The 2019 Grammys

Ask Billboard: Readers' Favorites of 2017!

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Kendrick Lamar performs on the Coachella Stage during day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2017 in Indio, Calif.

Your top songs, albums, concerts & more.

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

As always, the last "Ask Billboard" of the year is all about your charts! Here's a look at your favorites of 2017 (along with those from some of Billboard's chart makers).

17 FOR '17

Hi Gary,

Hard to believe it's time for the annual recap again; it seems like I just sent in my 2016 favorites! I was glad to get a new Ed Sheeran album this year, and there was no shortage of other great music, either. After 45 years of following Billboard's charts (since high school), I never get tired of it. So, here are my 17 favorite tracks and albums for 2017, along with the two concerts I attended.

Happy New Year to you, and keep the chart facts and trivia coming!

Albums:
1, Harry Styles, Harry Styles
2, Divide, Ed Sheeran
3, Flicker, Niall Horan
4, Beautiful Trauma, P!nk
5, Reputation, Taylor Swift
6, Life Changes, Thomas Rhett
7, Mind of Mine, Zayn
8, Welcome Home, Zac Brown Band
9, The Devil Don't Sleep, Brantley Gilbert
10, Human, Rag'n'Bone Man
11, Evolve, Imagine Dragons
12, Songs From a Broken Chair, Noah Reid
13, Rainbow, Kesha
14, One More Light, Linkin Park
15, Everybody, Logic
16, Colors, Beck
17, The Afterlove, James Blunt

Tracks:
1, "Castle on the Hill," Ed Sheeran
2, "Sign of the Times," Harry Styles
3, "Something Just Like This," The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
4, "Perfect," Ed Sheeran feat. Beyoncé
5, "Black Beatles," Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
6, "On the Loose," Niall Horan
7, "Don't Blame Me," Taylor Swift
8, "2 Places at 1 Time," Zac Brown Band
9, "Shape of You," Ed Sheeran
10, "Love on the Brain," Rihanna
11, "I Did a Bad Thing," Taylor Swift
12, "Human," Rag'n'Bone Man
13, "Havana," Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug
14, "Walk on Water," Thirty Seconds to Mars
15, "Flicker," Niall Horan
16, "What About Us," P!nk
17, "One More Light," Linkin Park

Concerts:
1, Lady Gaga, Sept. 10, Philadelphia
2, Ed Sheeran, July 11, Philadelphia

George Lotter
Kingsley, Pennsylvania

JUST A GIRL (WHO LOVES THE HOLIDAYS)

Hi Gary,

Thanks for another great year of answering our questions in "Ask Billboard"!

My favorite album of 2017 is Gwen Stefani's fourth solo effort and (long overdue) first foray into holiday music, You Make It Feel Like Christmas. Although it was released in early October, Gwen certainly inspired early yuletide celebration with this festive set. Her covers of six Christmas classics (including "Santa Baby," a song she always seemed destined to sing) are refreshingly unique yet lovingly retro, and the six original songs (a highlight of which is the cheery, rollicking title track featuring Blake Shelton) are full of the honest, heartfelt emotion that Gwen has always captured so well in her songwriting. Let it snow, indeed!

Happy Holidays!

Rosemarie Meneo
Orange, Connecticut

ONLY 'ONE'

Gary,

Thank you for the entertaining article(s).  My favorite song of the year is the all-star "I'm the One," by DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne.

Best,

John Mattioli
Fairfax, Virginia

A 'GLORIOUS' YEAR FOR DANCE MUSIC

Hey Gary,

There was a lot of great music this year! Here are some of my favorites.

"Rich Boy," Galantis. A blissful dance track that stands with the best of pop music.

"All Around the World," Mura Masa feat. Desiigner. A signature performance by Desiigner on a tropical trap beat with an eerie howl sprinkled throughout.

"Fool," Fitz and The Tantrums. A rapturous neo-soul number with some trap elements. I don't know how this wasn't a huge hit.

"Good Day," Yellow Claw feat. DJ Snake & Elliphant. An epic dance track with an indelible chopped vocal melody.

"My Mind Is for Sale," Jack Johnson. This song and "Yellow Light" by Pharrell, both sunny anti-Trump joints.

"Glorious," Macklemore feat. Skylar Grey. An inspirational rap song with a heavenly chorus and an adorable video featuring Macklemore's centenarian grandmother.

"Stay," Zedd & Alessia Cara. A catchy dance pop tune with marvelous production.

