Well, that was certainly a year, wasn’t it? Christ.
I had it in my head for some reason that 2019 was shite for pop music – but actually, although there were fewer great songs to choose from, I feel like the stuff that did cut the mustard was generally a bit better than the last few years. (Albums are a different story; God it’s been SLIM PICKINGS compiling my year-end list of those.)
Anyway of course there is an accompanying Spotify playlist to sit alongside this Top 50 – there’s another link at the bottom if you don’t want the spoilers, or for ease you can just click here.
You can also ‘romp’ back through all my previous ones, if you like: here’s 2018 (led by Janelle Monae), 2017 (led by Little Mix), 2016 (led by Ariana Grande), 2015 (led by Taylor Swift), 2014 (led by Kylie Minogue), 2013 (led by Demi Lovato), 2012 (led by Little Mix again), 2011 (led by Britney Spears), 2010 (led by Katy Perry), 2009 (led by Jordin Sparks) and 2008 (led by Gabriella Cilmi).
Will this finally be the year that a male vocalist is at No1? Don’t be ridiculous!
Anyway, I’ll get to albums, films and TV shows of the year over the next few days; and I’m also still drip-feeding the 100 best songs of the decade just here.
50. Lose You To Love Me – Selena Gomez
Look, we all know by this point that Selena isn’t an Adele in the vocal department – she’s barely even a Cheryl – but what she can do is make you feel the exact emotion a song requires. Lose You To Love Me isn’t as forward-thinking as her best work (Bad Liar, Hands To Myself and Good For You say hi), but on sheer ~sadface merit alone, it’s deserved the success it’s had.
49. Broken and Beautiful – Kelly Clarkson
OK so objectively I appreciate that this is only here because I’m an unrelenting Kelly stan and not because it helped in any way to shape the musical landscape of the last twelve months, BUT! For a song from a cheap kids’ film called UGLYDOLLS(?!)…… it’s a bop!! Marshmello is producing, Pink’s one of the main songwriters, and by the time the finale kicks in (the “BRO! KEN! AND BEAU-TI-FUL!” backing vocals are my favourite), you can consider me sufficiently empowered.
48. Adore You – Jessie Ware
Now one of the country’s best podcast hosts and popstars, Jessie released Adore You as an apparent one-off in time for Valentine’s Day, and the only word I can think of to sum it up is… and it’s a bit weird but I mean it in a good way… gloopy. A proper lights-down, slow-moving, writhe-a-long treat; and whenever a new full album does appear, I will be very excited to hear it.
47. All The Songs – Will Young
Ever at the forefront of British boypop, Will Young finally returned with a new era in 2k19 – complete with this anguished, shimmering semiballad. “Can’t escape from these chains, all the songs remind me of you,” he declares on the pre-chorus; and frankly we’ve all been there.
46. New York City – Kylie Minogue
How many popstars do you think put amazing songs in the bin when the album they’re working on heads in a new direction? That’s exactly what could have happened to disco-camp gem New York City when Golden became more of a country-lite affair, but mercifully it saw the light of day anyway – and it’s a gay bar’s wet dream. Big chorus, strut-a-long production, plenty of Kylie-isms in the vocals… a right treat.
45. Let You – Cheryl
After throwing the kitchen sink at Love Made Me Do It in late 2018 only for it to spend a few short weeks in the charts, Cheryl – for whatever reason – didn’t seem to promote Let You anywhere near as much. It’s a shame: while this may, on first listen, sound like it spends a few minutes warming up before abruptly coming to an end, it’s actually a slick, sleek kiss-off that frankly deserved better.
44. Medellín – Madonna feat. Maluma
A whisper of “1… 2… 1… 2… 1… 2… cha-cha-cha”, and another Madge era is begun: Madame X as an album was a little too patchy for me but this is my favourite lead single of hers since Hung Up. Medellín sounds like it was made for the very early hours of the morning; a slick and sweaty gem with a great hook and box-fresh Latin pop production.
43. Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
Took me a while to warm up to this one, ‘tbh’, and it’s not the big ball-bursting disco banger I thought she had been teasing ahead of its release; but Don’t Start Now is a promising start to Dua 2.0. It doesn’t properly show its hand until near the very end (in fact my main gripe after my first listen was “OU EST THE CHORUS?!”) but it really does benefit from repeated listens. I have – eventually! – become a fan.
