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This year it was difficult to choose my no.1 most poptastic single as it was very close between the top five, but re-watching this video from The New York Times ultimately convinced me that The Middle deserved the top spot.

'The Middle': Watch How a Pop Hit Is Made | NYT - Diary of a Song - YouTube

The video explains how Maren came to be the featured vocalist, after the producers had tried around 14 singers, and she was the only one who could do it justice. She has the full-bodied pop punch that the song needs in order to fulfil its hit potential, but also the rasp that makes it more than just another generic dance track.

I’m excited to see how the success of The Middle impacts Maren’s career as she prepares to release her second major label album. Could we finally have another proper pop-country crossover act? While Spotify has helped to soften the strict barriers that US radio creates between the two genres, and Kacey Musgraves has won over many pop geeks with her latest album, there’s no-one who is among the biggest names in both industries, like Taylor Swift was a few years ago. I’d love to see Maren achieve this in 2019.

On a side note: While I love that The Middle gave Maren a mainstream moment, that NYT video does make me wish for a Sarah Aarons pop career. Can someone make that happen, please?

Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The Middle (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Released: 23rd January
Writers: Zedd, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Sarah Aarons, Jordan Johnson, Michael Trewartha
Best bits: 1. Oh baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle? I’m losing my mind just a little
2. So pull me closer, why don’t you pull me close?
3. I need you on my skin, just come over, pull me in, just…

The post The No.1 Most Poptastic Single of 2018: Zedd ft. Maren Morris & Grey – The Middle appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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The countdown continues, from 5 to 2…

5. Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran & Future – End Game

Released: 12th January
Writers: Future, Shellback, Max Martin, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift
Trivia: When putting this list together, I forgot that Delicate (my other fave song from Reputation) was also a single in 2018, so  let’s call that no.5b.
Best bits: 1. Reputation precedes me, they told you I’m crazy, I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me
2. Big reputation, big reputation, ooh, you and me would be a big conversation
3. I don’t wanna be just another ex-love you don’t wanna see

Taylor Swift - End Game ft. Ed Sheeran, Future - YouTube

4. Ariana Grande – thank u, next

Released: 3rd November
Writers:  Victoria Monét, Ariana Grande, Njomza, Kaydence, Michael “Mikey” Foster, Scootie, Tayla Parx, TBHits
Trivia: A Norwegian-language cover of this song was recently released by Sondre Lerche, one of Norway’s biggest indie artists.
Best bits: 1. [the whole first verse]
2. Least the song is a smash
3. One taught me love, one taught me patience, one taught me pain, now I’m so amazing

Ariana Grande - thank u, next - YouTube

3. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Released: 27th September
Writers:  Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga
Trivia: This song might not have quite made it to no.1 but it does contain my favourite musical moment of the year, when it goes BIG at 2.44. That’s true power ballad magic. I can’t listen to this song in public on headphones cos it’s too hard not to belt out that line.
Best bits: 1. I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
2. Hoo, huh, uh, huhh-ow, huh, huhh-huhhh (well, apparently that’s what she says)
3. We’re far from the shallow now

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - Shallow (A Star Is Born) - YouTube

2. Ariana Grande – no tears left to cry

Released: 20th April
Writers:  ILYA, Savan Kotecha, Max Martin, Ariana Grande
Trivia: When this song was released, many people said it sounded similar to Summer of Love by Steps, and someone has even gone so far as to edit its Genius page to state that it interpolates the Steps song. I’m pretty sure that’s not official, since none of Summer of Love’s writers are credited (though I’m sure Pete Waterman will be chasing the royalties if he hears about this), but regardless, I would like to hear more global pop stars taking inspo from 90s Brit hits in 2019.
Best bits: 1. Right now, I’m in a state of mind, I wanna be in like all the time
2. Pickin’ it up, pickin’ it up, lovin’, I’m livin’, so we turnin’ up
3. We’re on another mentality

Ariana Grande - no tears left to cry - YouTube

So there’s only one song left to be revealed! Tweet me your guesses, and come back later today to find out what’s no.1.

The post The Most Poptastic Singles of 2018: Part 2 appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Compiling my annual list of  the  year’s most poptastic singles always makes me reflect on what has changed in music in the year gone by. It feels like the music industry has been totally upended over the past few years, as the way we consume music has been revolutionised by the rise of streaming and the influence of social media, but when you stop and  think simply about the music itself, not so much is different.

