Popology Now’s Top Singles Of 2016

One of the biggest takeaways from 2016 was that it was one of the worst years in recent memory. Some may argue that music provided an outlet during some of the darkest of times, we tend to see it from a different lens.

Grant it, there was a handful of some truly spectacular, ear shattering pop songs that provided an escape from reality for just three minutes or so. But on the whole, pop music in 2016 fucking sucked.

Why is that? Is it because so many legendary icons were taken too soon? Was it the lack of the pop superstar – both male and female? Was it the short lead up to some major releases? Was it those major releases burning bright for a second before everyone’s attention was directed elsewhere? Was it the uprise of the indie/alt-pop artist that continued to force radio and pop to shift towards their sound? Was it the sole fact that two douchey-frat DJs paired with an inauthentic rising “pop” star ruled the air waves for 12 weeks? Was it an oversaturated trend that ran its course several months ago?

All of the above. For those reasons, it was really hard to find a solid group of songs that a) represented 2016 and b) were enjoyable for more than a few listens.

So we present to you an imperfect list of the top singles of 2016. Some of these songs are bigger than others and no brainers to call out. Others, however, were great for a moment in time and showcased a new side to an artist or group. They may not have been massive, but they helped set the stage for (hopefully) something bigger down the road.


35. The Veronicas – ‘In My Blood’

After playing it safe with their 2013 comeback, this Aussie sister duo rode the tropical wave and returned to the dance floor on one of the biggest songs to come out of their country.

34. Foxes – ‘Cruel’

Not only the name of her only single released this year, but the way this criminally underrated UK singer-songwriter continues to get treated by her label.

33. Meghan Trainor – ‘Me Too’

Roll your eyes all you want. It’s your guilty pleasure too, okay?

32. Alicia Keys – ‘In Common’

Still struggling to figure out why Alicia didn’t have one of the biggest songs of the year with this foolproof comeback single.

31. ZAYN- ‘Like I Would’

Again – for someone who had a #1 debut with their first single, it’s quite strange that the follow-up wasn’t an even bigger hit.

30. Justin Bieber – ‘Company’

Yet again…three #1’s in a row and a smooth R&B record from the Biebs wasn’t even a blip on everyone’s radar?

29. Alessia Cara – ‘Wild Things’

For years now, we’ve had songs about the uprising and celebration of the misfit. None have felt more defiant and fresh in recent years quite like this one.

28. Drake ft. Rihanna – ‘Too Good’

The saga of AubRIH continues…

27. Kanye West – ‘Fade’

Show us a bass line as addictive as this one since (dare we say) ‘Billie Jean’.

26. KDA ft. Tinashe – ‘Just Say’

Primarily known for her icy R&B persona, it took this dance floor cut to show how great Tinashe is outside her niche genre.

25. Gwen Stefani – ‘Make Me Like You’

A classic Gwen song? Hardly. One of the best pop songs of the year? Absolutely.

24. AlunaGeorge ft. Popcaan – ‘I’m In Control’

Dancehall was a lot of things this year. Was it any greater than it was in this confident, bossy anthem? We’ll wait for you response…

23. The Weeknd – ‘Starboy’

It just goes to show you, just because you turn to one of the most famous DJ duos in the world doesn’t mean you have to lose what makes you, you, as an artist.

22. Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’

Specifically, the Sean Paul-less version.

21. Rihanna – ‘Kiss It Better’

Because we all want Rihanna to yell “PHUCK YO’ PRIDE’ as she tells you to go down on her.

20. Tinashe – ‘Company’

Who says men get to have all the fun in a side-chick situation?

19. Dua Lipa – ‘Hotter Than Hell’

Like a fiery ember, the way the production of this song ascends is the stuff breakout pop stars dream of.

18. Beyonce – ‘Sorry’

Always down for a song when Beyonce tells you to suck on her balls.

17. Drake ft. WizKid & Kyla Reid – ‘One Dance’

It was inescapable for a good reason.

16. Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna – ‘This Is What You Came For’

Despite her desires to go ‘ANTI’, Rihanna proved she still has what it takes to go pop…when she feels like it.

15. Dawn Richard – ‘Not Above That’

Out of everything post-Danity Kane, Dawn has never sounded more euphoric, and at home, in this intergalactic odyssey of hazy, late-night hookups.

14. Majid Jordan – ‘Something About You’

Dripping in swagger, one of R&B’s hottest tracks of the year only burned bright for a second…but, man, was it a supernova.

13. Drake – ‘Controlla’

Out of the three pop singles that infiltrated top 40 radio from ‘VIEWS’, there’s no doubt that this one was the strongest.

12. Britney Spears ft. G-Eazy – ‘Make Me…’

A fine return to form for one of the most iconic pop stars of the new millenium.

11. Azealia Banks – ‘The Big Big Beat’

A song that made all the drama that follows this artist worth it (until she acted up again).

10. Demi Lovato – ‘Body Say’

After a rough fifth record in 2015, this soulful and sexy glimpse into the future couldn’t be more right for an artist that’s ready for something new.

9. Zara Larsson – ‘Ain’t My Fault’

This one’s just scratched the surface when it comes to pop domination…it ain’t her fault if she takes over in 2017.

8. Rihanna ft. Drake – ‘Work’

Who knew that one of Rihanna’s banal lead singles would be her longest running #1 to date?

7. Selena Gomez – ‘Hands To Myself’

Can’t keep those hits to herself…

6. MØ – ‘Final Song’

There’s always one song a year that’s so euphoric, so perfect in every single that it has the power to render you an emotional mess.

5. Fifth Harmony – ‘Work From Home’

It’s no ‘Sledgehammer’, but at least this group’s legacy will always contain to one of the biggest pop hits of 2016.

4. Rihanna – ‘Needed Me’

So unconventional, so hard, So Ri, so goddamn good that it deserved to extended Rihanna’s string of top ten hits.

3. Britney Spears ft. Tinashe – ‘Slumber Party’

Britney’s strongest single in years. Make this pop duo double, triple, quadruple, etc. until the end of time.

2. DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber – ‘Let Me Love You’

The EDM song of the year. There’s no question that Bieber earned the title of this year’s King of Pop with this jam.

1. Ariana Grande – ‘Into You’

No explanation needed.

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