The Best Pop Music of the Year

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


From Ariana Grande to Shawn Mendes, we countdown the best pop music of the year!


The Grammys are often criticized for being out of touch with what’s popular, and this year’s nominations are no exception. The top three nominees in the major categories are all older artists: Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t great pop music released in 2017. Here are 10 of the best pop albums of the year, selected by Globe pop music critic Wesley Morris.

The Best Pop Songs of the Year

It’s been a great year for pop music, with a number of new artists and established artists releasing catchy, hook-filled songs that are sure to get stuck in your head. In this article, we’ll count down the best pop songs of the year, from Rihanna’s “Work” to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran was one of the biggest pop songs of the year. It topped charts in several countries and was certified multi-platinum in many more. The song’s success helped propel Sheeran to superstardom and made him one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

“Despacito” is a song by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi featuring Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee from the former’s upcoming studio album. The song was released on January 12, 2017, and has since become a massive global hit, becoming both the most-streamed and most-viewed video on YouTube. It is also the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since “Macarena” in 1996.

“Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

“Something Just Like This” is a song by American electronic music duo The Chainsmokers and British rock band Coldplay. It was released on February 22, 2017, through Disruptor Records and Columbia Records. The song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became both groups’ sixth top 10 single in that country. Internationally, it also reached number one in Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia and Venezuela.

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” by Zayn and Taylor Swift

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” is a song recorded by British singer Zayn and American singer Taylor Swift for the soundtrack to the 2017 film Fifty Shades Darker. The song was released on December 9, 2016, as the lead single from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” peaked at number three on both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. The song received positive reviews from critics and won Best Original Song at both the Critics’ Choice Awards and Satellite Awards.

“That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

“That’s What I Like” is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars from his third studio album, 24K Magic (2016). The song was written by Mars, Philip Lawrence, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Ray Charles McCullough II and Ronnie Jackson, and produced by Mars, Lawrence and Brown. It was released as the album’s second single on January 27, 2017. “That’s What I Like” became one of the best-selling singles of 2017 and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance at the 60th ceremony.

The song has topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for seven non-consecutive weeks, becoming Mars’ fourth number-one on the chart and spending a total of 28 weeks in the top ten. It also peaked at number two on the Mainstream Top 40 radio airplay chart. The song achieved similar success in several other countries, reaching number one in Australia and New Zealand while peaking within the top five in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and Portugal. Its success was aided by its music video directed by Bruno Mars and Jonathan Lia which won three MTV Video Music Awards including Song of the Year at the 2017 ceremony.

The Best Pop Albums of the Year

There were a lot of great pop albums released this year. Some were instant classics, and others were sleeper hits that took a little bit longer to catch on. Here are the best pop albums of the year, in no particular order.

“Dua Lipa” by Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa is the debut studio album by English singer Dua Lipa. It was released on 2 June 2017 by Warner Bros. Records. The album was supported by six singles: “Be the One”, “Hotter than Hell”, “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)”, “No Goodbyes”, “Begging” and “Idgaf”. It also features guest appearances from Julian Bunetta, Emile Haynie, Sean Douglas, Jon Levine and Chris Martin.

Dua Lipa received positive reviews from music critics, who praised hertone, vocal performance and songwriting. At the 2017 Brit Awards, the album was nominated for British Breakthrough Act and won British Female Solo Artist. It peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Dua Lipa was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

“Rainbow” by Kesha

Released in August, Kesha’s “Rainbow” is the singer’s first album in almost five years, and it’s a triumphant return. Kesha has always been a pop star with a difference — her music is unapologetically fun and upbeat, but there’s also an underlying darkness to her lyrics that speaks to her struggles with addiction and mental health.

“Rainbow” is Kesha’s most personal album to date, and it’s also her most musically accomplished. The production is flawless, and Kesha’s vocal performance is stunning throughout. There are plenty of catchy pop hooks on the album, but there are also moments of delicate vulnerability, like on the closing track, “Spaceship.”

If you’re looking for an album that will make you dance and cry in equal measure, “Rainbow” is the one for you.

“Reputation” by Taylor Swift

“Reputation” is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on November 10, 2017, through Big Machine Records. The record was primarily produced by Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, Shellback and Swift herself, who also served as the executive producer. The album features production from Frequent collaborators such as Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. It also features guest vocals from Kendrick Lamar and Costelloopardi. “Reputation” is a synth-pop, electropop and EDM album that deviates from the signature country pop sound present in Swift’s previous work.

The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 1.216 million copies, becoming Swift’s fourth album to do so and making her the only act in history to have four million-selling week one releases on the chart. In doing so, “Reputation” displaced her previous album “1989”, which spent its last three weeks atop the chart in 2016; this made Swift only the third artist ever to replace themselves at number one, after Garth Brooks and Britney Spears (the latter of whom topped the Billboard 200 for two non-consecutive weeks in 2000). Critical reception for “Reputation” was mixed; several publications praised its production and songwriting, but found its content to be underwhelming in comparison to its predecessor “1989”.


As the year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to look back at the best pop music of 2019. From Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” it’s been a great year for pop music. And while there have been some great songs that didn’t make our list (like Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” and BTS’ “Boy With Luv”), these are the 25 best pop songs of 2019.

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