Music and politics have a long history and in 2017, a new chapter in their fraught and complicated relationship burst open. It began on a weekend in January with the Presidential inauguration and the Women's March on Washington, D.C. (and around the globe) that followed. That's when the new resistance movement got its first anthem, courtesy Los Angeles-based singer MILCK and her defiant song, "Quiet." She and other women sang the empowering ballad against sexual assault and abuse a cappella during the march, and it turned out to be a prescient chorus for what would unfold throughout the year.
It was a strong year for guitar rock, the best of it coming from relatively younger bands dominated by women: Jay Som, Charly Bliss, Vagabon, Waxahatchee, Diet Cig, Palehound, Chastity Belt, Girlpool, Daddy Issues, Partner. The list goes on and on.
2017 was also a year when much beloved artists abandoned the sounds their fans first fell in love with to try something new. Weezer and Beck dove deep into pop and all its tropes; St. Vincent and Torres largely traded electric guitar for synths and pulsing soundscapes. Bands that once dominated many top 10 lists — Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, The xx — all released records that fell way below expectations.
There was so much more that happened in 2017 — more than we could ever get to in a single episode of All Songs Considered — but we do our best on this edition to hit the highlights (and a few low points), with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson.
Come back later this week for NPR Music's Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Songs from 2017, along with our personal Top 10 lists and more.