Despite releases from Coldplay, Imagine Dragons and the unmerciful tyranny of Bieber’s “Despacito,” I have to say I think 2017 was still a generally good year for music. We saw some solid debuts and some great sophomore follow-ups. To be honest, there aren’t many projects released this year that I can say I viscerally hated, but that won’t stop me from complaining about some of this year’s biggest and most acclaimed albums that I just couldn’t go up for. So in the spirit of Festivus, without further ado (in no particular ranking order), here are five albums released in 2017 that I never, ever, ever have to listen to again.
1. CTRL, by SZA
I really wanted to like this album. I’ve been a huge fan of SZA since her early Soundcloud EP days, and while I realize I’m going to sound like such an unbearable hipster, I like her old “underground” shit a lot better. I get why CTRL resonates so much with its intended audience; that aside, in comparison with her other projects, it’s quite lackluster.
The indie-artist welcome-to-my-kitchen accent thing she’s doing is way more exaggerated on CTRL than on any of her other EPs. It’s so ridiculous, it almost makes songs like “Supermodel” unlistenable. She sounds like a melaninneal (melanated and millennial) Barbara Walters warbling about heartache and insecurity throughout most of the album. A real disappointment. I just listen to “Sweet November,” “Country” and “Bed” instead.
2. More Life, by Drake
Are we calling this an album or a “playlist”? It doesn’t matter—it’s going on the list. Like Views, More Life is more of Drake’s new brand of global pop casserole that I DO NOT ENJOY. Do you know how it feels to be the only person who didn’t instinctively wine their hips when “Passionfruit” came on in 2017??? Isolating. It’s like being a Republican who believes in climate change. Even “Fake Love” gets on my nerves.
Drake has the vocal range of a dial tone, and while that may work on certain songs, I just cannot withstand a whole-ass project of his rhythmic humming and “name that Diasporic accent” challenges. The only thing I’ve missed out on by avoiding Drake’s music is being able to recognize when his songs are being referenced in dramatic picture captions on Instagram. I regret nothing.
3. Damn., by Kendrick Lamar
Don’t you just hate it when you can tell that a writer has no meaningful critique of a very popular and critically acclaimed album and can only offer shallow contrarianism? I don’t know what it is, but every time I see K. Dot and his Black Israelite protective styles, my eyes begin to instinctively roll. Does this album have any other songs that people even like besides “Humble” and “DNA”?
This is the album that I imagine is gonna be played at that “cookout” y’all keep inviting all those white people to for showing a modicum of human decency, and I’ll be more than pleased to miss out on teaching Deb and them how to “hit dem folks” to “Loyalty.”
4. Drunk, by Thundercat
Is it OK to admit that Donald Glover made a better Thundercat album with Awaken, My Love! last year? I realize Thundercat is not exactly a household name, but I felt obligated to listen to Drunk in the name of black artistry. Thundercat is the kind of artist that people who like to earnestly call themselves “audiophiles” name-drop. That being said, Drunk, while clearly thematic and purposely uniform in sound, was still a monotonous chore to listen to, and I’d rather fold laundry than revisit it.
5. 4:44, by Jay-Z
OK, I actually enjoyed 4:44 for three or four weeks, but months later the only songs I can still muster the interest to listen to are “Marcy Me” and “Bam.” It doesn’t help that Jay is going on a “Ya know I cheated on my wife, right?” public speaking tour and consistently dropping asinine gems and hot takes on every major media outlet known to man.
Jiggaisms on everything from marriage and financial investments to racial injustice are inescapable right now, and it’s not because of quotables found on the album, but the narrative he needs to keep reiterating to sell the album’s theme of introspection and redemption. 4:44 is a project that insists upon itself as a profound “moment,” and Jay is not allowing the audience any room for inference. I’m tired and ready for it to end.