So here we go! [There were so many good songs this year that just didn't quite make the final short-list but are pretty amazing pop and worthy mentioning: Side By Side (Alvaro Estrella), Reminds Me (Noonie Bao), Wasn't My Fault (Christie & The Dreambeats), Paola (Lovenight), First and Last (Harriet), Dodged A Bullet (Alice Jemima), On Hold (The XX), The Life (Fifth Harmony), So Good (Louisa Johnson), Never Ever (Royksopp ft. Susanne Sundfør), Hurts So Good (Astrid S), 11:11 (Taeyeon), Monsters (SAY), Faded (Dua Lipa) & Vente Pa Ca (Ricky Martin)].
Co-written by the delightful Kara DioGuardi (Kylie's Spinning Around), Becky Hill and a series of Nowegians and Danes (from the Cutfather production house), False Alarm seared itself into my head. An incredibly good dance-pop song that deserved to do much better in the charts considering the high number of streams it received.
14. Starboy - The Weeknd & Daft Punk [Republic] (Can/France)
13. Final Song - MØ [Chess Club] (Denmark)
The Danish singer co-wrote Final Song with Noonie Bao (of Carly Rae Jepsens Run Away With Me) alongside MNEK! This infectious pop song emerged as MØ's big break-out smash and paved the way for her collaborative world hit Cold Water with Justin Bieber and Major Lazer. I can't wait for more from MØ next year.
12. Faded - Alan Walker [Mer Music] (Norway)
This beautiful electronic ballad underscored the fact that those Scandi's certainly know how to do melancholic dance-pop like no other. With 900 million views on youtube and 560 million streams on spotify, Faded became a world hit topping the charts in Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy and Belgium. It weirdly and sadly made a brief cameo in the U.K charts (no.7). I highly recommend the epic orchestral version which is dripping with lush strings. If you like sad-dance-pop check out Alan Walker's follow-up to Faded, Sing Me To Sleep which boasts an even bigger chorus than Faded.
11. Summer Love - The Fooo Conspiracy [RED] (Sweden)
The first Swedish song in the run-down and, gosh its by a boyband! The song is perhaps sounds very reminiscent of Danny Saucedo's amazing debut album Heartbeats and could easily be one of his off-cuts. Which is a very good thing indeed especially with Saucedo releasing more acoustic music off the back of his appearance in the highly successful T.V show Så Mycket Bättre (the Swedish incarnation of the Dutch programme The Best Singers Of Holland). I digress! The Fooo Conspiracy released a stormer of a summer pop song in the form of Summer Love, and while a member has just left, I look forward to their second album due for release mid Q1.
10. No Flight - Alex Maxwell [Hollywood Records] (U.K)
In a complete contrast to Summer Love, No Flight is an dark epic song belonging to Maxwells polemic E.P Signs. Produced by duo The Flight whose own work is absolutely stunning, this gem of sinister pop was the first big push from the first artist signed to the newly set-up U.K wing of Hollywood Records aka Disney. A brilliant showing for all involved as being the only U.K song in my top 15, it is thus the British release of 2016. So congratulations Alex Maxwell! Release that album already!
9. Selfish - Ace Wilder [Warner] (Sweden)
8. Sexual - Neiked [Polydor] (Sweden)
When I first heard Sexual in an A&R office in Stockholm I wanted to jump on the table and immediately start dancing. Then I didn't hear the song again. It appeared to be lost within the Swedish music industry. It was months later when it randomly appeared on some unofficial-lookin' youtube channel it took off big time for me. It became my anthem whilst at university studying music management. I couldn't get enough of it. Though it didn't do well in its country of origin, the song emerged as one of Sweden's biggest 2016 hit in the U.K charting at no.5.
7. Fools Gold - Dagny & Børns [Universal] (Norway)
Confession! I didn't immediately warm to Dagny. I couldn't see the fuss over Backbeat. Objectively, I understood why it received all the glowing reviews but it just didn't click with me. A Scandinavian pop act I didn't get?! What was happening! Then Fools Gold came out and boom I was in love with Dagny. I returned to all her previous releases and it all made sense. The universe was aligned right again. Fools Gold was a big 'blow-it-all-up' kind of song with a ridiculously hyperbolic chorus with a story narrated in its verses. It's punchy bridge makes it one of the perfectly constructed songs of 2016. Well done all.
6. Into You - Ariana Grande [Republic] (U.S)
5. Closer To Life - Atella x Frøder [Eskimo Recordings] (Norway)
4. Kids - OneRepublic [Interscope] (USA)
This release by OneRepublic slammed me sideways. Deeply inspired by all things 1980s, its sweeping synths and a narrative of teenage remembrance, Kids lodged itself in my heart. I felt this song. I believed in this song. I love how it tapped into the current zeitgeist of retromania where our favourite shows are Stranger Things and stand in line for hours for Nintendo trinkets of our teenage years. Aside from explaining the reboots of films like Ghostbusters, retromania understandably has something to do with Brexit and Trump. Kids perfectly encapsulates this without having to spell it out with a sledgehammer. You only have to refer to lyric "I refuse to look back thinking days were better just because they're younger days. I don't know what's 'round the corner. Way I feel right now I swear we'll never change" to understand the popularity of slogans like Make America Great Again. Beyond politics, Kids is also happens to be a lovely love ballad. It works in so many ways. Furthermore, it comes with a wonderful production influenced by M83 and a Seeb remix that is well worth checking out. Being the highest American entry on my countdown, Kids is the best pop single to come out of the U.S this year which perhaps makes sense considering all that has happened in 2016.
3. This Is How We Party - Amy Deasismont [HurdyGirdyNoise] (Sweden)
I didn't expect this at all. Not from Amy. In many ways, This Is How We Party was Amy's Confide In Me moment. For sure, she'd already unveiled her new sound with Forgive and One so I really should've been prepared for this single. The latter song, One, could've easily been in the top 15 as well and deserves a loud shout out. Amy has returned to the world of music with brilliant aplomb. This Is How We Party is one of the finest pop songs to originate out of Sweden this year. Sounding like a score from a thriller directed by David Lynch, This Is How We Party strutted into 2016 with such a disco swagger that it needed its own trumpet in the chorus declaring its arrival like a regal fanfare. With three absolutely stunning singles as an early preview of the incoming album from Amy, I am beside myself for her full length project due for release in early 2017. Well done Amy.