Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2017

From Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift to Kelela and Japanese Breakfast

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Randy Newman, 'Dark Matter'

20. Randy Newman, 'Dark Matter'

A year after Leonard Cohen signed off, Randy Newman seems to have drifted into his role as elder Jewish sage, yet another twist in their seemingly opposite yet weirdly linked careers. Like Cohen, Newman never sounded young – he was croaking "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" in the Summer of Love. So he revels in his voice as the old dirty bastard, even when he opens up for the grief of "Wandering Boy." There's something inspiring about all the sarcastic bile on Dark Matter – this rich Hollywood piano man finished these songs because he felt they were worth putting out into the world, which means he felt the world was worth the trouble. In 2017, that was a welcome reminder.

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