We've said something similar introducing this list for the past five years, but it continues to be true—playlists and streaming have changed the way music is consumed, and they've changed the way it's promoted and marketed as well. A few big playlist placements, a rabid SoundCloud following, or a viral moment can be more effective than a traditional rollout, and we're seeing more and more artists achieve success in a shorter and shorter time frame. Whether this success is sustainable over a long career is a different question altogether, but it's an intruiguing, volatile time for the music industry.
The album format will always hold a special place in our hearts (check back on Thursday for our Best Albums of the Year list), but changing times bring changing approaches, and it will be interesting to see creative new ways of sharing music over the next few years. In the meantime, the rise of streaming and decline in importance of radio has leveled the playing field for unsigned artists and independent labels, and we're seeing more new artists make their mark.
From those rising stars who are changing the paradigm to more experienced artists who are still taking risks, 2017 was an exciting year for music. Here are the 50 Best Songs of 2017.