2011 has been an outstanding year so far for the best in pop music. The boundaries of what songs are played on current pop radio has been stretched to move beyond simple dance pop and include bluesy elements, indie rock, and acoustic singer-songwriter pop among others. These are the 10 best pop songs so far.
Somewhere bubblegum pop collided with hip hop, a strong dose of attitude was thrown in, and we got something like Nicki Minaj's first top 10 solo hit "Super Bass." The "boom ba doom boom, boom ba doom boom" is one of the catchiest lines of the year in pop. Somehow Nicki Minaj weaves in massive expression in her raps that goes well beyond the wordplay. You can hear her facial moves through her voice. This is not only a triumph for Nicki Minaj, but also the biggest success yet for red hot young producer Kane Beatz who has also produced Lupe Fiasco's top 10 smash "The Show Goes On."
This is the third single from OneRepublic's album Waking Up, and it is arguably the best yet. Ryan Tedder and company roll out another instantly engaging slice of their self-described genre-less pop music. This is the type of pop song that you can hear and it will likely lighten even the darkest of moods.
Pitbull is a major part of the success of "On the Floor" above, but on his own track he takes the smooth party groove even further. Of course, Ne-Yo crooning the chorus over AfroJack's Euro beats is a pop moment of transcendent beauty. This is the weekend party song for the summer of 2011 and beyond.
The simplicity of the sound of Colbie Caillat's hit singles mask the brilliant craft behind the construction of the recordings. "I Do" is a picture perfect upbeat bit of pop that will be a welcome addition to the canon of pop wedding songs. When you find that person for whom you want to say "I Do," this will be the song to replay in your head.
Tinie Tempah has blasted into the pop charts in the US in stunning fashion. "Written In the Stars" is an autobiographical blend of pop and hip hop that soars from the opening chorus sung by aspiring singer-songwriter Eric Turner. Tinie Tempah is single-handedly kicking open the doors on this side of the Atlantic for UK hip hop artists.
This big alternative hit from L.A.'s indie outfit Foster the People is still looking for a significant mainstream pop breakthrough, but one listen and you will understand how deserving it is. The grooving bass, upbeat sounding chorus, and chilling lyrics about youth and gun violence add up to a song that is not easily forgotten. If you want engrossing depth in a pop song, this is where to find it.
This is the slow burning, slowly ingratiating hit of the year so far. Upon its initial arrival, it was difficult to see "E.T." becoming a massive #1 pop hit. Now, after it spent five weeks at the top, it is easier to see the charms. There is something distinctly unforgettable about the addictive erotic ecstasy Katy Perry describes here. Kanye West's rap may have been added as an afterthought, but his line about "alien sex, disrobing, and probing" is another clear, arresting focal point for "E.T."
Regardless of any questions about whether Britney Spears's dance talents are up to par or the quality of her singing voice matches her peers, she does know how to pull together stellar in-studio talent to craft music that sounds like no one else but her. "Hold It Against Me" confidently pulls the crowd out to the dancefloor and introduces new moves through an exhilarating dub step breakdown. This is a pop legend at the peak of her powers.
From the first time through, "Born This Way" sounded like a pop landmark, and audiences responded in kind. It opened on the charts at #1 and did not let go for six weeks. Nearly four months and three more Lady Gaga singles later, it is still in the pop top 20. Simply put, "Born This Way" says things no other mainstream pop artist has had the audacity to say before, and it is accompanied by bracing pop disco that honors instead of copies the work of another pop icon, Madonna.
This is the song that has launched Adele into the stratosphere as an international pop superstar. "Rolling In the Deep" and its blend of blues, gospel, pop, and even disco is pure artistry. Raw emotion has rarely been conveyed in pop music in such a moving fashion. This is a timeless classic.