Top 40 Essential Pop Songs

Songs That Define Pop Music Today

These are the 40 current songs that the world is hearing. They are today's definition of pop music.

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OMI - "Cheerleader"

OMI Cheerleader
OMI - "Cheerleader". Courtesy Ultra Music

The breakthrough hit single from Jamaican artist OMI is one of the biggest pop hits of 2015 around the world. It has already gone to #1 in the UK and many other countries. The song was remixed by German electronic dance music producer Felix Jaehn.

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Taylor Swift - "Bad Blood" featuring Kendrick Lamar

Taylor Swift Bad Blood
Taylor Swift - "Bad Blood" featuring Kendrick Lamar. Courtesy Big Machine

Taylor Swift has ruled the pop music world for the last six months, and she's not finished. Her fourth single from the #1 smash album 1989 is "Bad Blood." It has been updated with added raps from Kendrick Lamar and a stunning action movie style music video.

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The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"

The Weeknd Can't Feel My Face
The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face". Courtesy Republic

Canadian artist The Weeknd proves that his pop chart breakthrough with "Earned It" from the soundtrack to the film 50 Shades of Grey was no fluke. This song digs into an irresistibly catchy bass groove with influence from the late 1970s work of Michael Jackson. It is one of the breeziest dance-pop hits of the summer.

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Walk the Moon - "Shut Up and Dance"

Walk the Moon - Shut Up and Dance
Walk the Moon - "Shut Up and Dance". Courtesy RCA

Cincinnati alternative pop band Walk the Moon have broken into the pop mainstream with one of the catchiest hit singles of the year so far. This song will be equally at home on a 2015 prom playlist and playing all summer long in the car. Walk the Moon have graduated to selling out dates on their current concert tour.

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Fetty Wap - "Trap Queen"

Fetty Wap - Trap Queen
Fetty Wap - "Trap Queen". Courtesy RGF

24-year-old Willie Maxwell, aka Fetty Wap, is looking like a major new talent that has emerged in 2015. He has received words of support from artist like Kanye West. "Trap Queen" has topped the rap chart on its way to the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Tove Lo - "Talking Body"

Tove Lo - Talking Body
Tove Lo - "Talking Body". Courtesy Republic

With songwriting credits on Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do," Sweden's Tove Lo has proved she is equally formidable as an artist and songwriter. The midtempo sway of her new hit "Talking Body" has equal appeal on the dance floor and mainstream pop radio.

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Wiz Khalifa - "See You Again" featuring Charlie Puth

Wiz Khalifa - See You Again featuring Charlie Puth
Wiz Khalifa - "See You Again" featuring Charlie Puth. Courtesy Atlantic

Rapper Wiz Khalifa has roared to the top of the charts with this heartfelt hip hop ballad from the soundtrack to the hit film Furious 7. It is a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, star of the Fast and Furious hit movie series. Singer Charlie Puth is a voice to watch. This could be a starmaking song and is Wiz Khalifa's second pop #1.

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Fifth Harmony - "Worth It" featuring Kid Ink

Fifth Harmony - Reflection
Fifth Harmony - Reflection. Courtesy Epic

Girl group Fifth Harmony have had successively greater chart success with each of their four singles. Their first three have all been certified gold for sales, but "Worth It" is the first one to break into the top 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. The girls straddle a line between pop and R&B sounds.

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DJ Snake and AlunaGeorge - "You Know You Like It"

DJ Snake and AlunaGeorge - You Know You Like It
DJ Snake and AlunaGeorge - "You Know You Like It". Courtesy Island

The song "You Know You Like It" was first released as a single by AlunaGeorge in the UK three years ago. It found minor success there peaking at #55 after being used in a commercial by the supermarket chain Tesco. A remix by DJ Snake has brought it even greater life on pop charts. 

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Rachel Platten - "Fight Song"

Rachel Platten - Fight Song
Rachel Platten - "Fight Song". Courtesy Columbia

Singer-songwriter Rachel Platten had her first chart breakthrough back in 2011 when the single "1,000 Ships" reached the top 25 at adult pop radio. She has since signed to major label Columbia Records and they have released the anthemic hit "Fight Song." 

