This is my TENTH ONE OF THESE LISTS, guys, I’m getting so old – and my extra-ness is not diminishing with age! How about that?!?!?!1?!
These are the past winners of these annual slogs:
2008: Sweet About Me – Gabriella Cilmi
2009: Battlefield – Jordin Sparks
2010: Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
2011: Till The World Ends – Britney Spears
2012: Wings – Little Mix
2013: Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
2014: Into The Blue – Kylie Minogue
2015: Style – Taylor Swift
2016: Into You – Ariana Grande
SO WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE IN 2017? Is it finally time for a MALE ARTIST to deliver my tune of the year? Lol of course not.
Here’s my Top 50… and there’s a SPOTIFY PLAYLIST CONTAINING THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM at the bottom. If you’re impatient and/or like to consume your music visually, I’ve added links to music videos too.
(I’ll be following this with an albums rundown in a day or two, don’t you worry.)
50. Hair Down – Mollie King
Someone could say to me, “Shaun, what are you playing at, this is the worst song humankind has produced since Nickelback’s Rockstar”, and I would be like, “that is absolutely fair enough but I, for one, welcome nonsensical football references in my throwaway camp-as-fuck Xenomania floorfillers”. Watch on YouTube
49. Would You Mind – PRETTYMUCH
48. Best Behaviour – Louisa Johnson
I know the jury is very much divided on this song, and my enthusiasm for it has definitely waned as the year has gone on – but I’m still gonna insist it’s a good’un. Watch on YouTube
47. Tease – Ralph
A slick, breezy, anti-fuckboy gem. “You’re always talking about your dog and your restaurant” is a great complaint lyric. Watch on YouTube
46. Get Low – Zedd feat. Liam Payne
A straightforward, frill-free banger – and, in my opinion, Liam’s best solo track yet by a looooong way. Watch on YouTube
45. Baby Who – The Aces
A quietly moving, softly-executed parting-of-the-ways ballad. Watch on YouTube
44. Last Dance – Rhys
Swedish/American upstart Rhys made a strong impression with this one; about accepting that a relationship just isn’t going to get off the ground. Watch on YouTube
43. Younger Now – Miley Cyrus
Miley’s abandonment of the headline-grabbing bangerz of 2013 might have come at the expense of sales (in the UK, the two pre-album singles of this era – Malibu and Younger Now – reached No. 11 and 54 respectively; compared to We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball, which were both No1). Still, this track is very likeable ‘imo’ – and deserved more than it got. Watch on YouTube
42. Let Me Go – Hailee Steinfeld, Alesso, Florida Georgia Line
Love Myself is becoming more and more of a distant memory, but Hailee is still producing serviceable bangers – and though Let Me Go’s non-chorus payoff is a bit of a disappointment, the rest of it superb. It’d be good in 2018, though, to see her properly hitting her stride. I HAVEN’T LOST THE FAITH JUST YET. Watch on YouTube
41. It Ain’t Me – Kygo with Selena Gomez
Makes you think it’s a sophisticated guitar-driven ditty, then calmly gives way to a floorfiller with a highly chantable chorus. Watch on YouTube
40. Strangers – Sigrid
Sigrid has been on the biggest of rolls this year, and it would be great to see her score more commercial success in 2018. Can Strangers be the song to do it? Well probably not, to be honest, but it SHOULD be. Watch on YouTube
39. In My Way – MUNA
WHAT A LOVELY SONG. MUNA are among my absolute top-tier faves of the year and I can’t wait for their next era. Watch on YouTube
38. Friends – Justin Bieber with BloodPop
One of my favourite music writers asked how much better this would have been if Robyn or Carly Rae Jepsen were in charge of the topline, which is fair – and this is certainly a 2017-by-numbers style of chorus-free banger. But also! It’s a bop! Watch on YouTube
37. Issues – Julia Michaels
She helped write the music that elevated Selena Gomez and rejuvinated Britney Spears, so it was only fair that Julia Michaels would get her own crack of the pop whip: Issues is a clever, stripped-back track that makes a far better case for her as a star in her own right than, say, its irritating follow-up. Well done all. Watch on YouTube
36. Love So Soft – Kelly Clarkson
This is a very good song, but if the superior album track Heat is given the single treatment in 2018, I can’t promise it won’t be very high on my next year-end list. For now, this was an excellent launchpad for New Kelly and the video was her best for a very long time. I mean the looks!!! Watch on YouTube
35. Your Song – Rita Ora
It’s not the almighty slap-you-in-the-face-kick-you-in-the-balls comeback anthem that would have appeased the gays and only the gays, but the Sheeran-penned Your Song was a clever track with which to relaunch Rita’s music efforts: simple, likeable and very ‘on trend’. Watch on YouTube
34. …Ready For It? – Taylor Swift
Look What You Made Me Do delivered the headlines, but …Ready For It? delivered the (slightly) better song. Swift’s new era isn’t up there with 1989, but …RFI is a strong, dark-edged track with a great chorus. Watch on YouTube
33. Love You Like That – Dagny
I thought this was Natasha Bedingfield when I first looked at the single cover. I’d LOVE it if N-Beds came back with something like this. Listen on YouTube
32. Swish Swish – Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj
I listened to this the morning after the election and now I always think of Corbyn singing it to May for some reason?!?! Watch on YouTube
31. Under Attack – JIM
I’m very hard to please when it comes to male-led pop songs but this is an uplifting, hands-aloft, straightforward tune that y’all cruelly slept on. Listen on YouTube
