Well it’s that time of year again: Q4!!!!!!! 2018 just might have beat out 2016 in being a pretty horrible year of life. Just look at any news story these days and, as Dua Lipa has prophesized, you will see that men are essentially canceled.
Luckily, pop remains a shining beacon of hope in these dark times. So what better time than RIGHT NOW, to finally tell you guys the NSOTP BEST SONGS OF 2017. (To be quite honest, this doc was lying on my computer all year and I was just too lazy to upload it. C’est la vie.) From the return of long lost girl pop duos to Norway edging out Sweden for best Scandinavian pop country, a lot of twists and turns have led us into 2018. With it, comes many pop tunes, some sad, some happy, some delicious, and some absolutely batshit insane. And listed below are 10/10 singles that have become my soundtrack of the year and without a doubt are the best songs to be released in 2017.
Okay, it’s time to CUT TO THE COUNTDOWN, so here are the 50 best singles of 2017. This is #content in 2018 guys, get into it.
50. "Slow Hands" by Niall Horan
If you asked me which boy band member would make the successful transition to adult country-tinged pop that also doubles as an outstanding example of guitars being used for good, I would have said Gary Barlow. Instead, the blond twink from One Direction, aka Niall Horan, managed to release this subdued belter. From the knocking at the door at the beginning to all the brilliant whoop’s throughout the song, “Slow Hands” treads that fine line of sounding effortless without being boring. There are at least two other songs like this on Niall’s poorly titled album so congratulations to him for exceeding all expectations and making the 50thbest song of the year.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Niall has been pretty quiet in 2018. With some rumored tracks seeming to drop any second, all we have is a cute little track for some new movie about dinosaurs.
49. "Ciao Adios" by Anne-Marie
The newest trend to take over the radio is Balearic pop tinged with Latin beats and guitars. It’s been Despacito this and Mayores that since the summer. Luckily, this is a pop trend I can get behind, as long as we don’t push it to the tropical house edge. The one song from this genre that I have enjoyed the most is the multilingual breakup bop “Ciao Adios”. Anne-Marie has refined her songwriting to create this signature single, a song telling off a cheating fuck boy and saying bye for the final time. A feeling I’m sure we can all relate to in 2018.
48. "Love You Like That" by Dagny
Ballad bangers have become a big staple here at NSOTP. Here is a playlist with the best and it’s quite clear to see they are all 10/10s. This year, superstar in the making Dagny ended her dry spell of average pop tunes with this belter of a track and reignited all the love I had for her in 2016. “Love You Like That” is a romantic’s dream and this battle cry of falling in love more than deserves its place on this list.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Dagny has been slowly churning out singles and covers in 2018. The best by far is another ballad banger “Used To You” that just might end up on the best songs list this year…
47. "C.A.P.I.T.A.L.I.S.M." by Rein
Have you ever wondered, “how can I take down the oppressive system of the elite while also jamming to some rave-pop that sounds like a garbage disposal set off in a European sex dungeon?” Well, German singer Rein is here to solve that issue with her ode to disestablishmentarianism that doubles as the perfect Girls Aloud single that never was. Warning: this one is a lot, but most bangers are.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Rein has not been up to anything this year. Oh well. You gotta love a girl who can spell. Imagine if this was Fergie’s comeback single?
46. "Chained To The Rhythm" by Katy Perry featuring Skip Marley
When Katy Perry announced her new era of political pop, it made me worried at just how far into cringe worthy self-affirming pop she would make. With a little help from Sia and Max Martin, she managed to get rid of all my doubts on the exquisite “Chained To The Rhythm”. A throwback, slightly tropical disco jam about falling into the comfort of ignorance, it will surely go down as the most underappreciated single in Katy’s discography. Though it didn’t help that Katy followed it up with a pair of ridiculous bangers about oral sex and vogueing. Oh well, we all can’t have political bangers like number 46.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: As far as I know, Katy has been doing her best to make the Witness Tour a thing. Unless, it comprises of 80% old hits, I would suggest to cut her losses and gear up for a solid 2020 album after teaming up with Max Martin and Sia again, with a little help from Justin Tranter perhaps.
45. "Issues" by Julia Michaels
I’ve pretty much been hailing Julia Michaels as the premiere hitmaker of the past three years, but now everyone else does thanks to this brilliant piece of understated electropop that sound like nothing else out there. Working with her best friend Justin Tranter, “Issues” takes its time to show you how brilliant it is and puts Julia’s voice front and center. By some miracle, radio helped make it one of the biggest songs in the world and thus began Julia’s journey as one of the best pop acts in history.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Julia continues to write hits for pretty much everybody in the industry. Her last single “Jump” was an underrated bop of the year however.
