1. Frank Ocean - 'Blonde'
Release date: August 20
In a year when new albums faded away like fond memories of a good party, Frank Ocean's Blonde felt like a moment that really mattered. Frank's songwriting connects on a personal level, beyond Instagram captions and Twitter quotables. He's got the ability to make every detail feel meaningful, and to make heavy topics like race and sexuality feel like a casual conversation with a thoughtful friend.
And despite all of this, despite making one of the most accessible and impactful albums of the year, there is still something elusive about Frank Ocean, and about Blonde. Like if you just listen to it one more time, something else will make more sense. Like maybe your favorite new song on the album is the one that you passed over on first listen. Like your previous favorite song on the album still has something to reveal.
Frank Ocean's perspective is vital. For a minute there, it felt like he was too precious of a human being to be in the spotlight. And if he disappeared, like so many other young artists seemingly uninterested with fame, it would be understandable. Instead, he returned with the most beautiful and brave album of 2017.—Jacob Moore