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100 songs of the decade: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift

‘Hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine’

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Written by: Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
Produced by: Max Martin and Shellback
Album: Red
UK release: August 2012
UK chart peak: 4

This was my Taylor Swift gateway song. I wasn’t really paying attention during her more country-oriented years, but when she joined forces with Max Martin and Shellback for the Red era… well, there was no resisting her any longer.

From this song’s intro, in which her trusty guitar is sent through some sort of synthesise-y electro-y thing, it’s clear that her sound is evolving; and it turns out her knack for strong, personal lyrics is a perfect match for Max Martin’s playful flourishes and unforgettable hooks. We Are Never… is both quintessential Taylor and quintessential Max; and moments like the “indie record” shout-out and the spoken bit on the end of the middle-8 are absolutely priceless.

There’s a case to be made for, say, I Knew You Were Trouble or even Red being the strongest single from this era (believe me, the latter was very nearly in this 100 Songs list), but as Taylor’s best lead cut – and the song that kick-started the Pop Behemoth phase of her career – this one just had to win out.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

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100 songs of the decade: One Last Time – Ariana Grande

‘Stay with me a minute, I swear I’ll make it worth it’

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Written by: David Guetta, Savan Kotecha, Giorgio Tuinfort, Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk
Produced by: Rami and Carl Falk
Album: My Everything
UK release: August 2014
UK chart peak: 2

Even under ~normal circumstances, One Last Time would comfortably be among Ariana Grande‘s best songs. A danceable semi-ballad with emotionally complex lyrics and affecting vocals, it’s powerful in the way it juxtaposes vulnerability with a danceable beat, and – let’s be honest – it’s far superior to Problem and Break Free, the My Everything singles that overshadowed it at the time.

But One Last Time isn’t a ~normal pop song anymore. After the 2017 bombing at Ariana’s concert in Manchester, it became a tribute to those who lost their lives and lost their loved ones, and a symbol of solidarity for all affected by such a fucking mindless tragedy. It’s a prime example of pop music’s ability to provide a sense of togetherness at the worst of times, and now it isn’t just one of the best songs of the decade, it’s also one of the most important.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

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100 songs of the decade: Once – Diana Vickers

‘Who or whatever you do, don’t let anyone love you’

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Written by: Cathy Dennis and Eg White
Produced by: Mike Spencer
Album: Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree
UK release: April 2010
UK chart peak: 1

REMEMBER the excitement when, over a year after her X Factor elimination (and imagine if the final had been her with JLS and Alexandra Burke, instead of Eoghan Quigg with JLS and Alexandra Burke), Diana Vickers finally made her mark with a chart-topping song AND album.

I do think that, on the whole, D-Vix is better suited to the gentle electropop of her second album than she is to the much ~bigger production of songs like this, but… dammit, it’s just such an ace track, and the perfect one with which to launch her attempt at pop stardom. Obviously Eg White and Cathy Dennis know their way around a blistering pop anthem, and this kiss-off is a slam-dunk; built around one very simple-but-effective lyrical hook. If only it were the first of many No1 smashes.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

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100 songs of the decade: Ugly Heart – G.R.L.

‘Maybe on your honeymoon you’ll think of me’

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Written by: Ryan Baharloo, Ester Dean, Dr L***, John Charles Monds and Henry Walter
Produced by: Dr L*** and Cirkut
Album: G.R.L. EP
UK release: August 2014
UK chart peak: 11

Released in the UK just five days before standout member Simone Battle’s death, the sheer brilliance of Ugly Heart by G.R.L. has always felt incredibly poignant: it’s rare that a pop group asserts so much easy-sounding confidence and personality on their breakthrough song, and this pure-pop belter has all the signs of a band ready to take over the world.

Each member makes the absolute most of their verse (Natasha’s take on the second pre-chorus is my favourite, and Simone’s delivery is *chef’s kiss*), the various Mel C-esque ad-libs are amazing, and the finale is a proper hands-aloft, scream-at-the-sky masterpiece of a kiss-off.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

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