Looking back at the year that was 2017, there are a few things that stand out—the political climate, the unrelenting stream of bad news, and the fairytale stories of success we found solace in. Pop culture and music are often cast aside as guilty pleasures but when times are rough every pleasure grants us necessary respite. It’s hard not to get emotional when thinking about how our lord and savior, Cardi B came to find success in the dregs of an awful year. Seeing a woman from the Bronx, who stripped in order to leave an abusive relationship become the first female rapper with a number one solo single in 19 years is the Cinderella story we all needed.
In 2017 Soundcloud rappers became rockstars, premature retirees became Grammy nominated, and our heroes achieved success in ways we didn’t know they could. The end of the year always makes us wistful for the albums that soundtracked our lives, but 2017 was the year where an artist’s narrative away from the music shaped our capacity for hope.
Of course there is no yin without yang, no W’s without L’s, no number one without a number 53. There were plenty of flops in 2017 from overhyped album releases and bad gimmicks to Twitter spats and interview sound bites that induced painful secondhand embarrassment. Here are the winners and losers from the year that was.