10 Underrated Pop Songs

I will be the first to admit while I enjoy watching the charts and do not mind listening to Top 40 radio, I am often dismissive of several popular artists and songs. Rarely does a song crack the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 that I would fully admit to loving, and even when a great song like “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar or “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles, they either fall of immediately or do not get enough radio attention. And while I understand my taste of music might not be in line with the general public’s (I can safely assume “Burn the Witch” by Radiohead won’t ever get played alongside “Shape of You”) there are occasionally songs that come around that I feel people would love if exposed to. As you can assume from the title, these are 10 songs that have come out over the last couple years that I feel deserved to get more attention. These songs either fell off the Hot 100 before they became big or just never showed up to begin with.

10) Beck- “Dreams”

I guess it makes sense that this song was never a huge hit. Beck has not been able to get a song on the Hot 100 in over a decade and recently has really only been seen as the evil man who “stole” the Grammy for Album of the Year from Beyoncé back in 2015 (even if that win was totally earned). Still, “Dreams” was the kind of light, fun pop-rock song that I could see having crossover appeal. Sadly, the song rarely left alternative radio and was never the summer hit it deserved to be.

9) DJ Khaled ft. Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar & Betty Wright- “Holy Key”

DJ Khaled has finally meme’d himself back into relevancy, which means he has been able to assemble some great lineups for his songs. This is a prime example, as he reunites Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar after the drama that came with “Control” back in 2013. I understand why this song never really stuck around on the charts. It does not play like a pop song, with Betty Wright’s strong vocals, and Big Sean and Kendrick’s verses, while great, did not have the same catchiness of the kind of stuff that typically charts. Still, this is the greatest thing DJ Khaled has ever had his name attached to and that deserves at least a little credit.

8) Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment- “Sunday Candy”

The only reason this song is not higher is because I feel like over time people have grown on this song. Sure it never charted, but it has become a staple for Chance the Rapper at his concerts. The instrumentation on here is grand and gave us a hint of what would come on Coloring Book. I would like to think if this song was marketed as a Chance the Rapper song, and was released after all the exposure he got from his last album, it be a hit.

 

7) James Bay- “Hold Back the River”

Fun fact, this song never charted in the U.S. This song was big in a bunch of other countries but for some reason America never took to it. We did eventually get “Let It Go” which never made sense to me since was always a more interesting and exciting single. The swell in intensity throughout makes this song a fun ride and Bay’s vocals are as great as they always are. This seems like one of the songs that could have been huge if pushed at the right time. And it was huge all around the world, just something did not click with American radio stations and this never got the attention it deserved.

6) Usher- “Crash”

I honestly cannot tell if Usher is still relevant anymore. It seems like not too long ago he was still a huge star, and he will still occasionally get a song on the chart, but I feel like nobody is really talking about him. Regardless, I know that people are not talking about this single, which I personally think was one of the best tracks off his last album. Usher’s delivery, especially that falsetto, get stuck in my head so easily. It is one of those songs that is written fairly simple, but is still able to get it’s emotions across, which I feel is rare nowadays.

5) Jamie xx ft. Young Thug & Popcaan- “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”

I’m going to say it, this song is why so many critics have warmed up to Young Thug. This is a song that could have been another lame excuse for a danceable, semi-coherent rap tune, but Jamie xx’ clean, dancehall-inspired production light up Young Thug’s verses and that sample from The Persuasions works perfectly. This is the kind of song that deserved to be the highlight of every summer party. This is honestly as great as a Young Thug will ever get so if this is worth a listen for that alone.

4) Little Mix ft. Jason Derulo- “Secret Love Song”

I will continue to say that Little Mix is the version of Fifth Harmony that deserved to explode in the U.S. This honestly is not their best song, but out of the singles they have put out, this is the one that has always struck me as one of their best. Also, with one of Jason Derulo’s best performances I would have loved to see both of these artists get some love for this. This is one of those strong, emotive pop duets that I think would connect to mainstream listeners had it been pushed stronger to them. Honestly who could listen to this and feel nothing? Honestly I am endorsing this group’s entire catalog because they are way better than they have any right to be.

 3) Miguel- “Coffee”

Back in the summer of 2015, me and many others were eagerly awaiting new music from Frank Ocean, and while we were waiting Miguel came out of nowhere with one of the greatest R&B singles of the decade. Seriously, the fact this song barely broke the top 80 on the Hot 100 is a shame. This is easily one of the greatest things I have ever heard from Miguel. The lush production works well with his sleepy delivery as he sings about those subtle moments in a relationship. I know it might be a little too slow for radio, and does not have the kind of catchy hook like Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” did, but this song still has such a great vibe to it and even after almost two years I still love listening to it.

2) Flume ft. Tove Lo- “Say It”

I have said it before, and I will say it time and time again. When it comes to electronic songs with female collaborators about falling for an old flame, only one song should come to mind. And no, it is not “Closer” it is this. Flume takes full control of the production here, utilizing some interesting wonky beats that elevate Tove Lo’s vocals. And speaking of Tove Lo, this is far more interesting than anything that was on her last album and I hope people will continue to see the potential she has when given great production. I’m still glad Flume was able to get a small hit with “Never Be Like You” but this is unquestionably the superior song.

1) Carly Rae Jepsen- “Run Away With Me”

Here is one of the biggest mistakes ever made in pop music. Choosing to push “I Really Like You” as the big single from Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion over this. This song could have been huge and it would have deserved it because it is one of the best pop songs of the decade. Right from the synths that open it, I am engaged and the song just takes you on such a fun ride. It is the best Carly Rae has ever sounded on a single and really set up this album well. It has all the basic components of a perfect pop song. Catchy hook, simple lyrics, and an overall fun attitude, this song seemed to have it all and especially coming from an artist who topped the charts for weeks with “Call Me Maybe.” Also callbacks to 80s pop music has been so huge in the mainstream and this fully embodies the best sounds of the 80s without sounding dated. So what went wrong here? I honestly wish I had a better answer, I guess the first single might have left a bad taste in people’s mouths which is a shame. This song deserves as much love as it can get and is totally deserving of the top spot on this list.

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