This year has been the best, most relentless year for pop music this century. No doubt about it. It’s been tricky keeping up, what with all the extravagant comebacks (JT, Daft Punk, Lily Allen, Beyoncé; does anyone remember Destiny's Child "coming back" too?), the crossover successes (Rudimental, Disclosure, Icona Pop, Lorde), the surprisingly brilliant changes of direction (Gaga, Perry, Cyrus, Chase & Status), and the album releases from popstars we thought terminally unproductive (Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira).

Then, when it comes down to the best bits, my favourite pop 'moment' was probably Taylor Swift cycling effortlessly, insouciantly into the Billboard Awards, whilst my favourite full-length came from either Ciara (Ciara), Oh Land (Wishbone) or Dawn Richard (Goldenheart). Most impressive though were the pop songs: below are twenty of my favourites, lovingly selected, haphazardly ordered, with a little bit of juicy info on each.



20. Classixx - 'All You're Waiting For'

Ex-LCD Soundsystem member Nancy Whang teamed up with LA production duo Classixx (aka Tyler Blake and Michael David) on this highlight from their overlooked Hanging Gardens album. Whilst the rest of the record played the social butterfly, moving from Italo Disco through R&B to house, all the while totting up the guest appearances, this is was an unthinkably catchy pop song with Tom Tom Club-style sass.


19. Monsieur Adi feat. A*M*E - 'What's Going On?'

Here, Mademoiselle A*M*E of London town hooked up with French house DJ and renowned remixer Monsieur Adi to create perhaps the best 'What's Going On?' song since Gaye. Interpolating 'Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)' by Soul II Soul, the result is euphoric from start to finish, full of urgent-sounding string sections and, in general, really quite brilliant. A should-have-been chart-monster.


18. Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge - 'White Noise'

Two of the most hot-tipped new acts (at the time) work together. Internet goes mad. Song catches on. The whole country goes mad. This is a proper banger in every sense of the term (even the sausage one): meaty, full-flavoured, exhilarating, but not too substantial. Speaking to Dot from London Grammar about collaborating with Disclosure, he told told me 'White Noise' was written in just one afternoon. It ended up in Aluna's hands, and that was that. The most unavoidable song of the year.


17. YYZ - 'Lost In The Mix'

Trashy rave-pop is always great in my book, and this song by slightly silly up-and-coming London duo YYZ totally delivered on that front. Brilliantly named lead singer Ali McNally sings like a Girls Aloud-in-one, intoning insane one-liners over Dan Gamble's thudding beats and creating, all in all, what probably should have been your Mum's party anthem of the year. I said, back in March, 'Saturdays-style machine-pop with a view to making you dance like a Crazie.'


16. Say Lou Lou - 'Beloved'

Following two years of non-stop photo shoots and promotional shebang, Say Lou Lou are currently holed up in a Stockholm cellar recording their debut album. And about time, too. They released this cut, an actual B-side, last month, and it was the best we've heard from the Swedish-Australian sisters yet. Anguish, loss and longing have always been the twins' priority, and here their hearts come a-pumping.


15. Jakwob feat. Maiday - 'Fade'

Ridiculously Bohemian-looking, misleadingly-labelled-dubstep DJ/producer Jakwob dropped this chilled-out track in March and dominated Radio 1 for roughly a week and a half. Simmering, ebbing, flowing, Maiday provides a superb vocal, and the whole thing undergoes an unbelievable climactic chop-up at 2.32. But don't skip, just wait. Then gasp.


14. Lady Gaga - 'Venus'

A Gaga song with a perfect chorus. Come on.


13. Chlöe Howl - 'No Strings'

I said, back in January: Howl 'takes a leaf out of the Jamie T/Kate Nash book of sweary, Lahndahn-twanged bedroom-pop. She dropped debut single 'No Strings' last month, and - blimey - it's got balls. Like, really massive balls. We're talking a chorus which goes a bit like, "No more crawling in your bed, fuck your no strings ... I hope I have twins," as well as affecting lines like "I don't even know if I'm the right sex... you don't even know if I'm the right sex." She's just signed to Columbia Records, so if you don't hear big things very soon, I'd be rather surprised. Expect even bigger things from Howl next year.


12. Mutya Keisha Siobhan - 'Lay Down In Swimming Pools'

On the reincarnation of the Sugababes, back in April: 'Touching down in typically up-to-the-minute style, the girls [have] reappeared with spectacular session outtake 'Lay Down In Swimming Pools'... When Mutya breaks in, "I wanna stay / I wanna go round again / already been here too many times before," we shout back, "PLEASE STAY". Because what they're doing here is bold, brilliant and quite possibly the best thing since 'White Noise'. "I have found where I wanna be," they agree in perfect unison. Back and once again establishing themselves as the one of the best girl groups on Planet Earth, all augurs flawlessly for the Origibabes' second album, due for release later this year.' The album hasn't landed yet, but fingers crossed it will soon.


11. Katy B - '5am'

Bass-pop queen Katy B has just announced plans for her long-awaited second album, Little Red, due February next year. We've already heard '5am', the second single from the record, which stayed true to her club roots, hinting anxiously at that solitary post-party lull. Notably, there are some badass little couplets: (15 seconds in: "That beat's so sick / that tune's so ill").


10. Pawws - 'Slow Love'

Animal-themed artist Pawws (aka Lucy Taylor, ex live musician for MGMT and Kele) has had a phenomenal debut year. 'Slow Love', the song that got everyone's attention, is a lilting, finger-wagging glitter-shower of pop goodness. All about turning things down a notch and "enjoying that exciting first bit of a relationship," the 100% banger bears all the hallmarks of a star in the making.


9. TS7 - 'Heartlight'

Shockingly overlooked, this one. Here's what I said first time around: 'Craving Katy B with her smooth, accessible pop songs and simple booming bass-lines? Yes? Well, just have a listen to TS7's gorgeous new number with rising Tracy Beaker-haired vocalist Taylor Fowlis, who sounds just like our Katy. It's uncanny, astonishing, almost creepy. Intrigued? Puzzled? Smitten? If her Facebook page is anything to go by, you can expect a solo record very soon indeed.' If you watch the video, expect noodle scenes.


8. Owl Eyes - 'Closure'

On Owl Eyes (guise of Australian pop singer Brooke Addamo) with a song co-written by the equally fabulous Chela: 'giving off surprisingly stylish italo-disco vibes, 'Closure' ping pongs between cheesy Depeche Mode keyboard presets, pounding electric tom-toms and vocal lines which are literally impossible to shake off, all as Addamo 'weaves through the concept of struggling to find finality'. As a whole, it's as relentlessly lush and unendingly heartbreaking as a Say Lou Lou refrain, and certainly paves the way for a splendid career ahead.'


7. Justin Timberlake - 'Mirrors'

Did you see this at the Brits?!


6. Duke Dumont feat. A*M*E - 'Need U (100%)'

No one could have predicted underground house DJ Duke Dumont reaching number 1 this year with a song co-written by newbies MNEK and A*M*E (her again). The song is pretty bare, lyrics wise, but it's the inexorable hooks that glue it all together.


5. Jessie Ware - 'Imagine It Was Us'

It had been a whole year since the album. This tune came with the reissue/deluxe edition. Here, she took an unexpected disco turn. It was unsurprisingly ace.


4. Ciara - 'Body Party'

Taken from perhaps the best pop album of the year, I described this incredible lead single as 'a woozy, laid-back affair laced in dated synth lines and old skool percussion twinks. With pristine production courtesy of Mike WiLL MAKE IT (he of Rihanna's 'Pour It Up' fame), the song is reliably groovy but minimally ambitious. Co-written by boyfriend and rapper Future, the result is a pretty sensual, untroubled late-night number which would probably go nicely with some mates and a bottle of wine before a heavily-sozzled night out on the razz'.


3. Liz feat. RiFF RAFF - 'Underdogs'

I said, in Pon De Replay Edition No. 3: 'Californian pop singer LIZ [...] makes outstanding, glossy, commercial-sounding R&B coloured in with a splash of bubblegum and a touch of the lyrically absurd. Snapped up by Mad Decent imprint Jeffree's last year, the same label that released the omnipresent (*whispers*) 'Harlem Shake', her debut single 'XTC/Underdogs' certainly nods towards the classics (early Kelis, Mariah, Destiny's) but also winks at her contemporaries (she sounds a bit like a first-rate Kesha). 'Underdogs' is the better of the two cuts, mainly because I love it when she declares, earnestly and naturally, "bitch I'm a unicorn," over and over again.'


2. Tove Lo - 'Habits'

I was smitten back in Pon De Replay Edition No. 5, naming this song from Swedish popstar Lo 'one of the best pop nuggets of the year so far. Your typical break-up song about "the misery that comes with a broken love that you want to mend but you can't"; Lo's certainly not breaking new thematic ground here, nor new musical ground (think another Annie-influenced Scandi-pop artist), she's just making amazing synth-pop anthems that make you want to jump up and down and do the shameless singing-into-hairbrush-in-front-of-mirror thing.' Clearly, its effects have lasted.


1. Demi Lovato - 'Heart Attack'

A perfectly crafted pop song. I said, upon its release: 'powerful, attitude-stuffed and octave-straddling, sort of like a Nicki Minaj single gone right, Demi Lovato's 'Heart Attack' is one of those proper good electro-pop bangers that resorts to employing cardiac arrest as a metaphor for lovesick infatuation. But what makes this here song stand out from the crowd is the lolgasmic imagery of its pre-chorus, during which Lovato intones, "You make me glow, but I cover up / won't let it show," because imagining a garish, fluorescent yellow Demi Lovato is a little bit hilarious. Actually, really hilarious. Indeed, trying to visualise her as a bumbling, flying fire-ball ("I'm flying too close to the sun / and I burst into flames") is also pretty amusing.' In retrospect, I was a little mean. This is utter, timeless brilliance.