Luckily, that also made this one of the most exciting years for singles on the charts and in our own personal playlists in recent memory -- one in which the biggest hits were also some of the most challenging and rewarding, and in which the more conventional pop songs that did break through on a massive scale felt fresher than they have in a long time.
From the "Shallow" to "The Middle" to the highest of "High Hopes," music was captivating at all levels in Here are the Billboard staff's favorite songs of the year. An obvious Hot chart topper and delightful fixture on pop radio. Jessie Reyez, "Body Count". Young Fathers, "In My View".
Avril Lavigne, "Head Above Water". Death Cab for Cutie, "Gold Rush". Nicki Minaj, "Barbie Dreams". The song was inspired by the Notorious B. Diss track? Mallrat, "Groceries". Thousands of songs have been written about the thrill of having a crush. But what about the annoyance? Something like a conversation is unfolding between the notes -- blissful guitar strums hint at budding love; Mallrat responds with a shrug.
Low, "Disarray". The notion of two girls doing naughty things has been virtually non-existent in Latin music. Little in sounded like serpentwithfeet: theatrical, textured with vibrato, literary, willing to forego structure to get at deeper and scarier emotions.
The G. A low burner that went off in the summer months. Furman's vocals on the cinematic, Springsteenian rocker are tremulous yet urgent, as if they're fully aware the fight against The Man is as hopeless as it is necessary. The tear-jerking music video fully embraces the pain that comes with loss, and it helped propel the song to a peak of No.
In a year when the cultural conversation around gender and sexual fluidity became more nuanced than ever, Japan-born, U. Lauv, "I Like Me Better". The Interrupters, "She's Kerosene". A ska song going top five in ? Since that interview, the L. Sakima feat. RoboKid, "Apps". Sharon Van Etten, "Comeback Kid". She grabs the microphone and holds tight to it while making a play for a place in the same screaming pantheon of punk spirit as Patti Smith and Joan Jett -- and, unsurprisingly, she nails it.
Demi Lovato, "Sober". For the first 25 seconds or so, it seems straightforward enough: A cinematic, slightly creepy Metro Boomin beat made all the more ominous by the looming presence of a 21 Savage verse on the horizon. Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton, "Say Something". Against a backdrop of warm synthesizers, a funky guitar sample and a drum loop created by producers Jim-E Stack and Dan Nigro, Rodriguez mixed English and Spanish lyrics to create a wistful pop song about falling out of love.
It should sound sad, considering the subject matter, but her voice is too bright and the music too rhythmic to give the sorrow somewhere to stick. Parquet Courts, "Wide Awake". No cocaine required. Pentagon, "Shine". Kali Uchis feat. Kane Brown, "Lose It". Arctic Monkeys, "Four Out of Five". Cole, "K. This is what you call flipping fan expectation: J. Kanye West, "Ghost Town". With its swirling organs, growling guitars and classic Kanye brand of scumbag gospel, the song almost feels like "Runaway," but sadder, older, realer -- this isn't the sound of Yeezus battling his demons, it's the sound of him announcing his surrender with a smile.
Christine and the Queens, "Doesn't Matter". Christine and the Queens, one of France's finest exports, released the lauded sophomore album Chris this year. Want us to spell it out for you? This sassy song is a blast. Chris Stapleton, "Broken Halos". In , Chris Stapleton finally got the No. Boygenius, "Me and My Dog". And what about the dog? Cardi B, "Be Careful".
Just a few months later, she released her own dressing-down to those who would fuck with her heart. Foster the People, "Sit Next to Me". Hey you! Just come sit here. James Bay, "Pink Lemonade". Bay may very well morph again come album three, so enjoy his newly bedazzled, groovy look and sound while you can. Mitski, "Nobody". Charlie Puth feat. Kehlani, "Done For Me". Puth channels mid-'80s Wham!
Silk City feat. It's no surprise that super-producers Diplo and Mark Ronson make a great team, nor is it surprising that the newly formed duo ended up breaking into the Hot within their first few singles. The song's steamy music video may take place in the dark, but bumping this hit at any house party is guaranteed to light up the room. A frightening terrorist attack. A tearful break-up. A whirlwind engagement. The passing of a loved one. Endless criticism on social media. For a song about placing unconditional faith in another, Del Rey entrusted alt-pop favorite Jack Antonoff, who arranges a luscious tapestry of guitar strums and piano melodies to complement the spell she casts, resulting in one of the most fully developed singles of her career.
Rae Sremmurd feat. Juicy J, "Powerglide". Producer Mally Mall, a. No, not the automatic transmission. Old Dominion, "Hotel Key". From the opening slinky guitar riff to the repeated piano chords of the chorus, this jaunty country-pop jam tells a vivid story thanks to the tiny lyrical details -- her "half-drunk smile," his "half an ounce" -- sprinkled throughout. Red Velvet, "Bad Boy". Drake, "In My Feelings".
Teyana Taylor, "WTP". What is new, though, is that a SoundCloud rapper found his way to top 40 radio and hit No. The , "Give Yourself a Try".
It's about Healy's own isolation, of course, but also about his fans, and also about everyone, which is why his free-associative lyrics about whiskey and baby boomers and the absence of context in modern Internet dialogue always drop out in time to not disturb the simple plea of the chorus.
Three decades later, Healy might not quite have the answer, but damn if he isn't at least trying. Taylor Swift, "Delicate". Migos, "Stir Fry". At the Disco, "High Hopes". But on his first top 10 hit in over a decade, Panic! Halsey, "Without Me". King's dead, long live King Kendrick. Kim Petras, "Heart to Break". Lil Wayne feat. Swizz Beatz, "Uproar". What better way to announce the reintroduction of Weezy F. The Carters, "Apeshit".