Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #10-#1

FT22 comments • 1,000 views

baloonWotcher me old muckers. I’m Nena’s 100th Red Balloon, the one edited out of the final version of the song because I ‘wouldn’t scan proper’. We only come in packs of 100 you know. Whatcha got against a nice round number eh Nena? Can’t complain though, I’ve kept myself busy over the years. After a bobbing about in Paris for a bit I had to make a sharpish exit, but thankfully I landed a good stint as the stunt double balloon in some circus movie – blimey, that weren’t half a scary business! Later on I did a bit of modelling for some rando graffiti artist in East London, that kept me in high grade helium for a good few years I tell you. All the kids love their balloons these days, why, just yesterday I saw a bunch of teenagers with one each, laughing away like they were having a whale of a time. I love a happy atmosphere! Anyway, enough of me gassing on, let’s get on with the poll!

Thanks, Nena’s 100th Red Balloon! Here’s our final batch of results:

10. Steps – “Scared Of The Dark”

I confess I like the hooks in “Story Of A Heart” better, even though “Scared Of The Dark” is much more banging (think “Voulez Vouz” rather than “Knowing Me Knowing You”). The video is less engaging too – the five of them might as well be in different time zones, and Claire is the only one who doesn’t look like a bewildered X Factor winner making their first promo. The SOAH vid on the other hand has a delicious awkwardness as they flick through their photo albums, their thinly-veiled contempt for each other almost bursting through to spoil the charade before they can get that tax bill paid. Amazing.

9. Kesha – “Praying”

Some things only God can forgive.” Ouch! Top use of the Beyonce Revenge Intro Monologue from Kesh, plus a high note that only dogs can hear.

8. Dua Lipa – “New Rules”

The highlight of the otherwise sub-par 2017 Xmas TOTP. Straight from the problem pages of Just Seventeen, the only thing missing here is ‘4. Get down to your local GUM clinic just in case!’

7. Stormzy – “Big For Your Boots”

Now THIS should have been on the Xmas TOTP (instead of “Blinded By Your Grace”). Ideally complete with a chicken shop counter on stage for Stormzy to clamber all over with Adele serving nuggets behind it.

6. Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Deadly Valentine”

I made the mistake of watching this video when hungover, and the old couple dancing at the end made me do a BLUB. And rewatching it now I nearly blubbed again! I blame the lovely swirly strings and soft vocals from Charlotte tied together with a microgoth beat (for a slightly stronger beat check out the Soulwax remix, which got a few votes too).

5. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Cut To The Feeling”

Oooo what a feeling, when you’re dancing on the Sealink! I wore this exact outfit (down to the hairgrips) for pretty much the entirety of 1999-2000.

4. Lorde – “Green Light”

Don’t bore us get to the chorus! Thankfully said chorus is pretty great – this grew on me a lot over the year, once I got over the dour single piano chord intro that seems to have become a lazy shorthand for “I, A POPSTAR, AM SAD”.

3. Charli XCX – “Boys”

Tag yrself I am #TheDudesFromChromeoPillowFighting. Charli herself meanwhile is unable to attend, being preoccupied with a ‘personal matter’. A minimalist sample of Mario nutting a question mark box is the ‘cherry’ on top.

2. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”

Touching on a similar topic to the last song but framed from the viewpoint of self-restraint rather than self indulgence (though the daft video of course implies the opposite!), Selena should probably write Dua Lipa’s rules on a post it note and stick it to her phone screen.

1. Paramore – “Hard Times”

Once again the FT voting public surprise me – a late surge of votes nabbed the win for Haley and co. I don’t know when exactly Paramore started to sounding like a more palatable Ting Tings, but this is as well crafted a pop single as you’ll get in 2017, full of sparky hooks and ‘ain’t-life-shit’ camaraderie. Gina still works the diner all day and avocado toast will seem like an impossible dream once the rains stop in 2054, but we’ll dance until the world ends and make the best of it while we still can.

Thanks to everyone who voted! A good year overall, I think. (Stats etc coming in the comments shortly.)


