It’s been a weird year for pop music.
Most of the Pop Queens took a year off and left us to deal with things like deep house covers and more posthumous Michael Jackson music released under the name ‘The Weeknd,’ but we made it through and a lot of amazing pop music came from a lot of new(ish) faces.
Getting this list down to ten was extremely difficult so here are some honourable mentions: CL’s Lifted, MAX’s Lights Down Low and Basement Party, Shawn Mendes’ Treat You Better and Mercy, Jordan Fisher’s All About Us, Charli XCX’s After The Afterparty, Nina Nesbitt’s Chewing Gum, OneRepublic’s Kids….okay I’ll stop. Here’s my top ten:
10. SNAKEHIPS, ZAYN – CRUEL
Snakehips and Zayn teamed up for the amazing Cruel, which has some of the cleanest and nicest production on a pop song I’ve ever heard. The track, written by dream team Snakehips, Cass Lowe, Erik Hassle and Zayn, boasts one of the coolest choruses of the year.
Cruel was criminally underrated and I will never give up on the #JusticeForCruel ‘campaign.’
9. HAILEE STEINFELD, GREY, ZEDD – STARVING
Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd’s Starving is a perfect example of how a song’s timing and production can make or break it, because the lyrics of the chorus in this song are terrible, but here I am putting it in my top ten.
Hailee could have been singing in Similish on the chorus and it would still be here because the drop is one of the best of the year and the production is so crisp and stunning from start to finish it’s impossible not to love it.
8. JOSEF SALVAT – PARADISE
Josef Salvat released one of the best and most underrated albums of the year in February and with it came the brilliant Paradise. Josef’s stunning songwriting prowess mixes with the upbeat and sunny production to create a perfectly polished pop package.
On top of that, the music video tells one of the most engaging stories, in a more interesting way, than most videos I’ve seen this year. He’s also a really fucking smart guy and you should read his great interview with The Line of Best Fit.
FYI: The video version of the song is a different mix to the album version, which is quite odd but the video version works much better as a Pop Banger so that’s the one I’m talking about.
7. ZARA LARSSON – AIN’T MY FAULT
Zara Larsson’s Ain’t My Fault is an overbearing and brash wall of sound but Zara has the personality, charisma and pure talent to not only pull it off, but make you love every second of it.
On top of cementing her place as the most exciting new pop star on the planet, she became one of my favourite people in the industry being constantly amazing online and showing an authentic personality which is resonating.
6. FLUME, TOVE LO – SAY IT
Flume’s crazy production and the great pop writing of Tove Lo and Daniel Johns (I had no idea he wrote on this until just now???) resulted in a massive bop with one of the weirdest but most brilliant drops of the year.
5. WRABEL – 11 BLOCKS
Wrabel’s 11 Blocks is one of the best pieces of pop storytelling this year. While telling its story it hooks you in and brings the emotion in a package of timeless production.
There’s not much else to say. It’s just a thing of beauty.
4. JAMES TW – WHEN YOU LOVE SOMEONE
For kids of divorce, this could be one of the hardest hitting songs you’ve ever heard. I know for me it certainly was.
The British 19-year-old told Teen Vogue “I feel like divorce is a fairly unspoken topic even though it’s quite prominent in today’s world” and “I hope the song can make it easier for any child that’s going through it.”
3. DAVID44 – RUN
Nordic artist David44 is so new, my article on this song is one of the first Google results when you search for him. So, this is a song nobody would expect to see so high on my list, but in a short amount of time, it’s become one of my highest played songs of the year.
I can’t put my finger on the defining factor that makes me love this song so much but the production is punchy, the chorus synths are perfectly placed and the nonchalant, but intoxicating vocal delivery leave it completely addictive.
This live session is fucking incredible, too.
2. FIFTH HARMONY – WORK FROM HOME
That bassy Rugrats theme beat, the sassy vocal delivery and that strangely perfect repetition on the chorus made it one of the biggest bops of the year. The song is so good, even Camila’s wailing is charming.
The only reason I went to any party this year was to hear Work From Home. Sorry everyone.
If you want me on a dancefloor, play this and I’m there.
1. ARIANA GRANDE – INTO YOU
The huge production, the thumping synths and heavenly vocal of Ariana Grande’s piece of modern art Into You make it undoubtedly the best pop song of 2016. For more information on its prowess, see this post.