44. "Symphony" by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson
In what should have been the year Zara Larsson took over the world, it ended up being this rousing Clean Bandit single that became the highlight of the year for the Swedish songstress. You have to love songs about songs, but songs about love songs have to be in their own echelon of amazingness. Coupled with one of the best videos this year, Bandit and Larsson were not messing around and their number one was more than deserved.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Clean Bandit have racked up another number one so far this year with “Solo”. Based on how many songs are going to end up on the best songs list, their next album (which they recently tweeted about) is a strong contender for album of the year. As for Zara, her new single “Ruin My Life” is predictably earth-shattering.
43. "Improvise" Viceroy featuring Tom Aspaul
Slowly but surely Tom Aspaul is becoming a major force in pop music. His songwriting throughout 2017 reached an all-time high and his podcast Bottle Pop proves that he has that X Factor to be a global superstar. This brings us to “Improvise”, one of Tom’s many features from this year and a brilliant summer disco track that pulses along politely. Sometimes a simple feel good track with a well-sung topline is all you want and at this point, any track from Tom is a joy to have. Congratulations on making the song of the summer.
WHAT'S UP IN 2018: Tom continued Bottle Pop into the year, which includes an Origibabes update that you should definitely listen to. Along with a quick trip to the hospital for appendicitis, Tom released the melancholic holiday banger “Going Down”, likely to be Tom’s best single so far.
42. "Crazy Crazy" by Yasutaka Nakata featuring Charli XCX and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
The first truly amazing song of the year ends up being one of the very best also! “Crazy Crazy” also reintroduced us to the greatest pop star of the decade, Ms. Charli XCX. Sounding like a Nintendo love song, the song shows off Charli’s amazing songwriting skills as well as the hyper-pop style that she refined throughout the year. It makes sense that a collab with Japanese pop stars would set off Charli’s descent into PC music-meets-mainstream electronica and all this time later it still goes off.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: I have not kept up with the Japanese artists, but Charli has been having a great year. Full of co-writes, features and singles, it’s just another casual XCX year of pop.
41. "Wild Thoughts (Dave Audé Dance Remix)" by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller
A good year in pop would not be complete without Rihanna and this is definitely her brightest moment. “Wild Thoughts” also pools together 2017 tropes like that Santana guitar riff and tropical-lite beats with classic pop moments. The dance remix is clearly superior because who doesn’t want to get down to a four on the floor remix with a house piano? Sorry basics, but this is the only version I listen to.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: DJ Khaled continues to make singles, including collaborations with Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and Stefflon Don. As for Rihanna, she has become the top entrepreneur in almost every facet of the fashion and cosmetic industry. It would be nice for her to go back to being a pop star but oh well. Maybe in 2019?
40. "Such A Boy" by Astrid S
Astrid S has been knocking around for the past 4 years but nothing truly hit it out of the park until this song, the fourth track off her stunning Party’s Over EP. “Such A Boy” is a wobble-pop masterpiece that shows off her Norwegian sensibility while also bringing to attention how men can be just as irrational in relationships. I wasn’t lying when I said Norway was truly hitting it out of the park in 2017.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Astrid has remained exceptionally quiet this year, although she popped up with a brilliant new single paying homage to our lord and savior Carly Rae Jepsen. Perhaps we’ll see Astrid S pop up in 2019 with a debut album.
39. "1UL" by Danny L Harle
From making the most listenable tunes out of PC Music to working with actual pop deities like Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen, Danny L Harle always felt like he would break out on his own at some point. His work last year was building up to this oddmazing gem of a track about rejecting a false love. “1UL” sounds like nothing else on this list and pop that pushes boundaries deserves to be recognized. But to be quite honest, if Danny had credited the mystery vocalist (who I still think is Charli being shy), this would be at least 5 places higher on the list.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Danny has been chilling in 2018. After releasing “Blue Angel”, Danny has mostly been on remixing duty, including some stuff with Superorganism and Clairo. It will be nice to see where his own solo career goes but more hits like “1UL” would be better.
38. "Lust For Life (Bloodpop® Remix)" by Lana Del Rey featuring The Weeknd
2017 brought back Lana Del Rey in peak form and ready to show off her newfound Lust For Life. The title track is the best song Lana has made since her debut and bringing in The Weeknd and adding Max Martin’s touch brought out the brilliance of the song. Though to be fair, the Bloodpop remix is where the true magic is and the reason why it’s on the list. Maybe focus on this kind of pop music and less on Joanne-esque gay country next time Mr. Bloodpop?
