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The Top 45 Singles Of 2016

Well, we’ve been watching other websites and publications release their Best Of 2016 lists – the first one seemed to appear sometime in September — and sadly, once again, we must report that they’ve all been getting it wrong.

Fear not! As usual, the Popjustice Top 45 is absolutely bang on. There’s joy! There’s sadness!! There’s Sean Paul!!! There’s the distinct whiff of tropical house!!!!

Let’s start at the end. And yes this list is split across three pages but only because everyone moans about browsers crashing when there are 45 YouTube videos on a single page.

Here’s the whole lot in a Spotify playlist

45. Galantis — ‘Love On Me’

Most of the songs on this year’s list are fun to listen to, but how many genuinely sound like they were fun to make? Sure, loads of them capture a sense of euphoria, a feeling of joy or a surge of positive feeling but when you break it down how many of these songs — or any songs — make you think of a studio scene with people shouting, laughing, letting off party poppers and mainlining the other sort of poppers? 1

44. JP Cooper — ‘September Song’

‘JP’ released this, a classic example of an absolutely storming song by artist in whose other endeavours we have precisely zero interest, two weeks into September. This simply seems like poor planning. Ideally he would have released remixes in each subsequent month, with ‘October Song’ and ‘November Song’ being followed in December by a sleighbell-strewn Christmas Number One contender, but the pop gods were clearly not smiling on the JP Cooper marketing team this Q4. Seriously though, ‘December Song’ would have resulted in guaranteed streams and airplay every single year. Will we be hearing ‘September Song’ again in nine months? Well yes, a little bit, but people don’t lose control of their brains in September like they do in December. Think on, ‘JP’. Think on.

43. Ida LaFontaine — ‘Go Again’

It was a big year for congas, with news of a spontaneous conga breaking out at one Troye Sivan show, Stevie Wonder inspiring a similar conga in Hyde Park, K-pop band Blackpink approximating a conga in their debut video, and the singer from 80s conga experimentalists Black Lace hitting the news after a behind-bars conga eruption. But of all the songs in this year’s Top 45, we reckon ‘Go Again’ is the congaest of the lot. (Ida released another great song, ‘Cold’, in November.)

42. Zayn — ‘Pillowtalk’

This sleek rumpo anthem would have been many places higher if it had been called ‘Reckless Behaviour’.

41. Nick Jonas — ‘Under You’

So here’s Nick Jonas’ approximation of the Swifto pensivebanger ‘Style’. In this song he is sad because he didn’t have sex on his back, or something. Well we suppose it could be a song about an umbrella-based regret, but that seems unlikely as Nick has quite short hair so getting rained on is relatively lacking in peril and almost certainly not songworthy.

40. Margaret — ‘Cool Me Down’

This is the song everyone wanted the Rihanna comeback single to sound like, except of course if Rihanna had indeed returned with this everyone would have gone “fucking hell, Rihanna’s playing it quite safe”. Fine for a Polish Eurovision hopeful though, right?

39. Florrie — ‘Real Love’

Now that’s how you do a chorus.

38. The 1975 — ‘The Sound’

Do you remember where you were when you first heard ‘The Sound’ and thought, for the first time, “hold on everyone, The 1975 have basically created a hybrid of early-noughties filter house, early-90s Depeche Mode and the perfect One Direction song, it looks like this band might be quite good in 2016”? Of course you do — you were sitting at your computer.

37. Neiked and Dyo — ‘Sexual’

Neiked is a man called Victor Rådström so you can see why he called himself something else. Sexual’s been streamed over 100m times on Spotify alone, largely due to being one of the most Spotify-sounding songs in the history of green-logoed streaming services.

36. OneRepublic — ‘Kids’

Did you see the 360° video for this? OneRepublic teamed up with some brand or other (obviously they teamed up with some brand or other) and created an immersive love story with the band playing a live show in a courtyard overlooked, on opposite sides, by the bedrooms of two loved up teenagers. Sounds shit, right? Not shit at all, in fact. It felt like a genuinely special pop experience, and when was the last time you felt like that about a thing? Do yourself a favour and get a cheapo pair of VR goggles.

35. The Rhythm Method — ‘Party Politics’

If The Rhythm Method had entered this year’s X Factor they would have made it through to the Saturday night final, where superstar special guests Mike Skinner and Pet Shop Boys would have joined the band on stage in front of a largely nonplussed audience. They wouldn’t have made it through to the Sunday night final, but they would have been the year’s most talked-about act, and the act most people seemed to want to win. Their audition would have been seen as a joke but the chaps’ charm would have carried them through every stage of the competition. By the live shows they would have changed their name to something else due to the existence of another act called The Rhythm Method. They would have been signed by Syco and yes they probably would have also been dropped after one single but what a journey it would have been.

34. Drake, Wizkid and Kyla — ‘One Dance’

Shame this one didn’t really do much on the charts.

33. Little Mix — ‘Shoutout To My Ex’

We wouldn’t exactly say this was 2016’s most adventurous A&R moment but you can’t argue with a banging chorus, can you? ‘Touch’, Little Mix’s next single, is far better, but we expect that’ll feel like more of a 2017 single so wait until this time next year to see how it does on 2017’s Top 45 list. We reckon it’ll end up being somewhere like Number 23 which is already exciting because it means there will be 22 songs even better than a song that’s even better than ‘Shoutout To My Ex’.

32. Charli XCX and Lil Yachty — ‘After The Afterparty’

This isn’t particularly representative of Charli’s forthcoming album, but ‘After The Afterparty’ will sound amazing on Charli XCX’s Greatest Hits album, except of course people don’t make Greatest Hits albums any more, although who can say which formats, trends and traditions will fall out of fashion or back into fashion by the time Charli’s ready to collect her hits? They might be ‘all the rage’ in, say, 2020. Seriously, all it would take is for Apple to realise they’re haemorrhaging cash and to pull the plug on Apple Music just like they did with Ping, and for Spotify to realise they’ll never find a way to stop losing money, and the whole streaming era would collapse, remembered by future generations as nothing more than a strange pop blip during which, amazingly, everyone everywhere had access to all music. Obviously that sounds unlikely but the more you think about it, the more terrifying it is. Anyway if it does all go tits up Greatest Hits albums will once again become popular, and that’s when Charli XCX will be able to strike.

31. Olly Murs — ‘You Don’t Know Love’

Do you think Olly’s label sent Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Run Away With Me’ out to songwriters and producers as a reference track, or do you think it’s just a coincidence?

NEXT UP: NUMBERS 30 TO 16


  1. Important: do not inject poppers.

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