10. Ariana Grande – “Boyfriend” (feat. Social House)
In terms of honesty, starting a song with “I’m a motherfucking trainwreck” is up there – but it sets the scene for a quite fun but emotional tune perfectly. The song is about two people who know they can’t be together, but still want to maintain an exclusivity, but does so with a tongue-in-cheek nature that makes it even more relatable. The beat behind the song is the real highlight, elevating the song to something more memorable.
9. Mabel – “Don’t Call Me Up”
Marking the best of the year from this great new talent, “Don’t Call Me Up” is essentially a toned-down and more sassy version of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”, but it is executed with such confidence that you’d be forgiven for thinking Mabel’s the one that had been a the top of the charts all decade. Everyone can relate to the song and it creates an easy feel-good feeling no matter where you are.
8. Sigrid – “Don’t Feel Like Crying”
For a popstar who’s still at the end of her teenage years there’s an incredibly maturity in Sigrid’s song-writing, but one that is always aimed at creating upbeat tunes. This is a classic of the genre, as she takes a break-up tune and sprinkles her fairy dust on it, turning an experience of slumping on the sofa into one of going out and having a great time. One that really spoke to me this year and one that still leaves room for the heartache you feel, but still tells you things will be okay anyway.
7. Clean Bandit – “Mama” (feat. Ellie Goulding)
I really love Clean Bandit, and one of their most endearing qualities is that despite making music for the masses they can still return to their roots and deliver the slightly weird but deeply emotional cut as well. This one may feature a megastar but the way the song’s put together goes all the way back to their first album New Eyes where they first put together a range of tracks that used instruments in new and interesting ways to make everyone pay attention.
6. Jax Jones, Marin Solveig & Madison Beer – “All Day and Night”
This was my favourite dance song of the year, mixing interesting verses that build brilliantly along with Madison Beer’s vocals, euphoric drops from Martin Solveig and an overall production quality that shows why everything Jax Jones touches turns to gold. It’s immensely replayable and manages to tap into the EDM of earlier this decade, whilst making it more friendly to a pop audience and still doing things in a unique way. I couldn’t get enough of this and would highly recommend popping it on repeat for a while.
5. Ariana Grande – “7 rings”
As much as the titular song from the album “thank u, next” broke the internet and was a worldwide sensation, in many ways “7 rings” was the best song that came from it. For Ariana, normally known for her saccharine music and personality, this was a nod at the strength and “BDE” she has too – showing her flashing her cash and living the life. What’s most impressive about it is that it sounds perfectly in tune with her all the same though, and she even manages to rap parts of the song in a way that would push the likes of Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, showing she’s got that club in her bag as well.
4. Lizzo – “Truth Hurts” (2017)
Despite being a couple of years old, “Truth Hurts” in many ways is Lizzo’s mission statement – it’s a breakup song, so you know there’s elements of sadness, but everything in this song is about how she deserves to feel fantastic still. Her mix of singing and rapping is perfect, swinging in between both effortlessly and playing with the beat of the song perfectly. It’s a nigh-on perfect song for making you feel happy, and one that’s not been far away from any playlist this year.
3. Lizzo – “Juice”
Lizzo’s first tune to make it big over here exploded on our radios like a ball of overwhelmingly positive energy and I don’t think it’s left me since. The throwback to the 70s Motown feel mixed with modern references, packed with upbeat horns and a singer that knows how to turn every note into a smile – it’s got everything you’d want in a pick-me-up tune. I find it hard to listen to this without a full-blown grin, and I’m pretty sure most people are the same – in a time where we need it, this is a prescription for a smile.
2. Billie Eilish – “bad guy”
As far as a statement of intent goes, “bad guy” is phenomenal, and when you consider it comes from a 17-year-old who wrote the song with her brother, it’s even more impressive. This song was everywhere this year, and it’s simple earworm dug into the brains of millions and had them hooked on the melody and the sing-speak, ASMR-style vocals. It’s got a raw magnetism to it that attracts the listener and then keeps them stuck until the final bridge. It’s dark, it’s evil-sounding, but you want more – and as far as Billie Eilish is considered, that’s exactly what she was looking for.
1. Zara Larsson – “All the Time”
My favourite song of this year comes from Zara Larsson, and what this song represents to me is almost the perfect pop song. She’s always had an amazing voice, and it really carries through this emotional tour-de-force, set on top of a bouncy and addictive beat.
The song as a whole is an undeniable bop, but it’s real strength lies in it’s simple delivery of a simple message – of missing someone and wondering if they miss you too.
For me it brings together a lot of feelings from throughout the year, and even manages to reference a visit to New York as well, so it’s quite symbolic in that way, but when you add everything the song has going for it it’s an absolute gem and one I’ve not been able to stop listening to for months.
Thanks for reading, you can find the full playlist to listen through here below: