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Sounds of 2017: eight readers on the songs that defined their year

From 1950s musical numbers to this year’s synth-pop releases, our readers tell us which songs they think best represented 2017.

Phil Wellington

Investment analyst, PortfolioMetrix, London

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka

'Whilst the rest of the world carries on spinning, the UK appears to be stuck in a bit of a Brexit rut. With equity markets buoyant around the world and central banks starting to raise interest rates, there is a bit more positivity across the globe in 2017.

'In the UK, however, politicians of all parties are squabbling about what Brexit actually means, how much the bill for leaving should be and so much more. Whether Brexit ends up soft, hard, half-baked or no Brexit at all, one thing that certainly seems true this year is that breaking up is hard to do!'

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Phil Wellington

Investment analyst, PortfolioMetrix, London

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka

'Whilst the rest of the world carries on spinning, the UK appears to be stuck in a bit of a Brexit rut. With equity markets buoyant around the world and central banks starting to raise interest rates, there is a bit more positivity across the globe in 2017.

'In the UK, however, politicians of all parties are squabbling about what Brexit actually means, how much the bill for leaving should be and so much more. Whether Brexit ends up soft, hard, half-baked or no Brexit at all, one thing that certainly seems true this year is that breaking up is hard to do!'

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Gerard Stocks

Director, Foxborough Wealth, London 

What About Us by Pink

'In a year that has seen presidents Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have a war of words, prime minister Theresa May’s disastrous UK election, a higher Bank of England interest rate and sterling having a rollercoaster ride, it reminds me of the lyrics of Bon Jovi’s Rollercoaster – “Life ain't a merry go round, It's a rollercoaster”.

'But, for me, it’s not all about the political and economic rhetoric but the disconnect with end user – the people or, in our case, "the clients". My choice of song for 2017 sums this sentiment up distinctly.'

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Stephen Webster

Chief executive, Thorntons Investment Management, Dundee 

Proud Mary by Tina Turner

‘Political turmoil has defined this year. The formal arrival of a US president that very few, on this side of the Atlantic, thought had a chance, combined with a surprise result in the UK general election and political polarisation across the US, the UK and mainland Europe has left the world a less certain and, arguably, a less safe place.

‘Against this backdrop, in the UK, we have inept political leadership, blinkered by personal ambition and political dogma. Despite all of this, business (or rather, Proud Mary) keeps on turning and great things are being achieved, almost unnoticed, in the engine room of the UK economy.

‘If you are ever in need of motivation, go talk to an entrepreneur across any industry and you will be truly energised to exceed your personal expectations.

Aside from all that, it’s a truly brilliant song.’

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Nigel Moore

Senior wealth manager, Pilling & Co Stockbrokers, Manchester 

Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis

'Overall, this year has been positive for investors prepared to maintain exposure to risk assets. As we enter December, I note that for the first time since 2008 we have not experienced a 10% market correction during the calendar year. In fact, the OECD has just reported 2017 could be the strongest year for growth since 2010.

'We remain cognisant of market risks, yet earnings growth has returned to underpin valuations. With synchronised growth across developed and emerging economies, the outlook for 2018 seems bright.

'Indeed, I have experienced far greater challenges in my 20 years in the investment industry than I faced this year.

'So the song for 2017 could have been Elton John’s Rocket Man given the sabre rattling by North Korean president Kim Jong-un but my song choice is from fellow Mancunians: Oasis' Don’t Look Back in Anger, at least not today.'

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Julian Howard

Head of multi-asset solutions, GAM, London

Going Backwards and Where’s The Revolution by Depeche Mode

‘These two songs were released earlier this year and immediately seized upon by US white nationalist figurehead Richard Spencer who declared the veteran synth-rockers to be the official band of the “Alt-Right” movement.

‘Though Depeche Mode completely rejected the association, it was clear that both songs and the accompanying album Spirit captured the prevailing socio-political mood in a way few other artists were able to in 2017. An urgent and legitimate call for change was expressed in heartfelt lyrics like “Who’s making your decisions, you or your religion?” but dismay at the emerging response with its associated tide of divisive hate and bigotry is condemned as “turning back our history”.

‘Investment managers meanwhile find themselves less free to express themselves, torn between the ecstatic market response of 2017 and the deeply unhappy tone of the political discourse.’ 

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James Gardner

Head of propositions, Alpha Portfolio Management, Bristol

Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin

‘2017 will be remembered for many things, but it’s the politics that has dominated. The ongoing theme of Brexit and the politics of the EU has been the constant headline.

‘Since 23 June 2016, we have been part of the most vocal and divisive divorce processes on record. The vote, rather than unifying our nation, has created further divisions in our society.

‘The reality of life on our own, comprehending the scale of the process and negotiating our exit, is proving to be a “heartbreaker”. It is likely to take years to resolve the emotional and potential financial impact.  

‘As with any acrimonious divorce, lawyers get involved. Reaching a settlement can be a long and drawn out process, that leaves neither side in a good place.  

‘Against a backdrop of positive global economic growth, 2018 is likely to bring further “good times, bad times”, but finding a “whole lotta love”, might take a little longer.’

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Colin Robertson

Investment manager, Charteris Treasury Portfolio Managers, Edinburgh  

Happy Talk by Captain Sensible

‘Many moons ago we seemed to dance forever to Happy Talk in the shadows of Scotland’s glens. Originally a number from a 1950s musical, it soared into the pop charts after Captain Sensible introduced it to a new generation some 30 years later. Yet the song has stayed with me throughout – rain or shine, bear or bull market.

‘In a testing year for wealth managers, it helped me to look past the many mood swings that made for a roller-coaster 2017 – as it did during the dark days following the great financial crisis. No doubt, I will continue to reach for it to keep a level-head in good times and bad. Thank you, Captain (or really Rodgers & Hammerstein) for a simple and inspiring song.’

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James Burns

Co-manager of managed portfolio service, Smith & Williamson, London

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

'For me, 2017 can be summed up by the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb.

'The world appears to have swum through 2017 in a trance-like fashion. French and German elections have been negotiated with minimal fuss and even the threat of nuclear war between the US and North Korea only provided a brief blip in the upwards momentum of risk assets. Equity market volatility has been extremely low, with the market deciding recent earnings growth has been sufficient to sit back and enjoy the hit from the last dose of quantitative easing.

'With earnings growth in the US somewhat justifying the higher valuations, this could continue for some time. However, longer term, the chances of cold turkey kicking in from the removal of the medicine must increase.' 

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