Just like previous years, the best pop songs  of 2018 were  performed by female artists, a mix of global superstars and up-and-comers. Max Martin has a strong presence, and several tracks have a country influence. The list includes club bangers, sing-along hits and  rousing ballads. The way we discover and listen to music might change, and trends in style and sound might come and go, but  the qualities that make a good song  are always the same.

And so, on that note, here’s part 1 of my countdown of the most poptastic singles of 2018…

10. Jade Bird – Lottery

Released: 12th January
Writers: Jade Bird
Trivia: This track was mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent, a name that will bring back memories for any 90s pop kids of days spent poring over album booklets by bands like B*Witched and the Spice Girls.
Best bits: 1.  Hold on, my dear, hold on real tight, it’s just a numbers game in my mind
2.  You used to tell me that love is a lottery, but you got your numbers, and you’re betting on me
3. He’s 30, how messed up is that?

Jade Bird - Lottery (Official Video) - YouTube

9. King Princess – 1950

Released: 3rd February
Writers: Nick Long, King Princess
Trivia: Mikaela Strauss (aka King Princess) is currently dating actress Amandla Stenberg, who, as I wrote back in 2017, should really be a pop star herself.
Best bits: 1. I will keep on waiting for your love
2. I love it when we play 1950
3. I hate it when dudes try to chase me

King Princess - 1950 - YouTube

8. Dolly Parton ft. Sia – Here I Am

Released: 14th September
Writers: Dolly Parton
Trivia: I only found out when compiling this list that Here I Am was originally released as a solo song by Dolly in 1971. That’s one year after The Beatles released Let It Be. Not that there’s any reason to mention that, or anything.
Best bits: 1. Here I am, I’m reaching out, to give you love that you’re without
2. Take my hand ‘cos I believe
3. Here I am, oh here I am, here I am

Dolly Parton - Here I Am ft. Sia (From The Dumplin Original Motion Picture) - YouTube

7. Kacey Musgraves – High Horse

Released: 22nd March
Writers: Tom Schleiter, Trent Dabbs, Kacey Musgraves
Trivia: Kacey competed on the fifth series of Nashville Star in 2007, when she was 18. However, it can’t really be credited for launching her career – out of 10 contestants, she was fourth to be eliminated, and she wasn’t signed until five years later.
Best bits: 1. Everyone knows someone who knows someone, who thinks they’re cooler than everybody else
2. Why don’t you giddy up, giddy up, and ride straight out of this town?
3. You and your high horse

Kacey Musgraves - High Horse (Official Music Video) - YouTube

6. Calvin Harris ft. Dua Lipa – One Kiss

Released: 6th April
Writers:  Calvin Harris, Jessie Reyez, Dua Lipa
Trivia:  As an artist, I’ve always thought Jessie Reyez  was cool but musically underwhelming. As a songwriter, she aced 2018, co-writing the best two singles Calvin Harris has  given us in years (One Kiss and Promises).
Best bits: 1. ‘Cos I’m lost in the way you move, the way you feel
2. One kiss is all it takes, falling in love with me
3. Something in you lit up heaven in me

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa - One Kiss (Official Video) - YouTube

Come back tomorrow for the rest of my countdown, including the no.1 most poptastic single of 2018!

The post The Most Poptastic Singles of 2018: Part 1 appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe. All my Songs of the Week are featured on my Top of the Poptastic playlist, along with the rest of my faves from the year so far.

Regular collaborators The Knocks and Sofi Tukker reunite for a track much more chilled, but just as delightful, as their 2017 triumph Best FriendBrazilian Soul is a hazy, summery disco-pop tune with a mix of English and Portuguese vocals from Sofi Tukker’s lead singer Sophie Hawley-Weld. It also reminds me of the delicate, sparkly electro-pop that Norwegian artist Bertine Zetlitz used to make in the 2000s. Brazilian Soul appears on The Knocks’ new album New York Narcotic, which came out on Friday.

Brazilian Soul (feat. Sofi Tukker) - YouTube

The post Song of the Week: The Knocks ft. Sofi Tukker – Brazilian Soul appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • DJ Snake ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B – Taki Taki
  • Olly Murs ft. Snoop Dogg – Moves
  • French Montana ft. Drake – No Stylist
  • Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
  • MK ft. Jonas Blue & Becky Hill – Back & Forth

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly (when I remember) with the next big thing.

The post Future Hits: Got the dad dance moves appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Noname is a rising female rapper who definitely won’t be compared to Nicki or Cardi. She’s never released a music video or posted on Instagram. Instead, she got her start at poetry slams and open mics, and is known for her thought-provoking lyrics. The 26-year-old from Chicago, whose real name is Fatimah Warner, saw viral success with her NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which raised her profile outside of her home city. Here in the UK, she has already played Reading and Leeds, and a sold out headline show at London’s KOKO. She’s part of the same scene that birthed Chance the Rapper, and got her first moment in the spotlight in 2013 with a feature on his breakthrough mixtape Acid Rap, followed by a spot on his album Coloring Book. She recently released her second album Room 25, which attracted high praise from Pitchfork, NME and High Snobiety.

AJ x Deno ft EO - London [Music Video] | GRM Daily - YouTube

The post Future Stars: Noname (Unsigned) appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

AJ and Deno are a London-based grime duo made up of 17-year-old rapper AJ Jacobs and 16-year-old singer Deno Driz. Deno initially went viral on Instagram in 2016 when he posted videos of himself singing in the schoolyard, which earned him praise from Stormzy and Ed Sheeran. He and AJ were soon signed up by Columbia and the same year released this super cute and fun video of them with a bunch of mates parading awkwardly around Wilko and Morrisons. Since then, they’ve collaborated with fellow teen star EO on London, which just missed the top 40 earlier this year, and in a bizarre twist, featured on a new single by Sophia Grace (yes, the girl from Ellen). Deno is also making solo appearances, such as the current trending track Advice, on which he banters with rapper Cadet.

AJ x Deno ft EO - London [Music Video] | GRM Daily - YouTube

The post Future Stars: AJ x Deno (Columbia) appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe. All my Songs of the Week are featured on my Top of the Poptastic playlist, along with the rest of my faves from the year so far.

If you were part of the small yet entirely justified group that loved Natalia Kills’ 2011 album Perfectionist, then you need to give this song a listen immediately. Sweet but Psycho could easily be a long lost offcut from that album, which matched infectious pop hooks with an amusingly inauthentic dark edginess. If Natalia hadn’t seemed so sincere about her work, she could have been embraced as a camp and quirky pop star, like Lady Gaga, who was at her peak at the time. As for Ava Max, she probably doesn’t have superstardom in her path either, but that’s what you get when your music sounds so 2011 in 2018. However, the song is actually trending on Spotify, Ava is signed to Atlantic and she features on the new David Guetta album, so hopefully she’ll have chance to gift us a few more unashamed pop tunes before she departs Planet Pop.

Ava Max - Sweet but Psycho [Official Music Video] - YouTube

The post Song of the Week: Ava Max – Sweet but Psycho appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

My weekly playlist features five tracks I predict will be future hit singles in the UK.

Tracklisting:

  • Silk City ft. Dua Lipa – Electricity
  • Dean Lewis – Be Alright
  • Sigala, Ella Eyre & Meghan Trainor ft. French Montana – Just Got Paid
  • David Guetta ft. Bebe Rexha & J Balvin – Say My Name
  • Gucci Mane ft. Bruno Mars & Kodak Black – Wake Up in the Sky

For more Future Hits, subscribe to my  Spotify playlist, updated weekly (when I remember) with the next big thing.

The post Future Hits: I know you love her but it’s over, mate appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

I can’t get through more than a few seconds of most Soundcloud rap songs, but proving yet again that I have the taste of a tween, I’ve happily watched the cute and colourful video for 16-year-old Lil Mosey’s Noticed several times. Lil Mosey is Lathan Echols from Seattle, a new Interscope signing with a rising hit on his hands. He is described as a mumble rapper, but I’m not sure he could rap any more clearly if he wanted to. I had to put subtitles on to understand his recent Genius Verified video. Despite his young age, he still has the hip-hop credentials. He raps about guns and drugs, though he says he’s now stopped taking and selling the latter (distancing himself from the former ASAP would be appreciated). His rap style might be slurry, but Lil Mosey’s music is poppy and melodic, with clear commercial potential. So far, Noticed has reached the top 40 on the US Spotify weekly chart and top 5 of their global trending chart.

Lil Mosey - Noticed (Dir. by @_ColeBennett_) - YouTube

The post Future Stars: Lil Mosey (Interscope) appeared first on This Must Be Pop.

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