"Saturnz Barz," Gorillaz feat. Popcaan. A dark, psychedelic trap number that will haunt me all my life.

"Dive," Coast Modern. A dreamy love song that's so much fun to sing along to by a duo that is bound to blow up big, given its such amazing pop songwriting skills.

"Shape of You," Ed Sheeran. The apotheosis of the tropical house and trop-pop movement with which I've fallen in love.

Thanks for all the great content this year! You guys at Billboard really help me stay engaged with music!

Jake Zielsdorf

SHE CAME BACK LIKE A WRECKING BALL

Hey Gary!

What's good? Excited to return with another year-end list. Never like making "Top 10" lists but it needs to be done, so here mine is. I really enjoyed this year in music, and a surprising favorite was Miley Cyrus and her deep cut "Thinkin'." Hopefully, she makes a single out of that one.

My top 10 songs:
1, "Junie," Solange
2, "Green Light," Lorde
3, "Passionfruit," Drake
4, "Worst Bday," TT the Artist
5, "Dollar Bills," Syd feat. Steve Lacy
6, "Touch Pass," Tinashe
7, "True Disaster," Tove Lo
8, "Chantaje," Shakira feat. Maluma
9, "Charliee," Yemi Alade
10, "DNA.," Kendrick Lamar

OK, top 15:
11, "The Let Out," Jidenna feat. Quavo & Nana Kwabena
12, "False Prophets," J. Cole
13, "Ma Lo," Tiwa Savage feat. WizKid
14, "Prototype," Kevin Ross

15, "Thinkin'," Miley Cyrus

Artists:
1, Syd
2, Kendrick Lamar
3, Solange
4, GoldLink
5, Kevin Ross 
6, Drake
7, Yemi Alade
8, Migos
9, JAY-Z
10, Miley Cyrus

Charlie O'Keefe
Seattle, Washington

I SEE CHAINSMOKERS & COLDPLAY UPON THAT LIST

Hi Gary,

My 10 favorite songs of 2017:

10, "Praying." This is a beautiful song from Kesha, an artist who had always delivered party anthems. However, my eyes were wet with tears after hearing this emotionally empowering ballad about overcoming your trials to become stronger than ever.

9, "Starboy." I am now a fan of The Weeknd thanks to this song. I like songs based on vibes.

8, "1-800-273-8255." Like "Praying," this song by Logic, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, surely comforts and inspires.

7, "Unforgettable." We have a pattern here. We go from lyrically-intense songs to the vibe-transmitters. This was my most-streamed song on Spotify this year, and I am still unable to get Swae Lee's hook and French Montana's verses out of my head.

6, "Attention." Charlie Puth probably asked himself, "Who needs complex language to write a song?"  His chorus resonates for that very reason: it is simple, relatable and catchy.

5, "Something Just Like This." Truly, one does not have to be as renowned or as powerful as a superhero to be lovable. Just someone one can turn to.

4, "Believer." Imagine Dragons remind their listeners of the power of pain. After abandoning the band after what I consider a weak sophomore album, this lead single from Evolve marks the Dragons' comeback. (It also matches its Billboard Hot 100 peak on my list.)

3, "Let You Down." I relate to NF's lyrics on so many levels with me and my dad.

2, "Stranger Things." Kygo is my favorite EDM artist right now, and when you pair him with my favorite band, OneRepublic (and favorite songwriter, Ryan Tedder), you are bound to get a masterpiece. This is the only song that I heard this year with a calming, peaceful vibe. Scratch the lyrics; the vibes alone would send this song onto this list. However, Kygo and Tedder wrote dreamy and hopeful poetry, making it a close second to my favorite song of the year.

1, "Rich Love." This song currently resides at No. 4 among my favorite songs of all-time, behind some other OneRepublic goodness.  More than any other song this year, it's a feel-good bop; I'm not sure I could sit still while listening to it if I wanted to. Most importantly, however, the theme of this song is: The rich in love are wealthier than the rich in money. This is something that all people would do well to know.

Collin Porter
Austin, Texas

THAT'S WHAT I LIKED

Hi Gary,

What another great year for music. Here are my top 10 songs and albums of this year, courtesy of my iTunes library. Cheers to 2018!

