W  H  A  T  S  U  I  T  S  H  I  M
launched 1 january 2016
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A collection of the project's best essays + podcasts.

The Third Annual WSH (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs, Day Five

And we’re back.

Happy Holidays, good people. I guess this is an actual gimmick now? Themed lists are fairly easy to do as one-offs, and I’d assume there’s always some excitement to try doing it again. “Third annual” sounds really official, I think. Besides, we all know the internets are clamoring for another year’s edition … maybe.

No guests this year — just me. (Here’s your chance to tiptoe out the back door.) Per the title, this year’s piece will be far less “scientific” than the first two. I’m way too behind on music to pretend like I’m some sort of expert this year, so consider this a list of my personal favorites. I mean, I think I know a little bit about song construction and stuff, so I’d hope nobody sees this and finds me completely insane for some of these choices. As always, I take this project as seriously as I (think I) should, and I’d love to get your feedback on my picks and even see your “best songs” lists, as well.

Let’s get it going. Top-five songs this week. Top-five albums next week. Hope y’all enjoy.

1. "Family Feud (feat. Beyoncé)" • JAY-Z

In February, per the advice of one of my closest friends, I read The Shack, a delightfully short (and possibly true) novel about the power of expectation and the lack thereof, and how letting go of the stuff, broadly defined, that we project onto others can be an extremely freeing experience. She recommended the book as a means of helping grieve my dad; I never anticipated the transformative power that text would have on how I chose to live — and love. The Shack is overtly Christian, so I completely understand that it might not be for everybody, but I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone living sort-of in a haze. If you’re concerned about being preached at for 300 pages, don’t be. I found it rather informative as a kid in his mid-20s who constantly tied his happiness to his achievements. Because what happens when you’re not experiencing those same levels of success?

WSH top-ten songs of 2017

  1. "Family Feud (feat. Beyoncé)" • JAY-Z | 4:44
  2. "Butterfly Effect" Travis Scott | single-only release
  3. "LUST." • Kendrick Lamar | DAMN.
  4. "Meditation (feat. Jazmine Sullivan & KAYTRANADA)" GoldLink | At What Cost
  5. "Dance Willie" Willie Mac Jr. | Stop & Smell the Roses
  6. "I Love You So Much (feat. Chance The Rapper)" • DJ Khaled | Grateful
  7. "Veggies (feat. Charlie Wilson & Ty Dolla $ign)" Aminé | Good for You
  8. "Door Swangin" • 2 Chainz | Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
  9. "So Excited (feat. Dre)" Fat Joe | single-only release
  10. "Wavy [interlude] (feat. James Fauntleroy II)" • SZA | Ctrl

“Family Feud” features Jay at his most enlightened, which would seem effortless for a 50-year-old man approaching $1 billion in net worth if only we weren’t privy to the salacious details of his past marital indiscretions. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Jay read The Shack at some point during his therapy sessions, or at least while he reckoned internally with the terrible decisions he'd made. “Family Feud” is a piece of a larger tapestry, of course, but, similar to “LUST.” on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., "Family Feud" is 4:44’s axis; feuding with others — and most crucially, himself — led to this album’s creation in the first place. It’s not so difficult to live a decent life; if we all treated others with the care and consideration we'd like to experience ourselves, we’d live in a much happier world. But our lustful, self-serving impulses tend to handicap us in the worst possible ways, and until we recognize these impulses as more detrimental to the collective good than as beneficial to our personal individual goals, we’ll continue to see the same negative results. We’re in a daily, never-ending fight against the notion that there’s somehow not enough stuff to share. Sharing is caring, man. And, contrary to popular belief, it can be fun too. “Family Feud” powered my optimism in humanity the second half of this year, and no other song provided the hope I so desperately felt I’ve needed at times since January 20. I couldn’t put another song at #1 in good conscience.

(Plus. Beyoncé’s harmonizing with a Clark Sisters sample! Please. Nothing else stood a chance.)