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Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MO - "Lean On"

Major Lazer DJ Snake Leaon On
Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MO - "Lean On". Courtesy Mad Decent

Major Lazer is a dance music project put together by DJ and producer Diplo. He collaborates here with French DJ and producer DJ Snake for the Major Lazer top 40 pop breakthrough. The song has already gone to #1 on the Australian pop singles chart.

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David Guetta - "Hey Mama" featuring Nicki Minaj and Afrojack

David Guetta - Hey Mama featuring Nicki Minaj and Afrojack
David Guetta - "Hey Mama" featuring Nicki Minaj and Afrojack. Courtesy Atlantic

French dance music master David Guetta works well with rapper Nicki Minaj. This is their third collaboration, and both of their previous collaborations reached the top 15 on the pop charts in the US. This time she helps bring David Guetta his first top 40 pop hit in the US as lead artist since 2011. Nicki Minaj's singing is a focal point here instead of just her rap style.

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Skrillex and Diplo - "Where Are U Now" featuring Justin Bieber

Skrillex and Diplo featuring Justin Bieber - Where Are U Now
Skrillex and Diplo featuring Justin Bieber - "Where Are U Now". Courtesy Mad Decent

Skrillex and Diplo are two of the top heroes among electronic dance music fans. However, neither has reached the pop top 40 as lead artists until now. They are helped by the presence of Justin Bieber on the featured vocal here. The song is included on the surprise album release Jack U.

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Jason Derulo - "Want To Want Me"

Jason Derulo - Want To Want Me
Jason Derulo - "Want To Want Me". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Jason Derulo turns to inspiration from classic 80s R&B on his latest hit single. It proves that he doesn't need the highly sexual content of last year's "Talk Dirty" to have a major pop hit. Jason Derulo is firmly establishing himself as one of the most dependable hit makers among contemporary solo male artists.

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Silento - "Watch Me"

Silento Watch Me
Silento - "Watch Me". Courtesy Capitol

Teenage hip hop artist Silento has a smash hit on his hands with this viral dance hit. Musically, it is a cousin to the minimalist hip hop of Rae Sremmurd. There is not a lot here beyond a solid beat and dance instructions. "Watch Me" is the latest descendant of a pop legacy that includes the mega smash hits "The Twist" and "The Macarena" among many others.

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Andy Grammer - "Honey, I'm Good"

Andy Grammer - Magazines Or Novels
Andy Grammer - Magazines Or Novels. Courtesy S-Curve

Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer broke into the top 10 at adult pop radio with his debut chart hit "Keep Your Head Up" back in 2011. Now he has taken his upbeat, sunny style into the mainstream top 40 for the first time. "Honey, I'm Good" is a hit from his top 30 charting second album Magazines or Novels released in late summer 2014.

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Natalie La Rose - "Somebody" featuring Jeremih

Natalie La Rose - Somebody featuring Jeremih
Natalie La Rose - "Somebody" featuring Jeremih. Courtesy Republic

Dutch artist Natalie La Rose has emerged as one of the top breakout pop artists of 2015. This single amounts to a near perfect summation of current hit R&B and hip hop music. It will fit comfortably across radio formats from hip hop to adult contemporary. R&B singer-songwriter Jeremih also gets credit for an outstanding featured performance.

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Demi Lovato - "Cool For the Summer"

Demi Lovato Cool for the Summer
Demi Lovato - "Cool for the Summer". Courtesy Hollywood

Demi Lovato moves further beyond her Disney pop roots here establishing herself as one of the top mainstream female pop vocalists. The song toys with same gender sexual attraction and adopts a powerfully catchy pop melody. It is an outstanding slice of summer pop.

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Omarion - "Post To Be" featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko

Omarion Post To Be
Omarion - "Post To Be" featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko.

They first appeared together when Omarion was a member of boy band B2K more than a decade ago, but now Jhene Aiko has reunited with the lead vocalist here after seeing plenty of her own success. "Post To Be" is a sunny, breezy piece of midtempo R&B.

