2017 was a strong year for R&B/pop. It feels like a new artist pops up every day, but these ones caught my ear and made me listen over and over. From groovy beats, saucy lyrics, and hypnotic basslines, I am HOOKED on R&B. Here are some of my favorite artists/songs from 2017.
Tove Lo’s latest album Blue Lips (Lady Wood Pt. 2) is her best collection yet. Keeping her refined edgy style with pixie pop vocals, the “Stay High” singer has finally found a sound that’s distinctly her own. A little more band-based at times, while still upbeat, pop, with a modern mix of alt/electro. She wraps up all of these sounds together, dumps glitter on it, and launches it into your eardrums for consumption.But, we hear more emotion on this album than we’ve heard in the past from Tove. “Bad Days” is about nostalgia and self worth. “you used to love me on my bad days, when the sun wouldn’t come out” she sings right at the top of the gorgeous track. “Days” is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard Tove Lo. “Cycles” follows suit with a slightly more upbeat feel reminiscing about life and the cyclical ways we become stuck; “I’m in a cycle, yeah I admit it, how can I change it when I don’t know that I’m in it.” A song so relatable, it hurts.
This Sweden native worked with pop mastermind Max Martin to achieve a curated sound she knew fans would drool over. Tove talks her emotional and sexual rawness on the album with TIME magazine saying, “It’s just being a woman, you end up having to defend yourself if you choose to sing about things that aren’t seen as a good example. But it doesn’t really matter to me if people don’t agree with it.”
But Tove has proved time and time again that she is more than her sex. Always standing up for women’s issues to fight for equality amongst the sexes. And she does it all with her boobs out (hence disco tits) which was a nickname her boyfriend gave her once at Coachella.
Blue Lips’ sound is modern yet distinctly vintage. Hit single “Disco Tits” triggered a discussion around the comeback of 70’s sounds into modern pop. A pulsing sex-fueled track you can’t help but swing your hips to, the beat is almost too good to be true. “I’m sweat from head to toe, I’m wet through all my clothes.” You either love it or hate it – there’s no inbetween. “Bitches” follows suit; another ballsy track with explicit sexualized lyrics. Each song packs a different type of punch.
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of pop, but every now and then there’s an album that you can always go back to and sing every word; that’s Blue Lips.
At just 24-years-old, Cautious Clay has laid out his territory for music lovers everywhere to hear. His production is high, while the aesthetic is enlightening beyond belief. His first single, “Cold War” has complex yet enticing lyrics. Josh gently sings, “Yellow tinted lenses and a pink gelato, fallin’ out the window, hit me back tomorrow.” With a voice reminiscent of a young Frank Ocean, Clay is one to watch making fans instantly attached.
Since its release, “Cold War” has nearly 700k streams on Spotify. It’s also received attention from numerous playlists including Pop Chillout, Fresh Finds, Weekly Buzz, Alternative R&B and more. Indie Shuffle says, “This is about as close to an angel as you’ll hear in the modern context.” AGREED.
Josh plays several instruments including, flute, sax, keys, bass, guitar, and drums, as you can hear on his latest single, “Joshua Tree.” He opened up to Pigeons and Planes about the meaning behind the song; “‘I don’t wanna be loved’ in the chorus is how I feel trying to have personal goals in life while also loving someone; feels really hard to do both. I am Joshua so a ‘Joshua Tree’ is like my growth in life so the song is exemplifying me.” The heavy chorus makes you feel other worldly, religious, and somewhat saved. A sound so modern and refined it makes you wonder where it’s been all this time.