  1. 1
    katstevens on 28 Jan 2018 #

    That top 40 in full:
    40. Spoon – “Hot Thoughts”
    39. Fever Ray – “To The Moon And Back”
    38. Methyl Ethel – “Ubu”
    37. Harry Styles – “Sign of the Times”
    36. Algiers – “The Underside of Power”
    35. Susanne Sundfør – “The Sound of War”
    34. The Killers – “The Man”
    33. The National – “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
    32. Sunny Sweeney – “Pills”
    31. DJ Khaled ft Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance and Lil Wayne – “I’m The One”
    30. Slowdive – “Star Roving”
    29. Blanck Mass – “Rhesus Negative”
    28. Lil Uzi Vert – “XO Tour Lif3”
    27. St Vincent – “New York”
    26. Wolf Alice – “Don’t Delete The Kisses”
    25. The Magnetic Fields – “’83: Foxx and I”
    24. St Vincent – “Los Ageless”
    23. Clean Bandit & Marina & The Diamonds – “Disconnect”
    22. MUNA – “I Know A Place”
    21. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
    =19. Rina Sawayama – “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”
    =19. Jessie Ware – “Midnight”
    18. Calvin Harris ft Frank Ocean & Migos – “Slide”
    17. Angaleena Presley – “Wrangled”
    16. SZA – “Supermodel”
    15. Steps – “Story of a Heart”
    14. Ibibio Sound Machine – “Give Me A Reason”
    13. Saint Etienne – “Dive”
    12. Big Shaq – “Man’s Not Hot”
    11. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
    10. Steps – “Scared of the Dark”
    9. Kesha – “Praying”
    8. Dua Lipa – “New Rules”
    7. Stormzy – “Big For Your Boots”
    6. Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Deadly Valentine”
    5. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Cut To The Feeling”
    4. Lorde – “Green Light”
    3. Charli XCX – “Boys”
    2. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”
    1. Paramore – “Hard Times”

    Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/katstevens/playlist/4AXpsDF5rlNatik3HRYvqm

  2. 2
    katstevens on 28 Jan 2018 #

    Top voter picks that didn’t make the top 40 (including some randomised ones – apols if I’ve missed your fave):

    Jamiroquai – “Automaton”
    Snuper – “Back Hug”
    Kirin J Callinan – “Big Enough”
    Charly Bliss – “Black Hole”
    Wiley ft Devlin – “Bring Them All / Holy Grime” (my pick)
    Frank Ocean – “Chanel”
    BTS – “Dimple”
    Lil Debbie – “F That”
    Cosmo’s Midnight – “History”
    GIRLI – “Hot Mess”
    Stefflon Don – “Hurtin’ Me”
    Bleachers – “I Miss Those Days”
    Lorde – “Liability”
    Mikky Ekko – “Light The Way”
    Kendrick Lamar – “LOVE.”
    Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life”
    Yaeji – “Raingurl”
    TORRES – “Skim”
    K Michelle – “Talk To God”
    LCD Soundsystem – “Tonite”
    Ali Okapov – “Uaiyandama”
    Ride – “Weather Diaries”
    Taylor Swift – “…You Ready For It?”

  3. 3
    katstevens on 28 Jan 2018 #

    Album picks! Thanks to those who remembered this bit of New and Exciting Orgafun that I almost forgot about just now:

    At The Drive-In – inter.a.lia
    H. Hawkline – I Romanticize
    Horseface – Jaakusi
    Joe Goddard – Electric Lines
    Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid
    Linn da Quebrada – Pajubá
    Lorde – Melodrama
    Midnight Magic – Free From Your Spell (‘technically 2016’ sez the balloter but I’ll allow it)
    Palehound – A Place I’ll Always Go
    Peatbog Faeries – Live@25
    Red Velvet – Perfect Velvet
    Rina Sawayama – Rina
    Saint Etienne – Home Counties
    SISTERS – Drink Champagne
    Steven Wilson – To The Bone
    Taylor Swift – Reputation
    Wiley – Godfather
    Yumi Zouma – Willowbank

  4. 4
    katstevens on 28 Jan 2018 #

    – UK Singles Chart #1s that didn’t get a single vote: “Despacito” (!), “Perfect Duet”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Grenfell chazza single), “Wild Thoughts”, “Too Good At Goodbyes”, “Rockstar”.
    – Splitters Award: Taylor Swift must feel a bit hard done by, 7 songs nominated but none of them in the top 40! SZA had 6 songs as did Saint Etienne.
    – Lowest average score in the Top 40 (i.e. lots of people voted for it, but put it low down on their list): Harry Styles – “Sign of the Times”
    – Highest average score in the Top 40 (i.e. fewer people voted for it, but they all gave it a massive thumbs up): Clean Bandit & Marina – “Disconnect”
    – Total songs nominated: a whopping 448 (compared to 364 last year)
    – Total songs with more than one vote: 69 – nice! (62 last year, i.e 15% compared to 17% = the trend seems to be that we’re listening to a wider range of stuff each year)

  5. 5
    jeff w on 28 Jan 2018 #

    Thanks for running this, Kat! Three of my votes (in fact my ##2, 3 and 4) made the Top 40, being Ms Gainsbourg, Ms XCX and Ms Sundfør respectively. GIRLI was my #1.

