In 2017, individual songs often felt like escape hatches from reality. If you felt overwhelmed by the unending digital sprawl of the news cycle, it was possible to remove yourself from the narrative by retreating into the cheery rhythms of a dance-pop hit, the comforting twangs of a country ballad, or defiant stomp of a hip-hop anthem. Peace could be found by trading the consistent dread of a news ticker -- or a Twitter feed -- for the soothing stream of a digital music platform.
Or, at least, that was the hope. As is often the case with pop culture, the anxieties of the moment find ways into the songs that blast from passing car windows, hum from your headphones, and colonize valuable space in your brain. From established acts like the Arcade Fire and Taylor Swift to newcomers like Cardi B and Lil Uzi Vert, this was a year of big swings, sly reinventions, and sneaky surprises. These were the 50 songs that we connected with the most. The cathartic release they offer may only be temporary, but you can always put them on repeat.