2017 in Review: The Final Countdown

OK folks, here it is: the last of my Top Fives for 2017.

Today I’m shining a light on the five songs that made an impression on me this year, but unlike the Reading and Viewing lists, the songs that made the grade here HAD to have been released this year.

So without any further mucking around, and in totally random order, here’s the list — with some favourite lines thrown in for good measure:

BLUE JAI’S TOP FIVE SONGS FOR 2017

1.  Your Time by Nick Murphy.

2017 Your Time

Nick Murphy

You know that your time is something that I need to have…

This is one dark, edgy track from Murphy’s Missing Link EP — and it hooks you right from the opening line. If you’ve been living under a rock somewhere for the past few years and haven’t already encountered Nick Murphy in his former guise, Chet Faker, you’re in for a treat with this one. And if you’re not dancing (or obsessing over someone) by the end of this song, I’m not sure we can be friends. Really. Nothing personal, it’s just that kind of music.

2. Private by Vera Blue.

2017 Private

Vera Blue

Subjects in my mind, running wild, images of a parallel life…

Vera Blue’s Perennial was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2017 J Awards — and rightly so, in my opinion. She’s a powerful and interesting vocalist (I loved her work on Slumberjack’s track Fracture as well), and this song taps right into the fantastically frustrating vibe of wanting someone you can’t have, no matter how vividly you imagine it. Totally worth a listen.

 

3. Everything Now by Arcade Fire.

2017 Everything now

Arcade Fire

Every song that I’ve ever heard
Is playing at the same time, it’s absurd
And it reminds me, we’ve got everything now…

I’ll be honest — Arcade Fire are one of my favourite bands. Ever. And this song has been the soundtrack to many a morning walk along the beachfront near my home this year. The lyrics are, admittedly, bleak, but the overall sound of the piece is overwhelmingly joyful — particularly towards the end, when there’s a real festival vibe going on. In an era of information overload and fake news, I’m grateful Arcade Fire is there to critique it and turn it into something uplifting and beautiful.

4. Cloud 9 and Marryuna by Baker Boy.

2017 Baker Boy

Baker Boy

You want to be as good as me boy you better practice: step back in the power of my blackness…

So this one is a tie — I couldn’t bring myself to choose between these two Baker Boy tracks, because they’re both absolutely brilliant. These raps are a blend of English and Yolngu Matha language, and Baker Boy does Arnhem Land more than proud representing his people. He’s as good live as he is in the recording studio, and at just 20 years of age I’m looking forward to hearing a whole lot more from this supremely talented rising star.

5. The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows by Gang of Youths

2017 GOYouths

Gang of Youths

In a crowd unfamiliar, I just wanna touch a familiar face
And make friends at the parties I’ve feared the likes of an age
To be wanted with truth and make formidable love
See light in myself that I see inside everyone else I know…

How good is this band? It was no surprise to me that they absolutely cleaned up at the ARIAs this year. Go Farther in Lightness is an album packed with David Le’aupepe’s mindbendingly well-written lyrics accompanied by the driving rhythms and soaring melodies all Gang of Youths fans have come to know and love. This is my favourite track from a great album. Check it out.

2017 The Man

See? He really is The Man.

Honourable mentions go to The Killers for The Man — a song I half expect to turn up on a Peaky Blinders episode in the future because it seems (to me, anyway) to capture Tommy Shelby’s strut and sass, not to mention his complete self-assuredness. And that’s not just because I’m a huge fan of anything Cillian Murhpy does…it’s a great song. This year I also think Nick Mulvey’s Myela deserves a mention, not least because it highlights the plight of refugees in a world prone to forgetting some of the planet’s most desperate people, and — on a much lighter note — Lorde’s Homemade Dynamite is also top flight listening.

So there we have it: the last of my Top Five’s for the year. Given that I’m a veritable magpie when it comes to music and that I listen to a wide range of stuff from all over the world, I was somewhat surprised that the majority of the artists I’ve highlighted here are Australian — but that’s where I’m from, and I believe in supporting the local music scene, so perhaps it’s logical even if it does reflect a certain Antipodean bias.

Anyway, I’d love to hear what your Top Five songs were this year. Feel free to use the Comments to let me know, and I’ll be sure to give them a spin.

Dear Aylan

Dear Aylan,

You don’t know me, and now you never will, but there are things that I want to say to you even though you’ll never hear them.

The first thing I want to say is that I’m sorry. When I saw the picture of you, washed up on a stretch of Turkish beach, I wept — and the world wept with me. I am sorry that we failed you, that you did not find the refuge you so desperately needed.

I can only imagine what your life was like. In your three short years I wonder whether you ever knew the sort of peaceful coexistence my children enjoy every day, living in a society that has never experienced the harsh and harrowing realities of modern warfare on our home soil. I do know that you had a brother, Galib, and parents who loved you both so much that they made the inordinately difficult decision to leave their homeland and search for a better life. A life without bombing. Without war. Without privation. Without the incessant presence of danger — real, actual, life-threatening danger.

Aylan, I wish you had made it to safety. I wish that it did not take seeing the photograph of your lifeless body to galvanise support around the world for the thousands of human beings who are fleeing five years of relentless, ruthless warfare and are seeking a safe haven. Somewhere. Anywhere.

But I am grateful that even though you didn’t get to see it, people around the world have stood up for you. They wiped away their tears and showed each other what humanity is, nowhere more so than in Germany where, as Geoffrey Robertson so eloquently put it, “the grandchildren of the Gestapo became the angels of mercy”. And the world wept again, but this time they were tears of hope.

These people showed the world what leadership looks like, Aylan. It looks like the people who greeted the displaced thousands flooding into their country with applause, with toys and sweets, with open arms. It looks like the people who waited on roadsides handing out care packages of much needed food and water. It looks like the people who drove their cars across the Hungarian border to pick up the asylum seekers who were still walking to safety. It looks like Angela Merkel.

I am sorry — no, I am ashamed — that such leadership has been sorely lacking at the highest levels of government in my own country, and that our prime minister — in whose electorate I reside — seems to have lost himself in a mire of bureaucratic bullshit, crapping on about quotas and proportions, and crowing about stopping the boats.

A humanitarian crisis should never be turned into a political issue, but in Australia, our prime minister’s lack of compassion and basic concern for his fellow human beings is doing that faster than any parliamentary debate ever could.  It seems that he has not only forgotten Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution“, but that he has also failed to recall Article 1:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Aylan, even though you will never speak again, I promise that I will keep speaking up for you and for the thousands of people seeking refuge, just as you did. I will stand up and say, over and over again, that refugees should be made welcome in this country. I will honour that spirit of brotherhood, of humanity.

I will remember you, Aylan.

May you rest in peace.

 Refugees welcome