10 Hit Songs We Don't Mind – March 2019
On a recent drive back to the city from my parent’s house, Steven and I decided it was time again to check in with the hit music charts to see what the kids are listening to these days. We aren’t always a fan of the mainstream hits and the current direction they’re headed in, but find it important to keep up with what the rest of the world is listening to. So once again, we listened to the entire Spotify Global Top 50 list and selected our top 10 songs. Many of these songs have been on the chart for months, but since we haven’t done an installment of this series since August, it was all new enough to us.
To give some context as to who we are and how we may form our musical opinions, you should know a little bit about what influences Steven and my taste in music:
Steven listens to all genres throughout the day from jazz hop to future funk, to bluegrass and even classical. His favorite pop album of all time is “Thriller” and he has a background in musical theater.
I on the other hand listen to a lot of genres similar to each other in my spare time. Much of it is indie, dream pop, chillwave or electropop. But I also have a huge appreciation for musical theater and all forms of pop from Madonna to Bjork to Patti LaBelle.
The following list is bound to be informed by our tastes in music and what we look for in a good song. We also give points to creativity and originality, as many hit songs these days follow the same formula. Scroll all the way down to check out the full Spotify Top 10 list as of March 26, 2019 so you can tell us what you think!
#10 – “Giant” by Calvin Harris and Rag’N’Bone Man
Calvin Harris always seems to find himself at the bottom of our top 10 lists. I think it’s because his music is easy to listen to and for the most part agreeable, but takes no chances. I really enjoyed the vocals by Rag’N’Bone Man, as they were a nice change of pace from the 5 voices I feel like I hear in these electronic songs. It made this song just that much more soulful than the others like it that didn’t make the top 10. But it still follows the basic Calvin Harris formula, and is not memorable enough for a spot at the top of the list.
#9 – “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande
It might shock you that a song from Ms. Grande is so low on our list, being that Steven and I are firm Ariana-stans. But this song and “Break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored” - which didn’t even make our list - didn’t impress us as much as all the other Ariana songs coming out right now.
I can appreciate what this song does for her image. Being that Ariana has always expressed a love of musical theater in her early work including that song with Mika that punches up Wicked’s “Popular,” the reasoning behind this tribute to The Sound of Music is not lost on me. And its use in the song is just unique enough for me to give it a thumbs up. Plus following the success of “Thank U, Next,” Ariana needed another independent woman anthem - this one being about financial independence. I think it’s smart, it’s on brand, the music video is memorable enough and I am never unhappy to hear it on the radio. But Steven and I definitely listen to Ariana Grande for the soaring vocals and pop bops and less for the hip-hop inspired triplet songs. So #9 it is.
#8 – “Fast” by Juice WRLD
Steven and I would be lying if we said we were huge fans of modern rap and trap music. It just doesn’t speak to us the same way rap from the 90s and early 2000s did. With this generation of rap artists’ subject matter being less about the gangster lifestyle and more about inner turmoil, we were always waiting for them to create their own style that defined them, beyond triplets. And this new genre of “emo rap/hip hop” has made me feel like they have found their own voice. Much like how I was impressed with “Falling Down” by Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, this song made me feel like I was listening to an individual voice their own opinions and their own struggles, rather than make a crowd-pleasing song.
#7 – “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco
I know what you’re thinking - of course formerly emo Sydney loves Panic! At the Disco’s latest hit. And while I can’t say that this is a go-to song of ours by any means (you really need to be in a particular mood to listen to it,) Steven and I appreciate that this song is trying to do something different from all the mid-tempo pop songs in the top 50.
It has high energy, it’s theatrical, and it makes you feel like something exciting is happening- much like Macklemore’s music back when he was putting out the hits. It just shakes the dust off of the other dreary pop songs, and puts out a decent message about positivity and success, which never hurts.
#6 – “Sweet bUT Psycho” by Ava Max
I’m not sure who this Ava Max person is, but she made an immediate impression on me the first time I heard this song at a boutique. It was catchy, upbeat and unlike many pop songs on the charts, had a hook, a chorus and a bridge. And while I know that that’s always been the structure of pop music since it was invented, it tends to stand out these days now that pop’s structure is taking on more of an EDM shift.
This gave me all the feelings I used to get when a new Rihanna, Gaga or Katy Perry song would come out. It might be a bit fluffy, - and isn’t by any means deep - but it makes for a great dance song, is easy to sing along to, and lifts my mood when I hear it on the radio. So as a pop song, I’d say it’s pretty successful.
#5 – “My Bad” by Khalid
Khalid’s musical genre is described as contemporary R&B, and I can really get behind it with this song. Sure I don’t love everything he puts out, but this song stood out to me as really relaxing and pleasant to listen to. Its vibe reminds me of Craig David’s “Fill Me In.” And admittedly, the similarities between the two songs and the nostalgia factor played a huge role in its high placement on the list. Both songs are about common and mundane issues in relationships - making them easily relatable, and are both quite soothing to listen to. And they clearly set the mood and outline the message, as most successful R&B songs do.
#4 – “Here With Me” by Marshmello and CHVRCHES
Maybe it’s just because Steven and I are CHVRCHES fans gearing up for their upcoming concert, but we really enjoyed their new song with Marshmello. I always get excited when I see indie acts get time in the spotlight among all the pop, rap and EDM.
And it was high time CHVRCHES make the Top 50. Lauren Mayberry is such a unique vocalist and is part of such a creative and distinct band that has been incredibly consistent in writing music that is both fun to listen to and meaningful. “Here With Me” may be a little more generic than we’re used to with CHVRCHES - as it’s moreso a Marshmello song intended to appeal to a mass audience - but it still sounds great and gets stuck in my head…E-very-day!
#3 – “Happier” by Marshmello and Bastille
It took months for this song to grow on me. It sounded generic the first time I heard it, following the electronic pop tropes of the chorus being the first stanza, and the beat dropping before every chorus. But funny enough, it was the dumpster fire that was YouTube Rewind 2018 that made me want to give it another chance. After dozens of listens, I realized why it was such a huge hit for so long. It may have all of the boxes of the EDM pop checklist ticked off. But after a while, I started to see it for its deeper meaning, and for its use of the electronic pop song formula to frame the conversation being had in the song.
The song is clearly about a man breaking up with his love because they’re better off apart. It’s a bittersweet decision many of us have to make in our lives. Having to say goodbye to someone because one or both of you need to move on is a sad and scary event. All you can think about in the moment is all of the reasons why you should stay together. And the fear of it being a bad decision or watching them move on makes the action that much harder. And this song gets that message across quite well, while also being upbeat enough to dance to it at the club. And its use of the beat drop after Bastille sings “Know that means I’ll have to leave” feels like it represents a bomb of bad news being dropped on someone. It’s one of the only uses of the beat-drop in pop music I’ve enjoyed and found purpose in, in a long time. The song succeeds at conveying a feeling of love for someone else, pain and fear of the future.
And while the music video is a bit melodramatic, its metaphor of putting a dog to sleep drives home the meaning of the song. That you want to be with someone you love as long as possible, but not at the expense of their happiness and comfort.
This was also a very successful collaboration between Bastille and Marshmello, as it played to their strengths. I would listen to another collaboration of theirs in the future.
#2 – “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande
There’s a reason why this song has been on the top 50 for so long. It’s a catchy tune, its lyrics are very earnest and personal - paying homage to everything that’s gone on in Ariana’s personal life since she hit the scene - and it was timed perfectly with the new year when everyone listening to it wanted out with the old and in with the new.
There’s nothing like a fresh start to make a person feel more motivated. And I think that’s what makes this song so successful and fun. It feels refreshing - not just in lyrics, but in its sound - and reminds people that when they’re faced with a job, person or place that brings them down, they can muster up the confidence to try something new.
If I’m being honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the music video (dodges bullets and tomatoes.) It was really cool, but I feel like it has nothing to do with the song. Perhaps there’s deeper meaning involved that went over Steven and my heads, but I felt this music video laced with callbacks to classic chick flicks would have been more appropriate to a song about nostalgia, or the themes of those films. The only connection I could find between the concept of “Thank U, Next” and those movies, is Elle Woods moving on from Warner in Legally Blonde. But I did love that finally we got the big-budget music video that Ariana as a popstar deserved. It’s no wonder she’s the one to look out for these days. She has great vocals, a clear point of view as an artist, a personal life people find relatable, and the ability to adapt to the latest trends in music and pop culture to remain relevant.
#1 – “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee
Once again, Post Malone finds his way onto our Top 10 list. While he’s not our favorite by any means, he consistently puts out music that is easy to listen to during a kickback or relaxing evening. And this song from the soundtrack of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse felt both cinematic and relaxed. I haven’t seen the film, but I can clearly picture Spidey reflecting while jumping from building to building, with this song playing in the background. I can even see it being used as a relaxing credits song. Swae Lee’s vocals are very soothing and pleasant to hear, and add the angst and attitude I can see being associated with a modern take on Spiderman.
The first thing I noticed about this song was that it sounded like many songs I’ve heard before. I hear “Heartbeats” by The Knife, and “Paper Planes” by M.I.A in this song. And when looking through Reddit forums, I realized that a lot of people heard those two songs as well as 80’s hits such as “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin when first giving it a listen. And according to Steven, M.I.A’s “Paper Planes” is based off of an old style of Reggae, which this song in turn becomes reminiscent of.
But even though this song is quite referential in sound, it is its own at the end of the day. It may not be the most original or memorable song in the world, but it sounds like it’s for the modern day young person and the modern day Spiderman. It injects its own unique voice into Reggae style vocal pacing and 80’s-inspired beats. For its unique combination of genres, clear point of view and listenability, it receives the #1 spot on our list this season.
The Real #1 – “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
We can’t finish this article without addressing the elephant in the room: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Following the film of the same name’s recent Oscar awards, this song has found its way back into the public eye and has garnered millions of new listens on Spotify. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star is Born is also on the Top 50 list. We did not include “Bohemian Rhapsody” in our top 10 because it’s not a new song and the point of this series is to discover what new music is being produced and well-received by the public.
But to us, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is on a whole other level from the other songs in the Top 50. It’s incredibly original, memorable, full of metaphor and meaning, and beautifully sung and composed. It’s a classic rock song that I’m glad this generation of young people is not forgetting. Something it actually has in common with current hit songs is that it’s referential to other genres and themes in music. Bohemian Rhapsody is inspired by classical music, opera, and even rock songs that came before it. Not to mention it contains classic biblical themes. It didn’t invent every aspect of itself, but no one can deny that this is an incredibly unique song that opened the world’s mind to what a rock song could potentially be and do.
I don’t mind the songs of this current generation making references to past songs and genres. I just hope that the current artists can take what inspires them and weave a new sound that defines the attitudes, themes and struggles of the modern individual, that goes beyond beat drops, mid-tempo and triplets. I’m tired of hearing six songs that sound the same on the Top 50 because they’re guaranteed money makers to some high-level executive. Music is not meant to satisfy their banks accounts - it’s supposed to define a generation of people. And that can only be done when artists have the guts to do something different and put themselves out there…kind of like Queen.
We hope you enjoyed our assessment of the current hit songs. While we’re straying further and further away from being the target audience for these songs, we still find it important to keep informed on how pop culture is adapting and asses fully what we like and dislike about it. Until next time!
SPOTIFY GLOBAL TOP 50 PLAYLIST ON MARCH 27, 2019
7 rings by Ariana Grande
Con Calma by Daddy Yankee
Sucker by Jonas Brothers
Sunflower - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse by Post Malone
Wow. by Post Malone
Shallow by Lady Gaga
break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored by Ariana Grande
Dancing With A Stranger (with Normani) by Sam Smith
Don't Call Me Up by Mabel
Sweet but Psycho by Ava Max
Here With Me by Marshmello
MIDDLE CHILD by J. Cole
Calma - Remix by Pedro Capó
Baila Baila Baila by Ozuna
Happier by Marshmello
Secreto by Anuel Aa
i'm so tired... by Lauv
Without Me by Halsey
Old Town Road by Lil Nas X
thank u, next by Ariana Grande
Talk by Khalid
I Can’t Get Enough (benny blanco, Selena Gomez, J Balvin, Tainy) by benny blanco
bury a friend by Billie Eilish
HP by Maluma
Murder On My Mind by YNW Melly
Giant (with Rag'n'Bone Man) by Calvin Harris
Pa Mí - Remix by Dalex
Going Bad (feat. Drake) by Meek Mill
Swervin (feat. 6ix9ine) by A Boogie Wit da Hoodie
wish you were gay by Billie Eilish
Let Me Down Slowly by Alec Benjamin
Au DD by PNL
High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco
My Bad by Khalid
R.I.P. (feat. Rita Ora & Anitta) by Sofia Reyes
Taki Taki (with Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B) by DJ Snake
Please Me by Cardi B
MIA (feat. Drake) by Bad Bunny
Bohemian Rhapsody - Remastered 2011 by Queen
Pure Water (with Migos) by Mustard
Robbery by Juice WRLD
Adan y Eva by Paulo Londra
SICKO MODE by Travis Scott
Eastside (with Halsey & Khalid) by benny blanco
Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi
Be Alright by Dean Lewis
Better Now by Post Malone
Desconocidos by Mau y Ricky
Who Do You Love (with 5 Seconds of Summer) by The Chainsmokers
Look Back At It by A Boogie Wit da Hoodie