In early 2015 I published a list of my favorite albums of the previous year. In my story, I chastised writers who had rushed to get their lists out early and in doing so missed the December 15, 2014 release of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah album. It was my favorite album of the year and I was smugly self-satisfied that I had waited for it before publishing my list. The year I very nearly became what I beheld. I was all set to publish my list earlier this week. In fact, it was about 30 minutes away from going live on Popdose. Then I heard that the new Eminem album, Revival, would be released on Friday, December 15. Of course, there had been at least two earlier release dates publicized and the album had failed to appear. But I had a good feeling about the December 15 date since it was the same date that saw the release of the D’Angelo album. So I decided to wait until I could hear Revival, confident that it had a very good chance to be on my list. My confidence has been rewarded. What follows is the original, pre-Revival text of my story but adjusted to accommodate Eminem’s sprawling, scathing, and altogether majestic album.


It’s that time again. Time to proclaim my favorite albums of the year. It’s nice to know that people are still interested in my opinion in this regard but frankly, it’s a lot of pressure. Obviously, there’s no way to listen to every album that is released in a given year so all I can really do is listen to as many as possible and choose the ones I liked best. I remind you once again this year that I am not saying that these are the best albums of the year, only that they were my favorites.

2017 was a pretty good year for music with hip-hop again ruling the roost. In a sign of changing times last year, I included a mixtape on my list. This year it’s Drake’s playlist at the top and both Eminem’s Revival and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. in the Top 5. But there was also some good old guitar rock this year as espoused by bands like the War on Drugs Bash & Pop, and the Dream Syndicate. The singer/songwriters had another good year with fine albums from Nicole Atkins, Ryan Adams, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, and others.

A brilliant new star arose in the heavens in the form of Rhiannon Giddens, and there was a passionate tribute to Joni Mitchell from Kevin Jenkins. Shelby Lynne and her sister Allison Moorer finally got together to release the poignant Not Dark Yet, and the unjustly ridiculed Michael McDonald proved just how wrong his critics are with his first album of new material in many years.

Glen Campbell said goodbye with the stirring Adios, and perennial underdogs Pugwash and the Waterboys proved that they can’t be counted out just yet. Speaking of not being counted out, U2 returned with their finest album in years simply by not trying so hard. Other veterans made powerful statements too. Neil Finn, Cat Stevens, Peter Perrett, Randy Newman, and Chris Hillman all released strong albums.

Here’s my list of my favorite albums of 2017. The Top 10 are in order, the rest are not.

The Top 10:

1. DrakeMore Life
2. Nicole AtkinsGoodnight Rhonda Lee
3. Eminem – Revival
4. Cindy Lee BerryhillThe Adventurist
5. Kendrick LamarDAMN.
6. The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding
7. Rhiannon GiddensFreedom Highway
8. Ian FeliceIn the Kingdom of Dreams
9. Ryan AdamsPrisoner/Prisoner B Sides
10. Kevin JenkinsShe: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (EP)

Bubbling Under:

Jason Isbell and the 400 UnitThe Nashville Sound
Mount EerieA Crow Looked at Me
Vic MensaThe Autobiography
Michael McDonaldWide Open
Robert CrayRobert Cray & Hi Rhythm
John MorelandBig Bad Luv
Bash & PopAnything Could Happen
Matthew RyanHustle Up Starlings
Shelby Lynne and Allison MoorerNot Dark Yet
Zeshan BVetted
Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black
U2Songs of Experience
Yusuf/Cat StevensThe Laughing Apple
Randy NewmanDark Matter
Chris HillmanBidin’ My Time
Neil FinnOut of Silence
Craig FinnWe All Want the Same Thing
The Dream SyndicateHow Did I Find Myself Here?
The WaterboysOut of All This Blue
John Calvin AbneyFar Cries and Close Calls
Glen CampbellAdios
Benjamin BookerWitness
Peter PerrettHow the West Was Won
The Front BottomsGoing Grey
Gucci ManeMr. Davis


About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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