Last weekend, while working a booth at a food festival, I was subjected to seven hours of pop music. I didn't dare to switch the playlist because I couldn't deny that my preferred music -- heavily featuring a recently developed love of Alex G -- might have hurt business just a little. I pasted on my customer service smile and tried to get into the top forty hits of the summer. Not only did it turn out to be surprisingly easy to enjoy bubblegum beats and belted vocals for the afternoon, but there are a few songs that I still can't stop listening to days later. One of the great things about pop music is its infectious energy and ability to hook you, even if you generally prefer a different genre. Any pop song can get stuck in your head, but the true anthems are highly addictive and have a certain unmatched quality that separates them from the songs that grace the radio for only a month or two before melting away. Here are ten old and new pop songs that you just can't resist no matter how obscure your musical tastes may be.
1. "Attention" by Charlie Puth
This is one of the songs I heard at least ten times over the weekend, but I'm still not sick of it. I think it's Charlie Puth
's lovesick falsetto that has me hooked, personally. Plus it's such a relatable song. Admit it, we've all been on both sides of the accusation repeated in the catchy refrain. I'm not getting over "Attention" before the summer ends, and I'm totally ok with that.
2. "California Gurls" by Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
I haven't been able to get into Katy Perry
's new album, Witness
, but that doesn't change the fact that she's been cranking out habit-forming pop since 2009 when "I Kissed A Girl" was shocking and edgy. "California Gurls" will forever take me back to spending entire summers lounging at the neighborhood pool and competing with my friends for the attentions of the boys in our 9th grade class. Now I only go outside at night, and I miss having sun-kissed skin like the gurls Katy is singing about, but at least this song still makes me want to eat a Choco Taco then jump off a diving board.
3. "Heart Attack" by Demi Lovato
is singing this song for every tomboy, and it's impossible not to burst into your own approximation of her exasperated "I don't wanna fall in love! If I ever did that, I think I'd have a heart attaaaaack". Or something like that. That's the other great thing about pop music. You can sing along as badly as you want and it will still sound great. Well, maybe not great but it will still sound... lively.
4. "Kissing Strangers" by DNCE feat. Nicki Minaj
Obviously, it was a tough choice between "Kissing Strangers" and "Cake By The Ocean" but Nicki
's verse on DNCE
's newest single sealed the deal. That and the completely meaningless, unbelievably catchy "nanana nanana na na" in the background and the chorus that reassures us that kissing strangers doesn't mean you're a hot mess, it just means your looking for someone to love.
5. "Stitches" by Shawn Mendes
This song is the perfect breakup pop song. Shawn Mendes
wears his heart on his adorable sleeve and makes us all feel justified in the throes of our various relationship tragedies. Yes, I have yelled the chorus of this song while waiting at multiple traffic lights and no, I did not stop when other drivers glanced over with mixed concern and annoyance. No matter what kind of happy single state I achieve someday, "Stitches" will always make me feel like I have just been heartlessly dumped and give me an excuse to pour my heart out in the middle of rush hour traffic.
6. "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift
Speaking of breakup pop...Taylor Swift
. Once the former country gal switched over to pop, she came out with so many angsty songs about guys that it was hard to choose just one. Not only does the climactic beat drop make you wonder if this is really the same chick who sang about slammin' screen doors and Tim McGraw, but Taylor's primal scream of "Oh!" on the chorus is absolutely everything.
7. "Party In The U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus
This wouldn't be a pop playlist without a Miley Cyrus
song. An 'old' Miley Cyrus song, that is. None of this mellow, acoustic "Malibu" stuff. And what better choice than "Party In The U.S.A."? This song will never die, and I would honestly be ok with it replacing the "Star Spangled Banner" as our national anthem. It was definitely the national anthem of my middle school cross country team, and even our muscle-bound, Ironman loving coach was on board with it. Proof that no matter who you are, you become a teen pop star on the rise as soon as "Party In The U.S.A." starts playing.
8. "Bad" by Michael Jackson
You definitely can't have a pop playlist without the King of Pop
. It doesn't matter if you feel guilty when you jay walk, never put fountain soda in the clear water cups they give you at fast food restaurants, and always pay your parking tickets, by the time Michael Jackson whispers "Who's bad?" at the end of the chorus to "Bad", the answer is you. You are bad.
9. "Wild Thoughts" by DJ Khaled and Rihanna feat. Bryson Tiller
Pop isn't usually seductive. That's more R&B territory, but DJ Khaled's "Wild Thoughts" is a perfect, steamy pop anthem, complete with a hint of classical guitar and Rihanna
. The electric guitar riff on the chorus somehow meshes with the song's dance beat and also makes "Wild Thoughts" stand out from the other pop on the current top 40 list. I'm not yet at the point of my obsession with this song where I even have any desire to stop listening to it, and I know exactly what I'm requesting the next time I'm in the same room with a DJ.
10. "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga
The Fame Monster
might be one of the most solid pop albums ever released and "Paparazzi" is the primary reason. Nothing epitomizes the sparkling glamour of pop quite like having thousands of borderline obsessed fans clamoring for your attention. I assume. "Paparazzi" has all the dance beats of "Poker Face", "Alejandro" and Lady Gaga'
s other hits, but with an element of creepiness that somehow dissolves the last of your self consciousness as you sing "papa, papa-razzi"
11. "Cut To The Feeling" by Carly Rae Jepsen
If Carly Rae Jepsen wasn't on this list, it simply would not be complete. Sure, we know her as the "Call Me Maybe" girl (which is a great song in its own right) but after the release of EMOTION, Jepsen instantly became quintessential pop. Her latest song "Cut To The Feeling" is almost a pop song within a pop song -- she's singing about how she wants to get right to the heart of it all, and isn't that what pop music does best?
Are you hooked yet?