The pop music of 2019 kicked off with an incredible lineup of new releases from some of the genre’s best and brightest. With standout records from Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepson, Cardi, and more, here are 2019’s best pop songs (so far).
“Açai Bowl” by Dominic Fike
His ginormous Columbia Records deal aside, Dominic Fike’s impending blow-up is more than tangible. On his latest “Açai Bowl,” Fike pulls from the hip-hop sounds embedded in his South Florida upbringing, and mixes it with smooth production, softer lyrics, and a radio-friendly delivery. While (unsuccessful) pop music can have a tendency to feel shallow or emotionless, Fike’s “Açai Bowl” feels cool, personal, and approachable.
“Bags” by Clairo
All aspects of Clairo’s “Bags” are turned down a notch. Her vocals are at a near-whisper and the guitars hit a heavy rhythm, but with an airy strum. It’s this seemingly soft delivery that makes lyrics like “Can you see me using everything to hold back?” hit even harder.
“Want You in My Room” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen’s fanbase is an unrelenting, ever-growing horde of followers, forever eager to defend the singer's seemingly understated and underrated place in pop—and 2019’s Dedicated seemed to answer the fans’ faith in her.
“Want You in My Room” is a crisp, '80s-infused, Jack Antonoff-produced pop gem, proving Carly’s commitment to keeping the genre pure, light, and ready for the masses.
“Late Night Feelings” by Mark Ronson feat. Lykke Li
On “Late Night Feelings,” Mark Ronson fully leans into Lykke Li’s disco tendencies, making for a dazzling, '70s style bop meant for dancing and daydreaming.
“Sanctuary” by Joji
Arguably the most traditionally pop track we’ve heard from 88rising’s Joji, “Sanctuary” is heavy on the synths and 808s and laced with a falsetto-driven chorus. But Joji’s other-wordly energy remains intact via a campy, space-themed video.
“Due West” by Kelsey Lu
“Due West” sounds like the best tourism jingle California could have ever been blessed with. A fluid, soft mix of R&B, pop and disco, it’s hard to truly put it into one singular genre box. Kelsey Lu floats, daydreaming of a long, winding drive -- a track meant for the exact kind of summer days it’s about.
“Ashamed” by Omar Apollo
Omar Apollo makes it hard not to feel good. “Ashamed” doesn’t take itself too seriously, as Omar raps in and out of cadences and goofy voice distortions on the song’s verses, only to dip into a sing-along style funk-infused chorus.
“Blame It On Your Love” by Charli XCX feat. Lizzo
This female empowerment match made in heaven teamed up for “Blame It On Your Love,” a bubblegum cut that’s largely lead by Charli with a brief, but notable verse from Lizzo.
“Red Roses” by Laundry Day
“Red Roses” is a layered track that transitions in and out of impressive instrumental lineups as it follows an equally conflicted teen-in-love storyline. “Get your own goddamn sweater because you can’t have mine,” Laundry Day laments in a song that’s full of on-point one-liners, a satisfying bass line, and sizzling electric guitar.
“Sucker” by Jonas Brothers
When Jonas Brothers mania hit sometime around 2006, the trio was an omni-present boy band machine, churning out pop hits and fascinating the masses. Now, over ten years later, their comeback single “Sucker” is a much more mature—but still increasingly polished—hit from everyone’s favorite real-life brothers.
“fake smile” by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande’s 2018 was heavy. The pop star faced a year of highly publicized personal tragedies, and yet in 2019, she seems to be ready to be even more open about it. “I can't say I'm doing fine / After what I’ve been through, I can’t lie,” she affirms on “fake smile,” one of many notable stand outs on her new album thank u next. Following up the album’s deeply personal title track, “fake smile” is an equally cathartic hit that celebrates being real through it all.
“Please Me” by Cardi B and Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars is king of the throwback-inspired bops and Cardi B is queen of the collab. It only makes sense that the two linked up once more for “Please Me,” a track that takes on '90s slow jam elements (including a shout out to Jodeci), and spits them back out as a polished, slightly vulgar pop hit.
“bury a friend” by Billie Eilish
On her first release of 2019, alt teen sensation Billie Eilish embraces her darker inspirations for the macabre “bury a friend.” With distorted vocals and a beat elevated by the sounds of shattered glass and screeching alarms, “bury a friend” is a weirdly mesmerizing track that could snuggly fit on a horror movie soundtrack.
“Swan Song” by Dua Lipa
Coming off of a humongous 2018, the freshly-crowned Grammy Best New Artist unveils “Swan Song” from the Alita: Battle Angel soundtrack. Dua Lipa pairs her usual airy vocals with the booming, production quality of a blockbuster anthem. “Swan Song” affirms that despite the track’s title, the pop star is nowhere near finished.
“Dancing With A Stranger” by Sam Smith & Normani
Sad songs have the ability to distract from real-life sadness; but sometimes, it’s the electro-infused pop tracks that can edge away the melancholy best. On “Dancing With a Stranger” Sam Smith and Normani go verse for verse, lamenting about a recent love lost, all while celebrating the opportunity to dance with someone new. It’s a catchy bop that perfectly hits the small window between getting over it and being over it.
Watch this space for new additions. In the meantime, listen to all of our picks in the playlist below, and follow Harper's BAZAAR on Spotify. follow