42. Don’t Leave Me Lonely – Mark Ronson feat. YEBBA
Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings album wasn’t the all-out triumph I was expecting, but tracks like this are gorgeous. YEBBA’s vocals are stunning, and we’re in proper teary-eyed-under-the-glitterball territory with the dance-ready beat and melancholy strings.
41. Easier – 5 Seconds of Summer
After mixing up their pop-rock sound a little on the Youngblood era, it seems 5 Seconds of Summer aren’t turning back. Ryan Tedder and Charlie Puth are among the writers on Easier and their fingerprints are all over it: it’s a dark new-wave-y concoction with delicious muted drums, a thumping bass line and angsty multi-octave-spanning vocals. It really suits 5SOS, and I hope its failure to set the charts alight doesn’t prompt a U-turn.
40. Sucker – Jonas Brothers
Jonas Brothers? Releasing a great single in 2019? WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT? Well, anyone with a brain, to be honest: Nick and Joe have both been sporadically putting out decent solo stuff, and they were never realistically going to reunite without some seriously worthwhile material up their sleeves.
39. Too Cool – Emily Burns
After the excellent Cheat in 2018, Emily Burns came out with another slam-dunk in the early stages of this year: Too Cool is about a love interest who’s so chilled-out that it’s verging on the annoying (“You’re so sweet like twelve ice creams, it kinda makes me sick”), but it’s endearing and fun rather than mean and sour. More EmBurns in 2020 and beyond, please.
38. Think Of Me – The Veronicas
A little bit nostalgic, a little bit bitter, a little bit devastating; Think Of Me is a perfectly-formed break-up song. The specificity in the lyrics gives it an extra bite, and the way the production veers from smooth and wistful in the pre-chorus to shuddering and dark in the refrain is a real masterstroke. It’s so good to have these two back.
37. modern anxiety – Josef Salvat
Three years on from the excellent Night Swim album, Josef returned with this frank, toe-tappable song about Just Being Alive in big old 2019. “Last night I was handsome, drunk and young; today I don’t know who I’m trying to be” is maybe my favourite opening lyric of the year.
36. Bounce Back – Little Mix
Bounce Back was a strange Little Mix single: arriving half a year after LM5, and without the fanfare of a lead single from a new record, it felt like it disappeared from the pop radar very swiftly. But that’s a shame, ‘imo’: It’s not as instantly accessible as their biggest hits, perhaps, but with the interpolation of Back To Life by Soul II Soul, some water-tight harmonies and a beat that just keeps giving, it’s an enticing indication of where they might be heading next.
35. Racing Cars – Ruti
I haven’t watched The Voice UK for years but I heard this song – by the winner of the 2018 cycle – soon after its release in April and just couldn’t resist it. Lush vocals, a vibey 3am-in-the-Uber-home chorus, thoughtful go-get-’em lyrics… we finally have our first exciting graduate from that show since the halcyon days of Becky Hill and Leah McFall!
34. A Little Bit Alexis – Annie Murphy
Yes, a song that was intended to be a send-up of 00s pop has gone down as one of the best of the year. How about it. Thing is, it does sound like it was made by people with a genuine affection for the genre (I suspect, anyway, I don’t actually know); and the result is something that is funny, yes, but also fucking slaps. Annie Murphy’s Alexis Rose has become one of the best TV characters of our time.
33. Too Much – Carly Rae Jepsen
With the Dedicated album neither the disaster some made it out to be nor the masterpiece most of us hoped it would be, it’s been easy for the best stuff on it to be forgotten. But there is plenty of Classic Carly on there; not least this excellent single – a sexually-charged bop that sees the cult icon taking the lead in pursuit of a potential conquest. Get that D, Carly!
32. About Work The Dancefloor – Georgia
Inspired by the sheer restorative power of a dancefloor, Georgia’s Twenty Quid Prize-winning banger beautifully mixes dark synths with gliding vocals and a nice-and-easy chorus. The soaring “moment for you” bits towards the end are especially gorgeous.
31. Don’t Worry Bout Me – Zara Larsson
You know those songs in which someone’s singing about how they’re over something and how so-and-so means nothing anymore, and you’re listening to the lyrics and you’re like “…hun, this is clearly still very fresh”? Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me is not one of those songs. Zara is totally and utterly DONE with whichever fucker inspired this: the vocal delivery is steady, the production understated… and honestly, I pity whoever this is about.
