Y’all, pop radio messed up.
I’m convinced we were denied this year’s next smash. Pop hits-in-the-making are out there, but end up slipping under the radar. Instead of inserting some new blood into the rotation, Top 40 radio stations have continued to play “All of Me” or “Happy” for the umpteenth time. Now, both of those tracks are great, but I am growing restless of listening to the same song twice in an hour. (Unless, of course, it’s Nelly’s Hot in Herre on a loop.)
Hey, Radio Program Directors: Throw something new into the mix every once in a while and give the public a chance to latch onto it! Looking back at some singles that have been released so far in 2014, I have found 8 songs from multiple genres & countries that are ripe for mainstream success, but weren’t given the proper opportunity to crack the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Fire up the playlist on Spotify and get ready to jam!
What your redneck cousin is listening to:
Cop Car – Keith Urban
This song follows the classic Country trope of “telling a story,” but I find it to be incredibly heartfelt and emotionally resonant. It’s a simple, uplifting mid-tempo ballad that hits the perfect chord in capturing the innocence and joy of falling in love. Not quite the tearjerker, like say, Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl” (nobody dies), but I’ll admit Urban had me reaching for the Kleenex box a couple times, both while in the bliss of a relationship and then again after a breakup.
What your secret admirer is listening to:
Sleeping With A Friend – Neon Trees
Hey, why not? Three years after the big screen double-bill of No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits, Neon Trees basically chart the same territory on your stereo. Chronicling the inner-turmoil of a person presented with the opportunity of making a platonic relationship physical and the consequences thereof, “Sleeping With A Friend” has super-catchy production and a chorus that had me humming along during the first listen.
What people across the pond are listening to:
I Will Never Let You Down – Rita Ora
Rita Ora is signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and having Hova’s seal of approval and support only fuels confidence that this British artist can translate her four UK #1s to American success. This dance track boasts production by Calvin Harris and has already climbed to the top of the UK charts, although it has yet to crack the Billboard Hot 100 here in the States. I would say the single still has the potential to be a US summer sleeper. In photos, Ora could be mistaken for a young Beyonce or Rihanna, which I think puts her in good company for an American breakout.
What recent college grads are listening to:
Coming of Age – Foster the People
In 2011, Foster The People took radio airwaves by storm with their single “Pumped Up Kicks” and released their very strong debut album Torches. They put on a fantastic high-energy live show with this debut material and played 295 gigs over 16 months promoting it. So I was taken by surprise that “Coming of Age”, the most Torches-sounding song on their much anticipated sophomore album, wasn’t given more pop radio play in 2014. The soaring ending vocals and the relatable, vulnerable lyrics had me thinking it was poised for success.
What your Gangnam-styled friend is listening to:
Come Back Home – 2NE1
This K-pop single from Korean girl group 2NE1 is basically 3 songs in 1. “Come Back Home” starts out with a reggae groove in the verses and moves into a power ballad chorus before the bottom drops out and the song goes all dubstep, designed for getting freaky on the dance floor. Because the track is only partially in English, I know the fear is that initial appeal is limited. However, I think that because of PSY’s success in 2012, and heck, “Macarena” from the 90s, US audiences are ready for more foreign language artists.
What people in the club are listening to:
Addicted to You – Avicii
Swedish DJ and house music producer Avicii has already garnered two top 20 singles in the US with “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother” and is looking for his third. “Addicted to You” has gained skepticism for allegedly using a studio singer as an uncredited Adele sound-alike. But whatever the case is, Oklahoma singer-songwriter Audra Mae’s powerful voice and Avicii’s sure-handed production have crafted a track that I can picture all of the ladies on the dance floor clutching their hair to… provided somebody is watching their purses.
What people in da club are listening to:
Party Girls – Ludacris featuring Wiz Khalifa, Jeremih & Cashmere Cat
First things first: This song is absolutely filthy and NSFW. Ludacris is back in true “bedroom gangsta” form on this one, but as a single, it needs a better radio edit than the current “silence the naughty words” version. It was possible with Lil Jon’s “Get Low” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop”, so there has to be a way to get Lil Luda back on the pop charts to coincide with the debut season of Rising Star, the summer singing competition series on ABC. Nostalgic listeners will enjoy the re-worked chorus from Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”. Again, NSFW!!
What people north of the border are listening to:
Crazy For You – Hedley
Pop-rock band Hedley have been racking up hits in Canada since 2005, when they went #1 with their debut single “On My Own”. Success in the US has been limited, but sharp-minded readers might remember the piano-driven ballad “Perfect” from 2009. (I thought it was a little whiny myself.) However “Crazy For You” features funky Daft Punk-inspired grooves, falsetto vocals from lead singer Jacob Hoggard and given the retro throwbacks on US charts over the past couple of years, I could see this song catching fire over the summer. Strong work from the “Canadian Maroon 5”.
Bonus!!! What the kids are listening to:
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
The idea for this list was inspired in the Spring when I first heard this song while flipping through radio stations. I was instantly taken with how catchy the track was and assumed it would eventually be one of the songs of the summer. This Australian band has now made it above the Billboard Top 40 threshold for this post, but I figured I’d give them some props anyway. All the band members are under twenty years old at this point and they have toured with One Direction and Hot Chelle Rae, which means the tween set will pushing 5SoS into household names in no time.