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Everyone involved in this song has had a slow but strong 2018. The Weeknd surprise released a dark and dramatic EP as well as made the breakout song for the Black Panther soundtrack. Bloodpop has also been in the soundtrack game with “Capital Letters” alongside Hailee Steinfeld. He also released a very touching collaboration with John Legend. As for the queen Del Rey, she has recently and quickly returned to scene with a double single release before a 2019 album, aptly titled “Norman Fucking Rockwell”. Certainly an album of the year if I have every heard one.
37. "Last Dance" by Rhys
Here to represent Sweden is newcomer Rhys. She has been working with some big names in the business, people who made Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson the global icons they are today. The first fruits of their labor was “Last Dance”, and no it is not a Dua Lipa cover. Tropical house finally lost its momentum this year but this last push brought some of its best. “Last Dance” is a shining example, where Rhys details the end of a relationship and dealing with the symptoms of newfound singledom. Between this, this brilliant Loop single, and that brilliant Becky Hill track from last year, it seems tropical house may have actually done some good during its time on the radio.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Rhys has released another two singles this year. The sparkling ballads “No Vacancy” and “Maybe I Will Learn” show Rhys’s diversity and her newest “Starfish” affirms her place as a bright light for Sweden.
36. "Strangers" by Sigrid
I have been very off my game when it comes to reporting new artists that are gonna be the next big thing. Considering how on point I was with Zara and Dua, I will try to focus on it more this 2019. But if anyone deserved a special mention in 2017 it would be Norway’s own Sigrid. Serving up one of the best EP’s this year was not enough for the budding super star, so she went ahead and made a sweeping and majestic electro banger that would have Annie seething with jealousy. “Strangers” does an amazing job of showing off Sigrid’s voice while also bringing you onto the dancefloor. 2018 is sure to be a big one for this up and comer and I am proud to say that I am already a Sigrid stan.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Sigrid slowly released an EP this year that did not live up to the songs from 2017. However, “Schedules” and the newest single “Sucker Punch” show the promise that Sigrid could still release a stunning debut album.
35. "Bad Liar" by Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez had a very strange year for sure but it’s safe to say that she has had a happy and healthy 2018. Even with her medical issues and lack of promo, Selena showed us why she has taken the crown as the best princess of pop in the Disney sphere. The dance features and soap eating was fine and all but “Bad Liar”, crafted with the dream team Michaels & Tranter, shows that Selena is a true artist when it comes to her brand of whisper-pop. For all the jokes about her vocal range, Selena’s ode to resisting a trash person was on nonstop and never got boring after all these listens. A new album would make 2018 even better.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Selena has also been quiet in 2018 although it seems like she is slowly working away at what could be a modern masterpiece. Her single “Back To You” has also been dubbed by many as the song of the summer but I think Calvin and Dua might have a word with that honor.
34. "Set Me Off" by Magdalena Bay
Along with Sigrid, pop duo Magdalena Bay really shone in 2017, crafting sleek disco-tinged 80s pop that could double as Kelly Clarkson singles. For being in such early stages of their career, it is wild just how amazing “Set Me Off” sounds. Another song dealing with the end of a relationship, this millennial breakup bop has so much charm and elegance to it before the chorus hits you upside the head. One of the best surprises you will listen to on this whole list.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Magdalena Bay remains unsigned as far as I know, despite HOW AMAZING THEY ARE. This is evident on their single “Waking Up”, another brilliant electropop song to add to their repertoire.
33. "Cruel Summer" by Daniella Mason
Daniella Mason has some very strange connections to the Jonas brother family, including horse rides with Joe and appearing on a Target exclusive Nick album track. But what we really need to focus on is her truly wonderful take on bouncy dream pop. Her whole album is a real treat but it’s bittersweet synthpop banger “Cruel Summer” that deserves a place on this list and was the song that started the whirlwind love affair I have with Daniella’s music.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Daniella is slowly churning out singles that have been hit or miss, the hit being “Public Places”. We’ll see what happens after her recent EP but until then, take a listen to Daniella’s truly amazing album.
