What even is a single in 2015?
Does it have a music video? Do instant-grat tracks count? Will they even exist in 2016?
40. Shura – ‘2Shy’
The best Carly Rae Jepsen song not by Carly Rae Jepsen.
39. LIZ – ‘When I Rule The World’
The “RING RING STAY ALERT” bit is really good.
38. Rita Ora – ‘Body On Me’ (feat. Chris Brown)
I’ve spent far too much of the year wondering who the man at the start of ‘Body On Me’ is.
37. One Direction – ‘Perfect’
At times it feels like 1D (Harry aside) are just there for the paycheck, but ‘Perfect’ is a great song.
36. Selena Gomez – ‘Same Old Love’
Yes, it’s a Charli XCX song. But if everyone was a little more XCX, the world would be a better place.
35. Pia Mia – ‘Touch’
A lot of the tropical bops this year have felt extremely derivative, but this is a subtlebanger.
34. The Weeknd – ‘Can’t Feel My Face’
I asked one of Alien Uncovered (clunk) when the last time she couldn’t feel her was and she refused to answer. She may not be a fan, but this song about being really happy is really great.
33. MNEK & Zara Larsson – ‘Never Forget You’
Imagine getting a hug from the giant bear in the video. This mellow bop is a bit like a hug to the ears, no?
32. Ariana Grande – ‘Focus’
Yes, this may be a carbon copy of ‘Problem’. But that last chorus is pure euphoria.
31. Major Lazor – ‘Lean On’ (feat. DJ Snake & MØ)
There are a few songs slightly further down in this list that wouldn’t exist without ‘Lean On’. Thank you Major Lazor et al.
30. Tove Lo – ‘Talking Body’
Who knows why Tove Lo wasn’t the breakout star of 2015 (probably cos she always cancels her gigs). The best bit is the desperation in her voice when she says ‘BODY’ during the middle-8.
29. Hilary Duff – ‘Sparks’
Also written by Tove Lo, ‘Sparks’ is the best song Hilary Duff has ever put her name to.
28. Selena Gomez – ‘Hands To Myself’
27. Justin Bieber – ‘What Do You Mean?’
Bop. Now, can people stop tweeting about how they’ve suddenly become ‘Beliebers’ and spend that time appreciating ‘As Long As You Love Me’?
26. Disclosure – ‘Magnets’ (feat. Lorde)
The best thing about ‘Magnets’ is that it sounds like ‘Dip It Low’ via Tumblr. Side note: Lorde’s next album will be the album of whichever year it comes out.
25. Ariana Grande – ‘One Last Time’
The worst single from ‘My Everything’ is still the 25th best of this year. That’s how good that album is.
24. Charli XCX – ‘Doing It’ (feat. Rita Ora)
The Rita Ora version is the defining one, just for the chant at the end.
23. Troye Sivan – ‘Wild’
It’s so great that Troye Sivan exists as a popstar in 2015. The whole album is incredible, and ‘Wild’ is equally incredible.
22. Nick Jonas – ‘Jealous’ (feat. Tinashe)
Is this from this year? Is it from last year? No matter where you place it though, it’s a banger. This version probably would have gone to Number 1 if it was the proper single.
21. Little Mix – ‘Love Me Like You’
Little Mix have always had ‘it’, but 2015 felt like a massive leap forward for the group. ‘Love Me Like You’ is also their first good ballad single.
20. Snakehips – ‘All My Friends’ (feat. Tinashe and Chance The Rapper)
Perhaps, in a post-‘2 On’ world, Tinashe should just feature on other people’s songs. This is about to be huge, by the way.
19. Selena Gomez – ‘Good For You’ (feat. A$AP Rocky)
The thing that is so good about Selena Gomez this year is that she’s done simple pop really well. ‘Good For You’ is nothing groundbreaking, but it just feels so effortless.
18. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Run Away With Me’
There is definitely an argument for all three Jeppo singles as to which is the best of the year. ‘Run Away With Me’ is just the one I listen to least.
17. Years & Years – ‘King’
Sometimes when I sing ‘King’ around the house, I add some ‘HEY’s in. Everyone loves a ‘hey’, right?
16. Alessia Cara – ‘Here’
This, along with the Snakehips song, are going to be massive in 2016 and we’re all going to be miserable at parties and it’s going to be great.
15. Fleur East – ‘Sax’
Call this derivative, but throwing one of the biggest hits of the year (‘Uptown Funk’) in a blender with a Christmas song (‘Christmas Wrapping’) is genius. Also, it’s super annoying that a song that is as bonkers as ‘Sax’ gets a video with literally one camera angle.
