As the year draws to a close, pop columnist Douglas Greenwood reflects on 2018's unsung heroes.
Ah, 2018. The year when the charts went to shit and then Ariana Grande returned from war to save us all. It’s been a mixed bag this year: for every perfect dance-pop banger that Dua Lipa jumped on as a guest vocalist, there was about eight weeks of the year that saw a mediocre Drake track refuse to budge from the top spot.
It’s a shame, because there were plenty of amazing pop songs that, for one reason or another, didn’t quite get the respect they deserved. So in an effort to right all of the pop wrongs of the last 12 months, here is a list of every amazing pop cut that got slept on in 2018.
Every song below deserved to at least chart in the top 10, but only one of them scraped into the Top 40 for a week before fucking off again.
Ryan Beatty’s ‘Teeny Bopper turned Queer Genius’ comeback
23-year-old Californian Ryan Beatty is like Frank Ocean if Frank Ocean had spent the early Odd Future days touring shopping malls in America with a Bieber mop haircut. His album ‘Boy in Jeans’ is literally perfect and if you refuse to listen to it consider yourself BLOCKED.
Four of Diamond’s Triad of Literally Perfect Singles
The only sad thing about Little Mix absolutely smashing it right now is that everybody who loves a good girl band is sleeping on Four of Diamonds, who’ve burst out of The X Factor curse with three excellent songs that would definitely all get into the top 10 if Little Mix had got their mitts on them. Change this, please. These songs need to be heard.
The arrival of our northern queer pop queen, ‘L Devine’
Imagine being a 21-year-old girl from Newcastle who, in the space of a year or so, has moved to London, signed to a major label, and is now churning out sparkling pop tunes about the pangs of navigating young womanhood to unanimous pop blog praise? Imagine all of this happening while Charli XCX (a cool artist) also thinks you’re one of the coolest artists around? THIS IS L DEVINE’S ACTUAL LIFE. She’s amazing and is the closest thing we have to breaking a UK popstar in 2019 so please sort yourself out and listen to ‘Peer Pressure’ now. Cheers.
Every Charli XCX single that wasn’t ‘1999’
Honestly, when will you fuckers learn?
Miya Folick’s whole damn album
Any artist who has the ability to make you weep to a song called ‘Thingamajig’ is worthy of 34 minutes and 40 seconds of your time. Coincidentally, that’s also the length of Miya Folick’s well-rounded, explosive indie-pop debut record, ‘Premonitions’!
Bad Gyal, aka ‘Catalonian Sean Paul With A Fierce Manicure’
Her second mixtape Worldwide Angel is a flaw-free throwback for anybody who went on holiday to the Costa Del Sol around the mid-00s. The perfect level of tack. Criminally catchy.
Moss Kena, like Sam Smith but he dresses cooler
A million teenage girls will want to be this bloke’s boyfriend and his music is sounding very good indeed.
The only song Hannah Diamond released in 2018
The poppiest thing PC Music did this year, besides that bangin’ Tommy Cash record. Comes with some gorgey cover art and a lyric video lifted from the pits of Bebo in 2006.
The Dula Peep song with BLACKPINK
In an alternate universe, ‘Kiss and Make Up’ went to number one in eighteen countries and had a glossy, overproduced video that pulled in the ‘New Rules’ numbers that Dua Lipa is used to. Instead it peaked at 36 in the UK charts. Who controls the Capital FM playlist and can they please be held accountable for this unforgivable oversight?
That song about smoking fags that RAYE, Mabel and Stefflon Don did
I’m a huge advocate for any feature-heavy, girl power song that sounds like it could have been recorded between 1998 and 2004 and this banger (which charted just outside of the top 40) meets that very specific criteria.
This song about some girl called Jennifer by bülow
Imagine Taylor Swift enjoyed saying ‘fuck’ every so often and you have a pretty strong idea of how great bülow’s grasp of autobiographical teenage songwriting is.
Kenzie and her pretty much perfect first EP
She’s pals with Dua Lipa, looks like a pop star and will definitely knock you out with some new stuff in the new year. Have you ever wanted to grind on a pole while crying about someone who fucked you over? Her EP ‘Dark July’ is your soundtrack to that.
Glowie, an new Icelandic pop star, and Body, her stellar debut single about PHIT PEOPLE
Sony Music Entertainment Ltd. have a lot of belief in this girl and, to be perfectly honest, I do too.
Literally everything about Empress Of
I definitely did not cry on over a boy I’d known for a day on the top deck of the N63 while listening to ‘When I’m With Him’. That absolutely, categorically *did not* happen.
MNEK’s ‘I can sing a rainbow’ bop, ‘Colour’
The reviews for ‘Bumblebee’ might be glowing, but this remains the strongest piece of art that Hailee Steinfeld was associated with in 2018.
All twenty six minutes and forty eight seconds of the Tove Styrke album
I vehemently oppose the term ‘Scandipop’, but records like this are the reason the term exists in the first place. This excellent album also comes with a cover of Lorde’s ‘Liability’ that I’d rate a solid 8 out of 10.
The only song on Sweetener that Pharrell hasn’t wanked over that almost everybody still wants to skip. Don’t though. In fact, it’s a glowing little pop number that captures the first flutters of love perfectly – even if we know how it all ended.
Well, that’s your lot. Thanks for reading Pop is Not a Dirty Word in 2018. Till next year!