    Very happy with the top 3. Voted for “Hard Times” in the ILM tracks poll, and completely forget about “Bad Liar” but should have voted for that there too.

    There was a Steps comeback this year? *backs away slowly*

  6. 6
    koganbot on 29 Jan 2018 #

    You left out my album pick:

    Omar Souleyman’s To Syria, With Love

  7. 7
    koganbot on 29 Jan 2018 #

    I voted for “Scared Of The Dark.” So once again I wasn’t shut out of the poll results.

  8. 8
    Tom on 29 Jan 2018 #

    That Omar Souleyman LP is one of my favourites too – RIYL bangers.

    My #1 is the poll’s #1 – that hasn’t happened in a while! (Maybe ever?) I don’t actually have much to say about “Hard Times”, I just never got bored of hearing it.

    Speaking of bored, I couldn’t finish the Charlotte G record – sorry! Everyone else seems to love it.

    I thought both Charli XCX mixtapes this year were tremendous and “Boys” was fun, so she had a Good Year.

  9. 9
    Tom on 29 Jan 2018 #

    And as usual, THANKS KAT for running the poll and rounding up an excellent set of hosts.

  10. 10
    flahr on 29 Jan 2018 #

    “New Rules” was my #1 and #2 so I have a 100% hitrate this year, in a certain sense.

  11. 11
    katstevens on 29 Jan 2018 #

    Haha yes I should have mentioned the New Rules remix. I’m never quite sure how to count remixes (usually I just add the points together but if both the remix and the original are on the same ballot my spreadsheet formula gets a little confused…)

  12. 12
    flahr on 29 Jan 2018 #

    No spreadsheet can contain my challops

  13. 13
    cryptopian on 29 Jan 2018 #

    Thanks for running the poll again! In a shock twist, I didn’t end up voting for any top 10 stuff, though a few (Hard Times, Praying, Green Light, CttF) were only just past the edge of my ballot. Loads of bright, colourful pop music this year which shouldv’e been massive hits but fizzled.

    Boys: The song is cute, though at least half of my opinion is coming from the video, which I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.

    Praying: I put Godzilla and Let ’em Talk from Rainbow on my ballot. Let ’em Talk would do well on any running playlist – such a pump up motivational thing. Praying is powerful, but it didn’t click quite as much as the others

    Green Light: Euphoric and messy, but the mess works in the context of somebody who’s just broken up. I opted for Liability from Melodrama, which is all about emotional devastation through subtlety.

    Hard Times: The poll winner for 2017 is a bright pop song about depression. Yeah… that sounds right.

    On albums, I opted for “To The Bone” by Steven Wilson. He’s usually a prog rock guy (of Porcupine Tree fame) but opted for a more accessible pop/garage rock album. So many brilliantly written songs.

  14. 14
    James BC on 29 Jan 2018 #

    Voted for Charli, and also for Stormzy’s Blinded By Your Grace, which is a bit of a moment and gets points for featuring MNEK, even if they didn’t let him on the Christmas TOTP. When was the last top ten hit that was so overtly religious? Shackles?

    Can’t remember if I remembered to vote for it but I’m surprised that Rita Ora’s Anywhere didn’t feature anywhere. It must be 2017’s best song to follow the pop-with-cut-up-interludes formula, right? Great X Factor performance too.

    Well done to Paramore. I wouldn’t have picked it as a winner but it’s a good song and there was a funny Dusty Rhodes version of it on Botchamania.

  15. 15
    Steve Mannion on 29 Jan 2018 #

    How I voted:

    Algiers – The Underside Of Power
    Vince Staples – Yeah Right
    Grace Lightman – Repair Repair
    Shabazz Palaces, Quazarz & Thaddilac – Shine A Light
    Nite Jewel – 2 Good 2 B True
    Blood Orange – EVP (late 2016)
    Perfume Genius – Die 4 You
    Midnight Magic – Black Cherry (late 2016)
    Jane Weaver – Slow Motion
    Jessie Ware – Midnight
    TooFools – Touch (late 2016)
    Ariel Pink – Kitchen Witch
    Ronika – All Comes Back 2 U
    Atelje – 50/50
    Kelly Lee Owens – Lucid
    Melanie Di Biasio – Your Freedom Is The End Of Me (Herbert Dub)
    Drab Majesty – Dot In The Sky
    Tensnake – Machines
    Goldfrapp – Zodiac Black
    Thool & Marieke – Je Sors (Stepping Out)

    All from my end of year playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/stevem78/playlist/3JtZQ7pRCXwpUE20rOslvi?si=8V2NQtFvQCmd4VdzMIbPeQ

  16. 16
    dollymix on 29 Jan 2018 #

    Voted for: Jepsen, XCX, Gomez. The Dua Lipa was a narrow miss.

    Thoughts on the others:

    Steps – I like this a lot until the key change, which singlehandedly renders the song unlistenable to me.
    Kesha – obviously the music is only part of the point here, but I’m judging the music and it’s pretty good but a little trite on that basis (did this really need a choir?) I kind of wish the vocal stayed down the octave the way it starts, or at least waited longer before jumping up.
    Stormzy – good!
    Gainsbourg – I thought the album was okay, but I really don’t like this song at all – the rhythm shift in the chorus gets really irritating because it’s emphasized by the vocal, the piano and sometimes the drums, and it’s sorely lacking at least one other melodic idea to justify the song’s length. The occasional major tonic chord in between choruses is nice though.
    Lorde – good! I kind of wish Lorde’s vocals weren’t always so Lordey though.
    Paramore – good! I liked the album overall based on a couple of spins and am unconvinced this was the best song though.

  17. 17
    Rory on 30 Jan 2018 #

    When I look over the list of forty I really like almost half of them, which is pretty good going. The top 6 are all good – I hadn’t heard “Hard Times”, so that’s been running through my head on a loop. Good to see Charlotte Gainsbourg back. In the 11-20 range I was pleased to be reminded of Benny Andersson’s solo track by Steps’ attempt to channel ABBA, which they pulled off well.

    My 10-year-old introduced me to “Man’s Not Hot”, and at first I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be straight or not, which makes it an excellent comedy song, the kind that’s musically appealing and lyrically amusing. (Cf. Neil’s Heavy Concept Album.) We now greet each other with “skeeeerrrr pop pop pop!”, like the sad, erm, hip and happenin’ dad I am.

    Thanks, FT voters! And Kat, of course, for organizational skillz and entertaining captioning banter.

  18. 18
    koganbot on 31 Jan 2018 #

    Yes. Kat, your wit and work are always appreciated.

  19. 19
    koganbot on 31 Jan 2018 #

    Did Vince Staples get a significant number of – split – votes? Did he get many votes at all? I voted for “Bagbak” but was expecting “Big Fish” to place.

  20. 20
    katstevens on 31 Jan 2018 #

    Vince had 3 song nominations; Bagbak made it as high as the mid 60s.

  21. 21
    speedwell54 on 1 Feb 2018 #

    The top ten seems a whole lot more familiar to me compared with the rest of the top 40. Gainsbourg, the one previously escaping my attention. I like it and it’s growing on me.

    I voted for Green Light -which I thought would be number 1 for ages when I first heard it- and Bad Liar. I struggle to persuade anyone that Selena Gomez isn’t just for teen girls and Revival is a brilliant album.

    Numbers 5 to 2 all seem to have done well in magazines year end charts according to Wiki and yet didn’t really set the sales charts alight. Enjoy Paramore’s Hard Times, but don’t get it at number one. They seem to be following the Avril Lavigne root to pop, from Complicated to Girlfriend.

    I bought two albums off the back of this, and it was good to hear some new stuff.
    Thanks to Kat for the number crunching and writing, looking forward to next time.

  22. 22
    LucaZM on 1 Feb 2018 #

    I voted for way too many songs that made it in these last two posts, which probably means I should try finding new music somewhere that’s not from vaguely poptimst critics (mainly here, The Singles Jukebox and Unbreak my Chart (RIP)).
    My album choice was Linn da Quebrada’s Pajubá. It’s kind of an attempt to make up for barely listening to songs from my own country this year, but it’s also really good. She’s singing about her experience as a black transgender woman, very sexually charged but always on her own terms; for people who won’t understand the lyrics I think it holds up as a playful experimentation of different sounds and beats from baile funk.

    Thanks for the poll! It always makes January a bit more exciting!

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