It was a strange and wonderful year for pop music. The year was, arguably, ruled by a year-old visionary and her older brother, who used unconventional techniques and abrasive, aggressive sounds to create a No. And experimentalists like Dylan Brady and Laura Les — who teamed up to rip a hole through the internet with their gecs album — and Caroline Polachek used pop techniques and sounds to create warped and poignant records. This list tries to make sense of all the chaotic left-turns pop took this year in the form of 25 wildly different but entirely vital tracks.
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Fat White Family – Feet
The fact that The Highwomen even exists is impressive. They make that statement over an unabashedly pretty melody, going in and out of duets and harmonies with seamless, generous sweetness. Carly Rae Jepsen has built a cult following on the power of her brand of pure, heart-on-your-sleeve pop. Her widely-praised third album was even nakedly called Emotion. Bandana , the widely acclaimed album from rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib, was forged in trying circumstances: Gibbs says he wrote most of the record in an Austrian jail while awaiting his eventual acquittal from sexual assault charges. And that something is a propulsive, infectious disco sensibility. With a retro-sounding melody that resonates across generational tastes, the song has already become a dancefloor mainstay.
40. Halsey – “Nightmare”
Every summer is only as good as the song that defined it. This year had its work cut out for it. These are the songs—whether we chose them or not—that will be playing in the background of our memories of a specific time and place. As for who reigned supreme? Time will tell. You can listen to the full Songs of Summer playlist on our Spotify, too. That is called art.
Follow Billboard. All rights reserved. Stars of ten years ago, like the Jonas Brothers and Lady Gaga, have been rubbing elbows not only with modern-day marquee names like Ariana Grande and Post Malone, but with breakout artists like Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, who may end up setting the pace for pop's next decade. It's all combined to make this final year of the s one of the least-predictable pre-summer seasons we've had in a long time.