The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 40-21

Part 4 of my countdown of the Best Pop Songs of 2015! Remember that there are links to watch each video if you click on the song name next to its chart position:

40) Galantis – Gold Dust

Galantis always reliably produce tunes with massive sing-along choruses but they surpassed even themselves with the intense sugar rush that is “Gold Dust”. We get a soulful minute and a half long build up featuring some bewitchingly majestic vocals from Vincent Pontare before the drop has us bouncing up and down in a euphoric frenzy.

39) Hozier – Someone New

Hozier proved he was far more than a one hit wonder with this deceptively bouncy song about never being attached to one person. If you listen closely you can hear the hopelessness in his voice which is beautifully contrasted with the jaunty production. He almost fooled us this time but one thing you can guarantee with Hozier is that he’ll never be a cheery fellow. At least you know exactly what you’re getting with him.

38) Jessie Ware – You and I (Forever)

Always the class act, the third single from Jessie Ware’s second studio album Tough Love, further demonstrates her ability to enchant the listener with her soulful vocals and engaging lyrics. On “You and I (Forever)”  she furthers her exploration into matters of the heart but this time, thankfully, she seems all loved up.

37) Troye Sivan – Wild

If you haven’t already heard of Troye Sivan, you’re soon will have. Tipped for big things in 2016, this 20-year old Johannesburg native is already one of YouTube’s biggest stars with 3.6 million subscribers and he has his eye firmly set on being the next big noise in music. He released his debut full length album Blue Neighbourhood this December, peaking top ten in Australia and the US. Lead single “Wild” is a surprisingly mature ode to forbidden love which explores the too often underrated dream pop genre.

36) Disclosure Feat. Lorde – Magnets

Lorde is just keeping us ticking over quietly until her next full length project with tidbits of mind-blowing singles. “Magnets” is one of her finest productions to date, depicting her as a lethal femme fatale who has been hired by a scored woman to punish her philandering lover. Never ones to be outdone, Disclosure threw a lot of production tricks into this one, making this collaboration one of the freshest and most exciting of the year.

35) Carly Rae Jepsen – Your Type

On an album chock full of pop treats, “Your Type” stands out as Carly’s most clever and moving song to date. It’s all very Robyn-esque which is never a bad thing. In fact, many critics have liked “Your Type” to Robyn’s fantastic “Dancing on My Own”. Indeed, they do both share upbeat electropop production which conceals their truly heart wrenching lyrics about unrequited love. However, “Your Type” is much softer and more relatable making it the superior track.

34) KDA Feat. Tinie Tempah and Katy B – Turn the Music Louder

It’s always great to hear new music from the ever elegant Katy B and this time I’ll even overlook Tinie’s cheesy raps as they provide the perfect contrast to Katy’s power soul vocals. This 90’s inspired-house track has us all cranking up the volume in 2015.

33) Justin Bieber – Sorry

Bieber continued his all-dominating streak with this tropical house- influenced apology which saw him knocking Adele off the number one spot in the UK. Sorry Adele! Many see this track as Bieber’s apology for his shocking behaviour over the past couple of years. It just goes to show that all is forgiven as long as you make good music.

32) Selena Gomez – Good For You

Selena has always been a bit of a sex kitten, but this hot ‘n’ spicy had us all hot under the collar. It’s great to see that Selena is adding more subtleties and nuances to her music which allows her to stand tall among other current R&B artists. She manages to restrain herself in both her delivery and lyricism which demonstrates just how much the former-Disney starlet has grown up. Those days seem long, long ago now.

31) Ed Sheeran Feat. Rudimental – Bloodstream

Ed Sheeran’s “Bloodstream” was already one of my favourite tracks off X and Rudimental’s subtle additions to the single version elevated it the stratosphere. The addition of the drum and bass to the chorus is genius and really matches the lyrical themes of the song. An example of a remix done spectacularly right.

30) Karen Harding – Say Something

This soulful deep house banger came from an extremely unlikely source. Karen Harding first became known on the X Factor UK but didn’t even make it to the final 12. Now it seems like the extra creative room and time to breathe has done her the world of good. “Say Something” is a statement of a first single which rightfully scored Harding her first UK top ten single.

29) Tove Lo – Talking Body

Rihanna may not have done much this year (where is the elusive Anti I ask you), but her many imitators kept us going all throughout the year. Tove Lo is, of course, much more than you’re average copycat but the production on “Talking Body” is very reminiscent of Rihanna jams and would fit very nearly amid her cannon. Having said that, “Talking Body” is a surprising layered pop song which features more hooks than a pirate convention and, most importantly, it is miles better than the crass “Bitch Better Have My Money”.

28) Calvin Harris & Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

After finishing up with his latest album Motion Calvin decided a change of tack was in order for his next project. “How Deep Is Your Love” is the Scottish DJ’s first foray into deep house but hopefully not his last as it works supremely on every single level. Norwegian singer Ina Wroldsen’s playful, taunting vocals glide over thumping house beats to create one of the freshest, on trend singles of 2015.

27) Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Upon my first listen to X, “Photograph” immediately stood out as the most beautiful and personal track on the entire album. A gentle and delicate ballad “Photograph” was reportedly inspired by Sheeran’s romance with fellow singer songwriter Nina Nesbitt with whom he shared a long-distance relationship.

26) Adam Lambert – Ghost Town

I always felt Adam Lambert had bags of potential but never the quality of material to match it. That was until his gloriously ghoulish comeback this year with the minimal witch house “Ghost Town”. Adam has always conveyed personality to his music, but he’s always seemed like more of a caricature to me, probably due to his over-exuberant nature. But this time he pitched it perfectly, incorporating all the best of his charisma into the frightfully good “Ghost Town”

25) Calvin Harris Feat. HAIM – Pray to God

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: HAIM have the best harmonies in pop. Their 70’s-inspired sound never fails to put a smile on my face and I was delighted to see that they have remained true to this style in the face of dance heavyweight Calvin Harris. “Pray to God” is dripping with drama and staccato vocals, both which are only enhanced by Harris’ magic touch.

24) Alesso Feat. Tove Lo – Heroes (We Could Be)

Possibly THE hands-in-the-air anthem of 2015, Alesso enlisted Sweden’s current darling Tove Lo’s help for this David-Bowie song reworking. “Heroes” may have been released in January but its intoxicating joyfulness continued well into festival season and beyond.

23) Petite Meller – Baby Love

I love a good new artist and Petite Meller was one of the most exciting discoveries of 2015. The piano-driven “Baby Love” was suitably idiosyncratic and quirky for the French born singer. Her music is surprisingly sexy for someone who looks like am overgrown doll come to life but therein lies the uniqueness of it all. I can’t wait to see what she does in 2016.

22) Madonna – Ghosttown

Madonna’s Rebel Heart excelled for its ballads and “Ghosttown” was the best of the lot. This post-apocalyptic love letter has been lauded by critics alike as her best single for decades and with good reason. Rarely has Madge sounded so sincere and engaged with her music. She has never been the best vocalist but her voice sounds beautiful here. Sure it wasn’t the biggest hit, but keep it up Madonna.

21) Sia – Elastic Heart

“Elastic Heart” is a stunningly well produced single with some of the most personal and effective lyrics of 2015 which manage to succeed in creating an emotional connection without one iota of mushiness. The controversial video to “Elastic Heart” featuring Madie Ziegler and Sia LaBeouf may have been ridden with claims of paedophilia but it still managed to finish the year as the 8th most viewed video on YouTube.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

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The Best Songs of 2014: 60-41

60) Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong?

A bonafide summer smash curtesy of Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong?” found international chart success in almost every country in the world due to its layed-back relaxing nature. Upon reaching No.4 in the US it also became the highest charting single there by a Norwegian act since a-ha’s “Take On Me” in 1985!

59) Indiana – Solo Dancing

British singer songwriter Indiana finally secured her first top 15 UK single with debut release “Solo Dancing”, a slow-burning feast of intensity. The track is a masterpiece of sparse production and minimalism in a not-too-unlike-Lorde way

58) OneRepublic – If I Lose Myself (Alesso Remix)

If you went to a festival this summer you’ll recognise Tedder’s euphoria-inducing vocals soaring over EDM beats which crash like waves on the shore. Alesso’s dancefloor-ready remix of this track brought it to life and helped open OneRepublic to a whole new audience. One of the best remixes of the year without a doubt.

57) Sam Smith – I’m Not the Only One

A chillingly honest story of devastation. A broken-hearted Diana Agron (Quinn from Glee) plays the scorned bride in the video which illustrates her emotional turmoil after finding out about her husband’s indiscretions. One of the most poignant and heart-wrenching songs of the year which secured Sam Smith another international top 5 hit.

56) Route 94 Feat. Jess Glynne – My Love

Jess Glynne’s second chart topper of the year came almost immediately after her first with Clean Bandit. “My Love” is credited as one of the songs which brought deep house to the forefront of British music and kicked off a series of dance/house singles which appeared as if by magic this year to take the UK by storm. “My Love” also comes with a steamy infrared video which is well worth a gander.

55) Tove Lo – Stay High

Much like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” in 2012, Tove Lo’s debut single “Stay High” has been the sleeper hit of 2014, slowly building momentum until  reaching fever pitch with the release of the Hippie Sabotage remix.  In the song Swedish songstress Tove Lo tries to forget a past lover by engaging in hedonistic, self-destructive activities.

54) Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

Forget all the Calvin Harris drama that has been splashed across the front pages of the tabloids this year, “I Will Never Let You Down” is an absolute bubblegum beast of a pop track brought alive by harris’ peppy beats and Ora’s enigmatic performance. It also helped her match Geri Halliwell’s record of the British female solo artist with the most UK No.1’s, a record which was later equalled and then broken by Cheryl Fernandez- Versini.

53) Sigma Feat. Paloma Faith – Changing

After quietly selling albums for years, in 2014 Paloma was ready to ascend to her full glory in becoming the UK’s premier soul diva in the wake of Adele’s absence. But she didn’t stop there. She had her eyes on the dance floors as well! Her collaboration with Sigma on “Changing” confirmed her position as one of the UK’s most popular female artists in opening her up to a wider, younger audience. It also helped her to bag her first No.1 single!

52) Calvin Harris Feat. John Newman – Blame

Released as the third single from the producer/DJ’s album Motion “Blame” became Harris’ third consecutive No.1 single when it debuted straight at No.1 in September 2014. It also heralded a welcome return for the retro soul vocal of John Newman who had been enjoying a rather quiet year up till that point. But “Blame” proved that there is indeed no rest for the wicked with Harris’ signature relentless jerky beats keeping us raving until 2015.

51) Jessie Ware – Say You Love Me

After a stellar, critically acclaimed debut album Jessie Ware returned with new determination in 2014 with the marvellous “Tough Love”. We thought it couldn’t get better than that until she revealed the second single “Say You Love Me” which was co-penned by man-of-the-moment Ed Sheeran. The track harks back to old school diva power ballads but presents a revised, updated format. The key change and rise and fall are still present, but with better production.

50) Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Speak of the devil. Ed Sheeran has undoubtedly been the man of 2014, having bagged himself two UK No.1 singles and the highest selling album of the year, as well as the Christmas No.1 album. “Photograph” is an often overlooked album track on the magnificent X which shows the crooner at his most understated and heartfelt.

49) Royksopp & Robyn – Do It Again

Robyn is a long-time favourite of mine and so, when she announced her duet CD with Royksopp, hopes were very high. Luckily, Robyn always delivers the goods and the Do It Again EP turned out to be some of her most inspired work. Lead single “Do It Again” is flawlessly produced and plays on Robyn’s theatrical side, utilising her strong pipes to their fullest.

48) Vance Joy – Riptide

One of the least likely hits of 2014 came from Vance Joy who brought his signature upbeat indie folk rock to the mainstream this year. “Riptide” has a gorgeous organic feel about it despite its obvious commercial appeal which managed to propel it into the Australian and UK top tens.

47) Sia – Eye of the Needle

Sia made her triumphant return to pop this year with the bombastic “Chandelier” but her US No.1 album 1000 Forms of Fear wasn’t just about the one track. “Eye of the Needle” was released as a promotional track from the album and is a firm fan favourite. Sia’s trademark wailing vocals are given free rein on this track to produce this heart-shatteringly relatable tale of sorrow.

46) A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera – Say Something

Following a performance on the American version of the Voice this track blew up in early 2014 and eventually peaked at No.4 in the US and the UK and at No.1 in Australia and Canada. The addition of Christina Aguilera to create a ghostly echoing effect was really a stroke of genius which ensured the Disney-esque power ballad’s success.

45) Lorde – Team

After achieving mid-blowing success with her international debut single “Royals” Lorde chose “Team” as the second single from her debut album Pure Heroine which combined a snare drum beat and hand claps to make it her most explosive single to date. It became her second consecutive top ten single in the US, peaking at No.6 and finished the year as the 18th best seller.  

44) Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

Having enlisted producer-extraordinaire Pharrell to sprinkle some of his pop gold dust on the lead single from her third album A Perfect Contradiction Paloma was back with a bang in February this year. The result was a sizzling combination of sassy Paloma’s theatrical performance and delivery and Pharrell funktastic beats

43) Gorgon City – Ready for Your Love

Deep house came out in force this year and Gorgon City planted themselves firmly at the forefront of this movement early on with the slow-burning, understated “Ready for Your Love”. Upcoming artists MNEK’s soulful vocals combined with the minimal beat and smooth synths created an irresistible, club-ready banger which was damn near impossible to avoid this year.

42) Sigma – Nobody to Love

British drum and bass duo Sigma broke through to the mainstream this year with their stunning, euphoric debut single “Nobody to Love” which started out as a bootleg remix of Kanye West’s “Bound 2”. The group were smart enough to take the hideous Kanye rap out of the song, leaving them with the catchy soulful chorus which was sung by non-other than former Popstars: the Rivals contestant Daniel Pearce who had won as part of the boyband One True Voice but later faded in the wake of the more popular Girls Aloud.

41) Ed Sheeran – Don’t

Originally planned to be the lead single from Sheeran’s sophomore album X “Don’t” was later passed over in favour of “Sing”. Nevertheless, it was chosen as the second release from the studio set and managed to peak top ten both sides of the Atlantic and to propel the singer’s album to greater success. Although he initially kept the identity of the subject of “Don’t” secret, he later admitted that it was written about his ex-girlfriend Ellie Goulding who cheated on him with One Directioner Niall Horan. Ouch!

Thanks for reading and don’t miss the next installment. Coming very soon!

The Best Songs of 2014: 100-81

Join me as I progressively count down the top 100 songs of 2014. It’s been a very varied and interesting year in the world of pop. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see who has been kicking major ass this year! Let’s get into it:

100) Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)

The Voice must have breathed a sigh of relief when the first of its alumni Becky Hill managed to bag a UK no.1 single when futuristic house track “Gecko (Overdrive)” soared to the top spot in June. You could barely step into a club in 2014 without hearing her power vocals layered with these blotchy deep house beats.

99) The Script – Superheroes

It’s actually hard not to be inspired by “Superheroes”, the lead single from the Scripts latest studio album No Sound Without Silence. It has all the hallmarks of another epic Script classic.

98) Rixton – Me and My Broken Heart

New kids on the block British boy band Rixton notched up their first UK No.1 single when “Me and My Broken Heart” soared to the top of the charts in the summer. They also managed to infiltrate the notoriously difficult US charts with this incessantly catchy number.

97) MKTO – Classic

Californian duo MKTO bagged their first international top 30 smash this year with the irrepressibly sunny “Classic”. It effortlessly channels the Jackson Five and old school soul.

96) Charli XCX – Break the Rules

What a year Charli XCX has had! After the success of “Boom Clap” came the trashy, raucous “Break the Rules” which took pop back to school. It may have not managed to match her previous singles success but it certainly caused an impression with its rebellious electropunk style.

95) CHVRCHES – Recover

Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES are another act who have had an incredible year. Their debut album The Bones of What You Believe has been a slow-burning transatlantic smash, churning out distinctive electropop tunes left, right and centre. The 2014 re-release of “Recover” may not have set the charts alight but it did manage to reinfect us with its sheer catchiness all over again. Just when we were about to recover….

94) Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious

Ellie somehow managed to reach new realms of amazingness in 2014 and part of that is due to the high-pitched, hyper energetic “Goodness Gracious” which was released as the second single from the repackaged version of Halcyon Days and managed to push the studio set back to No.1 in January. Beats don’t get much bouncier than this.

93) Tiesto Feat. Matthew Koma – Wasted

2014 has proved to be a big commercial comeback year for Dutch DJ Tiesto who has managed to notch up not 1 but 2 global smashes with “Red Lights” and “Wasted”. The shout along chorus of “Wasted” was practically inescapable all summer and served as the soundtrack to many a summer festival.

92) Duke Dumont Feat. Jax Jones – I Got U

Capitalising on Whitney nostalgia, Duke Dumont managed to secure himself a consecutive No.1 single when he released the first song of the summer “I Got U” in March. Steel drums, chilled vocals, layed-back synths. What’s not to like?

91) Becky G – Shower

Having been knocking on the door of global success for a while, Becky G finally crossed over in 2014 with the Dr. Luke (Ke$ha, GRL) produced “Shower” which became her first charting solo single. “Shower” managed to go top 20 in the US and chart throughout Europe. I’m sure someone’s singing it in the shower right now.

90) Fuse ODG Feat. Sean Paul – Dangerous Love

British-Ghanaian singer-rapper Fuse ODG was no stranger to commercial success, having bagged himself two UK top ten singles in 2013 alone. But upon release “Dangerous Love” became his biggest hit to date and successfully brought African beats back in a big way, securing its place on the radio waves all summer long.

89) Calvin Harris Feat. Ellie Goulding – Outside

This probably deserves to be higher on the list but seeing as its fairly new I think it still needs a bit of time to mature. It’s essentially “I Need Your Love” part two but probably better or, if not, just as good. Ellie’s ethereal, almost spooky vocals bring this tune to a new level and Calvin’s beats are typically euphoric. One for the gym playlist for years to come.

88) George Ezra – Blame it on Me

George Ezra kind of just crept up on us didn’t he? Soon after the runaway smash “Budapest” came  “Blame It On Me” which also cracked the UK top 10. His bellowing, bassy tones are used to even greater effect on “Blame it On Me” which retains the organic feel of his previous hits without sacrificing one iota of catchiness.

87) Jessie Ware – Tough Love

After a highly critically acclaimed debut album Jessie Ware managed to get her first top 40 single with “Tough Love” this summer which stood out among the glut of EDM bangers for its spacious, unhurried nature. Jessie’s hallmark breathless yet soothing vocals were also back in force to make this one of her best songs to date.

86) Lily Allen – Air Balloon

Lily may have not had the comeback she wanted this year, with her third studio effort Sheezus falling well short of her previous albums in terms of sales. But, while the album may have been hit and miss, the singles were pure genius. “Air Balloon” is just pure pop at its best. It may not boast the snappy, satirical lyrics that were used to from Allen but its MIA-esque kookiness and synth-hooks were more than enough to keep us listening in 2014.

85) Azaelia Banks – Chasing Time 

Let’s face it. We had all written off Azaelia Banks as the foul mouthed, aggressive bitch that she comes across as on Twitter. But the flash release of “Chasing Time” and its parent album Broke with Expensive Taste a few weeks ago managed to redeem the singer’s ailing career by reminding us why we fell in love with the 212 rapper in the first place.

84) Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Love Is A Camera

After a star turn on last year’s Strictly Come Dancing Sophie Ellis-Bextor decided to switch up the game in 2014 by taking a completely new musical direction. Her fifth studio album Wanderlust was released in January and has proved to be her most successful in years. The third single “Love is a Camera” is a masterpiece of chamber music, featuring a baroque tango vibe and a killer breakdown at the end.

83) Hozier – Take me to Church

Irish singer Hozier burst out of nowhere to take us to church and back with his debut single. Arguably capitalising on the popularity of Imagine Dragons’ sound in 2013 he emerged as their immediate successors late this year and grabbed himself a shock worldwide smash with the epic, stomping “Take Me to Church”.

82) Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

“I Blame Myself” is probably one of the more poppier moments on Sky’s debut studi album Night Time, My Time, which is by the way one of the best albums I have heard ever. “I Blame Myself” was taken as the second single in summer 2014 and shows the singer accepting her negative public image and even blaming herself for it. Refreshingly honest.

81) La Roux – Uptight Downtown

It was a hell of a long wait for La Roux’s sophomore album but it was definitely worth it. Trouble in Paradise may be on the light side with only 9 tracks but there’s not a dud on it. “Uptight Downtown” was the lead single and kicks off the album in style with a 70’s disco beat.

Join me next time for the next installment of this years top 100 best songs!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment

The Smokin’ Hot 11 of September

September has been kind to us and here’s 11 of the hottest tracks at the moment:

11) One Direction – Fireproof

One Direction Four
Two pictures for the price of one. Sadly they look just as gormless in both.

Sorry for the rant but One Direction are one of those annoying boy bands whose careers are primarily fuelled by hysterical teenagers who are in love with at least one of the members of the band. I didn’t like them on the X Factor and I like them just as much in real life. Of all the acts which have emerged from the X Factor in 2010 (let alone from all the other series) One Direction are one of my least favourite. However…..despite my frank disdain for all things One Direction I do believe that they have been very well managed. This is one of the times when Simon Cowell has managed to tune into the public psyche very well. The world was missing a soulful boy band à la Take That and One Direction fit the bill perfectly. Songs like “Story of my Life” did actually manage to give the band a shred of credibility and even made hardened haters like me begin to take notice. So for their fourth album, which is imaginatively titled Four, One Direction have decided to pursue the “Story of my Life” avenue further with the first promotional single “Fireproof”. Although essentially it has only been released to whet the public’s appetite before the release of the lead single proper “Steal My Girl”, I’m betting “Fireproof” turns out to be much better quality. For one thing the group’s harmonies on “Fireproof” are the best they have ever been and the chorus is immediately catchy. The whole piece has a chilled out ghostly feel to it It has made me slightly rethink my attitude towards One Direction. Might have a sneaky snoop at the album when it comes out and decide whether 1D are worth bothering with after all.

10) Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband

Meghan Trainor Dear Future Husband
This picture gives me a headache

I did want to put this one higher in the list because it is undeniably a stonking jam of epic proportions. However, I’ve been slightly put off because of the backing beat’s creeping similarity to Olly Murs’ UK No.1 single “Dance with Me Tonight”. It’s such a shame because the lyrics are witty and well written, but the similarity is too clear to overlook. If no-one picks up on this one I’ll be very shocked as its much more obvious than, say, the similarity between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” or “Brave” and “Roar”. This is literally the same beat. I’d be willing to give Meghan the benefit of the doubt as she may not have ever heard of Olly Murs, he has only had the one hit with “Troublemaker” in the US after all. Plus she clearly doesn’t need to copy other people as demonstrated by the success of “All About that Bass”. I’ll let you decide whether she should be condemned and cast asunder.

9) Jennifer Lopez Feat. Iggy Azalea – Booty

Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea Booty
If you want a hit Jennifer you’re gonna have to get greasy with Iggy Azalea. Jennifer: “I don’t mind at all”

What do you do when your album takes a massive belly flop and disappears from the charts only a few weeks after release? What do you do when your last couple of singles failed to garner any radio airplay or chart success? You pull out the big guns, that’s what! And we all know what JLO has got some pretty big ones that she ain’t shy about showing off. Oh yes and you ditch Pitbull because, well been there done that three times (“On the Floor”, “Dance Again”, “Live It Up”), and rope in popstar of the minute, the generously proportioned Iggy Azalea, to add some extra jelly for shakin’. As if JLO didn’t already have enough. The thing is that JLO didn’t even want to include “Booty” on her album in the first place. She thought that the title was too crass and was only persuaded to include it by her children after playing it to them in the car. But really she should be very glad she did record it because it’s the only single on the album that is capable of reviving the flagging sales. “Booty” is, of course, lyrically on trend and acts as the successor to Miley Cyrus’ twerking-inspired hits of last year while she is busy preparing another horrifyingly fascinating LP for us all to enjoy. It also follows on from Jason Derulo’s middle-eastern inspired sound, particularly “Talk Dirty”. Basically, should you choose to look beyond the tacky glitz of “Booty”, you will undoubtedly see that it is nothing more than a cold and calculated career move, but with both JLO’s and Azalea’s booties in the way now, who is going to bother looking past when the view is so good.

8) Jessie Ware – Say You Love Me

Jessie Ware Say You Love Me
Cheer the bloody hell up woman

Jessie Ware is one of those artists who might have slipped under your radar if you haven’t been paying close attention to the British music scene over the past couple of years. Her debut album Devotion managed to peak top 5 in 2012 despite failing to yield a top 40 single and was heralded by critics as one of the best releases of the year. Now Jessie is back and has been slowly teasing the release of her latest soon-to-be masterpiece Tough Love throughout 2014. The campaign started with the release of the fantastic lead single “Tough Love” which managed to peak at No.34, becoming Ware’s first top 40 single, and now she has released the video for the ethereal “Say You Love Me”. The sparse styling of the single lets Jessie’s measured song writing breathe like a fine wine and the Ed Sheeran-assisted epic choral line around the 3:15 mark gives me some hope as to the single’s commercial appeal. This could be the breakthrough Jessie’s been looking for.

7) La Roux – Kiss and Not Tell

La Roux Kiss and Not Tell
Times are hard for La Roux

“Kiss and Not Tell” is the second single from La Roux’s already underappreciated sophomore effort Trouble in Paradise and probably the only song on the album which is capable of reviving the album’s flagging sales. “Kiss and Not Tell” boasts a warmer and sunnier disposition in comparison with, say, “Bulletproof” or “In for the Kill”, but manages to retain La Roux’s quirky signature style. In fact, “Kiss and Not Tell” is an indisputable pop gem which is more than capable of standing on its own two feet. The perky 80’s synth line froths and bubbles throughout the track resulting in a peppy, uplifting bounciness which should provide for perfect radio fodder. After all, in a music world dominated by crashing beats, drops and overproduction, La Roux stands out for their uncomplicated hooks. Sometimes the simplest tracks are the best.

6) Chris Brown Feat. Ariana Grande – Don’t Be Gone Too Long

Chris Brown Ariana Grande Don't Be Gone too long
Watch out Ariana he’s behind you!

I did swear that I’d never listen to another Chris Brown song after “the Rihanna incident”, but seeing as pop-starlet of the moment Ariana Grande has a prominent part on this one I can just ignore Brown and gorge on the Grande goodness. “Don’t Be Gone Too Long” grabs you from the very beginning with that throbbing 808 and Grande and Brown’s perfectly blended voices. Hold that thought, bloody hell their voices blend so well. That’s disturbing. It’s as if they were the male and female counterparts of the same person. Erm…tangent alert. Sorry. Anyway, “Don’t Be Gone Too Long” confirms my belief that anything that Grande is on currently is going to be ridiculously good. Plus, the Game of Thrones-inspired video is pretty exciting. “Don’t Be Gone too Long” is a moody, pensive affair which manages to stay the right side of epic without straying into emo territory. Good for them.

5) Mary Lambert – Secrets

Mary Lambert Secrets
Secrets are meant to stay secret Mary

Best known as the female singer in hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ same-sex marriage themed hit single “Same Love”, Mary Lambert is now on the verge of releasing her first major label album Heart on My Sleeve. On lead single “Secrets”, you can’t fail to notice Lambert’s barely-concealed glee in revealing all her deepest darkest secrets in her Lily Allen-esque sing-song voice. This refreshingly candid attitude is reminiscent of Meghan Trainor’s recent booty-themed “All About that Bass” which could be a good move for Lambert as it seems like self-acceptance tracks of this ilk are the order of the day for late 2014. I don’t know what’s so wrong about using an analogue clock though. Still the cheerful trumpeting and good dose of comic relief will surely help this become a breakthrough smash for Lambert. Diary of a Pop Fan likes a popstar with humility and as long as her tracks stay this smart and catchy, Lambert could become a permanent fixture in pop, especially with a video that features her dressed as a Nordic opera singer reaching notes that only bats can appreciate.

4) Nicole Scherzinger – On the Rocks

Nicole Scherzinger On the Rocks
A very lady-like pose

First things first, the title of Nicole’s new album has been announced as being Big Fat Lie, which is possibly one of the most ridiculous album titles I’ve ever heard and suggests that man-celebrating lead single “Your Love” was pretty misleading as to the lyrical direction of the album. Sounds like it’s a bit more heartbreak-centric than “Your Love” would have us believe. And, if second single “On the Rocks” is anything to go by, our Scherzy has been having a pretty rough time of it. “On the Rocks” is a mid-tempo ballad with a prominent, thumping drum line which lyrically relies on the repeated use of the line “serving a break-up on the rocks”. Now correct me if I’m wrong but is our Scherzy trying to make a pun here? A relationship can be “on the rocks”, meaning going through a rough patch, and a drink can also be “on the rocks”, meaning with ice. Oh Scherzy you’re such a wit! Joking aside, “On the Rocks” is a solid piece of R&B pop which will hopefully give Nicole’s career some badly needed street cred. I’m slightly doubtful of its ability to light up the charts though as I don’t think it’s showy or annoying enough, which is a very good thing in terms of quality but not so good in terms of chart position.

3) Mary J. Blige Feat. Disclosure – Right Now

Mary J Blige Disclosure Right Now
Doesn’t she have people to walk for her?

This much is clear. Someone obviously sat up and took notice of Mary J’s collaboration with Disclosure on the exhilarating club smash “F for You”. And thank god they did! That’s why Mary has decided to collaborate with Disclosure again to produce the lead single from her upcoming 13th studio album The London Sessions. However, “Right Now” isn’t the “F for You” rehash that it could have been. For one thing it’s heavier on the lyrics (Mary certainly had something to do with that) and there’s much more personality, something which can easily get diluted amidst the overpowering Disclosure-y synths and effectively convert the singer into a robot. Luckily, if anyone has enough personality to withstand such an onslaught, it’s Mary J. “Right Now” is the most exciting lead single she has released since “Family Affair” and proves that Blige is still as relevant today as she was in 1992 which makes us very excited for The London Sessions.

2) Charli XCX – Break the Rules

Charli XCX Break the Rules
Charli’s mission is to bring duck lips back into fashion

Having already had a hand in two of the biggest hits of the year “Fancy” and “Boom Clap”, as well as on Icona Pop’s smash hit “I Love It”, anything Charli XCX releases now is sure to be a massive hit. Luckily, “Break the Rules” is pretty awesome so I can definitely make my peace with hearing this on repeat for the whole winter. I think “Break the Rules is much more representative of who Charli XCX is than “Boom Clap” as well. She has a very British rough-around-the-edges attitude going on which has obviously translated well into record sales across the pond as well as on her home turf. “Break the Rules” is also infinitely more fun than “Boom Clap” and plays on the classic bad girl rebel at school persona which has become almost a stock character in pop culture. This has all the hallmarks of a huge global smash and that sick, throbbing backing beat would make even a nun feel like grinding up and down on a pole. Fact!

1) Ella Henderson – Glow

Ella Henderson Glow
All good popstars should be possessed by the devil

The past couple of months have seen X Factor finalist Ella Henderson transcended her roots and become a bonafide popstar in her own right which is all down to her dedication, songwriting skills and admirable pipes. Now, as she is looking to solidify her position as the new Leona Lewis, she sneaks into epic ballad territory with latest single “Glow” which will almost certainly keep her from descending into one-hit-wonder territory. This one is more of a grower than “Ghost” and features a weird sighing sound playing during the verses which is slightly reminiscent of a pedophile deep breathing at the other end of the phone. Despite all that however, it works. And very well at that. After a few listens the crashing, bombastic chorus will get lodged in your cranium. In fact, you can even see her performing it in a long flowing dress with moody, spectral lighting (in reference to the name “Glow”) on the X Factor in a few weeks. It’s also kind of Halloween-y in so far as it’s got a spooky vibe going on. Basically, it’s a great song and its release has been time to perfection. All hail the new X Factor queen (sorry Cheryl).

And, seeing as it’s No.1 on Diary of a Pop Fan’s list, here’s a bonus acoustic version: