40 – Nice for What by Drake
Even though Lauryn Hill’s meltdown is public knowledge, people still hold The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in high regard. Where I feel there is injustice is the lack of attention “Ex-Factor” received then. I am thrilled that Drake sampled the track in “Nice for What”. Given his reach and influence, “Ex Factor” reached a whole new generation of listeners. I truly believe “Nice for What” would be nothing without this snippet.
39 – If You’re Over Me by Years & Years
“If You’re Over Me” sounds like the background song to a tourism ad or a cable network’s advertisement to TV shows it has lined up for the upcoming season. The melody is upbeat, fun and energetic. Although once you sing the words, you realize how heartbreaking and sad the subject matter is. I guess that’s the way Years & Years and myself deal with heartache. Use music to uplift an otherwise depressing situation.
38 – Boo’d Up by Ella Mai
I have not listened to radio music in some time. But I can imagine myself traveling back to past decades and hearing “Boo’d Up” in a 90s R&B FM station. The song would surely top the local charts and be frequently requested by its listeners. The sound is reminiscent of classic Mariah Carey or Toni Braxton without the high notes. This is the style the streaming generation is missing out on and Ella Mai is filling that void.
37 – Unlonely by Jason Mraz
The sad and unfortunately reality for Jason Mraz is that he no longer has the fame that he used to possess. The lukewarm reception to “Have It All” sealed the fate of his succeeding singles. I would argue that “Unlonely” is one of his best releases ever and contains the elements that made his previous hits great – amazing wordplay, cheesy but effective lyrics, and incredibly good vibes. I strongly suggest a second chance for him!
36 – Happier by Marshmello featuring Bastille
I don’t know if Bastille’s decision to collaborate with Marshmello will define their sound in the future. I’m sure the snobs and contrarians will find something to complain about. But seriously, “Happier” is still a jam, even though Dan Smith’s voice is the only Bastille element about the track. The transition from the vocals to the sudden EDM break is weird but addicting.
35 – Four out of Five by Arctic Monkeys
If “Hotel California” by the Eagles had a sequel, “Four out of Five” can be a good candidate. I have little clue what world the song and the album are operating on. But the guitar riffs and the chorus are classics in the making, the kind that you’ll play while you’re on a road trip (provided your companions listen to or even recognize Arctic Monkeys).
34 – Lost in Japan by Shawn Mendes
Sam Mendes has never sounded so polished and smooth as he does in “Lost in Japan”. He speaks of Justin Timberlake as an influence on the record. And if for one second you simply listen to the beat and even the voice, the resemblance is impossible to ignore. He performed this track on the Victoria Secret Fashion Show and the song was a perfect fit. It almost sounds like the song was written for the event.
33 – Remind Me to Forget by Kygo featuring Miguel
Miguel is one of those artists that can do an EDM record and still command the same level of respect after. If I had to put my finger on a reason, his identity is rarely compromised even when different musical styles are blended. Just listen to “Remind Me to Forget”. For an EDM track, the beats are less pronounced. Or is that Kygo’s style? Miguel’s soulful voice just takes over the song and the melody comes in second.
32 – Psycho by Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign
Is the general public wrong and are the critics right? Is “Psycho” as outdated and formulaic as publications deem the song to be? Well, honestly, I don’t care. The fame and fortune rappers sing of will always be foreign concepts to people like me. But Post Malone’s beats are nostalgic and sentimental that they add a human layer to an otherwise pointless display of wealth.
31 – Promises by Calvin Harris featuring Sam Smith
If I box Sam Smith into an image I was familiar with, “Promises” seem like a sell out record. But if you saw his Carpool Karaoke and watch his Instastories, this release should not come as a surprise. I can tell he loves a good disco song. And this may come off as stereotypical. But the gay clubs now have an anthem from one of the top gay icons to jam to.