32. "Feels" by Calvin Harris featuring Pharell Williams, Big Sean and Katy Perry
The feature pile up on the Calvin Harris album worked to his benefit. His new take on dance music involves chilled out funky beats while his friends to the heavy lifting. To be quite honest, it is probably his best collection of work but “Feels” is the one single that also allows the features to shine. Pharrell manages to sound at home over the island beat while Big Sean has his most listenable rap to date. Finally, Katy Perry sings with such a leisurely tone that you wonder just where Witness went wrong when she is capable of this. Good job to Calvin for exceeding all expectations and proving just how to be a proper male pop star in 2017.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Calvin has abandoned the funk wave sound in 2018 for more of a house revival. Teaming up with the biggest names in the industry like Dua Lipa and Sam Smith, Calvin continues his reign as the best pop producer in the business. As for Pharrell, he had a lot of influence on the newest Ariana Grande album, though I could have used less of him and more Max Martin if we are being honest…
31. "Move Slow" by Magdalena Bay
It takes a lot to be featured twice on my end of year lists but “Move Slow” proves that Magdalena Bay have what it takes to be true pop behemoths. The shimmery guitars and disco bass makes you feel on top of clouds and the frustrated lyrics contrast wonderfully with the production. It will make you wanna get down at Studio 54 or just groove on your way to work. And we all know the best pop is versatile. I cannot wait to see what Magdalena Bay has up their sleeves in 2018 because so far, they have two 10/10 singles and that’s more than Louis Tomlinson.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: We have already covered Magdalena’s 2018, but just to repeat the sentiment, they are AMAZING. Their newest single “The Girls” truly solidifies their image of sexy 70s beachside pop. Follow them on Twitter for updates, which includes teasing new music!
30. "Don't Take The Money" by Bleachers
While Charli, Dua, Julia, and many others might have won our hearts with their impeccable pop, the title of Pop Person of 2017 really goes to Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff. This will become more apparent in the album list, but Jack has helped push so many artists into dangerously brilliant pop territory that 2017 would have been abysmal without him. But writing for others don’t make you Pop Person of the Year alone. Jepsen-esque dream bangers like “Don’t Take The Money” do. Congratulations to Jack and to all the future pop productions he will be involved in.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Bleachers has taken a year off in 2018, other than providing some great songs for the Love Simon soundtrack. As for Jack himself, he has been on production duties for Troye Sivan, MØ, Amy Shark as well as producing the brand new Lana Del Rey album!
29. "Crybaby" by Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith is a true treasure to have in these dark times. Her ode to abolishing toxic masculinity starts off like “The Boy Is Mine” before transitioning into the most upbeat Paloma track we have heard in a while. But the lyricism is really why “Crybaby” sits at 29. Pop can often be the most honest form of therapy our artists can offer and the soothing reassurance Paloma gave us made 2017 just a little more bearable.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Paloma has continued to release singles from her last album, which includes this stunning disco remix of “Til I’m Done”. Along with that, Paloma has released a brilliant cover of “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and been featured on Sigala’s “Lullaby”. Good job Paloma!
28. "I Don't Want It At All" by Kim Petras
Considering the past few years have proven that both the gays and lesbians make some of the best pop ever, it is about time a trans pop star comes along to prove how amazing pop can be. Although, I certainly do not want that to be the whole narrative of Kim Petras, as her whole discography is pretty extraordinary. The realization of chunky 80s synth with all the commercialism of LA is astounding and “I Don’t Want It All” is the type of escapist pop that people forget we might need from time to time. But more than anything, we can see that this girl can SING and 2018 is looking bright for Kim.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Kim has been doing an amazing job by releasing a new single pretty much every two months this year. Along with a bona fide hit single in “Heart to Break”, Kim is touring with Troye Sivan. Furthermore, Kim has released the best EP of the year with her collection of Halloween bops!
27. "Get Low" by Zedd and Liam Payne
In a very strange twist of events, it was Liam Payne who has made the best post-1D single of the group. I always thought Liam might make the type of typical house music that would give him brief fame in the dance scene but “Strip That Down”, one of the worst songs of the year, really shook my confidence. But his collaboration with Zedd is a wonderfully modern banger. “Get Low” has all the typical metaphors about SEX that Liam wants you to know about but the drums and light electronica makes it destined for future years as a wedding conga banger. It seems that the rest of the 1D boys are going to have to catch up to Liam, something I never would have said before 2017.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Zedd has had another great year thanks to a pair of hits. I am still waiting for all the demo versions of “The Middle” with Carly, Charli, etc. As for Liam, his 2018 might have been rough personally (RIP Liam and Cheryl) but he has produced a couple of great songs plus an EP. However, it would be nice to hear something as good as “Get Low” on his debut.
26. "Malibu" by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus and I have a complicated relationship as she constantly gets my hopes up before bringing them crashing down. This time around, she managed to get two great singles out before releasing another disappointing album. Nonetheless, “Malibu” is definitely her best song since “Party In The U.S.A.” and perfectly mixes her country heritage with the type of breezy pop that we need this year. But the best part about Malibu is that, if you changed the production on all of the instruments, it would make an almost Kylie Minogue-esque tears on the dancefloor ballad banger. Who knew we could get such an avant-garde single from Miley Cyrus?
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Miley has remained the quietest Disney girl of the bunch, with nothing so much as a cover to talk about. However, she struck gold by teaming up with Mark Ronson to release one of the best Q4 singles to ever be released “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.”
25. "I'm Poppy" by Poppy
Yes, this is the song I will probably be given the most grief for including, but Poppy has made a robotic technological pop masterpiece. The self-referencing and planned out concept did not really take off with the album, but Poppy stands with Troye Sivan as being a successful and enigmatic social media pop star. “I’m Poppy” is ridiculous in every sense of the word but sometimes pop is supposed to make you think, “What the fuck is wrong with music?”
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Poppy has not taken a break this year. She has released a synth banger cover of Gary Numan’s “Metal” as the lead single off her newest album Am I A Girl? for release in Q4. Her new single “Time Is Up” is also brilliant.
24. "Uh Huh" by Julia Michaels
While “Issues” made me take notice of Julia’s potential, it wasn’t until “Uh Huh” came out that I truly fell in love with her minimalist aesthetic. A lot of interviews show that working with Julia is more like a therapy session that she works into music. So, a love song like “Uh Huh” stands out as being something that is signature Julia. Her wordplay remains her strong suit and it’s exciting to think that “Uh Huh” is probably not even her at her best yet.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: We have covered Julia’s own endeavors, but it’s worth it to say that her songwriting remains stunning. Years & Years, 5 Seconds of Summer, Shawn Mendes, and Christina Aguilera have all benefitted from working with her and “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monae could be the song of the year thanks to Julia.
23. "Too Good To Be True" by Rhys
There is a rare breed of pop song on a different caliber of amazing that you actually avoid listening to it sometimes to avoid losing its magic. “Too Good To Be True” is one of those songs. Rhys manages to make hopeful romance sound painful over one of the best choruses you’ll hear on this list. If all her songs are as good as this and “Last Dance”, we may have another Swedish superstar to add to our enormous list of favorites in the genre.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: We have also covered Rhys earlier, but I would like to mention the producer behind these songs Jorgen Elofsson continues to help her along to stardom in 2018. With a quick Google of his discography, she is in safe hands to make the best pop. Rhys recently released her debut album so check that out!
22. "Long Time" by Blondie
Do you think that Blondie wake up, look at themselves in the mirror, and decide “it’s time to be a planet-destroying force of pop again”? Because seriously, “Long Time” is an elegant new wave banger that somehow takes all the parts of Blondie we know and love and modernize it for 2017. 30% of this lies in Dev Hynes’ production but we know in our hearts Blondie is the core of what makes this song an absolute monster.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Blondie have unfortunately not produced new material in 2018, but that’s okay because “Long Time” is a tune and a half. As for Dev Hynes, he has released a new album under his Blood Orange project as well as working with Empress Of on her new material.
21. "Body 2 Body" by Dragonette
It’s officially been a decade since Dragonette, the best pop band in the universe, decided to be the best pop band in the universe. With their last album, it’s clear that they have kept the caliber of their music at such a high level, I wonder if everyone else should just give up and hand it over to them. “Body 2 Body” was the crown jewel of that collection and would have made it on the 2016 list if they weren’t faffing around so much. But it’s here, and all I have to say is… THANK. GOD. FOR. DRAGONEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTEEEEEEE!!!!!!
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Dragonette has produced many collaborations this year, which we know have produced some great results in the past. The best of the lot is “Tokyo Nights”, a song made infinitely better thanks to Dragonette.
20. "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome" by Rina Sawayama
With the world of music being more and more inclusive of global pop, Rina Sawayama is poised to be a driving force of pop. It’s evident on her mini-album of the past year but “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome” really hits the spot. A song that evokes the best of early 2000s R&B mixed with the best electropop of the 2010s, the song could have been an amazing Solange or Rihanna single. Thankfully, it all came from Rina and seeing what is up her sleeve is an exciting prospect for the next few years.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Rina has been busy promoting her new single “Cherry” with her first American tour, alongside her modeling. Based on its stunning video, Cherry has earned its place on the best songs of 2018 list and Rina just might be the best new popstar of the year.
19. "Green Light" by Lorde
Lorde has found her masterpiece in this Frankenstein of a song that even had Max Martin scratching his head and thinking “What the fuck is happening?!”. From the slow ballad-esque introduction to the house piano bridge and the shouting chorus that would make Icona Pop proud, “Green Light” has everything you could want in a package that sounds like nothing else happening in pop right now. In any other year, Lorde would have found herself in top 10 territory but as you will see, pop really outdid itself in 2017. But then again, when has pop music ever let us down?
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Lorde has mainly just been supporting Melodrama on tour in 2018. After a Grammy nomination, I think Lorde has earned a nice break from music.
18. "Scared Of The Dark" by Steps
Everyone has their dream of legendary groups reuniting. Some people dream of the ABBA reunion, some people dream of the Spice Girls returning (both of which will be a reality in 2019, thank god). I personally dream about the Girls Aloud reunion (#NEVERFORGET #DREAMSTHATGLITTER) but Steps were a close second. With golden euphoric bangers like "5,6,7,8" and "Tragedy", it was a no-brainer for the group to come together and create disco bangers that put every other song from Eurovision to shame. “Scared Of The Dark” is the finest and when it came out, for a brief moment, it was like pop had come around in its purest form.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Steps has taken the time to promote their last album and have not done too much in 2018. However, the return of All Saints means that my dream of another pop reunion (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, I’ll take what I can get) may come true in 2019.
17. "Boys" by Charli XCX
It’s safe to say that Charli XCX is this decade’s best pop star. Whenever she’s around, pop feels like it’s pushing the boundaries of what hooks, lyrics, and bubbly production can achieve. Charli has truly been an ingénue this year when she decided to drop not one, but two mixtapes that were essentially albums, a bunch of features, and bringing PC music to the forefront. However, she was missing one essential component of being a legendary pop star: the gay anthem. Then “Boys” came around, with a music video so iconic and homoerotic, and it all came together. Some might say that it is not a true XCX song since technically she did not write it, but guess what? SHE’S CHARLI XCX. SHE CAN DO WHAT SHE WANTS.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Charli’s own singles in 2018 have been stellar. From the chunky 80’s synths on “No Angel” to the Madonna-esque party banger “Girls Night Out” to the monstrous “Focus," Charli XCX seems to slowly but surely on her way to making another game-changing album/mixtape/sonic moment. And her duet with Troye Sivan “1999” might just take the cake for song of the year.
16. "Disco Tits"by Tove Lo
With the best title of any pop song since “This City’s Local Italo Disco DJ Has A Crush On Me”, Tove Lo is giving Charli a run for her money. "Disco Tits" continues Tove’s descent into the sweaty dark techno that Lady Wood was known for. However, Disco Tits adds a glossy sheen to the Cool Girl formula, and the way that Tove delivers that chorus proves that there is a new Queen of Swedish pop.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Tove has continued to be one of the best pop artists around thanks to her discreet song choices. She has an underground feature with Karma Fields and appeared on a new Phoebe Ryan tune. A pop lovers’ dream radio version of her new single “Bitches” featuring all our faves has been the highlight of 20Toveteen.
15. "Island" by Stockholm Noir
Speaking of dark moody club bangers, Stockholm Noir came out swinging this 2017. The mysterious collective were able to revive my love of underground rave music with emotional bops that sound like the Pet Shop Boys gone evil. “Island” was certainly the best of the bunch, and in a year where pop took some unexpected turns, it lands in the perfect place to lose your mind. Hopefully, we get another 4 of these from S. Noir before Robyn decides to do a collab that becomes an international sensation and reignites the career of one of the world’s greatest pop star.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: The Robyn collab never came to be, although perhaps she could still be influenced by the Noir on her new album. Stockholm Noir have released three new singles but have relaxed on the release front. We’ll see where they go but until then, listen to Island again.
14. "Someone" by Anna Of The North
Norway has proven its abilities in creating hands-in-the-air slap-you-in-the-face pop bangers but have they truly mastered the art of creating a dream-pop pensive banger? With the new Anna Of The North album, it is clear the Nordics get it. Anna has created the perfect sequel to Shura’s killer album from last year but her saccharine vocals have never sounded better on the epic “Someone”. From the 80s drum kicks to the layers on layers of vocals, “Someone” is a shining beacon of hope that love still exists. And what more can pop do REALLY?
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Anna has stuck to just releasing acoustic versions of her own songs in 2018. However, she has appeared on the new Honne single along with remixing Dua Lipa’s IDGAF. What a multitalented act The North are.
13. "Best Behaviour" by Louisa (Johnson)
The nocturnal Eurovision banger that Louisa Johnson put out as her second single might just be the most underrated song I have ever added to my end of year lists. The track came and went without much fanfare despite being an absolute BOP as you can tell by the first chorus (THERE IS A PAN FLUTE). Not only did “Best Behaviour” put Louisa on an upward trajectory in terms of pop, it managed to throw the whole idea of an X Factor winner’s single out the door. Which just might make her the best winner the show ever had (sorry Leona!).
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Louisa has dropped the last name this year, which is possibly not the best career move. However, her newest single “YES” is definitely a positive step forward. A song that sounds like Britney and Christina wrapped in one can only be a good thing.
12. "Do It" by Rae Morris
The Raeturn of Ms. Morris was not the huge star comeback that most of us expected in 2017. That honor would go to Steps. However, Rae Morris managed to quietly release three singles that set up her stunning 2018 album very nicely. While Reborn served its purpose as a reintroduction, “Do It” was the shining star of 2017 for Rae. A minimalist Ellie Goulding-esque twinkle-banger, “Do It” was born out of the love Rae had for her producer Fryars. With such a simple message, the couple really hit it out of the park on this and if more music sounded like this in the coming years, NSOTP would be very happy.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Rae Morris has quietly conquered 2018 as her album Someone Out There has not been trumped by anything so far. One of the most forward thinking and fresh bodies of work released in years. Good job Rae and excited for anything else she has in store.
11. "Disconnect" by Clean Bandit featuring Marina and the Diamonds
Hearing Marina’s voice is like a breath of fresh air and “Disconnect” feels like one of the greatest pop stars in the world casually hooking up with one of the greatest bands in the world to give the greatest gift to their fans: a sparkling polite disco pensivebanger that perfectly captures the exhaustion that comes with progress. Not only does the song represent how nuance can lead to brilliance in pop, it is another sign that Clean Bandit are inching closer to releasing an album of certified hits while Marina feels closer to releasing new music!
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Clean Bandit continued their string of hits in 2018 with "Solo". After teasing their album being finalized, the tracklist itself is a gay’s dream come true and “Baby” sees them all uniting once again. After being an absolute joy on Twitter, Marina has also confirmed that her next record is progressing well. Hopefully those rumors of her dropping the diamonds is not true (as it seems to be on Spotify, because that would be the true end of an era. But we’ll support Marina regardless.
10. "New Rules" by Dua Lipa
1. Pick up the phone, sign to Lana Del Rey’s A&R based on undeniable charisma and strong songwriting
2. Release hits slowly at a time to build up a large fanbase before releasing the BEST SINGLE OF 2016
3. Don’t listen to anyone who wants you to rush release your album because you know it’s perfect and has the perfect big single with the perfect video
Dua Lipa’s New Rules for becoming the biggest pop star in the world.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Dua Lipa is killing it in 2018. One Kiss and Electricity are two of the best songs of the year and continues Dua’s reign on the charts. At this rate, her second album might be out by 2019 and is sure to be another knockout.
9. "Mermaid" by Skott
Perhaps it is my taste evolving with age, but a good piano ballad can really knock your socks off when done right. That is just the feeling I got when I listened to Swedish pop witch Skott’s Piscene anthem “Mermaid”. A twinkly ode to overpowering love that would have Celine wailing in her Canadian mansion, Mermaid builds to such a climactic end that balladry for the rest of the year was pretty much cancelled. Skott is another one to watch in 2018, but most of the people on this list fall under that category.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Skott started off the year strong. Her newest EP shows Skott’s newfound mainstream edge on “Stay Off My Mind” and she had a strong showing at the Swedish Grammis. However, not much has come out since then. She recently popped up on the new Petit Biscuit track so that’s something.
8. "Touch" by Little Mix
In a time when girl groups are slowly losing steam, Little Mix could have called it in and made some Chainsmokers-esque bop to tide over the fans. They did nothing of the sort. Instead, we got the MNEK-produced tropical-tinged conga banger that is “Touch”. It is simply one of those songs that hammers into your head, and the genius of the wordplay easily places Touch as the gem in Little Mix’s discography. Considering they’re the only girl bands around these days, it will be up to them to make the best girl group song of 2018 as well.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Little Mix have appeared on the newest Cheat Codes song, which is likely the lowest point they will ever achieve in their stellar career. However, they released their new single “Woman Like Me” from LM5. A new era is upon us but another “Touch” or “Black Magic” would be great thanks.
7. "Friends" by Bloodpop® and Justin Bieber
Bloodpop® as an artist project was a sure shot at being fantastic. A quick look at his discography would affirm this prediction. But what a knock out of the park with “Friends”. Teaming up with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter was also a master stroke in this song. Luckily, Justin Bieber does the trick in the same way that “Sorry” became a hit. The best part about this song is that it could have been a Robyn comeback single. Regardless, this will go down as a forgotten hit. But what a song.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Bloodpop is slowly making hits for other people but another single would not hurt anytime soon. As for the Biebs, he seems to be a little too busy planning a wedding to be a proper pop star at the moment.
6. "Bon appétit" by Katy Perry featuring Migos
So many things about this song went wrong. From the fact that it was not well promoted, to Migos remaining terrible and dragging the song down, a lot of people might consider “Bon Appetit” as Katy Perry and Max Martin’s biggest misfire. However, when you get down to it, the song is a forward thinking banger that pulls off the “Biology” trick: a chorus that does not truly go off until the middle of the whole song. It’s the sonic equivalent of a chef’s kiss so bravo Katy for making the best song you’ve ever had.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Again, Katy is pretty quiet this year. Max has had a hand in Ariana’s better music as well as this absolutely killer Noah Cyrus song that no one gave a fuck about because the listening public can be idiots sometimes.
5. "Tease" by Ralph
There’s a new Canadian songbird in town and she loves 70s synthpop and Cher. Ralph is another star on the rise but her past singles “Cold To The Touch” and “Busy Man” are a testament to her pop sensibility. But what she needed was a balls to the wall pop explosion. Then came “Tease”. Ralph effectively and romantically shuts down every fuckboy’s predictable moves with this summery ode to shutting down men’s shit. The real brilliance is that the one sentence chorus and the psychoanalysis in the bridge set it apart from any other pop song on this list. The perfect 2017 single.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Ralph recently released her debut album A Good Girl and it’s one of those Q4 treasures chock full of brand new material. “Bedroom Eyes” is particularly stunning. Though it could have used some of her old songs off her amazing EP, I am sure we have not seen the best to come from Ralph.
4. "Hair Down" by Mollie King
It has been almost a decade now since we have listened to a full-fledged Girls Aloud album helmed by Xenomania. We will probably never get back to the magic of that time but one bright gem brought us right back there. Mollie King proudly declares herself as the best member of The Saturdays by releasing this bold, brash, and frankly ridiculous ode to removing hair bands. The nonsensical lyrics belie the bizzare brilliance that a lot of pop songs lack these days. “Hair Down” sounds like a brilliant Girls Aloud or Florrie song, and it shows that Xenomania have not lost their touch. I mean seriously, how could you not lose it once those horns come in?
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Mollie has done absolutely nothing this year, which is quite a shame because an album of Hair Down’s would be just what we need in 2018. Xenomania have worked with new singer Liv Lovelle and Saara Aalto on some amazing songs so there is still hope yet.
3. "Anywhere" by Rita Ora
It is a pop fact that Rita Ora is the most underrated pop star the world has ever seen. With public expectations at a laughably low point for all her releases, she could have just knocked out a basic Spotpop banger and called it a day. Instead, she came out with “Anywhere”, a forward thinking yet timeless bop about escaping the world. Between the dreamy guitar to the iconic stuttering breakdown, Rita truly showed us she will never let us down and we will always remember the track as her absolute best.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: After a rather controversial single release with the bisexual anthem “Girls”, Rita has brought everything to a head with the release of her long awaited sophomore album Phoenix, that posits her as pop juggernaut the world might never be ready for.
2. "Waking Up Slow" by Gabrielle Aplin
The best songs from pop often come out of nowhere. Remember when Tegan & Sara casually decided to become proper global conquering superstars? Well this year Gabrielle Aplin made that decision with the release of “Waking Up Slow”. A serene electrobanger that shifts from staccato beats to sweeping string bits. But the key to knowing your way around a good pop song is the sound of a good “OH”. And as you can hear with every chorus, Gabrielle has done her homework and with that we award her the second best song of the year.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Gabrielle has been very chill this year. Apart from popping up on a bubbly techno track, Gabby has released a very sad somber piano ballad called “My Mistake”. Perfect for the cold holidays of 2018.
1. "Cut To The Feeling" by Carly Rae Jepsen
The fact that the best song of the year comes in the form of a reject from an entire album of rejects proves 2017 to be wild beyond belief. However, the fact that it comes from one of the greatest pop organisms in the sentient universe Carly Rae Jepsen is very unsurprising. “Cut To The Feeling” captures all the euphoria, happiness, and pure EMOTION that 2017 had been composed of. It was a time of the unknown taking over, but this song came charging through as a beacon of hope for so many people. And in a lot of ways, that’s what pop music is here for. To be a reminder for everyone that things will be okay with a good drum machine and female vocal. Thank you for reminding us Carly. Thank you for everything.
WHAT’S UP IN 2018: Carly quietly but confidently returned to us this year with “Party For One”. In a lot of ways, it acts as a quieter more mature cousin to all of Carly’s Emotion material but in another way it seems too self conscious for its own good. Still, 2019 can only signal great things for Team Jepsen.
So there you have it. The best songs of 2017. In 2018… Don’t worry, I have this year’s list in the works. Until then, listen to this perfect little Spotify playlist that has all these amazing songs! HOW FUN IS THAT?