20 Great Pop Songs From 2018's First Half You Might Have Missed

20 Great Pop Songs From 2018's First Half You Might Have Missed

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This year has already featured such a high volume of terrific pop singles that its been difficult to keep track of all of them. Sure, there are the inescapable anthems from Drake and Ariana, the enduring smashes from Camila and Cardi, and the surprise hits from Ella and Gambino but what about the under-the-radar jams, the ones that havent necessarily blown up but have every right to do so? Thats where we come in.

Enjoy this smattering of great pop music that you might have overlooked so far in 2018. Who knows? Maybe some of these will make your own year-end lists come December.

Madison Beer, Fools

Madison Beers come-up has been long and winding — a one-time Bieber protege at Island Def Jam, shes now making a go of it as an independent artist — but Fools is a mini-breakout that makes for lovely summer-barbecue fodder. Gotta love a fizzy pop song that can turn a word like fools into a five-syllable falsetto croon.

No Rome, Do It Again

Philippines-based artist No Rome enlisted labelmates Matty Healy and George Daniel of the 1975 to co-produce Do It Again, and the resulting product sounds… like an awesome 1975 jam, all atmosphere, earnest emotion and nuanced production (those fingersnaps!) in the vein of A Change of Heart or Somebody Else.

Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato, Solo

Clean Bandit, the U.K.s most efficient electro-pop factory, continues delivering the goods with a Demi Lovato team-up that sports what is perhaps the most flame-emoji-worthy chorus of the season. Solo (its an ode to self-love!) takes a few seconds to get going, but then Lovatos verse swoops into a vocoder/sound-effect seesaw above a mix of ricocheting beats, and were cool for the summer all over again.

Tove Styrke, Sway

Dont sleep on Tove Styrkes recently released Sway album as a whole, but the title track from the Swedish songwriters latest project best highlights her natural effervescence. Delivering her words in a tumbling whisper before pulling back and swaaaaaay-ing on the chorus, Styrke plays the part of the impossibly cool girl you just have to get to know better.

Violet Days, Just a Little

Exquisite Scandi-pop from singer-songwriter Lina Hansson, who beautifully captures the feeling of wanting a relationship to conjure some emotion, any emotion, even if its sadness. Piss me off in the morning, she pleads, Go a week without calling me/ Leave me longing and wandering. Few pop songs are built around direct calls for more callousness, but as Hansson puts it during the bridge, Dont you let me settle for the boring shit.

Soleima, Low Life

The sound of wising up to reality and deciding not to struggle against circumstances out of your control, Soleimas Low Life is anchored by a hmmm sound effect, as if the Danish singer is offering a shoulder shrug to sub-optimal conditions. Midway through, she quickly yelps Sing it!, a means of conveying that the listener can shirk off the BS as well.

Hailee Steinfeld & Bloodpop, Capital Letters

The Fifty Shades FreedOST didnt possess as many essential cuts as the first two soundtracks in the series, with a notable exception in Capital Letters, on which Bloodpop concocts yet another whimsical, synth-driven hook. Hailee Steinfelds presence in pop can be commanding, depending on the song; as ever, we are patiently awaiting a proper album from the double-threat.

Blow feat. Duckwrth, Sad and Bored

Based on her limited output, including the excellent single Not a Love Song,” the Netherlands-based blow approaches pop music from a playful standpoint, rearranging typical song structures and pushing the limits of what an arrangement can resemble. On Sad and Bored, she drops a pissed-off pre-chorus in bullet time before shrugging through the entirety of the chorus, Im sad and bored. Somehow, the malaise has a thrilling effect.

Millie Turner, You and I

British singer-songwriter Millie Turners You and I begins as a pretty standard mid-tempo love song, but turning away becomes more difficult when her falsetto becomes so fragile on the chorus that it sounds like its about to break in half. Its a risky move to use a vocal refrain as delicate as the one here as a songs fulcrum, but Turner sticks the landing.

BLVK JVCK feat. H.E.R., Mine Luv

Electronic duo BLVK JVCK recently teamed up with Jessie Reyez on the single Love Me Still, but Mine Luv, a collaboration with H.E.R. released a few months earlier, remains even more compelling. The groups blend of R&B beats and EDM production elements complements the yearning in H.E.R.s performance, resulting in a dance track ready-made for headphone appreciation.

Bali Baby, Backseat

Frenetic and spectacular from the second it opens, Backseat posits Atlanta rapper Bali Baby as our new hedonistic overlord: over 220 gloriously messy seconds, she sneers at her love interest while exhibiting zero doubt in her own coolness and capabilities. The pseudo-industrial production makes this one soar, and Backseat gets a fitting conclusion when it breaks down and builds back up in the final minute.

Tracey Thorn feat. Shura, Air

Everything But The Girl singer Tracey Thorns new album, Record, explores societys ordained roles for women, within marriage, motherhood and modern romance.On the alluring Air, she shares the mic with one of pops most beguiling new voices, Shura, for a duet on meeting feminine expectations that more than bridges thepairs generational gap.

Hoodboi feat. Tkay Maidza, Glide

Ferocity personified: Tkay Maidza, an Australian 21-year-old with a ton of promise, gets a shimmering production from Hoodboi and bodies it with an uncomplicated flow that eventually pivots into breathy singing. The combination of house and hip-hop here makes for one of the years most irresistible collaborations.

Ravyn Lenae, Sticky

Sticky announces Ravyn Lenaes arrival as a fascinating R&B prospect, as the Chicago natives voice oscillates between vulnerability (You know I cannot shake ya/ You know I cannot break ya) and overconfidence (What you gonna say, if I ever walk away?) without sacrificing its complexity. Erykah Badu immediately comes to mind –not a bad mark for a relative newcomer to hit.

Years & Years, Sanctify

Years & Years Olly Alexander released a collection of redemptive anthems with a hint of danger on the groups 2015 debut Communion, and Sanctify, from follow-up Palo Santo, exists in the same vein, although this time the sensuality is focused on a closeted counterpart. You dont have to be straight with me/ I see whats underneath your mask, Alexander smirks, a not-so-subtle entendre that makes for an attention-grabbing start to the second verse.

Natalie Prass, Short Court Style

Try to resist that bass groove. Short Court Style has an air of effortlessness about it, from Natalie Prass' sumptuous vocals to the backing harmonies to the dizzy joy of the chorus, and it all starts with that elastic bass, filling in the empty spaces at this block party.

Sarai, Get to You

Australian singer-songwriter Sarai lists Solange as a major influence in her official bio, and based on the depth and soulfulness of her delivery on Get to You, itsclear that shes been listening toA Seat at the Table plenty lately.

Twin Shadow, Too Many Colors

While George Lewis Twin Shadow project has gotten bogged down at times in overly grandiose synth-rock, Too Many Colors, from new album Caer, is an airy new wave thumper that lets him use his quivering vocal delivery to build tension in the context of a dance song.

Kim Petras, Cant Do Better”

Hard to imagine Kim Petras dropping another single as flawless as Heart to Break this year, but her follow-up Cant Do Better scratches the same maximalist pop itch, with Petras declaring You CANT! DO! BETTER! over gargantuan drums on the chorus. One of these great songs has to take over Top 40 eventually, right?

Lets Eat Grandma, Its Not Just Me

Lets Eat Grandmas new album Im All Ears flaunts a handful of ambitious structural ideas, but the duo of Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton can also manufacture an extremely sturdy straightforward dream-pop track. Its Not Just Me has the good fortune of SOPHIEs involvement with the production, but there are no bells and whistles here – just visions of bagels, New Years sparklers and the tiny life moments that form a deeper connection.