2016 is coming to an end, but not before I present you A Bit of Pop Music’s 50 best pop singles of the year!
50. John Legend – Love Me Now
What better way to kick off this list than with a romantic anthem of unconditional love!? We can always count on John Legend for that sort of track. This time it is not a piano ballad, but an adventurously produced midtempo track with a lot of vocal layers. Exciting stuff!
49. Britney Spears – Slumber Party
Britney Spears delivered her best album in years with Glory and the best single was easily ‘Slumber Party’. The laidback vibe goes well with her easily recognizable vocals and the chorus is just exceptionally well written. She and her team still knows how to deliver the tunes!
48. Sia – The Greatest
‘The Greatest’ by Sia is hands down the best music video of 2016, but at the same time the song itself deserves some praise. Sia is the queen of uplifting anthems about self acceptance and this one is no different. Catchy and meaningful. All I need from a good pop tune!
47. DJ Snake & Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You
Justin Bieber’s career changing album Purpose was already released in 2015, but in 2016 he was still omnipresent. His collaboration with DJ Snake, ‘Let Me Love You’, which basically embodies the sound of 2016, became a huge hit and rightfully so. Incredibly well written hooks right there.
46. Hozier – Better Love
2016 did not bring us a lot of new music by singer-songwriter Hozier but his soundtrack for The Legend of Tarzan, ‘Better Love’, made up for a lot. I am quite surprised this beautiful piece of songwriting, performed by one of the best male vocals out there, didn’t get more attention.
45. twenty one pilots – Heathens
This was easily one of the biggest hits of the year. It is dark, a tad bit creepy, addictively catchy and quite mesmerizing. It is impossible to get that haunting melody out of your head, but then again why would you want to? Such a perfect soundtrack to Suicide Squad as well!
44. Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault
We are still waiting for Zara Larsson’s international debut album, but ‘Ain’t My Fault’ made the countdown a little easier. Her vocals are very much on point and so are the production, hooks and her attitude. That is all we expect from our pop stars these days!
43. Dua Lipa – Blow Your Mind (Mwah)
Like A Bit of Pop Music already predicted last year, Dua Lipa was one of the biggest pop revelations of the year. ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah)’ perfectly showcases her great ear for melody, her distinctive vocal style and a perfectly confident attitude. This is not the last of this girl you will see in this list!
42. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!
Justin Timberlake made us swing all summer with his infectious Trolls soundtrack ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ In a similar fashion to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ he brought the positive vibes and made even the stiffest of us show off some moves. Way to go, Justin!
41. Lukas Graham – 7 Years
If I would be very strict I would not take this song in consideration for this list as it was originally released last year. Turns out I’m not because this beautiful oh so relatable ballad about the meaning of life became a hit in 2016 and more than deserved a place in this best 50 list!
40. Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul & AnneMarie – Rockabye
Just before the end of the year this interesting collaboration turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the year, especially in the UK. A universal message ‘for all the single mums out there’ built on a few great hooks. You cannot go wrong with that!
39. Regina Spektor – Older And Taller
Regina Spektor is one of the most quirky and original singer-songwriters of her generation and ‘Older And Taller’ is one of the best tracks she has ever written. Her word play is next level and the melody that comes with it is just so clever. Gotta love Regina!
38. Gwen Stefani – Make Me Like You
Gwen Stefani fulfilled our needs for swinging pure pop when Kylie wasn’t there to help us out. ‘Make Me Like You’ is insanely catchy, overly dramatic and quite cheeky. Not the most contemporary sound, but we had basically every other artist out there to bring that, so thanks Gwen for this lovely throwback.
37. Démira – Fountain
Démira reached another high in her still young career with the release of the single ‘Fountain’. The Dutch singer-songwriter mixes her folky roots with a subtle drum and bass production and it turns out her vocals are perfect for this sort of fusion. I can’t wait to see what 2017 is holding for her!
36. Dami Im – Sound of Silence
Dami Im is one of the best vocalists of our generation and she proved this on the Eurovision stage singing her heart out to her song ‘Sound of Silence’, achieving a second place for her country Australia. Of course that should have been the first spot, but oh well, at least we have this power ballad to enjoy for years to come.
35. LP – Lost On You
What better way to deal with heartache than to raise your glass to it and sing on the top of your longs? Well, that is what LP did and it brought us one of the most catchy sing along choruses of the year. I just wish I would sound as amazing as she does belting it out.
34. Bastille – Fake It
Bastille proved they are here to stay and launched one of their best singles so far with ‘Fake It’. Everything about this track is huge; the vocals, the bombastic chorus, the emotions in the lyrics. Needless to say I love it!
33. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk – Starboy
The Weeknd did not take any rest after his successful year in 2015 and just launched another album. The title track and first single, a collaboration with Daft Punk, set the mood for his darker and more electronic new work. The Weeknd can do no wrong. And neither can Daft Punk.
32. Demi Lovato – Body Say
After the inclusion of ‘Cool For The Summer’ in last year’s top 50, Demi Lovato treated us to another sensual pop anthem this year. This time around the vocals were more toned down and sensual and the melody of the chorus catchy in a more subtle way. Sometimes less is more and Demi understood that fully on this addictive tune.
31. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
Ariana Grande showed some artistic and personal growth on her mature and vocally challenging, soulful single ‘Dangerous Woman’. The big and vivacious chorus was the perfect start to another successful era in her career.
30. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Bruno Mars’ comeback single ’24K Magic’ turned out to be quite the ‘hate it or love it’ type of affair, but I just couldn’t resist that funky beat, that uplifting chorus and his cheeky attitude.
29. Miriam Bryant – Black Car
Swedish pop singer-songwriter Miriam Bryant channeled her inner Lana Del Rey and crossed it with some soulful production that carries some Motown influences. She sounds so warm and sensual and this song easily wins the award for middle eight of the year. What a moment!
28. Kensington – Do I Ever
The Dutch rockband Kensington delivered what is possibly their best single yet with ‘Do I Ever’. The chorus is explosive and Eloi’s raw vocals are on a level of their own. The guys found a perfect balance between radiofriendly pop hooks and rocking instrumentation.
27. RABBII – New Friends
2016 was another great year for Swedish pop stars and duo RABBII did their part with the hauntingly catchy and slightly creepy single ‘New Friends’. Her voice perfectly match with the electro pop production and that chorus is nothing short of brilliant!
26. Beyoncé – Hold Up
Oh Beyoncé, why are you just so effortlessly cool!? The laidback vibe of this highly addictive summer tune does not completely match with the message she has for her cheating husband, but that’s probably what makes it so intriguing. What a tune!
25. Astrid S – Hurts So Good
Astrid S showed herself to be the next pop revelation from Scandinavia. The Norwegian artist made quite a big splash with the electronic pop ballad ‘Hurts So Good’ that became a hit in countries like Australia and New Zealand as well. Not all that surprising though, with that elevating chorus.
24. Lady Gaga – Million Reasons
This country inspired ballad finally opened the eyes (or ears actually) of a lot more people. Yes, this girl is a bloody fantastic vocalist! And a pretty great songwriter as well if you ask me. The intense emotion that is released in every single performance of ‘Million Reasons’ she does, show off what a great musician she actually is.
23. Tove Lo – Cool Girl
When Tove Lo sings she is a ‘Cool Girl’, we believe her. This Swedish pop star has an incredible ear for pop melodies and showed this off on all of her Lady Wood album, but especially this highly addictive comeback single. Way to show you are not a one day fly at all!
22. Emeli Sandé – Hurts
It is not every day you encounter a pop song with this much suspense and tension in the build up. Those handclaps give the track an agitated vibe but in the best possible way. Emeli’s vocals are stunning as always and are the only soothing factor in this high paced production. It is probably a hate it or love it type of track, but I’m definitely in the latter category.
21. The Veronicas – In My Blood
Australian twin sisters The Veronicas had one of the biggest hits of their career in their home country with ‘In My Blood’. Swinging dance pop with a contemporary production and a completely undeniable hook. Enough proof these girls are still absolutely relevant.
20. All Saints – One Strike
The comeback single of this iconic girlband is the type of track that takes a few listens to make its full impact. That melody just slowly creeps up on you and the lyrics about the moment of finding out you have been cheated on are all too familiar for many of us. It is a shame these ladies did not get a bigger audience for their worthy reunion.
19. JoJo feat. Wiz Khalifa – F**k Apologies
JoJo fought hard for her comeback in the music industry and shows she is totally unapologetic these days on the catchy R&B and pop fusion ‘F**k Apologies’. Nothing but respect for this young lady and that track is up there with the best of the year!
18. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Come With Us
British singer-songwriter and pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor returned to her disco roots on her comeback single ‘Come With Us’ and did so flawlessly. So, so catchy! It is impossible to get this track out of your system after hearing it and yes, those lyrics about joining a sect are all kinds of brilliant.
17. Beyoncé – Formation
Talking about a statement! Beyoncé knows exactly to get all eyes on her and she recently likes to use this to talk about social issues. Of course there is no way Queen B would do this without a big fat beat and a killer chorus to support her. Not the comeback single many people might have expected from her, but probably even more effective because of that!
16. Ariana Grande – Into You
Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman album was an interesting mixture of styles and of course a big pop banger had to be on there. ‘Into You’ has hands down one of the best choruses of the year and her vocals and the punchy productions follow suit. Pop at its finest!
15. Beyoncé – Sorry
If the word ‘feisty’ was a song, it would have been Beyoncé’s ‘Sorry’. It is quite a literal middle finger to all the cheaters out there over a banging beat. The climax of the track, where Bey slows things down, is breathtaking. The lyrics are so on point and her delivery is something else.
14. Snakehips feat. Zayn – Cruel
It was a big year for Zayn who turned out to be a worthy solo artist and his Snakehips collaboration ‘Cruel’ is perfect proof. His vocals sound so deep in the verses and the instrumental post chorus is probably the best one to come out of this whole trend. Electronic pop and progressive R&B are definitely the way to go for Zayn!
13. Clean Bandit feat. Louisa Johnson – Tears
Clean Bandit brought disco back on their collaboration with X Factor UK winner Louisa Johnson. ‘Tears’ is a huge and dramatic break up anthem. Kind of like this generation’s ‘I Will Survive’. Larger than life vocals, brilliant use of strings and an infectious melody. That says it all, doesn’t it?
12. Christina Aguilera feat. Nile Rodgers – Telepathy
I never realized I needed a disco album by Christina Aguilera in my life, but after the release of ‘Telepathy’, I sure know I do. Her powerhouse vocals match perfectly with Nile Rodgers’ funky guitar rifs and that soaring chorus takes us all the way up to heaven. More of this please!
11. Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion
Lady Gaga once again received mixed feedback for her comeback single ‘Perfect Illusion’, but all I heard were powerful vocals, a banging production, a killing pace and hook after hook. What is not to love about that!?
10. Dua Lipa – Hotter Than Hell
For everyone who wants to produce a perfect pop hit, take notes. The production of Dua Lipa’s ‘Hotter Than Hell’ is flawless and released at the right time in terms of sound. The build up is just exquisite (those drums!!). Combine that with her sultry and smoky vocals and a damn good hook and you get the hit that sold her to the British market.
09. Aurora – I Went Too Far
Norwegian upcoming pop star Aurora made the top 10 of the list last year with her single ‘Running With The Wolves’ and is back this year with pop perfection ‘I Went Too Far’. The build up and lyrics are stunning and that chorus is undeniable. I really thought this track would make her world famous.
08. Clare Maguire – Elizabeth Taylor
Just when you thought we would never hear anything from British singer-songwriter Clare Maguire again, she surprised with the release of the heartbreaking ballad ‘Clare Maguire’. Her vocals in the chorus get me every single time and the lyrics are so accurate! I’m so thankful for the fact she managed to release this track and the accompanying album.
07. Tom Odell – Magnetised
Tom Odell came back swinging with the release of ‘Magnetised’, the dance hit that never was. Produced as a bombastic piano pop anthem this track ticks all the boxes. Easily one of the biggest choruses of the whole year! I think I will never get enough of his warm, emotive vocals.
06. Birdy – Keeping Your Head Up
Birdy did shake things up for her third album and the lead single ‘Keeping Your Head Up’ showed her more upbeat and swinging side. The message of the lyrics is lovely and the build up of the track is perfect. Birdy’s voice works so well for this type of singer-songwriter pop!
05. Dua Lipa – Be The One
Yes, this song was officially released back in 2015, but it only became a big hit in Europe this year and rightfully so. ‘Be The One’ has all the ingredients that make a pop classic: a catchy hook that will not leave your head for the rest of the day, a swinging beat and a characteristic voice. Hopefully we finally get her debut album next year!
04. Alicia Keys – In Common
Sometimes it is hard to explain why certain songs do or don’t become hits. The biggest surprise for me was Alicia Keys’ ‘In Common’ not becoming a worldwide smash hit, especially as it sounded right on the money in this year. That tropical beat, the smooth production, those lovely sensual vocals and that irresistible chorus… Absolutely one of the best things she ever released.
03. BANKS – Gemini Feed
BANKS delivered an absolute pop banger with ‘Gemini Feed’. This break up anthem is an emotional rollercoaster that moves from sadness, to anger, to sensuality to absolute feistiness. That ace production with the deep beat sounds heavenly on headphones. With this infectious chorus she absolutely deserved her first big radio hit!
02. Zayn – PillowTalk
Zayn started his solo career with a bang! ‘Pillowtalk’ is a perfect mix of radiofriendly pop hooks, a delicious R&B inspired production,one of the best choruses of the year and of course those sultry vocals. I think I will never get tired of this track.
01. Rihanna – Love On The Brain
Rihanna’s ‘Love On The Brain’ was a career changing release if you ask me. The soulful ballad with a huge chorus ,which she co-wrote herself, should have been the first single to launch the ANTI era that marked a big shift in her music. This is by far her best vocal performance ever. We didn’t hear her so passionate, full of emotion and powerful before. Let’s hope we get a lot more of this in the near future! We know you can pull it off RiRi!