EDITOR’S NOTE: A couple of these songs were originally released in 2015, but they were sleeper hits and came to prominence this year in the UK.
Now for the best pop songs of 2016.
That’s right, ya boy Ryan does say positive things about pop songs sometimes. There were still a decent amount of good popular songs this year, even if it mostly was bad. Remember, this isn’t an overall best songs of the year list, it’s a list of the best songs that got popular in the UK. So you might want to refrain from commenting “where’s Frank Ocean?”, “Where’s Solange?”, “You don’t have RADIOHEAD?” etc.
Anyway, here’s the list.
10. Am I Wrong – Anderson. Paak (Feat. Schoolboy Q)
Alright, alright so I’m breaking the rules here. This wasn’t a pop hit, but I struggled to think of 10 hits from this year that I genuinely enjoyed. Sure, picking nine was fairly easy, but that last one was impossible to find.
I thought maybe ‘Cake By The Ocean’ and then when I heard their follow up single ‘Toothbrush’ I decided I never wanted to listen to that band again. Then there was ‘Cheap Thrills’, and I am a fan of Sia but that song to me is less of a Sia song and more of a 2008 Rihanna song. I even thought the actual Rihanna song, ‘This Is What You Came For’ and again, I went back to that and realised almost half of the song is her saying the word ‘You’.
I decided to go with this one, a song that should’ve been huge but sadly wasn’t. I feel like this is a great excuse to endorse Anderson. Paak. A slick, funky R&B track which has so many different hooks within the song. Thanks to the catchy as hell verses, which are essentially hooks followed by hooks, as well as the backing vocals that pop up throughout and the fantastic jamming horn section right at the end, there’s no way you can’t get up and dance to that.
In so many ways, this is the perfect pop song, and more people should hear it.
9. 24K Magic – Bruno Mars
I’m thankful that Bruno Mars ditched that acoustic-y stuff and started making some throwback belters. A part of me thinks that this was supposed to be Uptown Funk version 2.0 but I’ll take this. It’s still ridiculously fun, dancy and almost every line is quotable. So yeah, I guess it is another Uptown Funk, minus Mark Ronson.
Braggadocios songs about how the singer has everything and you don’t have anything (not even Cuban links or designer minks) would usually irritate me. It doesn’t when it’s Bruno Mars though; he does it in a way that invites everyone to the fun, including the bad bitches and your ugly ass friends, even those people too.
Leave it to Bruno to give us those funky 1970’s jams.
8. When We Were Young – Adele
Of course Adele is on a best list, how else would I get your mums to approve of my opinion? I really wish this song was a lot bigger than it was, ‘Hello’ was pretty good but this is far better. There isn’t much more you can add to praising Adele’s vocals at this point but this might be the best she’s ever sounded.
I suppose there’s nothing new about nostalgia for being younger in songwriting as it’s something that’s constantly done, but the way Adele manages to capture a moment that you’re not a part of and makes you still feel like you’re in it is fantastic.
She realises that she cares more than she realises about an old flame but questions if they still care too. How she wants to preserve that moment with someone even though she knows it’s probably too late, as they’ve likely moved on.
It’s these deep emotions that I’m never ready for in a song and dammit Adele, why do you always make me feel things?
7. I Took A Pill In Ibiza – Mike Posner (SeeB Remix)
Well, I wasn’t expecting to see Mike Posner back on the charts again and of course it would be a tropical house remix that brought him back – 2016 loved tropical house. For those of you lucky enough to forget, Mike Posner was the guy that released ‘Cooler Than Me’, a dreadful song which came out in 2010, and it turned out that thatwould be his only popular song.
That was until he released ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’, which is a song about having only one popular song, it’s all very meta. The original is a pretty dull track but the SeeB remix brought it to life. There’s something about sad lyrics over a happy sounding beat that has really always worked for me.
And boy when I say sad, do I mean sad. “You don’t wanna step of that roller coaster, and be all alone”, it’s the way he shows us how he’s gone from such a high place to dropping to the lowest of lows that is really unheard of in pop music. Then you compare it with most pop songs which are about partying and drinking. The artists that make those songs probably don’t mind that they spend their money on ‘girls and shoes’, but Mike Posner reflects on that and realises it proves nothing about him as a person.
Then to add to all the sadness of him being a failed popstar, he tells us he has had even less success with girls. I do think the “all I know are sad songs” is a little too emo: you’re not My Chemical Romance, dude. However, I still think this is very unique song topic for a pop song, and it’s pretty damn good.
6. Roses – The Chainsmokers (Feat. Rozes)
Okay, so Mike Posner coming back was pretty odd, but The Chainsmokers? The ‘#Selfie’ guys? If you said in 2014 that these guys were going to make a comeback and reinvent themselves as a serious artist I probably would’ve laughed. However, they did, and they’re on the best list.
This was the minor hit out of the 3 big songs this year, and it was easily the best. ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ had the most unlistenable drops I’ve heard in music for a while and ‘Closer’ had one of the guys singing and I’m not really sure why.
‘Roses’ is controlled, the vocalist sings incredibly well over this spacious beat. It sounds ethereal, and The Chainsmokers’ production is fantastic, and this is absolutely their best.