What an amazing year for pop music! We say that every year, right? It's almost as if pop music is always amazing. Month in, month out, year after year. A solid, endless cavalcade of amaz­ing­ness.

This year's Top 45 is all over the place, in a quite brilliant way. There are guitars, there are synths. There are happy songs and there are sad songs. There are smashes and flops, bangers and bops. Some songs have over half a billion Spotify streams, one has just 89,000.

First off, and clicking the green button below will obviously lead to spoilers for anyone who revels in the arti­fi­cially engin­eered suspense of a countdown from 45 to one, there's a playlist.

The playlist works like this:

  • Best at the top
  • Then the other 44 in order
  • Then a load of other songs too brilliant not to be included somewhere in an end-of-year singles roundup, and which at one point or another were con­sidered for the Top 45, alpha­bet­ic­ally.

Now 'without furtho ado', here's the countdown.

45

Dean Lewis — Be Alright

What a way to start the countdown! There's a bit in the Popjustice about page about how you shouldn't ever have to apologise for liking the pop you like but, well… Look. This song is object­ively terrible in many ways. You are going to abso­lutely hit the roof when you realise which songs haven't made the list. But Be Alright is also amazing. And the Number 45 slot was going to be this or Pitbull's version of Toto's Africa, so let's just accept the majesty of Dean Lewis and his autumnal bop, and move on.

44

WE ARE…
by Noah Cyrus and MØ

In one sense it feels as if it's perhaps time for the crazy Noah Cyrus exper­i­ment to be knocked on the head. In another sense, she has as many monthly Spotify listeners as The 1975, so carry on? IN ANY CASE the Max Martin-'helmed' We Are…, which after a slew of teaser tracks felt like Noah's first full-on attempt to have a hit record, was a super-smart song about self-loathing, celebrity, social media, the envir­on­ment and con­sumer­ism. (If you think parts sound a bit like Lorde it's probably because an uncred­ited co-writer on this song is… Lorde.)

43

HEART TO BREAK
by Kim Petras

You spend most of Heart To Break expecting the song, at any moment, to burst into Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's still hard to figure out how (or if) to cover The Recorded Output Of Kim Petras, but Popjustice's year end singles should kind of reflect the year's best singles, and Kim made one of them, so here we are. 

42

SANCTIFY
by Years & Years

A luxurious sexballad in which Olly Alexander discusses the ins and outs — quite literally!! — of straight men entering into Relations with gay popstars.

41

X-RAY
by Tommy Cash

Pop is all about context and it's impossible to com­pre­hend the true power of this Danny L Harle-produced thumper until you've exper­i­enced it in the context of 25 six-year-olds smashing the living shit out of a unicorn piñata at a south London soft play centre.

40

RUIN MY LIFE
by Zara Larsson

The ideal sub­tle­banger to kick off Zara's new era. Zara had some inter­est­ing and thought­ful things to say about the song when Popjustice inter­viewed her earlier this year. The song comes in at an efficient three minutes and ten seconds.

39

CURIOUS
by Hayley Kiyoko

"I date a lot of women who are into it," Hayley told Billboard this year, "but they’re uncom­fort­able with society’s pressures. They’re uncom­fort­able with liking girls even though they do." A strong and nimble companion piece to Years & Years' Sanctify.

38

1999
by Charli XCX and Troye Sivan

For the last few years it's seemed like Charli's plan has been to gradually bring together the two extremes of her output — the PC Music, mixtapey side, and the side that propelled her into the charts. And it felt like when she did so, the XCX Singularity would be achieved. Is that what 1999 is? No idea.

37

JIMMY
by Darling

Takes a while to get going but that chorus could blast a hole in the side of a mountain.

36

ASHES
by Céline Dion

Céline's appear­ance on the Deadpool 2 soundtrack wasn't without a sense of irony but between Ashes, the Black Panther soundtrack and Dua Lipa's Swan Song it feels like we're entering a new golden age of amazing songs off Hollywood block­busters. 

35

PARADISE
by George Ezra

Still 2018's most congable song. This time last year George's big comeback seemed dead in the water; all it took was to pretend Don't Matter Now — a Top 66 non-smash — hadn't happened, and to wait until 2018 to unveil this corker. This is not a time to rest on laurels, however: only time will tell how post-Brexit freedom of travel within the EU will impact the writing of George's next album. 

34

FAST SLOW DISCO
by St Vincent

Strong Goldilocks & The Three BPMs vibes with this song's rollout: the first version was too slow, the third was too slow slow but this, the second, was just fast slow enough. 

