PEOPLE Picks the 10 Best Albums of 2017
TAYLOR SWIFT, REPUTATION
After a yearlong hiatus Swift resurfaced with a near-perfect pop album. She still likes to settle scores (“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” was immediately scrutinized for references to Kanye West), but she was also focusing her songwriting genius on relatable, detail-rich love songs. The album bolstered an already superstar reputation.
KENDRICK LAMAR, DAMN.
You said it, Lamar. His fourth album harked back to the ’90s, addressing big issues (injustice, gun control) and reminding listeners why he’s been called the greatest rapper alive.
On her second LP the precocious New Zealander sang about the thrills of youth with a millennial’s you-onlylive-once mindset, but her meditations are often wiser and shrewder than her 21 years.
The wild child released her first album since 2012 — she’s been embroiled in legal issues for years — with her colorful spirit still strong. Rainbow, a mix of outcast anthems and party starters, was a personal and artistic triumph.
Shawn Carter did some serious soulsearching on this wideranging 13th release, a deeply personal set that reflected on race in America, fame, fatherhood and infidelity: On the title track the rapper finally acknowledged — and tried to make amends for — the scandal that rocked his marriage to Beyoncé.
DEMI LOVATO, TELL ME YOU LOVE ME
The Disney alum found her voice on her sixth album, blasting haters with sassy gospel (“Sorry Not Sorry”) and owning her sexuality over slow-burning R&B (“Ruin the Friendship”).
ED SHEERAN, ÷
On his third record the English star delivered a grab bag of sonic contradictions and juxtapositions: a song that would be at home on the dance floor (“Shape of You”) and a track that wouldn’t be out of place at a wedding (“Perfect”). Weird, but it added up to a first-rate album.
PINK, BEAUTIFUL TRAUMA
Unfiltered and unleashed, the enduring pop diva sang about domestic life, both good and bad, and the country’s domestic mood (bad) on this cathartic seventh album.
LITTLE BIG TOWN, THE BREAKER
After fiddling with R&B on 2016’s Pharrell-produced Wanderlust, the Nashville quartet returned to the harmonies and southern charm that made them country stars. Sunny, roll-thewindows-down sing-alongs bookend “Better Man,” a heartwrenching ballad written by Taylor Swift.
The R&B newcomer (pronounced “Sizza”) scored five Grammy nominations for her acclaimed debut. Ctrl — “control,” as in the keyboard command — is a soulful set of confessions about sex, love and insecurity.