Songs:
1, "Redbone," Childish Gambino
2, "Crew," GoldLink feat. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
3, "The Weekend," SZA
4, "Magnolia," Playboi Carti
5, "That's What I Like," Bruno Mars
6, "Mask Off," Future

7, "1-800-273-8255," Logic feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid
8, "Goosebumps," Travis Scott feat. Kendrick Lamar
9, "Now or Never," Halsey
10, "Love on the Brain," Rihanna

Albums:
1, NAO, For All We Know
2, Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
3, SZA, Ctrl
4, J. Cole, 4 Your Eyez Only
5, Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
6, Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
7, JAY-Z, 4:44
8, Ed Sheeran, Divide
9, Migos, Culture
10, The Weeknd, Starboy

Thanks,

André Johnson
East St. Louis, Illinois

KNOCKOUT HITS

Hi Gary,

I'm here for the second time, after first sending in my list for 2015.

This was a great year in Latin music and Brazilian pop music, and it makes us very proud to have our music being heard and breaking records around the world.

Best songs of 2017:
1, "Despacito," Luís Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
2, "Sign of the Times," Harry Styles
3, "Felices Los 4," Maluma
4, "Joga O Bum Bum Tam Tam," MC Fioti

5, "K.O.," Pabllo Vittar
6, "De Quem É A Culpa," Marília Mendonça
7, "A Música Mais Triste Do Ano," Luiz Lins feat. Mazili & Moral
8, "Jocelyn Flores," XXXTentacion
9, "Nessas Horas," Matheus & Kauan
10, "Downtown," Anitta & J Balvin

Best albums:
1, DAMN., Kendrick Lamar
2, Realidade, Marília Mendonça
3, Na Praia 2, Matheus & Kauan
4, In Miami Beach (ao vivo), Wesley Safadão
5, Divide, Ed Sheeran

Alah Costa

AND … CHARTS DEPT. CHARTS

Xander Zellner, Billboard chart manager:

Top songs:
10, "Told You So," Miguel
9, "Black Smoke Rising," Greta Van Fleet
8, "May I Have This Dance," Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper
7, "Redbone," Childish Gambino
6, "Despacito," Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
5, "Green Light," Lorde
4, "DNA.," Kendrick Lamar
3, "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)," Cardi B
2, "Sign of the Times," Harry Styles
1, "Feel It Still," Portugal. The Man

Top albums:
10, Greta Van Fleet, From the Fires
9, SZA, Ctrl
8, Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life
7, LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
6, Sampha, Process
5, Harry Styles, Harry Styles
4, Khalid, American Teen
3, Lorde, Melodrama
2, St. Vincent, Masseduction
1, Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Top concerts:
5, Japandroids, Terminal 5
4, Chance the Rapper, Forest Hills
3, Paul McCartney, Barclay's Center
2, Childish Gambino (with Dave Chappelle), Radio City Music Hall
1, Roger Waters, Barclay's Center

Pamela BustiosBillboard Latin chart manager:

Songs:
1, "Groupie Love," Lana del Rey feat. A$AP Rocky
2, "Desencuentro," Residente feat. Soko
3, "Tu Si Sabes Quererme," Natalia Lafourcade
4, "El Surco," Jorge Drexler
5, "The Way You Used to Do," Queens of the Stone Age
6, "It's a Beautiful World," Noel Gallagher
7, "Benz Truck," Lil Peep
8, "Goosebumps," Travis Scott
9, "Pipe Dreams," Nelly Furtado
10, "Blissing Me," Bjork

Albums:
1, Triplicate, Bob Dylan
2, OK Computer: OKNOTOK 1997 2017, Radiohead
3, Utopia, Bjork
4, Who Built the Moon?, Noel Gallagher
5, 17, XXXTentacion

6, Lust for Life, Lana del Rey
7, Villains, Queen of the Stone Age
8, Residente, Residente
9, Musas, Natalia Lafourcade
10, A Chabuca, Various Artists

Jim Asker, Billboard country, Christian/gospel, bluegrass chart manager:

Albums:
1 (tie), Lindsay Ell, The Project. This singer-songwriter from Calgary, Alberta (and recent Billboard Chart Beat Podcast guest), arrived at No. 1 on the Country Album Sales chart without the benefit of a major hit single, yet this 12-song set is bursting with potential smashes, and nine of them were co-written by Ell. As the year closes, Ell has earned her first top 40 entry on the Country Airplay chart with new single "Criminal." Ell is also earning a reputation as one of the strongest guitarists in Nashville.