33

WORD OF MOUTH
by Metroplane and Bree Runway

An impress­ive lineup of talent on this song: along with Metroplane's Alex Metric and Aeroplane you've also got Bree Runway (will 2019 be her year? Yes it will) and writing and pro­duc­tion credits from Becky Hill, MNEK, Ryan Ashley and Mark Ralph.

32

DANCEFLOOR
by Tracey Thorn

A big moment from Record, one of the year's best albums, and a reminder that you never grow out of getting pissed up and dancing to epic bangers. Dancefloor ref­er­ences various other songs — Good Times, Shame, Golden Years and Let The Music Play — all of which are on the great Inspirations playlist Tracey put together as a companion piece for her album. 

31

GIRLFRIEND
by Christine and the Queens and Dâm-Funk

We've included the Palms Trax remix on the playlist because why not. The proper version's opening "CHRIS" remains one of 2018's best pop moments.

30

TONGUE
by MNEK

Properly kicks off at precisely the halfway point, which does support the theory that Tongue could be expanded into a two-act play, a bit like they did with Barry Manilow's Copacabana, except with more kissing.

29

SWEET BUT PSYCHO
by Ava Max

The "run don't walk away" bit is 11/10. There seems to be some res­ist­ance to Ava Max, doesn't there? DO NOT FEAR THE MAX. You don't have to move in with her, enjoying the music is fine. 

28

FALLING INTO ME
by Let's Eat Grandma

One of several Twenty Quid Music Prize short­l­is­ted songs on this year's countdown, Falling Into Me is the longest song on this year's Top 45 but, in its defence, it does contain an entire album's worth of sonic, melodic and lyrical ideas. 

27

HONEY
by Robyn

She came, she saw, she managed to cobble nine songs together and finally finished fiddling about with that one from the Girls finale. Hard to know at this point in pop history whether points should be added or knocked off for the cowbell, really. 

26

DIAMOND HEART
by Alan Walker and Sophia Somajo

In which one of Sweden's sharpest pop talents col­lab­or­ates with a producer whose name conjures the image of a man named and shamed in the local newspaper for a regret­table incident at the town's second-largest garden centre. One of the best post-choruses all year, but how about this for an opening verse:

Hello, sweet grief
I know you'll be the death of me
Feel like the morning after ecstasy
I am drowning in an endless sea
Hello, old friend
Here's the misery that knows no end
So I'm doing everything I can
To make sure I never love again

BLOODY HELL. Here's a nice interview Popjustice did with Sophia just before the song came out

25

BABY
by Clean Bandit, Marina and Luis Fonsi

Young love, missed oppor­tun­it­ies, regret, and a shout of "C'MON!". Totally Bandit. 

24

THIS IS AMERICA
by Childish Gambino

As an audi­ovisual exper­i­ence This Is America exists in its own space and sort of stands apart from how you'd usually judge a pop single, a point hammered home here by the ridicu­lous­ness of the year's most important single being sand­wiched between Clean Bandit and 5 Seconds Of Summer. 

23

YOUNGBLOOD
by 5 Seconds Of Summer

5SOS returned at the start of the year with Want You Back — a not-great attempt to repos­i­tion the band's sound somewhere between Maroon 5 and the planet's dominant Spotpop sound. It didn't do very well. The band's fortunes were revived with Youngblood, which hit both its predecessor's targets while also sounding like 5SOS. (It was also 10x better, which is reflected in the song getting ten times as many streams.)

22

PAT EARRINGS
by CASISDEAD

Would have secured a place on the shortlist for the sleeve alone. Also: "Laying that pipe down, neigh­bours saying 'pipe down'".

21

HIGH HOPES
by Panic! At The Disco

If All About That Bass taught us anything it's that as pop consumers, one of the most important skills we can develop is the ability to reflex­ively skip, bin, delete or ignore any songs con­tain­ing reported advice from parents. Fortunately this melo­dra­matic party piece slipped through the net in 2018. (If you're in the mood for a frankly awful but slightly amazing arms-aloft remix, try this.)

20

I LIKE IT
by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin

Hard to say exactly when the global arts journ­al­ism community decided to weaponise the idea of 'Song Of The Summer' but this was 2018's, right?

19

REMEDY
by Alesso

It took ages to realise this, but the magic of this song lies in the fact that it sounds like a ramped-up reima­gin­ing of about three different songs by The Sound Of Arrows. Poor uncred­ited Conor Maynard. :(

18

ALL OR NOTHING
by Naughty Boy, RAY BLK and Wyclef Jean

A song so inex­plic­ably slept on that there have been times this year when the song's entire existence felt like a strange dream, or a pop version of the film Shazaam. Please get in touch if you too remember the time Naughty Boy, RAY BLK and Wyclef Jean abso­lutely smashed it. 

