If albums had something of a soft landing on the pop landscape in , then songs more than picked up the headline-grabbing slack. The Man and Sam Hunt did so domestically. And even with all this, it was still a year where the very best singles might not have been the very biggest. Lady Gaga, "The Cure".
Photos: Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig Flip the Script
Joy was elusive in , in everything from politics to Hollywood to the isolated cultural bubbles where most Americans now look for shelter. The one exception? Pop music. In , pop established a true counter-narrative: cross-pollinating, democratic, and often as buoyantly unbothered as it has ever has been. Genres melded and sometimes combusted completely. This year in pop can ultimately be boiled down to one emblematic moment, when a stripper-turned-Instagram-star-turned-reality-star-turned-hip-hop princess dethroned the biggest major label superstar of her generation at No. Just to recap: our heroine gets paid to party, her nether regions are gold-plated, and bank tellers are completely exhausted by her frequent deposits. Demi Lovato always seemed like a workhorse pop star, diligent but never quite expanding past middle management. Paramore excels at big, brash, emotional calls to arms. Even at her most publicly beset, Taylor Swift possesses a secret weapon that separates her from the competition: truly unimpeachable songcraft.
It wasn't all bad news for big names this year, though, with some pros releasing excellent work that cemented their place at the top of their respective genres, like Kendrick Lamar with his outstanding DAMN singles, and DJ Khaled with the playground exuberance of his posse cuts. Then, we ranked them, starting with the year's most disappointing best-sellers, and working our way through the list to determine 's defining singles. Below, see our ranking of the 50 biggest songs of , ordered from worst to best. Swang , Rae Sremmurd Sales rank: No.
Atlanta trap stars like Migos, Future and 21 Savage slow-rolled out addictive smoked-filled hits. Here are our 50 favorites. Not really the best year to listen to some rich guy survey us poor suckers from atop his mountain of cash. Singer-guitarist Danielle Haim and her harmonizing sisters float in on the gold-dust pop of Fleetwood Mac, the country-rock swag of the Eagles and the giddy digital crackle of youth. A sunshine-y summertime banger for the mellow, post-Drake, post-Auto-Tune era where little bangs in the traditional sense. Over seething acoustic guitars and a sputtering harmonica, he ruminates on the circle of life and the possibly looming end of the world.