By

Your top 50 XPN songs of 2017

 

The War on Drugs | photo courtesy of the artist
The War on Drugs | photo courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, WXPN’s listener-voted best songs of 2017.

We played songs, you listened. You voted, we listened. Today, after tallying up the numbers and playing back the jams, we are delighted to bring you Your top 50 XPN songs of 2017.

You’ll notice a lot of recurring themes, whether it be the mission statement of Strand of Oaks — “play it, play it loud on the radio” — or multiple cuts from epic space rockers Lo Moon, who made a galvanizing introduction this year; art popster St. Vincent, who won over the masses with the daring MASSEDUCTION; disco infultrators LCD Soundsystem, who returned from retirement in top form; or Philly’s The War on Drugs, whose major label debut is their strongest and most confident artistic statement to date.

A Deeper Understanding was a massive winner in our listening community, and you voted four of the album’s ten songs in to the overall top 50 list. Revisit the ranking below, or scroll to the bottom of the page to listen to the entire package in one handy dandy Spotify playlist. And whatever you wind up doing tonight, have a safe and happy New Year. We can’t wait to discover more music with you in 2018. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: K. Ross Hoffman’s megamix dance party for NYE 2017

Lil Uzi Vert | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, Key contributor K. Ross Hoffman presents a megamix of 2017 highlights for all your New Year’s dance party needs.

Welcome to my year end mania. My most cherished, and certainly most insane annual personal ritual, every December since 2006 (the year of Girl Talk, not so coincidentally) is to construct a monster mash-up DJ mega-mix of music from the year that was. The idea is for it to serve as a dance party for New Year’s Eve. This year, I’m sharing my mix – finally completed, with just hours to spare – with you.

I think this is my longest New Year’s mix ever. It also ended up being the dirtiest mix I’ve ever made – I’m not sure what that says about this year. As Fever Ray observed perceptively in a track that I didn’t end up including, this country made it hard to fuck in 2017 – still, it was a year in which even Taylor Swift was #readyforit. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly

The author, pondering her coastal allegiance | illustration by Sarah Hughes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes shares how Los Angeles began to remind her of Philly this year.

It’s official, folks — I am a Los Angeles veteran these days and there is no denying it. After a solid two and a half years over in La La Land, I can say that I have become accustomed to the California ways of life. Avocado toast here, rooftop cocktails there; it’s all become part of my everyday. I barely even notice palm trees these days!

So as I’ve continued living in this flashy city, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of locations this past year that I believe, deep down, are Philadelphia. Sure, perhaps they’re technically located in Los Angeles, but whether it be the down-to-earth vibes or the DIY mentality, there is certainly some Philly in this city. These are my top five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s favorite non-traditional venues of 2017

Under the Greys Ferry Bridge | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Koof Ibi Umoren (who plays trumpet with West Philadelphia Orchestra, Little Strike and a host of others) shares Philly’s best non-traditional venues to perform at in 2017.

Traditional music venues need musicians and beer in order to successful. This year has proven that musicians need beer, but not necessarily the traditional music venues. A musician can spend a lot of time performing in Philadelphia without setting foot on a traditional stage. If you’re smart and you chose an acoustic instrument in elementary school, and didn’t give it up for a cooler electronic instrument in college, then the world is literally your stage This year I’ve had the pleasure of playing and attending shows at some very interesting Philadelphia “venues,” and here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Brendan Menapace’s favorite concert moments of 2017

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Brendan Menapace reflects on his concert highlights.

We are spoiled when it comes to the amount of good shows that happen in Philadelphia. Every night of the week there’s something going on. So, needless to say, I’ve been to a handful of shows this year. I won’t recount what my favorite shows of the year were per se, but I do have a few specific memories from the shows that stand out to me as the year comes to a close. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ best album artwork of 2017

St. Vincent’s Masseduction

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes reflects on the year’s most eye-catching album covers.

Album art seems to be slowly creeping into the background of the music industry, especially with the digital realm taking over; it’s easy to dismiss an artist’s album cover when it is merely displayed in a small profile icon on an internet page. However, artists still jump at the chance to carry home their musical thoughts with engaging visuals and 2017 definitely did not disappoint. Filled with lush colors, vibrant concepts and eye-popping aesthetics, this year produced some of the finest work yet. After combing through the best of 2017, I’ve selected 5 of my favorite album covers this year. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Rob Huff’s favorite queer music moments of 2017

Perfume Genius
Perfume Genius | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Rob Huff reflects on five musical moments that offered solace and inspired strength in the LGBTQ community.

5. Austra’s Future Politics presented a path forward

There’s no nice way to put it. This year sucked. It started bleak, and despite moments of mild respite here and there, managed to end even bleaker. The idea of a future worth inhabiting after the onslaught that was 2017 can still seem laughable. It was downright unfathomable on January 20th when the current administration took control and blew open a gaping political Hellmouth.

And yet, through sheer serendipity, the new album from queer synth-popera artist Katie Stelmanis arrived on that same day. Originally written in the aftermath of personal turmoil, Future Politics doubled as a balm for the doom and gloom that cloaked the country in the wake of an election year where the personal arguably became more political than ever. Songs like the softly pummeling title track and the pulsing “Utopia” – immaculately rendered on record and rivetingly performed at Union Transfer just a week later – stuck with me throughout 2017’s tumultuous twelve months, making the idea of any future at all beyond then, let alone one where anyone “other” gets to have a say, feel just a little more possible. Continue reading →

By

Listen to XPN’s 25 most-played songs of 2017

Spoon | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN // Tash Sultana | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN // Chicano Batman | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN

As the year draws to a close, the WXPN programming staff crunched the numbers on its playlist to determine the songs that filled its airwaves the most. The resulting top 25, which you can check out below, is a nice snapshot of what the station is all about: singer-songwriters and indie rock, psychedelia and Americana, a little bit of jazz and modern rock, fresh faces and industry vets alike.

There’s a bit of bias towards the stuff that’s been out there longer, of course; tracks by glam rocking Austinites Sweet Spirit and experimental Australian guitarist Tash Sultana, which were first played last winter, rank higher than, say, The War on Drugs, or Phoebe Bridgers, who have only been in the mix since late summer.

Whatever the case, though, these are 25 fantastic songs that are absolutely worth taking out for another spin. We’re interested to see how many of them will appear again in the listener-voted Top 50, which broadcasts on WXPN on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Continue reading →