30. SICK – CXLOE feat. gnash
Conventional romance won’t cut it on this hornbanger: CXLOE just wants a messy, sexy, complicated affair with someone who agrees that “love that’s shiny, that’s a lie”. CXLOE has been an excellent maker of good pop in 2019 and this, as far as I’m concerned, is her best track yet. Next stop: chart stardom?
29. i’m so tired… – Lauv feat. Troye Sivan
Noted sadboys Lauv and Troye came through way back in January with the most relatable song title of 2019. These two are a bit too low-energy for some, and I get it, but I really like this: their voices complement each-other nicely, they both sound suitably exhausted by life and love, and there are some nice backing vocal ad-libby-things over the end. Job done.
28. Glad He’s Gone – Tove Lo
With consistently smart output over the last few years, Tove Lo has easily become one of my favourite popstars of the decade; and even though Sunshine Kitty isn’t my favourite album of hers, I really like this lead single. And the video? Best of the year, and really deserved its Grammy nomination.
27. Old Town Road (Remix) – Lil’ Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
26. Now I’m In It – HAIM
It felt at first like HAIM were on the verge of becoming a huge band. You know when Florence teamed up with Calvin Harris a couple of times, or when Ellie Goulding collaborated with Ryan Tedder on Burn, it seemed like they levelled-up a bit? Something like that. Now, though, for this lot it feels like the potential for that moment has passed, which is a shame – but it doesn’t mean the stuff they are doing isn’t brilliant. Summer Girl was a miss for me but Now I’m In It is amazing, especially in how it morphs towards the end from a juddering, layered electro song to something much… smoother. Love it.
25. Dancing With A Stranger – Sam Smith with Normani
The gays’ disdain of Sam Smith has always felt a little over-the-top, ‘imo’. Even if they have said some extremely stupid things in the past and, y’know, made pretty boring songs, the vitriol has occasionally been a bit uncomfortable to see. But! It feels like something’s changed in 2019: Sam’s really come into their own a bit more, and The Masses, in turn, seem to be more on board. Dancing With A Stranger is my fave songs of theirs to date; a mid-tempo disco-lite jam with a much-appreciated dose of Normani.
24. Last Night Every Night – Hannah Jane Lewis
I just love how giddy this song is. Two years on from the excellent Raincheck, HJL is still quietly putting out some excellent, gloriously simple pop with great hooks, great vocals and great replay value. I listened to this a LOT in the first few months of the year.
23. Trainwreck – KELLA
By the looks of Spotify, this was KELLA’s debut single, and… what a start, tbh. Understated but instantly catchy, Trainwreck is another great song about the irresistibility (is that a word?) of a romance that’s highly likely to end in tears (“This could all end bad, and we know it”). I can’t remember how I first came across this song but I’m so glad I did.
22. Please Don’t Touch – RAYE
The newest song of the bunch, Please Don’t Touch came out earlier this month on A) my birthday, and B) the aftermath of that shitshow of an election. Excellent time for RAW EMOTION. Honestly RAYE is continuing to put out some truly fantastic work, and I very much hope she starts to see the chart positions she deserves in 2020.
21. 7 rings – Ariana Grande
Almost as meme-ready as its predecessor thank u, next; 7 rings is another slam-dunk for Imperial Phase Ariana. Confident, catchy, cool and all about the CASH, this song – which I can only assume is a homage to Big Brovaz – seemed to get a bit of a mixed reaction at the time of its release, but to me it’s still a big win.
20. Slide Away – Miley Cyrus
After the slapdash Younger Now era, it was great to have Miley Cyrus back on strong form in 2019. Mother’s Daughter was great (it very nearly made this list too) but I just love Slide Away. Obviously inspired by her split from Liam Hemsworth, it’s a mournful but assured ballad that nails heartbroken sorrow without ever sounding over-wrought. Sure, very few of us can relate to the specifics of some of the lyrics (“I want my house in the hills” – omg same), but Miley’s delivery ensures we still feel every note.
19. Raising Hell – Kesha feat. Big Frieda
The Rainbow era was fucking magnificent for Kesha, but it’s so great to hear her back on fun territory on Raising Hell; a song that takes her iconic party-starting hitmaking and plonks it firmly in 2019. “I don’t wanna go to heaven without raising hell” is an excellent lyric, and Big Frieda’s guest appearance suits it to perfection.