14. Dua Lipa – ‘Be The One’
The thing that is so great about ‘Be The One’ is that there is potential for a synchronised clapping routine to it.
13. Fifth Harmony – ‘Worth It’ (feat. Kid Ink)
12. Rihanna – ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’
Being a Rihanna fan has been testing this year. Neither ‘FourFiveSeconds’ or ‘American Oxygen’ are completely terrible, but neither are really good. There album campaign feels dragged out, with the ANTiDiary feeling like the most pointless thing ever, and random fans being invited to some kind of ‘ANTi Experience (which literally tells you nothing about the album).
If you take all of that out, you’re left with ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. Maybe it’s a bit of a racket, but it’s confident and brash, and would have been the perfect re-introduction to Rihanna. Lyrically, it’s not too separate from what she’s done before, but the production is interesting and pushes the ‘badgalriri’ sound further.
11. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘I Really Like You’
It’s easy to forget about ‘I Really Like You’ in the context of the album (it’s the most simple song), but it’s still great. The best thing about the Jeppo album is that any three songs could have been released and they’d all be in my Top 20 (if ‘Warm Blood’ gets the single treatment next year, pop can be cancelled for the year).
10. Justin Bieber – ‘Sorry’
Much like Rihanna did for the first part of her career, Justin Bieber has been a ‘thing’ this year because his songs have taken the Zeitgeist and made it pop. Rihanna rode the dance trend with ‘We Found Love’, whereas Justin Bieber took the Years & Years/tropical house sound and made it more accessible. This single works so well because although it is completely faceless sonically, lyrically it feels v Bieber.
09. Tove Styrke – ‘Number One’
Contains the best line in a pop song from this year: “your tears don’t shake my world like Britney Spears, she’s fierce yeah”. This is a good 3am cry dance song too (I mean, I haven’t tested it but still)
08. Pia Mia – ‘Do It Again’ (feat. Tyga and Chris Brown)
There’s a really interesting piece about Pia Mia on This Must Be Pop about her being a celebrity and music just being her merch. It makes sense too, Pia doesn’t push pop forward at all, but her music helps maintain her celebrity. ‘Do It Again’ sounds like it could have been released in any year since 2010, but it’s an undeniable, carefree bop.
07. MØ – ‘Kamikaze’
Despite having lots of popstar potential, the first MØ album is quite dull. Thank fuck Rihanna didn’t want ‘Lean On’, because it allowed MØ to take ownership of this sound. ‘Kamikaze’ is weird, but that drop is infectious.
06. Years & Years – ‘Shine’
I love songs about having a crush on someone (here’s a playlist of them), and ‘Shine’ sounds like the moment you start to like someone and they tell you that they like you too. This is the best Years & Years song, and it would have made a great ‘second single from a campaign’ for Girls Aloud.
05. Taylor Swift – ‘Style’
It’s been hard to admit to liking anything that Taylor has done in the last twelve months, because for every good thing, there has been too many bad things. But ‘Style’ is four minutes of glorious, euphoric pop. It’s been completely tarnished by being her “please welcome to the stage” song, but it’s fucking great.
04. Nicki Minaj – ‘Feeling Myself’ (feat. Beyoncé)
The gif-able pop song of the year. Every line could be an Instagram caption. Every shot in the video could be a reaction .gif. And yet, it all works together so perfectly.
03. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Your Type’
The best gig moment of the year was seeing ‘Your Type’ live. Everyone was singing along, and at the end, everyone was stomping their feet to make as much noise as possible. Carly Rae Jepsen just ~gets it, she understands what a certain section of gay men/anyone with taste like listening to, and she also gets what is going on in their lives. What a woman.
02. Zara Larsson – ‘Lush Life’
The wi-fi in Lush on Oxford Street is called ‘Lush Life’, and presumably it’s to honour this banger. It feels like a proper pop launch single, except she hasn’t been launched yet here. Annoyingly, this song about “doing it all night, all summer” isn’t out here until January. Well done, everyone.
01. Little Mix – ‘Black Magic’
British pop this year has been, on the whole, really boring. ‘Black Magic’ by Little Mix is anything but boring. The melody on the chorus is so joyous. The “crystal-ballin'” bit is genius. The little dance move they do on the “HEYs” is perfect. It’s no surprise that Little Mix have quietly become one of the UK’s biggest pop acts, given that not only are they delivering great songs, but they’re performing incredibly and are always ‘on it’ in interviews. In a sea of ‘meh’, it’s nice to have Little Mix around.