks, in part, to the continued rise of rap on streaming services. Further, two of pop’s biggest female stars, Adele and Taylor Swift, were between albums during most of the chart year."

One woman does inhabit the year-end Hot 100 top 10 (the one who was "looking pretty in a hotel bar," according to both The Chainsmokers and herself): Halsey. The duo's "Closer," featuring Halsey, wraps 2017 as the Hot 100's No. 7 song of the year.

The last time that no solo women in lead roles placed in the year-end Hot 100 top 10 prior to 2017? We have to go all the way back to … 1975. Still, a woman sang vocals on that year's No. 1 hit: "Love Will Keep Us Together," by Captain & Tenille.

The last time the year-end Hot 100 top 10 was entirely absent of women in lead roles?

1969, or 48 years ago:
1, "Sugar, Sugar," The Archies
2, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," The 5th Dimension
3, "I Can't Get Next to You," The Temptations
4, "Honky Tonk Women," The Rolling Stones
5, "Everyday People," Sly and the Family Stone
6, "Dizzy," Tommy Roe
7, "Hot Fun in the Summertime," Sly and the Family Stone
8, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," Tom Jones
9, "Build Me Up Buttercup," The Foundations
10, "Crimson and Clover," Tommy James and the Shondells

In 2017, the highest-charting lead solo woman on the year-end Hot 100 is Alessia Cara, whose duet with Zedd, "Stay," ranks at No. 17. The top-charting woman on her own? Cardi B, at No. 24 with "Bodak Yellow." That's the lowest year-end Hot 100 rank for a woman unaccompanied by another artist since 1969, when Jackie DeShannon was the top such act, thanks to her classic, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," at No. 46 that year.

Generally, shifts in men's and women's performance on all charts tend to be cyclical. We'll see if that's the case on the Hot 100 in an era of streaming and rap's dominance.

In 2016, two women posted year-end Hot 100 top 10s in lead roles: Rihanna's "Work" and Adele's "Hello," at Nos. 4 and 7, respectively. (Also last year, "Closer" was a first-time year-end top 10, at No. 10.)

2015 found one lead female in the year-end top 10 (Swift), while 2014 brought four: Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande.

Five years ago, lead women accounted for half the 2012 year-end top 10: Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

Meanwhile, 10 years ago, lead female soloists boasted the entire year-end top four, led by an anthem that even spelled out just how easily men can be substituted ("in a minute").

The top four for 2007:

1, "Irreplaceable," Beyoncé
2, "Umbrella," Rihanna feat. JAY-Z
3, "The Sweet Escape," Gwen Stefani feat. Akon
4, "Big Girls Don't Cry," Fergie

In perhaps a harbinger of better chart fortunes ahead for women, Beyoncé, of course, is currently at No. 1 on the Hot 100 as Ed Sheeran's duet partner on "Perfect."

Billboard Year in Music 2017

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