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The 20 best pop songs right now

October’s best pop songs, featuring Harry Styles, Caroline Polachek, Slayyyter, Summer Walker, Doja Cat and more.

October 30, 2019
The 20 best pop songs right now

Every month The FADER brings you the best pop songs in the world. Subscribe to the updating playlist on Apple Music.

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Caroline Polachek, “Look At Me Now”

Caroline Polachek’s solo debut retains the immaculate sense of space she showcased across Chairlift’s body of work. The acoustic guitar strums on “Look At Me Now” reverberate and unfurl until they’re something else entirely; at the same time, Polachek’s voice is as lithe and piercing as ever. “Look At Me Now” is the gutting highlight of Pang.

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Tame Impala, “It Might Be Time”

Tame Impala can still write a fucking slapper, as evidenced by “It Might Be Time,” the wonderfully bombastic second single from The Slow Rush. The lyrical clarity of Currents coalesces here with sugar-rush synths and the kind of showmanship you can only really foster after you’ve headlined Coachella once or twice.

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Summer Walker & Usher, “Come Thru”

Summer Walker’s “Come Thru,” which both interpolates Usher and features him, closely ties the R&B icon’s Hustlers cameo as my favorite Usher moment of the year.

4

HAIM, “Now I’m In It”

Admittedly, this song is only a day old, but when a song hits, you fucking know. “Now I’m In It” is a departure for HAIM, but a different kind of departure than their previous single, “Summer Girl.” It’s heart-pounding and ecstatic, and features producer Rostam Batmanglij reviving the same gurgling, elemental kind of bass synth he used on Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Warm Blood.”

5

Angel Olsen, “Spring”

Many essential albums into her career, Angel Olsen’s lyrics are still dizzyingly, disarmingly powerful. “Spring” is a breezy, lilting song that unravels anxieties around getting older and relationships that seem less-than-perfect. Towards the song’s end, she finds something approximating peace: “Guess we’re just at the mercy of the way that we feel.” It’s upsetting in its clarity.

6

Brooke Candy, Rico Nasty & Boys Noize, “FMU”

fuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeupfuckmeup

7

Victoria Monet, “Ass Like That”

The first time I heard about this song, all I could think about was Jackson Maine yelling “ASS?!” at Ally in A Star Is Born when she uses the phrase “ass like that” in one of her songs. Victoria Monet’s “Ass Like That” utilises a much subtler, more sophisticated use of the phrase.

8

Charli XCX, Slayyyter & Kim Petras, “Click (No Boys Remix)”

Slayyyter absolutely bodies her verse on this remix of Charli XCX’s Charli highlight, making the most of her most high-profile co-sign yet. The ferocity and agility with which she tears through these lyrics is, honestly, awe-inspiring and terrifying. Clique clique suck a dique indeed!

9

FKA Twigs, “Home With You”

“Home With You” is so formally ambitious — it essentially cycles through three distinct acts in four minutes — and so brilliantly jarring on a sonic level that it’s easy, almost, to ignore the beautiful and painfully human lyrics.

10

Chromatics, “On The Wall”

Of all the songs from Chromatics’ great new album Closer To Grey, this cover of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s “On The Wall” has stuck with me most. Chromatics have always done great covers, and this expansive, 8-minute version of the song is revelatory.

11

Hannah Diamond, “Invisible”

Hannah Diamond’s music has always felt upsetting to listen to not because of Diamond’s uncanny valley voice, but because of the crushing, almost unnatural sadness present in her lyrics. “Invisible,” the first single from her debut album, is just as sad, but there’s a new emotional strain — defiance? — in the song’s bridge: “I was born on my own / And I’ll dance on my own.”

12

Doja Cat, “Rules”

This loose, funky production is new for Doja Cat; the overflow of charisma and charm is not.

13

Frank Ocean, “DHL”

My first thought upon listening to “DHL” was that Frank must have really liked TESTING; luckily, I also liked TESTING.

14

Omar Apollo, “Frio”

Between this slick dembow track and his magnetic Seth Myers performance, it looks as if Omar Apollo is ready for his anointment as a full-blown pop star.

15

Banoffee & Empress Of, “Tennis Fan”

This savage, summery kiss-off to a shitty friend perfectly counterbalances the acid of its lyrics with ebullient production and unique vocal delivery from Banoffee and Empress Of.

16

Oklou, “Forever”

Oklou’s vocal on “Forever” is so close and resonant that I get ASMR tingles listening to the song’s quieter passages; that would make the song worth the price of admission alone, but the neon-lit, Blood Orange-style production that it eventually slides into is wonderful too.

17

Ama Lou, “NORTHSIDE”

Small touches, like the phone call that interrupts the song halfway through and casual references to Sainsbury’s, elevate this charming song beyond internet curio.

18

Anamanaguchi, “Up To You”

This song’s chaotic first half gives way suddenly to a lovely, airy coda; the effect is something like taking breaths of fresh air after stepping off a plane.

19

Harry Styles, “Lights Up”

This wily return to the spotlight from Harry Styles has revealed itself more and more over the past few weeks; the slow, theatrical pre-chorus, it turns out, is also one of the most earworm-y phrases Styles has ever written.

20

Caroline Polachek, “Hit Me Where It Hurts”

This track sits one inch away from full-blown trap-pop; in its current iteration, with its errant screams and subtle strings, it stands as a fine addition to Polachek’s already hefty canon of songs about feeling so much all the time that you’re not sure what it even is anymore.


The 20 best pop songs right now