1 (tie), Carly Pearce, Every Little Thing. I chatted with Pearce about her launch solo single, the album's title-track ballad, topping Country Airplay, a feat especially impressive since country radio programmers love tempo, especially during the summer, when the song was rising. I also love the fact that she earned her chops by playing up to six shows a day at Dollywood. Like Ell's first LP, this set is also full of potential hits. Pearce is a master of variety, with everything from bluegrass-flavored country to Americana, rock and soulful ballads.

3, Zach Williams, Chain Breaker. He's just a great story. The guy was fronting a hard rock band for years … hears a tobyMac song … and immediately transforms his life. It's obviously a lot more complicated than that, but his debut album is solid and a lot more organic-sounding than most in the Christian genre. His first two singles, the LP's title track and "Old Church Choir," each hit No. 1 on both Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay.

4, Blake Shelton, Texoma Shore. Nothing tricky about this one, just simplicity at its finest. The crooner's album marks a return to pre-bro-country, '90s-sounding music. The result is a refreshingly great country album, led by inventive first single "I'll Name the Dogs."

5, Luke Bryan, What Makes You Country. He might be the biggest star in country and for good reason; Bryan delivers every time. Lead single "Light it Up" is standard Luke, while latest Country Airplay entry "Most People Are Good" is a veer in the road: an inspiring, positive-message song with a heartfelt vocal. At a time when the world is not such a positive place it's, well, just in time.

Singles:
1, Hillsong Worship, "What a Beautiful Name." I've heard this song so many times now and it's one of those rare tracks that sounds better every time. The lead singer and co-writer of the song, Brooke Ligertwood, gives a performance that would take an atheist to his knees.

2, Keith Urban, "Female." He really needs to win the Country Music Association entertainer of the year award. This song dropped right after the #metoo movement began, and he debuted it on the CMA Awards. I think only Urban can pull this one off, and he does with a sincere, touching delivery. It's a simple ballad but he leans into the phrasing like he means it.

3, Jon Pardi, "Heartache on the Dance Floor." Again, nothing complicated here, just a great, hooky country song.

4, Maren Morris, "I Could Use a Love Song." In the song's 41st week on Country Airplay (dated Jan. 3), radio finally gave Morris a solo top five hit, which she deserved with her debut, "My Church." "Love Song" is another one of those songs that gets better with each listen. Another artist who guested on the Chart Beat Podcast, and one of my favorites right now.

5, Chris Stapleton, "Broken Halos." If you've heard this on terrestrial country radio it might sound a little out of place, in a good way. God bless Stapleton for bringing this long-awaited sound back to the format. The first time that I saw him, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, it felt so good that it was chilling, like I was transported back in time to one of those classic '70s Allman Brothers shows.

Concert:
Garth Brooks. I got to see one of his seven sold-out shows in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena. It was a carnival ride from start to finish. Imagine when you see a movie that's so good that you don't want it to end, or visiting an over-hyped restaurant, then get there and discover … it's that good after all. He is.

Gordon Murray, Billboard dance/electronic chart manager:

1, Depeche Mode, Global Spirit Tour / Spirit album. Standout standards include "World in My Eyes," "Home," "Useless," "Enjoy the Silence," "Never Let Me Down Again" and "It's No Good," along with top-notch new tracks including the politically-minded "Poorman," "So Much Love," "Cover Me" and "You Move."

2, Kungs feat. Tille, "When You're Gone"
3, Kygo & Selena Gomez, "It Ain't Me"
4, Tori Amos, "Cloud Riders"
5, Deadmau5, "4ware" & "Let Go" (featuring Grabbitz)
6, Matsubs (featuring uncredited vocals from Verite), "Kings and Queens of Summer"
7, Avicii feat. Sandro Cavazza, "Without You"
8, Louis the Child feat. Elohim, "Love Is Alive"
9, Afrojack & David Guetta feat. Ester Dean, "Another Life"

10, Die Antwoord, "Love Drug." The best-ever lyric video, period.

Alex Vitoulis, Billboard associate director of chart production:

Albums:
1, Secret Weapons, As the Setting Sun Comes Crashing Down on Me. These Long Island, New York, natives' debut full-length is pop music at its best: fresh, melodic hooks, executed with perfect inflections of vigor and emotion.

2, Niall Horan, Flicker. Horan's solo debut album laid to rest any doubt just how immensely talented this One Directioner is. Chock full of hits and would-be hits, Niall knows how to construct a song that lingers after it ends, and he delivers with vocal precision.