17

MY MY MY!
by Troye Sivan

17th best song of 2018! 17th best song of 2018! 17th best song of 2018! 

16

THE MIDDLE
by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey

You probably saw it at the time but the New York Times did a great song diary on how this song came about. In a nutshell: 8000 different singers attempted to nail it, the whole thing took fucking ages, Zedd didn't do as much as you might think. The unlikely upshot is that one of 2018's best choruses is little more than Maren Morris bellowing over a clock. More timepiece­core in 2019, please.

15

thank u, next
by Ariana Grande

Nathan Sykes' darkest hour. Amazing how the ability to reclaim nar­rat­ives is now literally part of the Ariana narrative. What if in 2019 she decides not to, and people object? How can she respond? What a pre­dic­a­ment!

14

ONE KISS
by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa

13

ALL THE STARS 
by Kendrick Lamar and SZA

Four Grammy nom­in­a­tions feels about right. 

12

BODY
by Glowie

Anne-Marie and Marshmello had one of the year's biggest spelling-based hits, but are banned from this list due to the bit in Friends where Anne-Marie claims the title is spelt "F-R-I-N-D-S". Tragic scenes. Anyway "B! (That's a fucking body) O! (That's a fucking body) D! (And I really wanna get to know you) Y!" is incred­ible, as is the rest of this song and as, for that matter, is the whole Glowie 'thing'.

11

ELECTRICITY
by Silk City and Dua Lipa

The best bit is when Dua's pitched down in the chorus and it sounds like she's duetting WITH HERSELF, thus turning Electricity into a song about self love. 

10

TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME
by The 1975

Glowie's Body taught us the joy of letters, but what about numbers? Dua Lipa claimed 2017's counting crown and in 2018 the honour falls to Matty off The 1975. 

A good lyric:

I swear that I only called her one time
Maybe it was two times?
I don't think it was three times
It can't be more than four times
I think we need to rewind
You text that boy sometimes
Must be more than three times
I didn't mean to two-time you

We have counting, we have rela­tion­ship woes, we have some two times/two-timing wordplay. We have the whole lot. 

9

NEEDING YOU
by Lilly Ahlberg

Swedish pop person Lilly started the year with low-key slinker Bad Boys but hit total pop gold with this tri­umphant pensive mas­ter­piece.

8

MONSTERS
by Saara Aalto

If you wish to glimpse the awfulness of the British public and don't feel like turning on the news or looking out of your window, look no further than the fact that on Eurovision night their votes didn't give this dramatic banger a single point. 

7

CHERRY
by Rina Sawayama

Even though I'm satisfied
I lead my life within a lie

Good Broadly chat here.

6

no tears left to cry
by Ariana Grande

As Wikipedia so elo­quently puts it: "It is composed in the key of A minor using 4/4 time and a tempo of 122 beats per minute. The refrain is based on an Am–G–F–Am–G–F–C–Dm–Am–C chord pro­gres­sion, while the verses follow an A(add2)–F(add2)–G(add2) sequence. Grande's vocal range spans from G3 to G5. [20]" Wise words. 

5

FINGERS
by ZAYN

The best song on ZAYN's Icarus Falls album? Hard to say — we started playing it last week and there are still three days' worth of songs to go. 

4

IT'S NOT LIVING (IF IT'S NOT WITH YOU)
by The 1975

"(Selling petrol)." Is there a better two-word pop moment anywhere else in this list? NO THERE IS NOT.

3

MAKE ME FEEL
by Janelle Monáe

Powerful with a little bit of tender (and a great video).

2

DISHED (MALE STRIPPER)
by Purple Disco Machine

Of all the songs on this year's Top 45 list Dished (Male Stripper) is the one most crying out for a Christmas remix with sleigh bells. So far: nothing.

1

NOTHING BREAKS LIKE A HEART
by Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus

In the wild, terrible world of online pop content the good thing about leaving your end of year list 'quite late' is that songs can sneak in during the year's final moments and totally steal the show. Admittedly this doesn't usually happen, and you end up sensing that you might as well have just compiled the list mid-August like everyone else, but the arrival of this song at the end of November feels like strong vin­dic­a­tion. Seriously, though:  "This world can hurt you, it cuts you deep and leaves a scar, things falls apart but nothing breaks like a heart." What a line! This world really can hurt you, can't it? So true. The world is rubbish! But it's better with songs like this in it. Bordering on bearable, you might even say. Let's not get carried away, obviously. But maybe? Maybe pop music is the only thing that never truly lets you down? 

And there we have it! It's safe to look at the playlist now. 

Fancy meeting up at the same place twelve months from now to find out where Rihanna, Madonna, Marina, Carly, Selena AND FUCKING ABBA end up on the list? Great, see you then.