This is my tenth – TENTH!!! – year-end singles blog (eleventh if you include 2008, but that was more of a straightforward list on a Facebook note(!)). And goddammit I will continue until the bitter end!!
Loads of the blogs aren’t online anymore because they were on websites I forgot to renew (woops), but the rankings live on via the corresponding playlists I made each time; and LET ME TELL YOU, some of those decisions have not aged well. In 2009 I ranked two Pixie Lott songs above Bad Romance, and put my all-time favourite – Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck Without You – at No3! And the state of the 2008 one!
These are the songs I’ve put at No1 every year so far, complete with a link to a Spotify playlist of the whole Top 50, as ranked by me at the time (do you like the personalised thumbnails on each one? Thanks me too):
2008: Sweet About Me – Gabriella Cilmi (playlist)
2009: Battlefield – Jordin Sparks (playlist)
2010*: Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (playlist)
2011: Till The World Ends – Britney Spears (playlist)
2012: Wings – Little Mix (playlist)
2013*: Heart Attack – Demi Lovato (playlist)
2014*: Into The Blue – Kylie Minogue (playlist)
2015: Style – Taylor Swift (playlist) (blog)
2016: Into You – Ariana Grande (playlist) (blog)
2017: Touch – Little Mix (playlist) (blog)
* Some of those playlists have songs missing because the files disappeared from my iTunes before I rebuilt them on Spotify last year, and I can’t remember what they were 🤷
There is also a Spotify playlist for 2018 which you can find at the bottom of this long-ass post.
More lists to come! Best albums of the year tomorrow, TV the day after that, films the day after that, and theatre the day after that. Lists lists lists!!
“Now you’re just something I checked off my to-do list”
This year could/should have been huge for Tinashe, but her barrage of singles were met with a shrug from the mainstream, her album flopped, and she was paid dust on Dancing With The Stars. A WASTE!!! I quite liked all the tracks she dropped individually, to be honest, but this one stuck with me the most. Listen on YouTube
“I wanna lay with you through the sunrise, oh heaven knows I’ve tried”
Sadbangers have formed the backbone of Rita’s on-on-ongoing second album era; and granted, Let You Love Me isn’t quite as spectacular as Anywhere or as emotive as Lonely Together, but it’s still a smash. Watch on YouTube
“You tore me to pieces, turned my strength into weakness”
This wasn’t used for one single sing-off on The X Factor this year?!? The DISRESPECT! Kelly has been absolutely glowing throughout 2k18; she looks phenomenal, she sounds better than ever, and she seems like she’s having a ball doing all those endeavours that don’t include touring the UK. Long may she continue. And please, for the LOVE of GOD, properly service Heat as a single. Watch on YouTube
“The only apparatus required for happiness is your pain and fucking going outside”
Matt Healy is a couple of months younger than me, and this endof20sbanger really #resonated. Once I got used to that LOUD guitar riff over the chorus, anyway. Christ, remember when The 1975 first came out and I really did not like them, and now they’re almost my favourite band?! Watch on YouTube
“I’m trying so hard not to give a fuck”
The production here is a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle Spotify-algorithms-by-numbers, but ‘imo’ the lyrics and Dagny’s perfectly-pitched delivery go with it v well. If I was completely emotionally fucking distraught I would love to dance to this on my own in a club. You know?? Watch on YouTube
“All the reasons why we said it’s over… Doesn’t seem to matter after all”
All Saints are quietly getting on with being absolutely brilliant, and FUN FACT, Testament was the first album of theirs I have ever owned on a compact disc. In 2018!! Can you believe!! Watch on YouTube
“All the stars are closer”
Look I know you all bone the A Star Is Born soundtrack, but this should really win the Original Song Oscar. Watch on YouTube
“This love has no ceiling, I cannot deny”
I’ve only got into this song very recently, and fuck knows the correct way to list all those billed artists, but what a great waft-a-long euphoribanger. Watch on YouTube
“Maybe I’m a psycho, just like you said I was”
Every time I heard about or read about the Ava Max single, I got it confused in my head with this. And wow, imagine if this was the one that was in contention for Christmas No1 but lost to an artist called “Lad””Baby”! Listen on YouTube
“I got the addy, I don’t need no GPS’s”
One of you fuckers mind telling me why this didn’t chart higher than 98? Sometimes I think we deserve a no-deal Brexit, I really do. Listen on YouTube
“Yeah, we got it goin’ on, got it goin’ on – don’t it feel so good to be us?”
Can you believe this video was released THIS YEAR??? It was the first song I added to my rolling All The Bops 2018 playlist back in January, so whenever I’ve had Repeat All on, I’ve heard it. I’ve heard it a lot. Watch on YouTube
“Since you came along, I’m light as a feather”
It’s been so frustrating to see the mainstream pay MNEK dust in what was ALLEGEDLY “20gayteen”. It’s sad to see Hailee struggle for top-tier pop success as well, but especially MNEK. After all he’s done for your faves! And this is such a feelgood bop, it takes me right back to Pride season. Watch on YouTube
“Guess I had my last chance, and now this is our last dance”
We must give thanks to Clean Bandit for returning Marina of the Diamonds back to the Top 40 in the year of our lord 2018. Top 10 would have been nice!!! But we must be grateful for what we received. Watch on YouTube
“I know those days are over but a boy can fantasize”
It’s felt recently like Charli keeps on releasing forgettable semi-bops and – despite her supporters’ reeeeeelentless enthusiasm – it’s become harder and harder to stay invested. But this? Oh this is a JAM. And yeah, well done, Charli and Troye were both, like, 2 in ’99, but fuck it. Watch on YouTube
“Like a river, swallow up who’s in your way”
Scathing disapproval of another human being has never felt so breezy. Watch on YouTube
“God forbid something happens, least this song is a smash”
People have been saying for years that the album as a pop ~thing is dying – or at least the traditional way of releasing and promoting one is – but not much has really changed, aside from sliding sales figures. But Ariana casually rewrote the rulebook when she released what is ostensibly the first single from her next album before she’d finished promoting and touring the last one – which came out just a few months ago. thank u, next certainly isn’t her best, but it’s a strong 8/10 and definitely one of the big pop Moments of 2018. Watch on YouTube
“Just go if it’s over”
The best bit of this song is the outro. I could chant it for hours. Watch on YouTube
“Don’t have to say you’re sorry, let’s just forget that you’re a cheat”
I don’t tend to listen to Spotify’s in-house playlists much because I reckon the unfair influence they must have on the charts is kinda shit, but I only discovered this song because I listened to “””The Pop List””” or something whilst on a run. So I guess they’re not completely evil? Listen on YouTube
“When I go out, I wanna go out dancing”
When I realised that main chorus lyric is about DEATH and not just about LITERALLY GOING OUT, my mind BASICALLY EXPLODED. Watch on YouTube
“My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”
The second best song on Reputation (the first is Getaway Car, update your records) proved that there’s been more to this latest Taylor era than the “HISS, LOOK I’M A SELF-AWARE SNAKE NOW, SEE??? HISS!!!” parts. Which were also good, but you know. Watch on YouTube
“I only want a girl who ain’t afraid to love me, not a metaphor of what we really could be”
I know Curious is generally regarded as the highlight of Kiyoko’s output this year, but this is her best song for me. Watch on YouTube
“I’ve turned all my sorrow into glass, it don’t leave no shadow”
The Honey album… did not click with me. But a couple of tracks really did, and this is your classic Robyn Being Great. Listen on YouTube
“The side effect to my loneliness is you”
No, you’re not going insane – you did just spot The Chainsmokers on a year-end best-of list! Because bops are bops, America! Watch on YouTube
“I can’t swim the ocean like this forever”
Avril absolutely RINSES the oceanic ~theme in this; a comeback single that shifts away from pop-punk and heads for… the US Christian Songs chart? Where it peaked at No2? Wild! Head Above Water is a gorgeous song relating to Avril’s high-profile struggles with ill-health, and – in classic Avrilballad style – it manages to hit all the emotional bases without quite getting overwrought. Watch on YouTube
“I tell you lies, but it’s only sometimes”
I just read on Genius Lyrics that you can read the title to include “ME TOO” rather than “TOO TIME”. How about that? This is among The 1975’s most ‘straightforwardly pop’ offerings, at least musically – with the lyrics boasting their usual wit and wisdom. Watch on YouTube
“Back on my beat”
How do you follow up one of the most acclaimed (and cult-y) pop albums of the last decade? With this relatively safe, but still excellent, masturbanger. You know this came on when I had people round recently and they were like, “ah, she’s still going?” – like she hasn’t been up to much since Call Me Maybe – and gays, our work is FAR FROM DONE. Watch on YouTube
“It’s not about my pride – I need you on my skin, just come over, pull me in”
Do you think the 4.1 million artists who recorded the vocal on this before Maren are like, ‘ah, fuck’? Or do you think everyone gets that it was a pop Moment because the stars aligned as they did? Like, would it still have been huge with Demi or Camila, or did it need to be a crossover smash for Maren? In any case, I would like to hear the Carly Rae, Tove Lo and Lauren Jauregui versions, so if Zedd/Grey ever fancy putting out an album that’s just alternate demos of this one song, I would buy it. Watch on YouTube
“Things fall apart, but nothing breaks like a heart”
Miley’s Younger Now era, looking at the sales, was naahhhhhht a success. So what better way to bounce back than to do so swiftly, and as a featured artist on a surefire smash? Mark Ronson doesn’t always hit it out the park for me, but this is just great. I hope it becomes one of the first number ones of 2019. Watch on YouTube
“You push and you push and I’m pulling away, pulling away from you”
I was gonna write something like “wow 5SOS really came through with this new, maturer sound!! Who saw that coming?”, but honestly they’ve been delivering great guitar-pop since their first era and you’re DAFT if you disagree. Watch on YouTube
“Sometimes I feel like giving up but I just can’t, it isn’t in my blood”
It won’t be a big shock to learn that singer-songwriter dudes aren’t my go-to, but it’s Shawn’s vocals that made me stop in my tracks here. They’re dripping with anguish, delivered so perfectly, and doesn’t he just generally seem like a very nice boy? Watch on YouTube
“Some of us just had to fight for even being looked at right”
CHRIS DESERVES THE WORLD. Watch on YouTube
“Go slow, no, no, go fast”
Much as I quite like the Bloom album, this whole era hasn’t quite turned out as big and exciting as I thought it would when My My My! debuted. But! It still slaps. Watch on YouTube
“When a horse wants to run, there ain’t no sense in closing the gate”
I found it really hard to rank this because Golden Hour is one of very few albums of, like, my entire life that I’ve only ever really enjoyed as one whole. As in, I’ve pressed play on Track 1 and just let it run through. I even had to look up what its singles actually were. Space Cowboy is a beautiful track; and a great taster for what is truly an exceptional album. Watch on YouTube
“You don’t have to be straight with me, I see what’s underneath your mask (/masc???)”
I love the toe-tappers (wow, what a grandad phrase) like If You’re Over Me but ‘imo’ this is Years & Years at their absolute best. In a year brilliantly full of blatantly queer pop music, this is right Up There. Watch on YouTube
“There it is on the tip of my tongue: I think I love you, I think you’re the one”
I have yet to hear this in a loud club-like setting, and I would like that to happen before I die. I still love this song, still love this video, still think MNEK deserves enormous success as an artist as well as a hitmaker. There’s also a great quote that comes up on the Behind The Lyrics thing on Spotify where he’s like of the “ta-ta-tongue” bit: “We can be songwriters, we can be clear-cut with all these intelligent phrases, but to everyone I’ve played the song to, that’s the section everyone resonated with.” A good philosophy for pop in general, I reckon – there are times when clever lyrics work, and there are times when you just want a gloriously daft, catchy refrain. Watch on YouTube
“Distract my brain from the terrible news”
Matt Healy really is one of the best songwriters in the country right now, isn’t he? You listen to this in passing and you’re like, “ah, what a lovely little love song”. Then you listen closer to the lyrics and it’s like, “oh, no, it’s about heroin”. Watch on YouTube
“Now I’m stuck in a rut, kicking stones, looking at my phone all night”
The No Shame era didn’t provide any “”hits”” per-sé, so it’s hard to figure out what’s been a proper single. But Lost My Mind is listed as such on Lily’s Wikipedia Discography, so I’m gonna go ahead and say it counts. I leaned in to the this song pretty hard on a #relatable level – granted, not over a romantic relationship, but elsewhere in life – and it’s been so wonderful to have Lily back, on better form than ever. Watch on YouTube
“Since you been gone, I’ve been dancing on my own”
DEMI FINALLY GOT A UK NUMBER ONE! And THE SONG’S A BLAST!! Watch on YouTube
“When it feels so good but it’s bad for you, can’t say I don’t want it ’cause I know I do”
I’m so happy Normani got a big solo hit with this: she’s got so much promise as a popstar and I hope big things come her way in 2019. Khalid, too, has been continuously delivering the goods (I nearly put Better on this list), and I actually wouldn’t be mad if these two worked together again. Watch on YouTube
“I’m freaking out ‘cos I’m scared this might end bad, but I still come back”
This excellent angstbanger might even have CHARTED if that completely needless Raw EP hadn’t derailed any and all momentum Strangers built up! This is the title track from the long-overdue album, so let’s hope more success is coming Sigrid’s way in 2k19. Watch on YouTube
“No-one can breathe, still want some more”
According to Spotify, this is my most-played song of 2018, and back in March I had it on… a lot. I know it’s not to every pop connoisseur’s tastes but MY HOT TAKE IS it’s a real shame it didn’t achieve more success: I reckon the relatively flat music video didn’t help (the choreo-only version – see below – is much better), and the lack of TV promo must have been frustrating for all involved. But with a succinct running time (just under 3 minutes? Ideal!), humongous chorus and Camille Purcell wielding the pen, it’s a massive banger to my ears. Interesting that, for Louisa’s ~trajectory, she got significantly better with every single (if you ignore the Clean Bandit and Olly collabs) and yet the chart peaks got steadily lower. Pop is weird sometimes.
“Love made me do it… and I’d do it again”
God I didn’t know how ready I was for new Cheryl until she came back with this; her most commercially risky but artistically satisfying release in years. If decisions like going without an A&R mean we get her firing on all cylinders again, I’ll take it; even if it means sacrificing top-tier chart megastardom. I mean this song is nearly two months old and I still can’t fucking stop listening to it!! I’ve even caught myself trying to learn the heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes choreography from the outro of the live performances! I’M A MAN OBSESSED!!!!
“Call me when it’s over and my self has re-appeared”
Demi Lovato is one of the best singers and popstars this trashworld has, but honestly: if her wellbeing means she never sets foot in the public eye again, so be it. And to anyone who doesn’t think pop music can be honest, raw, emotive, lyrically gut-punching: listen to this.
“Some days things just take way too much of my energy”
Sweetener as an album was – in my opinion!!! – let down by the Pharrell contributions, but good ol’ Ilya was on hand to help make this one of the real standout tracks. Ariana’s openness about her mental health has been straightforward and refreshing – with this song an anxietybanger for the ages.
“Ah yeah ah yeah-ah-yeah, yeah-ah-yeah-ah-yeah… fuego!”
What is the pelican, and why is it flying? Who knows!! Fuego is Eurovision dynamite and was, frankly, robbed of the win. Sidebar: the clip where she’s asked what the lyrics mean and she says “yeah yeah, fire” should be played on a continual loop in the Louvre.
“Put a crack in the shadows, and you tell me it’s OK to be the light”
That Rita & Liam track was good, but the real MVP on the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack(?!) was this: Hailee Steinfeld’s best since the HAIZ era, and another slam-dunk from BloodPop®. You know, if it was sung by a queer artist, this would have made a GREAT Pride anthem. But it’s still completely lovely as-is, and DO YOU RECKON WE’LL GET AN ALBUM FROM HAILEE AT ANY POINT BEFORE THE WORLD BECOMES A BARREN WASTELAND?
“Felt so numb, now I’m ready to feel it”
That Saara Aalto is releasing music and performing to millions in 2018 is truly a gift and a blessing, but she never gets quite as much success as she deserves, does she? Got to the final on The X Factor? Great, but she should have won. Released an album of bangers including one by Xenomania? Great, but it should have charted outside of Finland. Her homeland took her to Eurovision? Great, but she should have at least finished in the Top 5. Monsters made an impact for me from the very first time I heard it – those big vocals, the Euro-friendly lyrics, the MAGICAL ad-libs over the final chorus… and I accept that the performance at the Eurovision final didn’t #pop as much as the likes of Fuego and Toy, but the British public giving her nothing in the televote is frankly a NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT.
“You set fire to my world, couldn’t handle the heat”
OK it should be noted that I really struggled with the order of this Top 3.
There was a three-day period in late October when I think I listened to Ruin My Life on a continual loop. And I mean for HOURS at a time. Because it’s basically universal, isn’t it? At some point in your life you’ve probably fancied the arse off someone who you know damn well is poison but you just 👏 can’t 👏 help 👏 yourself 👏. I’m obsessed with the layering of the vocals in the later choruses, I love that Zara’s started an all-important new era with a mid-tempo gem, and I’m really excited to see where she goes next.
“Right now I’m in a state of mind I wanna be in like all the time”
Remember the excitement of the build-up to this song being released? The first single of her first era since Manchester, and it couldn’t have been better. Emotional yet hopeful, looking forward without ignoring what came before. The video’s gorgeous, too; and in what has generally been a fucking megastar year for Ariana Grande, this is a real highlight. In the eight months since its release, it hasn’t grown tiresome at all.
“Mess me up, but no-one does it better”
The influence of Janelle’s late mentor and collaborator Prince on this record is huge (he worked with her on the album before his death, but not this particular song), but it’s also very much its own, unique thing. In the record and in the spectacular video, Janelle proves herself to be one of the greatest (and most under-appreciated!!!!!!) performers of her generation. Her musicality! Her artistry! The LOOKS! The way she o-w-n-s her sexuality and her identity! The way she knows when to deploy a clever lyrical flourish (“It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender / An emotional, sexual bender”) and when simple repetitions, as in the chorus, are the most infectious. She is a GIFT and I don’t think there are any changes you could make to this song to make it any better.
Alright now have the Spotify playlist: