Pop music is finally getting its due. Though plenty of people the world over (read: mostly teen girls) have long known that pop is just if not more deserving of praise and critical attention as, say, indie rock is, over the last couple years the rise of poptimism has changed the critical landscape tremendously. To help celebrate that fact, we’ve rounded up some of the best pop songs to come out so far in 2018, giving them the thorough praise and critical eye that the genre has long deserved, and so rarely received. Welcome to the future, baby.
20. “One Kiss,” Calvin Harris Feat. Dua Lipa
“One Kiss” is a hypnotic summer club jam from the king of hypnotic summer club jams. The song is more house-y than a lot of Harris’ other work, but Dua’s playful vocals and the summery synths keep “One Kiss” fresh and radio-friendly.–C.G.
19. “Nostalgia,” MØ
“Nostalgia” is the Danish electro-pop singer’s first release of 2018, and it’s a dynamic kickoff. The song’s lyrics are aching, but the bright chorus leads into some cathartic final lines “the sun shines when the clouds break.” MØ told Idolator that the song would “part of a bigger rollout” for a release this year, and whatever else she has in store for us can’t come soon enough.–C.G.
18. “Sky Full Of Song,” Florence + The Machine
Long beloved for her ability to create a tempest in a teacup, and gently place the pair in a warm, technicolor pop song, Florence Welch has pulled off that delicious trick once again on the thunderous “Sky Full Of Song.” In the song’s most poignant line she sings “I want you so badly / but you could be anyone,” summing up a million dizzied, desiring hearts in a short, thundering couplet. One of the first tastes of her new album, High As Hope the song threatens to erupt into cloudbreak, but never does. For Florence + The Machine, that tension holds as much power as most songwriters’ hooks–C.W.
17. “Graffiti,” Chvrches
Though their latest album, Love is Dead, was more uneven than Chvrches’ previous work, “Graffiti” is a highlight. It’s a nostalgic, sunny power ballad, with singer Lauren Mayberry’s vocals climbing higher and higher on every chorus.–C.G.
16. “Into It,” Camila Cabello
While I still fawn over Camila’s overlooked shoulda-been-breakout-hit “OMG” (featuring Quavo!), that song firmly came out in 2017 and it isn’t even on Camila (a crime!), so it’s not eligible. No matter, literally any gem off Cabello’s debut self-titled record Camila could slot onto this list, but I love the sex-pop coyly doe-eyed “Into It” that name checks a king sized bed without ever getting explicit. When a couch is the best place in the world because you’re sitting on it with your crush, this is the song to hit play on.–C.W.