[Ed. Note: I used to work at an FYE. And despite my personal preference for classic rock and contemporary alternative/"indie" music, it turns out that you eventually learn more than you'd ever care about Top 40 Pop/Rock when you work at that type of store. And, I hated to admit it, but working there was how I fell in love with Lady Gaga and began to begrudgingly admit that not all Top 40 is shallow, facile garbage. But I haven't worked for FYE since 2013 and I haven't knowingly listened to Top 40 radio since then. And so I thought it would be a great idea for our fantastic freelancer, April Siese, to put together a list of her picks of the top 10 songs in the Billboard Top 40 that you shouldn't have to be ashamed to enjoy as an indie fan.]
OMI -- "Cheerleader"
There's nothing embarrassing about feeling the same inexplicable need to groove when the trumpet trills of "Cheerleader" throttle through a percussion-heavy bridge and chorus. This Jamaican fusion pop track from newcomer OMI plays on classic R&B riffs and may be leading the pack as 2015 summer jam.
George Ezra -- "Budapest"
The "Take Me To Church" of 2015, though with less operatic vocal work, George Ezra's ode to abandoning the tangible for the abstracts of love fit right in with the likes of the Kooks or Frank Turner.
Silentó -- "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"
Between the samples, the synth, and the dance lesson video, it's hard not to love Silentó's club smash "Watch Me." Looking for indie merit from this 17 year old? Silentó got discovered through Youtube and has been writing and promoting his own music for years as a one-man powerhouse.
Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink -- "Worth It"
On paper, there is nothing about "Worth It" that screams indie appeal: fourth single from a band that formed on the X Factor bolstered by an appearance from producer/rapper Kid Ink [Ed. Note: Whose name I only know cause he performed at WM XXXI early this year]. Add in a kicking Bollywood horn sample and the sheer fact that pop music is severely lacking in girl groups (yet indie appears to be leading the way!) and you've got a dance track just begging to be heard.
Tove Lo -- "Talking Body"
Tove Lo is a constant presence at music festivals and an artist you've heard more of than you thought: penning songs for the likes of fellow indie faves Icona Pop as well as some real deal pop artists like Lea Michele. "Talking Body" pulls the best elements of saccharine sweet pop and the throwback 80s synth of acts like Kitten for a perfect storm of indie meets mainstream.
Sia -- "Elastic Heart"
Everyone loves Sia, as well they should. The innovative songstress has effectively blended genres in a way not seen since Robyn. "Elastic Heart" cements her appeal with a cascade of percussion and biting, intoxicating vocals no indie fan can resist.
Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky -- "Good For You"
Selena Gomez is a brilliant pop artist, first and foremost, willing to mine the depths of what the genre can handle while adding in a few surprises [Ed. Note: I know April in real life. I can assure you her Selena Gomez fandom is very real. She has sent me many ecstatic messages about how great "Love You Like a Love Song" is], as with this Lana Del Rey-esque slow jam featuring A$AP Rocky. No need to feel embarrassed by music that's great for its genre.
Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih -- "Somebody"
Any song that semi-samples Whitney Houston and has its lead artist announcing her name as the track begins is sure to be the poppiest of mainstream pop songs. "Somebody" is the song you dance to while getting ready for work, the one that your roommate may catch you grooving to but will totally join in on dancing based on late 80s throwback R&B appeal.
Kaya Stewart -- "In Love With a Boy"
Kaya Stewart's first single utilizes just enough cheesy pop gimmickry to classify it as a mainstream track while also complementing a voice reminiscent of YACHT's Claire Evans meets Dragonette's Martina Sorbara. "In Love With A Boy" is not just a strong debut but a definite marker of indie music's melding into the popular consciousness.
Omarion feat. Chris Brown & Jhene Aiko -- "Post To Be"
This may be the most unabashedly mainstream track you should loudly and proudly be playing without regret. Just let "Post To Be" happen and give Omarion a chance again, despite the overwhelming flute riff, the excessive vocal layering, and the unnecessary panning rolling sound through like a crashing wave. Let's do away with the guilty pleasures once and for all and just enjoy whatever we want, even if it's a song that includes the lyric "gotta eat the booty like groceries."