Mainstream pop radio is pretty good these days. “Radio” might be kind of an outdated distinction. Lots of us fill our cars with Spotify playlists or podcasts, and the some of the biggest bands and artists aren’t even the ones you’d ever hear on KIIS FM. (Although, radio stations, if you’re reading this please play The 1975.) But even in the streaming age, there are those songs you hear everywhere — at clubs, in the grocery store checkout line, in your mom’s car, pumping through your little sister’s headphones. Listeners have more choice than ever, but some songs still get massive.
These are the best of them, from spring smashes (Zedd and Maren Morris’ “The Middle”) to songs that are on the way up (Little Mix’s “Woman Like Me.”) Some of these are already smash singles, and others are album standouts that are prime for single choosing (please, please make “LA Girls” your next single, Charlie Puth). Mainstream pop radio is pretty good these days. Queue up Spotify and take a listen.
5 Seconds of Summer, “Youngblood”
“Youngblood” is the Aussie pop punks’ first massive radio hit. Since the band’s third studio album was released in June (the same week as Beyoncé and Jay Z’s, even outselling them), “Youngblood” has been unstoppable. It’s currently number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and inching higher week by week. It’s high-energy and fun, and Luke Hemmings’ voice is electric.
Ariana Grande, “Breathin”
“Breathin” is determined and danceable, and listening to it, you feel like you’re capable accomplishing of anything. It’s one of the biggest highlights of Sweetener, an album where every track is a highlight.
Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse”
If most country radio stations are too stodgy to spin Musgraves’ honest depictions of small-town life or progressive celebrations of love and difference, it’s their loss. Musgraves conquered pop radio this year with “High Horse,” the best country-disco since Miss Dolly herself.
Charlie Puth, “LA Girls”
Just as Charlie Puth is helpless to the seduction of women from Los Angeles, I am helpless to the seduction of this song’s bassline.
Cardi B, Feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “I Like It”
With a couple months of distance, we can all agree this was the song of the summer, right? And make it the song of the fall, too — I’ll never get tired of hearing Cardi kill those verses.
Drake, “In My Feelings”
“Summer Games” is still my favorite song off Scorpion, but somewhere in the middle of its radio domination this summer I grew to love “In My Feelings.” Drake had better make “Summer Games” his next single, though.