18. I Wish – Hayley Kiyoko
I really enjoyed Hayley’s Expectations era last year, and she’s continued delivering the goods in 2019 too, albeit to a bit less fanfare (from what I’ve seen, anyway). I Wish is brilliant, and has one of my favourite middle-8s of any song on this list. It feels like she’s still getting better and better.
17. If Looks Could Kill – Lauren Aquilina
Every bit as good as last year’s Psycho, If Looks Could Kill is another ace song in which Lauren takes aim at an absolute dickhead and somehow makes it sound like enormous fun. My favourite thing about If Looks Could Kill is that the harmonies on the chorus actually remind me of a Disney showtune. Imagine!!
16. Church – Aly & AJ
I wasn’t, for my sins, especially familiar with Aly & AJ before this year, but Church hit me riiiight in the feelings. Direct hit. A beautifully sad song about being at rock bottom (“For all the times I can’t reverse, for all the places where it hurts, I need a little church”), it makes endless self-indulgence sound incredibly traumatic. SOMEONE HUG THEM!
15. Adore You – Harry Styles
I think it was PopJustice who said Harry’s solo music has jumped up a notch since he’s started sounding more like The 1975, and I agree 100%. Adore You is top-to-bottom perfection; allowing Harry to sound like one of those ~cool ~musicians he loves so much whilst also, yaknow, being fun and Not Boring. I’m hooked on this at the moment.
14. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek
Best song title of the year? It’s definitely a contender. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings is one of the boppier bops on the new Caroline Polachek album, and it’s excellent: cool and goofy, self-assured and self-effacing. One of many, many songs on this Top 50 that should have been a big commercial hit.
13. Gone – Charli XCX feat. Christine and the Queens
I have never really ~connected with Charli XCX like I know loads of other pop stans have, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know a fucking great song when it slaps me square in the face. She and Chris are a fantastic double-act; Gone a big, angsty, dramatic slice of pop excellence. Potentially my new favourite song ever from either artist.
12. Love Me Again – RAYE
God, everything about this is just so great, isn’t it? Despair you can dance to, Love Me Again wisely takes a ‘less is more’ approach to emotional devastation: from the production to RAYE’s vocal, it’s steady and just-about-together on the surface, with the tears simmering underneath. Wonderful.
11. Ritual – Tiesto, Jonas Blue & Rita Ora
Despite being inescapable on TV and the radio for a few months, and despite taking up residence at the top end of the iTunes rankings for fucking ages, this song never made it higher than No24 – but that’s The Charts Nowadays for you, eh? Ritual is a massive, massive banger with a chorus the size of a tank and a great star vocal from Rita. It is, for want of a more meaningful platitude, A TUNE.
10. Thinkin Bout You – Ciara
Ciara’s Beauty Marks album era felt a little bit blink-and-you-miss-it in comparison to, say, the Ciara and Jackie campaigns; but this excellent track is – I think! – one of her best ever. It’s just so fun and uplifting and lovely, and if the global hellscape of the year 2019 ain’t the time for tracks like that, I do not know when is. Give me this over a Can’t Stop The Feeling any day of the week.
09. All The Time – Zara Larsson
Zara’s last three ~main singles – Ruin My Life, Don’t Worry Bout Me and this – have all been absolute perfection. All The Time is a bright, uplifting, good old-fashioned pop song about falling in love(/lust), with a properly buoyant chorus and the sort of playful energy that so much contemporary pop is sorely lacking. This could easily be the subject of one of those “remember when X tried to save pop?” memes in a few years’ time.
08. Stretch – Louise
Louise? Returning to music after years of Generally Just Being A Celeb with one of the best bops of the year? OKAY THEN!! So many artists return after years and years away with an independent record that’s all MOR guitar-y fluff, but not Louise, no ma’am! Stretch is confident, smart, sexy and impossible to sit still to. An excellent power move from a veteran hitmaker many had written off.
07. Lover – Taylor Swift
The Shawn Mendes remix is unnecessary, but Lover really is Taylor’s finest love song to date – and after the disappointment of Me! and You Need To Calm Down, a single like this was just what we needed. Of course she’s firmly parking her tanks on Thinking Out Loud’s lawn here, but the echo-y vocals, the simple chorus and a return to the heartfelt, endearingly specific lyrics of Vintage Taylor make it a true gem in its own right. And the fact it’s inspired by what is ostensibly her most secure, comfortable and (in the best way possible) ‘unremarkable’ relationship to date really shows.
06. break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored – Ariana Grande
Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend, but make it 2019! The best song from – spoiler – the best album of the year, BUWYGIB gave Ari her fifth UK number one (and her third in the space of a few months), and deservedly so: she’s at the height of her powers here, riding the trap-pop wave but keeping it fun and exciting. Her voice is so well suited to this; from the layered backing vocals (“yuh yuh” fans are well catered for) to the silky smooth ad-libs over the finale. Video’s ace, too.
05. Juice – Lizzo
‘Old’ songs Truth Hurts and Good As Hell have had some much-deserved success this year, but the actual new stuff Lizzo’s released in 2019 has also been stellar. Juice, in an alternate universe, should have at least matched the sales and cultural omnipresence of Uptown Funk. But who knows – evidently that could happen in, like, 2023?! KEEP FAITH!
04. Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
A highlight from last year’s Golden Hour album but only serviced as a single in February of this year, Rainbow is… *The Vivienne voice* stunning. A extremely straightforward piano-and-vocal recording, it’s a very easy song to hook personal significance on to: anyone who’s been going through a tough time of it, anyone who knows anyone who’s been going through a tough time of it, anyone queer (hello, the title!!!)… ugh, the TEARS!
03. Number One Fan – MUNA
Best Band In The World MUNA returned with their second album this year, led by this 10/10 song about self-sabotage and self-love; taking dark inner thoughts like “nobody likes me and I’m gonna die alone” and trying extremely hard to overpower them. This lot do Matters Of The Brain extremely well, and this is one of their best-ever tracks. “So iconic, like big, like stan, like.”
02. Motivation – Normani
After establishing her huge potential in Fifth Harmony and laying strong solo foundations with featured appearances for Khalid and Sam Smith (see above), Normani was finally ready to blast off on her own on Motivation. A huge pop moment from this summer, it’s one of the best HELLO HERE I AM!!! singles I can remember for a very long time; with everything from the video to the single artwork screaming “megastar”. It’s fun, catchy, vibrant and energetic; and I can’t wait to hear more from this icon-in-waiting next year.
01. Never Really Over – Katy Perry
Honestly, I thought Katy’s single-of-the-year days were long gone – but this Dagny-inspired, Zedd-produced enormobop is her best since Teenage Dream.
That slightly frantic chorus (or is it the post-chorus?) might take a couple of listens to get used to, but WHEW once it gets you, there’s no going back. After all these years, her vocals are weirdly comforting, aren’t they – especially when she’s giving us The Feelings during moments like the pre-chorus and the middle-8, and the points at which she flips (as only Katy Perry can) in and out of her ‘head voice’.
This song is great for shouting along to in the car, for howling along to whilst hanging up the laundry, for wheezing along to whilst running… Spotify says it’s my most-played of the year, and it’s also my favourite. Thought my Katy stan-dom was done… but… *slow look to camera* I guess it’s never really over.
Playlisted 2020, week 3: At least this hellish month is delivering bops
Q1 is truly the new Q4, it seems: there was a lot of good stuff out this week, not just in terms of singles but albums too (Halsey, Louise, Gabrielle Aplin), though I haven’t really deep-dived (deep-diven? deep-dove?) into those just yet.
Anyway here are the eight, yes eight!!!, new songs I’m adding to my rolling all-important (…) 2020 playlist this week. Said playlist is here if you want to keep track (it’s also embedded at the bottom of the post), and here’s the best from last week.
Bikini Porn – Tove Lo
Sun-soaked hedonism is a strange flavour for bleakest January but obviously I’m more than happy to gobble up anything Tove Lo serves, and this is possibly my favourite new track of the week. Co-written and produced with Finneas O’Connell, I love the slightly dark edge the production gives the otherwise fun lyrics – thanks mainly to that thick vocoder-heavy backing vocal. Addictive.
Disco – Cheerbleederz
A song that rivals Staying Up Late for the title of Cheerbleederz’ Best Song Yet, Disco’s topline is its greatest asset; a charming melody + lyric combo supported by gorgeous harmonies and windows-down-wind-in-your-hair guitars.
In The Afternoon – Josef Salvat
Not to be dramatic but after the incredible Modern Anxiety, this is simply another completely lush, bullseye-hitting assault on the SOUL. In The Afternoon – which is fantastic in either its English or French carnations! – has an absolute butterfly-rush of a chorus and Josef’s voice sounds dreamy on the higher ad-libs towards the end.
New Me – Ella Eyre
‘Lol’ that I first heard this on Thursday and dismissed it as an overly chaotic mess, and then spent most of yesterday getting my fucking life to it. The post-chorus bit is just great, isn’t it?! I really can’t call if New Me will be a hit or not (for all her success, Ella has never reached the Top 10 on a song that’s not a collaboration), but I hope it is. 2020 marks five years (!!!) since the Feline album and I’m ready for her to start regaining some serious momentum.
Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys) – Rina Sawayama
For anyone uninitiated, this is a great Rina gateway song, and I say that because… it was my Rina gateway song. I finally gave her a proper look after seeing people rave about her on the ol’ Twitter timeline, and friends, I was not disappointed (although loads of her past stuff is ringing bells so I must have checked her out before and forgotten, who knows). This is the sound I think Dua Lipa’s gunning for on her new era, but I have a suspicion – quality-wise, at least – Rina will out-do her.
Me & You Together Song – The 1975
We’re back in Chocolate-style territory here; a ballpark that Lawson wouldn’t have turned their nose up at eight years ago. The melody on the verses is actually a bit What I Go To School For-y, isn’t it? It’s nice to hear a sugary, uplifting, American Pie soundtrack-friendly love song from this lot; a much-needed shot of heart after a hellish couple of weeks in Global Events.
What A Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers
Sucker was huge for the reformed JoBros last year, and while I highly doubt What A Man Gotta Do will hit the same heights, it more than justifies the guys’ potential for a serious long-term comeback. The brilliant Jess Agombar of ex-Parade fame is on the writing credits, and I am very happy to generate her some streaming royalties!
Bury Us – The Naked And Famous
TNAF are one of those acts who never come to mind when I think of my favourites, but I’m always very pleased to hear from them. Bury Us isn’t quite as incredible as I thought it might have been after the intro and first verse, but it’s still a very welcome return.
Playlisted 2020, weeks 1 and 2: Here are the first nine decent songs of the decade
Q1 is the new Q4
I tried this in 2019 but I had too many plates spinning to keep it up beyond early March… so let’s see how we get on in big old 2020 (I managed to see the 100 Songs of the Decade thing through to the very end, right?!?!)
As I know many people do, each year I start a playlist on Spotify on which I add any and all good pop songs as-and-when they’re released. It comes in very useful in December when trying to remember the year-end best-of, I tell ya.
So once again I’ll try and get into the habit of writing every weekend about the songs that I’m adding; which I’m sure some weeks will be just one song and others will be fucking tonnes, but who doesn’t love unpredictability?!?!
You can follow Playlisted 2020 on Spotify here if you so choose. Last year I added 183 songs to the 2019 one, so be warned IT’LL GET LENGTHY!
I didn’t even think to kick this off last weekend (lol, good start) so strap in; we’re doing Weeks 1 and 2 in one post. Here are the first good songs of 2020, and the first to qualifty for THE PLAYLIST. Firstly, the two I would have written about last weekend if I had my wits about me:
Miss You 2 – Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt
I ended the decade being much more ~into Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt than I ever would have expected when they first came “on the scene”; Gabrielle winning me over with Waking Up Slow and Nina delivering one of the few genuinely great pop albums of last year. And while I’m actually not familiar with the original Miss You, this sequel(?) is a great little moody, waft-a-long semi-ballad that packs an effective electro-oriented edge whilst keeping the trusty piano front-and-centre. I can’t say I’ve had this on repeat since it dropped last week but I’ve certainly enjoyed it while it’s been on, yaknow?
Wrong Direction – Hailee Steinfeld
Can you believe it’s nearly HALF a DECADE since Hailee’s debut single; fifth best song of the decade Love Myself? Frustratingly, it still doesn’t feel like she’s gained much ongoing momentum, and 2019 was especially quiet for her music-wise – but Wrong Direction’s appearance on New Year’s Day indicates that maybe 2020 will be more fruitful.
It’s not a banger, of course, and if it’s not about Niall Horan then someone somewhere certainly knew what they were doing with that title. I also don’t really see how it’s going to do the business numbers-wise (perhaps Lose You To Love Me was the blueprint), but I think Hailee’s vocals are delivered beautifully and it’s my favourite release of hers since Colour. It’s really clicked with me in the last few days.
And now to the best of this week’s crop:
Make U Cry – Torine
Here it is! The first all-out bop of the decade. I don’t think I’ve come across Torine before – Spotify says this is only her third single – but you can bet I’ll be going back to catch-up now, yessir!!
I love the topline on this, and the way the first chorus effectively edges you right up until you’re half-way through it. Comparisons are lazy, I know, but if you need a quick sell: it’s Sigrid meets Sorry I’m Late-era Cher Lloyd, while vocally we’re not a million miles away from HRH Zara Larsson.
I’m obsessed with this; my first Repeat One direct-hit of the year.
Diamonds – Megan Thee Stallion & Normani
Hope it’s not too reductive to compare the Birds of Prey soundtrack to the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack considering they are similar projects for similar-genre movies – but if you were to compare Diamonds to Don’t Call Me Angel, this would be an EASY win.
I’m so excited for both of these artists, especially Normani, to completely conquer the year ahead; and this is a fantastic start. I had this blasting in the car to Tesco’s yesterday (yes, I’m a local, what of it!!) and WHEW!!!
Also: a VIDEO.
You Should Be Sad – Halsey
Halsey’s new album Manic is out next week and you can count me very much in as far as excitement is concerned. This song is a big, big mood; I love all the harmonies, the little topline flourishes, the jarring blast of synthesised guitar over the otherwise simple acoustic-led backing… excellent work from Greg Kurstin, and eeeeexcellent work from Halsey. Props also for the Shania leopard-print outfit in the video.
Rare – Selena Gomez
The title track (and latest single) from the first blockbuster pop album of the year, Rare returns us to the sparse Bad Liar type of pop Selena has proven form with. And as with the likes of Bad Liar, the lyrics are witty and quirky (“Saw us getting older, burning toast in the toaster”) – and now there’s even what sounds like a dobro wailing away in the background. It’s Very Selena Gomez, and it’s Very Good.
24 Hours – Georgia
Georgia also has an album out this week, and 24 Hours doesn’t – on first listen, anyway – quiiiiite smash the bullseye in the same way as About Work The Dancefloor, but I love the slightly woozy chorus and the pulsating production. I haven’t properly deep-dived into the album yet but… well, it’s hardly gonna be shit, is it?
Better Off Without You – Becky Hill feat. Shift K3Y
The chorus is a bit of a sledgehammer to the face after the sweet promise of the intro and verses, but I really like this from Becky Hill; who now seems to have found her home in reliable, enormous dance music. As a pop subgenre, This Sort Of Thing isn’t necessarily my favourite, but I’m always rooting for Becky and I hope this is a big hit for her.
Stop This Flame – Celeste
The BBC Sound of 2020 winner will have a lot of eyes on her now, and Stop This Flame is an irresistibly rousing track to introduce those who are just getting to know her. The iconique oneofthosefaces NMF round-up yesterday said this is the stuff of Jools Holland – not in a bad way! – which is spot-on. As such I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing I’ll come back and actively seek out over the next week, but goodforher.gif.
Here’s the playlist, btw:
100 Songs of the Decade
The best bops, bangers and ballads from 2010-2019
What are we even calling this decade? The tens? The teens? In 2009 some madmen were floating “the tenners” but… I mean that was never a thing, right?
Whatever it is, I’ve marked it by doing the only two things I can do: be extra, and make a list.
If you’ve just joined me: one song a day for the last 100 days of the year, I’ve written about my personal favourite pop singles from January 2010 to the present. Mostly in no particular order, except the Top 10. Follow the Spotify playlist here, and there’s also one on YouTube here.
Click through the list below for “thorough” “analyses” of the songs covered.
Here were the first 90 songs, delivered in no particular order:
- 100 songs of the decade: Moments – Tove Lo
- 100 songs of the decade: Black Magic – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Crying For No Reason – Katy B
- 100 songs of the decade: Night Changes – One Direction
- 100 songs of the decade: Skyscraper – Demi Lovato
- 100 songs of the decade: Higher – The Saturdays
- 100 songs of the decade: XO – Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Out Of The Woods – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Get Outta My Way – Kylie Minogue
- 100 songs of the decade: Do You Think Of Me – Misha B
- 100 songs of the decade: Piece By Piece – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Your Love – Nicole Scherzinger
- 100 songs of the decade: no tears left to cry – Ariana Grande
- 100 songs of the decade: Promise This – Cheryl
- 100 songs of the decade: Rolling In The Deep – Adele
- 100 songs of the decade: Never Really Over – Katy Perry
- 100 songs of the decade: Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
- 100 songs of the decade: Ghost – Ella Henderson
- 100 songs of the decade: Don’t Kill My Vibe – Sigrid
- 100 songs of the decade: Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn
- 100 songs of the decade: Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears
- 100 songs of the decade: Anywhere – Rita Ora
- 100 songs of the decade: Starships – Nicki Minaj
- 100 songs of the decade: Shine – Years & Years
- 100 songs of the decade: What’s It Gonna Be? – Shura
- 100 songs of the decade: Cut To The Feeling – Carly Rae Jepsen
- 100 songs of the decade: Fuego – Eleni Foureira
- 100 songs of the decade: DNA – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Fake Happy – Paramore
- 100 songs of the decade: Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
- 100 songs of the decade: I Am Not A Robot – Marina
- 100 songs of the decade: Happiness – Alexis Jordan
- 100 songs of the decade: Scared Of The Dark – Steps
- 100 songs of the decade: Number One Fan – MUNA
- 100 songs of the decade: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Hymn – Kesha
- 100 songs of the decade: Good For You – Selena Gomez ft. A$AP Rocky
- 100 songs of the decade: Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
- 100 songs of the decade: The Edge Of Glory – Lady Gaga
- 100 songs of the decade: Losing You – Solange
- 100 songs of the decade: Work From Home – Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign
- 100 songs of the decade: Tears – Clean Bandit feat. Louisa
- 100 songs of the decade: Body Talk – Foxes
- 100 songs of the decade: Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin
- 100 songs of the decade: Flatline – Mutya Keisha Siobhan
- 100 songs of the decade: Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
- 100 songs of the decade: Your Body – Christina Aguilera
- 100 songs of the decade: Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
- 100 songs of the decade: Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
- 100 songs of the decade: Euphoria – Loreen
- 100 songs of the decade: Start Without You – Alexandra Burke feat. Laza Morgan
- 100 songs of the decade: Green Light – Lorde
- 100 songs of the decade: Into The Blue – Kylie Minogue
- 100 songs of the decade: Ugly Heart – G.R.L.
- 100 songs of the decade: Once – Diana Vickers
- 100 songs of the decade: One Last Time – Ariana Grande
- 100 songs of the decade: Love It If We Made It – The 1975
- 100 songs of the decade: Motivation – Normani
- 100 songs of the decade: Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Love On Top – Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Roar – Katy Perry
- 100 songs of the decade: Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer
- 100 songs of the decade: Chandelier – Sia
- 100 songs of the decade: Good As Hell – Lizzo
- 100 songs of the decade: I Will Never Let You Down – Rita Ora
- 100 songs of the decade: Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
- 100 songs of the decade: Work Bitch – Britney Spears
- 100 songs of the decade: What The Hell – Avril Lavigne
- 100 songs of the decade: Something New – Girls Aloud
- 100 songs of the decade: Ruin My Life – Zara Larsson
- 100 songs of the decade: Blank Space – Taylor Swift
- 100 songs of the decade: Don’t Hold Your Breath – Nicole Scherzinger
- 100 songs of the decade: On A Mission – Gabriella Cilmi
- 100 songs of the decade: I Know A Place – MUNA
- 100 songs of the decade: Underneath The Tree – Kelly Clarkson
- 100 songs of the decade: Touch – Little Mix
- 100 songs of the decade: Jealousy – Will Young
- 100 songs of the decade: You Bring Me Joy – Amelia Lily
- 100 songs of the decade: The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey
- 100 songs of the decade: Nothing’s Real But Love – Rebecca Ferguson
- 100 songs of the decade: All Fired Up – The Saturdays
- 100 songs of the decade: Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
- 100 songs of the decade: Telephone – Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé
- 100 songs of the decade: Call My Name – Cheryl
- 100 songs of the decade: Dancing On My Own – Robyn
- 100 songs of the decade: Mine – Phoebe Ryan
- 100 songs of the decade: True Disaster – Tove Lo
- 100 songs of the decade: Make Me Feel – Janelle Monáe
- 100 songs of the decade: All The Lovers – Kylie Minogue
You can follow the rolling playlist on Spotify here.