3, Lisa Lavie, Lisa Lavie. It took nine years for this Canadian chanteuse to release her sophomore album, and, oh, was it worth the wait. This powerhouse is one of the most gifted and amazing singers I have ever heard. Both Yanni and Trans-Siberian Orchestra noticed and have been introducing her to their fans, as she has been singing backup for both.

4, Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. No one intertwines faith and fate quite like Kendrick. He leaves the listener pondering life and choices made.

5, 2017 London Cast Recording, 42nd Street. The 2017 West End production is the first new recording of music from Sheena Easton since 2001. Co-staring in this production through April 2018, she sounds mesmerizing on her numbers and reminds us why she still the holds the record as the only artist to have achieved a top five hit on the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Country Songs, Dance Club Songs and Adult Contemporary charts.

6, Rag'n'Bone Man, Human. Rory Graham's breakthrough album soars, blending his soulful pipes and emotional lyrics, all amounting to a powerful punch.

7, Ed Sheeran, Divide. The set solidified Sheeran's stature as a pop juggernaut that shows no sign of slowing down. Able to craft picturesque lyrics, he is now one of the most in-demand songwriters.

8, Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. This EDM-meets-funk/soul collection houses some of the best urban collaborations of the year. A retro-yet-contemporary hit list that leaves us wondering what's up Adam's sleeves next.

9, The Script, Freedom Child. The Dublin trio never disappoints, as evidenced again by its fifth album of songs with sing-along choruses.

10, JAY-Z, 4:44. Regret, remorse and pain bleed through on Shawn's 13th studio album, showing just how hard self-reflection can be.

Singles:
1, The Script, "Rain"
2, Ed Sheeran, "Castle on the Hill"
3, Cardi B, "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)"
4, blackbear, "do re mi"
5, Matthew Koma, "Suitcase"

6, Secondhand Serenade, "Lost." Apologies don't get any better than this new tune from the 10th-anniversary reissue of Awake. With backing vocals from his wife, Veronica, John Vesely continues to showcase his unmistakable vocals and knack for plucking at all the right heartstrings.

7, Portugal. The Man, "Feel It Still," Who would've figured that the year's best use of a sample would come from The Marvelettes' 1961 Hot 100 No. 1, "Please Mr. Postman"?

8, Charlie Puth, "Attention"
9, Sam Hunt "Body Like a Back Road"

10, Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber, "Despacito." All the right ingredients for a hit in any language.

And (taking a cue from reader George, above), my top 17 songs of '17:

17, "The Highway Song," Midnight North
16, "Stuck in the Past," Aimee Mann
15, "Losing to You," Stars
14, "Ooh La La," The Well Pennies
13, "Real Thing," Stars
12, "Patient Zero," Aimee Mann
11, "Weekend," Garth Brooks
10, "Wanderers," Stars
9, "Lay Down for Free," Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie
8, "Poethearted," Emily Saliers
7, "A Thousand Million Reasons," Colin Hay
6, "I'm Inside Outside In," Colin Hay
5, "Stuck," The Aces
4, "Hard Won," Lizzie No
2 (tie), "Traveling On," Lula Wiles
2 (tie), "Goose Snow Cone," Aimee Mann

1, "Old Ways," The Novel Ideas

Having made my first year-end countdown in 1988, I'm still a bit amazed that every year brings so many new favorites, now from both veteran acts that continue to add to their legacies and up-and-coming acts that prove that a new classic is always just a curious click away.

Aimee Mann (over 30 years after 'til tuesday's "Voices Carry"), Colin Hay (also more than 30 years after Men at Work's breakthrough) and Emily Saliers (likewise since Indigo Girls' arrival) this year released some of their best material to date, while Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie (in the 40th-anniversary year of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours) reinforced their mastery of pop hooks. Meanwhile, (recent Billboard Facebook Live guests) Stars remain one of the decades' most consistent pop-alt acts, with their trademark bittersweet lyrics (almost) disguised by melody and tempo.

Perhaps equally thrilling are rising acts and rookies, including The Well Pennies (coming soon to the Chart Beat Podcast!), Lula Wiles, The Aces, Lizzie No and The Novel Ideas.

As always, thanks for contributing such keen insights to "Ask Billboard" and the Chart Beat blog (which, in 2017, marked its 36th year as a Billboard feature!), and more mailbags, and podcasts, are on the way.

Happy New Year!

Billboard Year in Music 2017