20. Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’
So Arcade Fire’s latest album ‘Everything Now’ didn’t quite hit the stratospheric heights of previous work, but its lead single is a no-brainer to join the band’s arsenal of hits. Opening with a piano riff which Abba would be proud of, it packs a crowd-pleasing chorus that’ll sit nicely in the ensuing festival headline slots coming their way thick and fast.
19. Methyl Ethel – ‘Ubu’
Songs this fun rarely come with such great pretentions – it’s named after both an art-rock band (Pere Ubu) and a surrealist play (Ubu Roi) and has a video that plays out like a Situationist happening. Don’t be scared off. Mostly it’s a propulsive, poppy, bonkers song about haircuts. “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair,” it says, 38 times total. Best song about haircuts since Beck’s ‘Devil’s Haircut’? Indubitably.
18. Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘The Way You Used To Do’
Josh Homme and Mark Ronson might sound an unlikely match on paper, but it instantly makes sense when the needle drops on ‘The Way You Used to Do’. Despite their self-made image of being rock’s last behemoths standing, QOTSA’s appeal doesn’t just exist in upping decibel levels. Their best songs are slick and understated, applying space as much as noise. With Ronson at the helm, their subtle disco switch made perfect sense. It’s a light-footed strut built on Homme’s devilish charm, and it’s one of their finest moments.
17. Katy Perry – ‘Chained To The Rhythm’
When NME interviewed Katy Perry this year, she spoke of pop stars engaging in a “race to see who can be most woke”. And with this track, she was briefly winning. The Hillary campaigner challenged listeners to stop living in their screens and feedback bubbles and face the real world, which is a fine message but even better given it’s delivered in the form of catchy-as-chlamydia bum-shaking reggae-pop with a cameo from an actual Marley (Skip).
16. Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Motion Sickness’
Up and coming LA singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers made an instant name for herself with the devastating ‘Motion Sickness’ this summer. A little bit Ryan Adams, a little bit Angel Olsen and a whole lot excellent, it was the kind of rolling, yearning up-tempo ballad that makes your heart do funny things and your fingers reach for the repeat button over and over again. A self confessed Elliott Smith mega-fan, Bridgers channelled the late folk-hero’s bracing way with bare bones emotion but gave it an irresistible guitar-pop twist. The rest of her debut album, ‘Stranger In The Alps’ is much more melancholy, but ‘Motion Sickness’ mixes just the right amount of hope in with the searing sadness.
15. Drake – ‘Passionfruit’
A year rarely passes without Drake delivering a record-breaking banger. In 2015, it was ‘Hotline Bling’. 2016 saw streaming figures skyrocket with the culture-crossing ‘One Dance’. And this year, he chucked 22 potential hits into his ‘More Life’ playlist, and ‘Passionfruit’ instantly stood out. On paper, Drake writing a slick tropical jam about trust issues doesn’t sound like anything new, but there’s a fresh, understated feel that gives ‘Passionfruit’ an edge. Chances are he’s already written 2018’s sound of the summer.
14. Lana Del Rey – ‘Love’
Lana’s lilting, melancholic pop made a return in 2017 – and it’s never sounded better than on the beautifully hopeful ‘Love’. Over luscious synths and a crashing bass line Lana purrs about the joy of being young and in love. Raging teenage hormones have never sounded so romantic.
13. Dua Lipa – ‘New Rules’
Not just a killer pop tune, Dua Lipa’s ’New Rules’ also lay down a blistering blueprint on how to deal with errant lovers. Pay heed: “One, don’t pick up the phone/You know he’s only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone/Two, don’t let him in/You’ll have to kick him out again/Three, don’t be his friend/You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning/And if you’re under him/You ain’t getting over him”. True say, Dua. With her bassy vocals, 2am-in-the-club beats and the kind of super sass that’s Charli XCX and part peak Spice Girls, Dua strode into the charts and kicked her rivals’ efforts into submission with this moody, wisdom-filled banger.
12. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Cut To The Feeling’
From the opening handclaps accompanied by CRJ’s trademark husky vocals, you know that ‘Cut to the Feeling’ is going to be a Class A banger; but it’s only when you reach the utterly bombastic and outrageously vivacious chorus when you realise what a truly excellent pop song has been created. Toning down the ’80s influence of her previous album, ‘Emotion’, Carly instead turns up the synth pop and creates a totally euphoric three and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated joy.
11. Sigrid – ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’
When Norweigan 20-year-old Sigrid Raabe dropped her debut single in February, it seemed pretty apparent that we were looking at pop’s next great thing. A defiant anthem that is essentially a giant middle finger to the doubters of the world – the song’s barnstorming chorus hinted at a star in the making. Since, she’s dominated festival season, dropped a killer EP and followed it up with a stone-cold banger in the shape of ‘Strangers’. But for Sigrid – this is where it all started. And what an electrifying beginning it was.
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