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Top 10 Reggae Pop Songs

The Best Reggae Pop Hits


In 1972, Johnny Nash soared to the top of the pop charts with the classic I Can See Clearly Now set to a Jamaican reggae beat. Ever since reggae, and a few Caribbean variants, has been a part of the pop music scene. Here is our list of the Top 10 Reggae Pop hits of all time.

For more details on the reggae genre, check out the Reggae Guide.

1. Johnny Nash - "I Can See Clearly Now" (1972)

Courtesy Epic

Johnny Nash began recording pop music in the 1950's, but he didn't begin recording reggae-influenced music until the late 1960's after returning from a promotional tour to Jamaica. He recorded reggae-influenced covers of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" and Bob Marley's "Stir It Up" before releasing the smash hit "I Can See Clearly Now" in 1972. It spent 4 weeks at #1 on the pop chart and is instantly familiar for the line "I can see clearly now the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way."

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2. Sean Paul - "Temperature" (2006)

Sean Paul - "Temperature"
Courtesy Atlantic

Sean Paul hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a second time with this aggressively romantic dancehall hit.

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3. Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers - "Tomorrow People" (1988)

Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers - Conscious Party
Courtesy Virgin

Ziggy is the son of reggae legend Bob Marley. He reached the pop top 40 with this uplifting anthem produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. It's a beautiful reggae ballad with a theme of respecting the past and holding love in your heart.

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4. K'naan - "Wavin' Flag" (2009)

K'naan - "Wavin' Flag"
Courtesy A&M / Octone

Somali-Canadian artist K'naan is clearly influenced by the sound and spirit of the legendary Bob Marley. However, he brings into his music African beats, rapping, and pop melody for an international sound that sent this song into the pop top 10 in countries around the world after it was chosen as an official song to help celebrate the 2010 World Cup.

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5. Shaggy - "It Wasn't Me" (2000)

Shaggy - "It Wasn't Me"
Courtesy MCA

In the late 1990's, Shaggy, nicknamed after the Scooby-Doo character, became the most popular dancehall reggae artist in the world. In this instant classic Shaggy dispenses questionable advice to a friend caught with another woman by his girlfriend over an irresistible Jamaican beat. "It Wasn't Me" reached #1 on the pop singles chart.

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6. Eddy Grant - "Electric Avenue" (1983)

Eddy Grant - Killer On the Rampage
Courtesy Sony

Born in Guyana, Eddy Grant had been producing and recording reggae for over a decade before "Electric Avenue" made him a worldwide star. The song actually spans a number of genres including a heavy slice of electronic funk in its musical blender. After it climbed to #2 on the pop chart, it seemed that everyone wanted to "rock down to Electric Avenue."

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7. Sean Kingston - "Beautiful Girls" (2007)

Sean Kingston - Sean Kingston
courtesy Beluga Heights

Jamaican raised Sean Kingston became a pop star as a teenager with this simple pop reggae song built on top of sampling from Ben E. King's classic "Stand By Me."

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8. Ini Kamoze - "Here Comes the Hotstepper" (1995)

Ini Kamoze - "Here Comes the Hotstepper"
Courtesy Columbia

Ini Kamoze was just one of many practitioners of the Jamaican variant of dancehall reggae called ragamuffin, using digital music tracks to back live singing, until "Here Comes the Hotstepper" appeared. "Hotstepper" is Jamaican patois for a man on the run from the law. The song was used as a key part of the film Ready To Wear (Pret-a-Porter). The song hit #1 on the pop chart in 1995.

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9. Inner Circle - "Bad Boys" (1993)

Inner Circle - "Bad Boys"
Courtesy Big Beat

Originally recorded in 1987, the song "Bad Boys" didn't become a hit single in the U.S. until it was picked up as the theme song for the Fox network's reality show Cops. Despite its pop success, landing in the top 10, it remains a rather dark, stern warning about the consequences of coming up against the law. The skeletal dancehall beats lend an intoxicating aura of possible menace.

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10. Musical Youth - "Pass the Dutchie" (1983)

Musical Youth - Youth Of Today
Courtesy MCA

When these musically gifted Jamaican teenagers stormed the pop top 10 in 1983 they seemed like a Jamaican version of the Jackson 5. Despite the fact their signature hit was a barely reworked version of a Mighty Diamonds song extolling the virtues of marijuana (dutchie, meaning cooking pot, replaced kutchie, a word for marijuana, included in the original), the world was charmed. Unfortunately, success was fleeting, but this song remains a classic.

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