15. MØ — ‘Final Song’
The Official Song Of The Summer.
14. Alicia Keys — ‘In Common’ (Kaskade radio mix)
You cannot go wrong with conversational pop lyrics. “We’ve got way too much in common, if I’m being honest with you” is just great. It’s like putting “to be frank I think this is a complete fiasco” in a pop song. Play Kaskade’s version next to Alicia’s original and you’ll realise the subtlety of his work on this extraordinary remix, and if you feel like it’s over too soon don’t panic, there’s a version that’s 63 seconds longer.
13. The Weeknd and Daft Punk — ‘Starboy’
The “Star Trek roof in that Wraith of Kahn” line is a definite 10/10. How much of this song do you reckon Daft Punk actually produced? Like, when you consider the production credits also include Cirkut and Doc McKinney, who both worked on the majority of the rest of the album, wouldn’t you assume that Daft Punk just got the pretty-much-finished song and dicked around with it a bit? It’s a mystery whose bottom we may never glimpse.
12. Clean Bandit and Sean Paul and Annie-Marie — ‘Rockabye’
11. Beyoncé — ‘Formation’
For reasons too boring and annoying to go into ‘Formation’ isn’t on Spotify, meaning that for this list’s accompanying Spotify playlist we’ve had to select one of those ropey cover versions. The one we’ve picked is by a made-up artist called ‘Boom Boxx’, and guess what: it still sounds alright. Like, if it was a self-produced track by a new artist, it’d be good enough to get a premiere on The Fader’s website, or a couple of plays on specialist radio. Good enough to get some producers offering to help via Soundcloud, or some A&R attention, maybe leading to a development deal. The point being that when a song’s good enough to withstand the Ropey Spotify Cover Version Test, you know you’re onto a winner. (NB: Boom Boxx’s version of ‘Pillowtalk’ is absolute shit.)
10. The 1975 — ‘A Change Of Heart’
As a music fan it’s hard to beat the feeling of finding out about a band really early on and seeing something special in their songs. It’s hard to beat the feeling of seeing them live in tiny, shitting little venues before they’re signed, then championing them to anyone who’ll listen, and seeing that band gradually accumulate fans, critical plaudits and record sales. And it’s hard to beat the sensation of seeing that band take a bold and brilliant step forward on their second album, and being able to say to yourself: I was there right at the start. But while it’s hard to beat all that, it’s not impossible. Because what’s even better is letting other people worry about all that early stuff then jumping on board the bandwagon once the band are making music you like. It saves a lot of time and stress.
9. Sia and Sean Paul — ‘Cheap Thrills’
“BIDDA BANG BANG”.
8. Christie and The Dream Beats — ‘Wasn’t My Fault’
The greatest Kelly Clarkson song that never was.
7. Dua Lipa — ‘Hotter Than Hell’
Dua Lipa’s big superstar pop moment, if you ignore the fact that everyone prefers ‘Be The One’ (which should have been a LOT higher on last year’s Top 45 Singles list, sorry about that). As we wrote when it was released, the song was a good example of the 2016 tropical sound being weaved into a pop banger without the existing track being smothered.
6. Becky Hill and Matoma — ‘False Alarm’
SPEAKING OF TROPICAL, there’s no mistaking the Liltpop influence when it comes to ‘False Alarm’. Call in the CSI: TROP-POP team and you’ll find traces of pineapple under the song’s fingernails, indicating a struggle. You’ll find an arc of grapefruit across the wall and ceiling, showing that Matoma repeatedly attacked this song with a blunt production instrument. Buried deep inside this song’s throat is a tiny mango — a ‘signature’ Matoma knew would be found, suggesting that he actually wants to be caught. But the B-Hill song at the heart of it all: bloody hell, what a song, and what a vocal. You can see why Rihanna wanted it, can’t you?
5. Ariana Grande — ‘Into You’
Much as we liked ‘Side To Side’ — a mainstream pop single which, lest we forget, concerned itself with being bonked so effectively that it’s impossible to walk straight — it was ‘Into You’ that properly hit the spot in 2016.
4. KDA and Tinashe — ‘Just Say’
Why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single why wasn’t this a Number One single wh
3. The 1975 — ‘Somebody Else’
In September we held our annual Twenty Quid Music Prize. As ever, the judging took place in a room above a pub, and involved about fifty increasingly inebriated Popjustice readers arguing over twelve shortlisted British pop singles. There was a point, near the end of the evening, where it looked like ‘Somebody Else’ could have won the twenty quid (cash) prize. And there was a point even nearer the end of the evening when we thought it wouldn’t, and tried to steer the votes in its favour. The judges weren’t having any of it and Zayn’s anthropomorphic headrest anthem won instead, but ‘Somebody Else’, a song apparently originally written for One Direction but brought to life with such amazingness by The 1975 that even the ‘dulcet’ ‘tones’ of Louis Tomlinson couldn’t have improved it, is a timeless masterpiece.
2. Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla $ign — ‘Work From Home’
It’s strange to see a band hit its creative stride just as it starts to disintegrate, but whatever 2017 holds for Fifth Harmony we’ll always have spacious freelancebanger ‘Work From Home’. Of course this song isn’t actually about working from home — Fifth Harmony have simply deployed an ‘extended metaphor’, and this song is actually about fucking.
At this point you’re probably wondering what the best single of 2016 is gonna be.
1. Shura — ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’
The song of the year from one of the albums of the year, and if the beauty of this tune doesn’t hit you round the head every time you hear it you might as well pack up and go home because it’s over. It’s all over.
And that brings our list to a close. Not great news for Calum Scott, but pretty good news for pop’s best people. Here’s the whole lot as a Spotify playlist, which is basically three hours of total amazingness.