30. Slow Hands – Niall Horan
This is the moment Niall became the new holder of the prestigious ‘1D Member I Most Would’ title. What a song. Watch on YouTube
29. Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato
Now listen, right, this isn’t up there with Demi’s best lead singles: Skyscraper, Heart Attack, Cool For The Summer… heck even Here We Go Again are all better than this. But! What a bop! And the fact it gave her her biggest Billboard hit yet – at the start of her sixth era – is amazing. Watch on YouTube
28. He Like That – Fifth Harmony
Well the wheels certainly slipped off the 5H machine this year, didn’t they? But if you ask me, He Like That is one of their best singles – and certainly deserved more than the absolute tumbleweed it was met with by mainstream audiences (no Top 100 appearances in the UK or US). And also THIS VIDEO!! Watch on YouTube
27. Fake Happy – Paramore
Paramore have had a great year, and I didn’t really consider myself to be much of a fan prior to 2017. Fake Happy is my favourite thing they’ve put out so far – the lyric “don’t ask me how I’ve been, don’t make me play pretend” sums up its whole ~vibe nicely. Watch on YouTube
26. Do It – Rae Morris
For a while this was one of those songs that people I usually agree with were bleating endlessly about, and I didn’t really Get It. But I GOT THERE EVENTUALLY, EVERYONE, DON’T WORRY. Watch on YouTube
25. Neon Blue – Steps
Camp, fabulous, heartwarming and unmistakably Steps. Watch on YouTube
24. Alone – Jessie Ware
Midnight – the first track from Jessie’s Glasshouse era – never really clicked with me, but she is fucking GREAT at gorgeous love songs, of which Alone is another corker to add to her collection. Watch on YouTube
23. Learn To Let Go – Kesha
Y’know how Intense Pop Fans have been insisting to Casual Pop Fans for a few years now that Carly Rae Jepsen is phenomenal, regardless of whatever they think of Call Me Maybe? Now I feel we’re in the same position with Kesha; trying to shove the Rainbow era under the noses of anyone who still sees her as the care-free banger queen of yesteryear. And I mean those bangers were amazing, make no mistake – but this new chapter in her career was executed to perfection, and this is one of the best tracks from it. Watch on YouTube
22. Want You Back – HAIM
It’s a shame that HAIM’s latest album didn’t live up to the quality of this gorgeous lead single, but to be fair it sets quite the high bar. A thoughtful handclap ballad with a great video to match. Watch on YouTube
21. Uncrazy – AFSHeeN feat. Rebecca Ferguson
Barely anybody on Planet Earth has even heard this track, which is a right shame – it’s a low-key electronic number that puts R-Fergz in a lane I wish she’d tried out much sooner. Listen on YouTube
20. Disconnect – Clean Bandit feat. Marina and the Diamonds
This song’s been performed live a couple of times but a studio recording never surfaced until this year. It’s an angsty mentalhealthbanger driven by the always amazing Marina and the increasingly impressive Clean Bandit. Listen on YouTube
19. Chained To The Rhythm – Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley
This feels like a million years ago now, doesn’t it? At the very top of the… shall we say troubled Witness era, this sophistipop treat was released – its message is as subtle as a brick to the face, but since when did we go to Katy Perry for cleverly nuanced lyrics? The pre-chorus bit is still awesome. Watch on YouTube
18. Praying – Kesha
A SURVIVOR. Watch on YouTube
17. Crying On The Bathroom Floor – MUNA
Worth mentioning that I Know A Place was released in 2016, but I didn’t hear it until this year. If it had been released in 2017, it would be A Contender. Watch on YouTube
16. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
Can Selena Gomez convincingly sing a note? The answer, post Bad Liar, remains unclear, but that doesn’t mean she’s not still one of the world’s best popstars, or that Bad Liar isn’t irresistable. Watch on YouTube
15. Symphony – Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson
The video was emotional. The BBC Christmas ad was emotional. And this song is emotional. Watch on YouTube
14. No More Sad Songs – Little Mix feat. Machine Gun Kelly
It’s a shame that MGK was lazily chucked into the middle of this, because the jazzed-up production since last year’s original album version is actually great; and this song easily ranks among the girls’ best. Watch on YouTube
13. Boys – Charli XCX
Thing is… I’m not actually convinced this is that good a song?!?!?! But the amount that it’s a complete earworm, combined with the video, combined with the Best Use Of A Videogame Sound In A Pop Song 2017, make it a high-ranker regardless. Watch on YouTube
12. Plot Twist – Sigrid
I would love to shout this venomously at someone. If a kind soul reading this could monumentally piss me off in the near future so I can realise that dream, that would be wonderful. Watch on YouTube
11. Flame – Tinashe
If Judgement Day comes in 2018, it won’t be because of same-sex marriage or capitalism or Instagram thirst traps. It will be because we all collectively failed to make Tinashe’s Flame a hit. Watch on YouTube
10. New Rules – Dua Lipa
The song that launched a thousand memes, put a solo female artist at the top of the UK charts for the first time since Adele in 2015, and finally made Dua Lipa a fully-realised popstar after what felt like millennia of trying. I do wonder if Hotter Than Hell was maybe slightly better than this, but New Rules became such a ~craze that it pretty much soundtracked the end of the summer. The Ten Commandments found rotting.
09. Don’t Kill My Vibe – Sigrid
What. A. Debut. Sigrid ARRIVED with this track; and not only that, she followed it up with several more incredible pop nuggets and became the year’s best popstar your friends have never heard of. Don’t Kill My Vibe is quietly seething, fully brilliant, and the clapalong middle-8 is glorious.
08. Scared of the Dark – Steps
This was a MOMENT. Was this not a MOMENT?!?! Steps! In 2017! The day of its release, Scared Of The Dark triumphantly crept its way to the top of the iTunes charts and, I swear to God, few other pop culture events have excited me that much this year. SOTD is that rare comeback success story; a song that stays true to a band’s roots whilst planting them firmly in the modern market. I mean it’s just bloody good pop, at the end of the day.
07. Instruction – Jax Jones feat. Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don
“All my ladies.” Jax Jones delivered my personal song of the summer with the help of Demi Lovato and superstar-in-waiting Stefflon Don; a track that should have had a solid fortnight at No1 rather than a brief peek inside the Top 10. To sound ~cool whilst having lyrics that literally explain a full dance routine is quite something. Cha Cha Slide could never.
06. Power – Little Mix feat. Stormzy
“… My turn.” This was a BIG highlight when the Glory Days album was released in 2016, so thank fuck it was finally released as a single this summer. Plus, in a rare instance of a guest rap being an all-round good shout, Stormzy actually added to the song’s appeal, rather than took away from it. And hey, Jesy still got to give that bizarre shout-out to her motorbike at the end. Everyone’s a winner.
05. Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin
Now I never disliked the breakout singer-songwritery material of Gabrielle Aplin (she who soundtracked the John Lewis Christmas ad a few years ago) but I did not in a month of Sundays expect her to put out genuinely great, shimmering pop music. Waking Up Slow is an ethereal, sparkly dream; the kind of song that puts butterflies in the stomach, and I’d love for her to be re-signed by a major label in 2018.
04. Cut To The Feeling – Carly Rae Jepsen
If the verses were sliiiiiiightly better, this would be No1 by a clear mile. As it is, on the strength of that glitter-ready, homosexual-assembling chorus alone, it’s still an absolute triumph. To THINK this would have been discarded forever were it not for the soundtrack needs of a crap animated movie?!
03. Green Light – Lorde
It’s not like Lorde has ever been underrated by the Serious Music Press but this year she properly got the Full Acclaim treatment with her all-round amazing second album – and rightly so. I didn’t reaaaaaally click with her first time around (I liked Royals and Yellow Flicker Beat, but I never considered myself a push-past-old-ladies-in-ASDA-to-buy-her-album kind of fan), but this year changed all that… and Green Light is a pop masterclass.
02. Anywhere – Rita Ora
The Oraissance really hit its stride with Anywhere – easily among her best singles to date, and possibly (POSSIBLY) even better than I Will Never Let You Down. Anywhere is the track that vindicated everyone who’s been insisting for years that Rita is “quite a good popstar, actually”; and it’s so rewarding to see her soak up renewed success (even if this was criminally kept off No1 by Havana) after being stuck in contract limbo for what feels like a billion years; resigned to things like The Voice and Fifty fucking Shades in order to stay in the public consciousness. Now for the love of God let’s hear that elusive second album before we all die of old age.
01. Touch – Little Mix
This technically hit its chart peak at the very end of 2016, but A) the video didn’t come out until January and B) I didn’t include it on last year’s list because I figured it would peak in ’17, so here we are.
And GOOD GRIEF does Touch still hit all the right spots.
MNEK did wonders for Little Mix back in 2013 with the excellent album cut Nothing Feels Like You, and he’s back at the controls here to deliver to the bangeriest banger that ever did bang; a song so seismic it’s probably in some way responsible for climate change. Touch’s chorus is all-conquering, its dance routine is fucking BONKERS, and Peri’s outfit in the video is so weird it’s iconic.
No pop band is forever, and six years into their career we are lucky to still have Little Mix at all – but the fact they’re at the very top of their game, four albums deep, is nothing short of a marvel.
Now listen to THE LOT:
And see you again next year.
Except for tomorrow, when I’ll do albums, and the day after that, when I’ll do films, and the day after that, when I’ll do telly.