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Selena Gomez - "Good For You" featuring A$AP Rocky

Selena Gomez Good for You featuring A$AP Rocky
Selena Gomez - "Good For You" featuring A$AP Rocky. Courtesy Interscope

Former Disney pop princess Selena Gomez continues to dig into more adult themes on this latest single. She seems to be channeling influence from Lana Del Rey as she sings about looking good for her lover. The concentration on that one element is repeated to the point of claustrophobic obsession in this challenging pop hit.

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Fall Out Boy - "Uma Thurman"

Fall Out Boy American Beauty American Psycho
Fall Out Boy - American Beauty / American Psycho. Courtesy Island

Fall Out Boy's "Uma Thurman" samples the theme song to the 1960s TV series The Munsters. The song was inspired by fascination with actress Uma Thurman and the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill. The song has hit the top 40 at adult pop radio.

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Tori Kelly - "Should've Been Us"

Tori Kelly Should've Been Us
Tori Kelly - "Should've Been Us". Courtesy Capitol

Tori Kelly's single "Nobody Love" was her mainstream pop breakthrough. She returns with a Max Martin produced record that is a breezy pop confection for the summer. Don't look for any emotional histrionics, just a pleasing pop singalong.

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Nick Jonas - "Chains"

Nick Jonas - Chains
Nick Jonas - "Chains". Courtesy Island

After his single "Jealous" hit the top 10, Nick Jonas looked back to the previously released "Chains" to be rejuvenated as his next single. That has been a sound strategy, and the vocal performance here is particularly strong. Nick Jonas has joined the ranks of the most promising new male solo artists to emerge in recent years.

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Ed Sheeran - "Photograph"

Ed Sheeran Photograph
Ed Sheeran - "Photograph". Courtesy Atlantic

Remarkably, it has been more than a year and Ed Sheeran's second studio album x remains a top 10 hit on the album chart. This song concentrates on the singer-songwriter's wistful ballad side. 

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Adam Lambert - "Ghost Town"

Adam Lambert Ghost Town
Adam Lambert - "Ghost Town". Courtesy Warner Bros.

To kick off promotion of his third studio album The Original High, Adam Lambert released this single. He works here with Max Martin to create a dark but danceable sound. His stellar vocals are the focus, and his disco heart is fully present. This is one of the best current dance pop records.

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Little Big Town - "Girl Crush"

Little Big Town Girl Crush
Little Big Town - "Girl Crush". Courtesy Capitol Nashville

Country group Little Big Town have achieved a rare country crossover into pop radio with their single "Girl Crush." It has been certified gold for sales and reached the top 40 at adult pop radio. The song is now crossing into mainstream pop radio.

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Flo Rida - "I Don't Like It, I Love It" featuring Robin Thicke and Verdine White

Flo Rida I Don't Like It I Love It
Flo Rida - "I Don't Like It, I Love It". Courtesy Atlantic

Flo Rida, the undisputed king of pop rap, joins forces here with Robin Thicke and bass player Verdine White of legendary soul group Earth, Wind & Fire. It is an effervescent piece of summer fluff, but it might stand a chance helping resuscitate the career of Robin Thicke after a raft of bad publicity.

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Sam Hunt - "Take Your Time"

Sam Hunt Take Your Time
Sam Hunt - "Take Your Time". Courtesy Capitol

Singer-songwriter Sam Hunt is the second country artist crossing over into mainstream pop territory. His single incorporates an attention-getting half spoken half sung style. "Take Your Time" has been certified platinum for sales and is a top 30 hit at adult pop radio.

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Kaya Stewart - "In Love With a Boy"

Kaya Stewart In Love With a Boy
Kaya Stewart - "In Love With a Boy". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Kaya Stewart is the 15 year old daughter of Eurythmics member and distinguished pop producer David A. Stewart. Her voice possesses a deep, resonant sound that is impressive for her young age. The dark pop sound amounts to a stellar debut.

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Maroon 5 - "This Summer's Gonna Hurt Like a MotherF****r"

Maroon 5 This Summer's Gonna Hurt
Maroon 5 - "This Summer's Gonna Hurt Like a Motherf**er". Courtesy Interscope

Maroon 5 head a bit deeper into electronic music as they aim for a big summer pop hit. The group have reached the pop top 10 with eight consecutive singles. This song is part of a reissue of the group's hit album V.

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Nicki Minaj - "The Night Is Still Young"

Nicki Minaj The Night Is Still Young
Nicki Minaj - "The Night Is Still Young". Courtesy Cash Money

Nicki Minaj continues to be red hot. "The Night Is Still Young" is an upbeat dance track that uses both her singing and rapping. It is another single from her hit album The Pinkprint.

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George Ezra - "Budapest"

George Ezra - Budapest
George Ezra - "Budapest". Courtesy Columbia

"Budapest" has had a slow path to success on mainstream pop charts in the US. Singer-songwriter George Ezra has one of the most distinctive singing voices among young male artists. He sees Woody Guthrie and Howlin' Wolf as key influences. "Budapest" was first released in the UK in December 2013. It ultimately went to #3 on the pop singles chart there, and a recent Saturday Night Live appearance has helped the song continue to climb charts in the US.

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Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea - "Pretty Girls"

Britney Spears Iggy Azalea Pretty Girls
Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea - "Pretty Girls". Courtesy RCA

The superstar duet of Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea is charging up the charts. It was put together by much of the same team that worked on Iggy Azalea's breakthrough pop smash "Fancy." The pair performed the song live at the Billboard Music Awards.

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Echosmith - "Bright"

Echosmith - Talking Dreams
Echosmith - "Talking Dreams". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Sibling group Echosmith broke into pop charts around the world last year with their debut hit "Cool Kids." The new single "Bright" has kept them in the pop spotlight becoming a top 20 hit at adult pop radio.

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The Weeknd - "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)"

The Weeknd - Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)
The Weeknd - "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)". Courtesy Interscope

Fifty Shades of Grey has helped produce a breakthrough pop hit by critically celebrated Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd. The moody feel of the track foreshadows the feel of the film. The Weeknd recently delivered very well received performances at this year's Coachella Music Festival.

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Charlie Puth - "Marvin Gaye" featuring Meghan Trainor

Charlie Puth Marvin Gaye
Charlie Puth - "Marvin Gaye" featuring Meghan Trainor. Courtesy Atlantic

Singer-songwriter Charlie Puth released this single before his widespread success as the featured vocalist on Wiz Khalifa's #1 smash "See You Again." Now it is seeing a new lease on life at pop radio. The song is a tribute to the legendary Marvin Gaye and his sexy soul classics.

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Sia - "Elastic Heart"

Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear
Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear. Courtesy RCA

Sia returned to interpretive dance to help illustrate this follow up to her top 10 smash hit "Chandelier." This time she brought in actor Shia Labeouf to join dancer Maddie Ziegler in the clip. "Elastic Heart" has become a #1 dance club hit.

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Carly Rae Jepsen - "I Really Like You"

Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You
Carly Rae Jepsen - "I Really Like You". Courtesy Interscope

Many feared that Carly Rae Jepsen would be a one hit wonder after she hit #1 back in 2012 with her debut chart hit "Call Me Maybe." However, "I Really Like You" has become the first solo hit to bring her back to the pop top 40 in the US. The accompanying music video featuring actor Tom Hanks is one of the more charming clips of 2015.

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Trey Songz - "Slow Motion"

Trey Songz - Slow Motion
Trey Songz - "Slow Motion". Courtesy Atlantic

Trey Songz has been one of the most consistently successful R&B artists of the last decade. His last two albums both hit #1 on the overall album chart. "Slow Motion" is the first single from a reissue of the album Trigga.

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Ellie Goulding - "Love Me Like You Do"

Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
Ellie Goulding - "Love Me Like You Do". Courtesy Interscope

British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding returned to the upper reaches of the US pop singles chart as a solo artist for the first time since her debut hit "Lights" with this track from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. The atmospheric electropop sound is a perfect fit for the film.