The Pop List: Bad Bunny, Charli XCX, Doja Cat, and more

The best pop songs in the world right now.

May 21, 2020
The Pop List: Bad Bunny, Charli XCX, Doja Cat, and more Gabe Ginsberg, Alexander Tamargo, Andrew Toth / Getty Images

Every week, The FADER's Shaad D'Souza picks out the best pop songs in the world right now. Here they are, in no particular order.

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The Weeknd and Doja Cat — "In Your Eyes (Remix)"

“In Your Eyes” was a clear standout from The Weeknd’s excellent fourth album After Hours as soon as it dropped, and the addition of star-of-the-moment Doja Cat to its official remix is inspired. While I thought, initially, that she might be a little too goofy for The Weeknd’s neo-noir pop, she proves herself a chameleon here, busting out a slippery, diaphanous falsetto before dipping into the hiccupy flow she showcases on her recent No. 1 “Say So.” After hearing her on “In Your Eyes,” I’m desperate for more serious Doja.

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Charli XCX — “anthems”

In Charli XCX’s world, love is never guaranteed and pain could be around any corner. You can always rely, though, on a good pop song to get you through — a 4/4 beat to replace your flatlining heart, a melody to scream when the world gets too loud. “anthems” is the latest entry in Charli’s pantheon of songs about the healing power of pop music, and it’s the best yet: a loud, high-speed Dylan Brady production about missing your friends and the chaotic, pop-soundtracked memories you make with them. There are a lot of very fatiguing takes about COVID isolation going around at the moment, but I like Charli’s best: "Finally, when it's over, we might be even closer.”

Noah Cyrus — "Young & Sad"

Noah Cyrus’ new EP The End of Everything internalizes the nihilistic sadness that typifies Gen Z music and channels it into a series of sweet, melancholic country songs that are warmer and more humble than the country records made by her sister or father. “Young & Sad” is, surprisingly, not a Post Malone-style paean to entropy; instead, it’s about hoping you’ll have the fortitude to exit a depressive fugue. Along with the similarly misleadingly-titled “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus,” it’s a highlight of The End of Everything.

Kota Banks — “Snip Snip”

I can’t make a proper value judgement on the quality of this song because I’m still thinking about the lyric “Now he blowing up my phone like a very keen terrorist,” which is easily the most insane lyric I have heard in years. Is it offensive? Is it ethical? Does it, strictly, make sense? Who knows! What’s important is that it exists, and is a small, much-needed dose of friendly insanity at a time seemingly dominated by terrifying insanity.

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Mark Ronson and Raissa — “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”

This song is a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s 1974 track of the same name, but its romantic, starry-eyed aesthetic means it would fit seamlessly into Late Night Feelings, Mark Ronson’s excellent collection of moonlit heartbreak songs that he released last year. I think the market for dance floor bangers is probably small at the moment, but I would imagine that a lot of people are in the mood for a song to listen to while gazing wistfully out a window!

Bad Bunny — "Ronca Freestyle"

Bad Bunny, it would seem, is addicted to winning: his new album Las Que No Iban A Salir, his second of the year, is just as effervescent and strange as his last, the gargantuan YHLQMDLG. A highlight is “Ronca Freestyle,” a track that finds him flowing viciously over a warped, paranoid MISAEL beat. More understated than the rest of the album, it’s an introspective-sounding highlight.

Tkay Maidza — “Shook”

Tkay Maidza has spent the years since her debut album TKAY proving her bonafides as a chameleonic vocalist, collaborating with Danny L Harle, Hoodboi, JPEGMAFIA, Duckwrth and more, before capping 2019 off with the sharp, brutal “IDC IF U BE DED.” She’s returned this year as — from what I can tell — the first rapper ever signed to indie stalwart 4AD, with a great new single in tow. “Shook” rides an unpredictable, N.E.R.D.-style beat and finds Maidza introducing herself to a new lot of fans in predictably flashy style.

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Rico Nasty — “My Little Alien”

“My Little Alien” is a cut from the soundtrack to Scoob! The Movie, meaning that its inherent sweetness is probably studio-mandated. That doesn’t mean it’s not still a delight though, a track that, with its lullaby melody, reminds me, weirdly, of the first album by indie band Cults. Sometimes constraints can be a good thing, and this track is proof.

CHAI — “Ready Cheeky Pretty”

CHAI continue their four-person electroclash revival with “Ready Cheeky Pretty,” a song about living your life with “the carefree nature, strength, and purity of a monkey.” Having seen CHAI multiple times last year and finding myself wanting to live with their confidence and zest for life each time, I am fully on board with this advice and song.

The Drums — “Take Yer Meds!!”

This is not, strictly, a song, but I really like it. A 14-minute spoken word track, it’s a guided meditation vocalized by Drums lead singer Jonny Pierce that “uses the healing power of unconditional love that we all have inside of us.” Get past the intro, though, and what you actually have is a few minutes of beautiful new-age synth music in the style of Prince Rama or Suzanne Ciani. It’s also pretty relaxing!

Yung Lean and Ariel Pink — “Starz”

The title track from Yung Lean’s fourth album Starz is a marvel — a haunted, ambient ballad that grows into something gleaming and anthemic. It’s the soaring bright spot of Starz, and sets the tone for a new, more clearly rendered era of Yung Lean.

The Pop List: Bad Bunny, Charli XCX, Doja Cat, and more