2016 Summer Pop Playlist

The best summers require a great playlist of songs to play in the car, at the beach, and entertaining guests at the backyard bbq. Start your summer 2016 soundtrack here.

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Justin Timberlake - "Can't Stop the Feeling!"

Justin Timberlake Can't Stop the Feeling
Justin Timberlake - "Can't Stop the Feeling!". Courtesy RCA

Justin Timberlake wins the title for the most instantly infectious song of the summer. "Can't Stop the Feeling!" finds him reuniting with Swedish pop master Max Martin who helped bring Justin Timberlake to his first fame as a member of the boy band *NSYNC. "Can't Stop the Feeling!" hit #1 on the US pop chart and will be featured this fall on the soundtrack to the animated film Trolls.

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Calvin Harris - "This Is What You Came For" featuring Rihanna

Calvin Harris This Is What You Came For
Calvin Harris - "This Is What You Came For" featuring Rihanna. Courtesy Sony

It wouldn't be the summer without a breezy Calvin Harris dance pop hit. This time he reunites with Rihanna. "This Is What You Came For" doesn't feel quite as weighty as "We Found Love," but it should find its way on to most pop playlists for the summer. It is already Calvin Harris' fourth top 10 pop hit in the US.

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Ariana Grande - "Into You"

Ariana Grande Into You
Ariana Grande - "Into You". Courtesy Republic

This second single from Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman album will get stuck in your head and refuse to let go. Ariana Grande is working with Max Martin, and the slinky pop fits her like a glove. The references to Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" and Mariah Carey's "Touch Your Body" only serve to make the song even more fun for dedicated pop fans.

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The Chainsmokers - "Don't Let Me Down" featuring Daya

The Chainsmokers Don't Let Me Down
The Chainsmokers - "Don't Let Me Down" featuring Daya. Courtesy Columbia

When they first hit the charts with the novelty song "#Selfie" in 2014, many observers pegged the dance music duo The Chainsmokers as one hit wonders. With the back to back top 10 smashes "Roses" and "Don't Let Me Down," they have silenced the skeptics. This infectious dubstep influenced single also includes vocals from rising star Daya.

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Drake - "One Dance" featuring Wizkid and Kyla

Drake One Dance
Drake - "One Dance" featuring Wizkid and Kyla. Courtesy Cash Money

Canadian rapper and singer Drake has emerged as arguably the biggest musician of the moment in the world. "One Dance" is a beautiful world beat infused song from the album Views. It has become Drake's first #1 hit single in the US topping charts in many other countries around the world as well.

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Nick Jonas and Tove Lo - "Close"

Nick Jonas and Tove Lo Close
Nick Jonas and Tove Lo - "Close". Courtesy Island

If you need a sexy makeout song for the summer, look no further than Nick Jonas on "Close," the first single from his summer 2016 album Last Year Was Complicated. Tove Lo is a perfect sexy duet partner. The pair performed the song live at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. 

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Ruth B - "Lost Boy"

Ruth B Lost Boy
Ruth B - "Lost Boy". Courtesy Columbia

Ruth B is a 20-year-old singer songwriter from the province of Alberta in Canada. She is the latest in what has become a continual stream of Canadians entering the US pop charts. "Lost Boy," inspired by the story of Peter Pan and the TV series Once Upon a Time, was first publicized with a six second clip on the social media network Vine.

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Meghan Trainor - "Me Too"

Meghan Trainor Me Too
Meghan Trainor - "Me Too". Courtesy Epic

With back to back consecutive smash hits from her second album Thank You, Meghan Trainor has zipped right past her debut smash "All About That Bass." With producer Ricky Reed, she has fashioned a thoroughly contemporary electro-pop sound all about personal confidence.

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Kent Jones - "Don't Mind"

Kent Jones Don't Mind
Kent Jones - "Don't Mind". Courtesy Epic

South Florida native Kent Jones earned his first music industry success as a producer and protege of DJ Khaled. "Don't Mind" bathes a syncopated rhythm in a wide range of international words and phrases from French, Spanish and Japanese. It also pays homage to the great Barry White with an interpolation of "Practice What You Preach."

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Fifth Harmony - "Work From Home"

Fifth Harmony Work From Home
Fifth Harmony - "Work From Home". Courtesy Epic

The girl group Fifth Harmony are keeping the memory of the short-lived US version of the TV talent show X Factor alive. They only finished third on the show, but they are the only contestants to have become major pop stars. The slinky, sexy "Work From Home" is their first top 10 pop smash. It also holds the distinction of being the first top 10 pop hit by a girl group in the US since the Pussycat Dolls' last top 10 smash nearly 10 years ago.

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Sia - "Cheap Thrills"

Sia Cheap Thrills
Sia - "Cheap Thrills". Courtesy RCA

"Cheap Thrills" is Sia in a bouncy party mood. It is fun to hear her lighten up. The song has been a top 10 in nearly every country around the world. In the US it is a top 10 dance hit while climbing mainstream pop charts.

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twenty one pilots - "Ride"

twenty one pilots blurryface
twenty one pilots - Blurryface. Courtesy Fueled By Ramen

Alternative pop-rock duo twenty one pilots broke into the pop mainstream earlier this year with their #2 charting single "Stressed Out." "Ride" was first released a year ago, but it is now climbing pop radio airplay charts as the second hit from the duo. The infectious, reggae-influenced beat is perfect for summer rides.

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Dierks Bentley - "Somewhere On a Beach"

Dierks Bentley Somewhere On a Beach
Dierks Bentley - "Somewhere On a Beach". Courtesy Capitol Nashville

The boundaries between pop and country music have blurred considerably in recent years. The new single from country star Dierks Bentley can slot in well as a sing along for your summer beach or backyard bbq parties. The song has already been a #1 country hit.

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X Ambassadors - "Unsteady"

X Ambassadors Unsteady
X Ambassadors - "Unsteady". Courtesy Interscope

Alternative rock group X Ambassadors emerged into the pop mainstream last year with the huge radio hit single "Renegades." The latest single "Unsteady" is an emotional plea for those quieter moments in your pop summer.

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Grace - "You Don't Own Me" featuring G-Eazy

Grace You Don't Own Me
Grace - "You Don't Own Me" featuring G-Eazy. Courtesy RCA

Singer Grace Sewell became a pop star at home in Australia last year with this stunning cover of Lesley Gore's 1963 classic "You Don't Own Me." She worked with Quincy Jones, the producer of the original, on the new track. The atmospheric hit will have any classic pop fan instantly singing along.

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Little Big Town - "One Of Those Days"

Little Big Town One Of Those Days
Little Big Town - "One Of Those Days". Courtesy Capitol Nashville

Ever wondered what would happen when one of the top country groups entered the studio with Pharrell Williams? Wait no longer. "One Of Those Days" is that song, and it is full of breezy, uplifting fun. It is the first single from the album Wanderlust which could be the biggest smash hit yet by the group who brought us "Girl Crush."

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Selena Gomez - "Kill 'Em With Kindness"

Selena Gomez Revival
Selena Gomez - Revival. Courtesy Interscope

Selena Gomez' latest album Revival is a treasure trove of catchy pop hooks wrapped up in smooth late night dance club rhythms. "Kill 'Em With Kindness" continues the theme. It also incorporates an infectious whistle track. It is the fourth mainstream pop radio hit from the album.

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Keith Urban - "The Fighter" featuring Carrie Underwood

Keith Urban Ripcord
Keith Urban - Ripcord. Courtesy Capitol Nashville

You are excused if you don't recognize this duet between two of country's biggest stars Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood as a country song. It is animated by pop rhythms and production effects. "The Fighter" would have felt comfortable on AM pop radio in the 1970s. Add it now to your summer pop playlist.

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Alessia Cara - "Wild Things"

Alessia Cara Wild Things
Alessia Cara - "Wild Things". Courtesy Def Jam

Last year 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara blasted into the pop top 10 with her debut hit single "Here." Her new single "Wild Things" again celebrates teens who find themselves on the outside of "cool kid" circles. The upbeat instrumental track will have many dancing along. 

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Timeflies - "Once In a While"

Timeflies Once In a While
Timeflies - "Once In a While". Courtesy Island

Timeflies are a pop duo who first met when they were students at Tufts University and performed together in the band The Ride. "Once In a While" looks like their breakthrough pop hit after three well received albums. It is an infectious pop track perfect for the summer.

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The Strumbellas - "Spirits"

The Strumbellas Spirits
The Strumbellas - "Spirits". Courtesy Glassnote

"Spirits" is the breakthrough hit single for Canadian pop-rock band The Strumbellas. It has topped the alternative radio chart and enters the summer of 2016 climbing the adult pop radio chart. The upbeat sound of the group combines influences of alternative country with pop and rock.

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Adele - "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"

Adele Send My Love To Your New Lover
Adele - "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)". Courtesy Columbia

Adele's new music video for "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" has helped boost interest in the single and its infectious loping beat. It is a collaboration with Swedish producer and songwriter Max Martin with his colleague Shellback. Reportedly, Adele became interested in working with Max Martin after listening to Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble." 

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Fitz and the Tantrums - "HandClap"

Fitz and the Tantrums HandClap
Fitz and the Tantrums - "HandClap". Courtesy Elektra

Alternative pop band Fitz and the Tantrums experienced a major commercial breakthrough with their new wave influenced album More Than Just a Dream. It included two #1 alternative radio hits. "HandClap" is the first single from the band's third album. It once again makes infectious use of 80s new wave sounds. Fitz and the Tantrums will be on the road through the summer of 2016.

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The Dirty Heads - "That's All I Need"

Dirty Heads
Dirty Heads - Dirty Heads. Courtesy Five Seven

Southern California band The Dirty Heads combine influences of hip hop and ska for a sun-drenched summer sound. Their most recent album Sound of Change broke into the top 10 of the album chart. "That's All I Need" is the first single from their self-titled album that will be released in midsummer 2016.

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Coldplay - "Hymn For the Weekend"

Coldplay Hymn for the Weekend
Coldplay - "Hymn For the Weekend". Courtesy Atlantic

One of the most notable elements of Coldplay's celebratory "Hymn For the Weekend" are the uncredited backing vocals from Beyonce. As the most memorable song from the band's most recent album A Head Full of Dreams, it is a perfect party track for the summer.

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