Beginning with Jennifer Lopez at No. 50 and pausing with Rihanna at No. 31, we’re around half-way through our countdown of the year’s 50 best pop singles. Catch up on 50-41 here and 40-31 here.
In 2009 we deemed Jordin Sparks’ ‘Battlefield’ the most amazingest piece of amazing, and then last year Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ got the same honour. Soon, a track from 2011 will join them – but before any of that, here is the bottom third of our top 30.
IT’S GETTING EXCITING, LADIES AND GENTS.
30. Pixie Lott – ‘All About Tonight’
September, Peak #1
To say Pixie came back with a bang would not only be an understatement but a downright lie. Her second album absolutely tanked and its second single ‘What Do You Take Me For?’ failed to match the radio-hogging success of most of its predecessors. The one silver lining? ‘All About Tonight’, the infectious No. 1 song that sounded a little beige on first listen, but maintains to this day an uplifting feel-good treat. The success of this song may be all that’s keeping Pixie’s record deal from being ripped up.
29. The Saturdays – ‘My Heart Takes Over’
November, Peak #15
The Saturdays were having such a good year until they decided to launch their third album in the busiest time of the year with this non-commercial slowie as its lead-in single. BLUNDER. ‘My Heart Takes Over’ may not sound like your everyday chart-topper (probably why it’s their lowest-selling single ever), but it’s fantastic; a marching drum beat undercuts a touching chorus and the song stands out among the the annual onslaught of winter ballads.
28. Pink – ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’
February, Peak #10
If Pink’s not shouting about how empowered she is, she’s singing a ballad about how vulnerable she is. Cue ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’, a track that had its controversial video heavily edited for daytime TV but became a (censored) radio hit and one of her best-loved singles so far. With lyrics just crying to be turned into angsty tweets and Facebook statuses, the track became an unexpected anthem and proved that, despite becoming a mother and releasing a Greatest Hits, Pink’s got plenty of fire left in her.
27. Christina Perri – ‘Jar Of Hearts’
July, Peak #4
If you haven’t heard this song, congratulations on being the only person on the planet to have avoided it. Since its low-key release six months ago, it’s become inescapable, be it on Glee, on The X Factor, or on every single radio station nationwide; and its popularity has made it one of the year’s biggest-sellers. With a sound similar to (but slightly darker than) the work of heartbreak queen Adele, Christina Perri debuted with a bang. Her uphill struggle now will be following it up.
26. Ke$ha – ‘Blow’
April, Peak #32
Ke$ha chatted her way through another brilliant floorfiller on ‘Blow’, a provocatively titled minor hit that had Mr Dawson’s Creek in the video. Somehow managing to be both on trend and non-commercial, the track stalled outside the Top 30 in the charts, but as the 18th (or something) single from her debut album it did well to get that far at all. It also says something that the umpteenth single she releases with a “fuck-it-let’s-party” theme can still be as addictive as ‘Tik Tok’.
25. Coldplay – ‘Paradise’
October, Peak #2
Coldplay went poppier than ever in 2011 with two amazeballs singles. The other one may or may not be yet to appear in our rundown, but let’s not lose focus on ‘Paradise’ – a hands-aloft festival-baiter that maintained the classic Coldplay vibe whilst introducing them to a whole new audience. Their amazing performance of the track at Wembley Arena for The X Factor’s final will make their live gigs a must-see for thousands more people than were already fans.
24. Jessie J ft. B.o.B. – ‘Price Tag’
January, Peak #1
Back before Jessica Cornish began precariously treading the thin line between confident and annoying, she marked her arrival good and proper with ‘Price Tag’, perhaps the best example ever of how the On Air/On Sale release system can actually be a good thing. Even the rent-a-rapper cameo from B.o.B. sounds good, and it’s easily Jessie’s best – and least annoying – song so far. She doesn’t over-sing it, she doesn’t push her ‘message’ too far in-yer-face (though it is undeniably obvious), and the result is one of the year’s best chart-toppers.
23. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Mr Know It All’
October, Peak #4
The original and still the best, American Idol Winner The First returned in 2011 with her long-overdue fifth album… and made it all worth the wait. ‘Mr Know It All’ took a few spins to take off, but it’s Clarkson at her best – kissing off a bad boyfriend and giving herself a ballsy fuck-you-I’m-worth-it persona in the process. She’d been absent for two and a half years, but good grief was it great to have her back. DON’T EVER LEAVE AGAIN.
22. Lady GaGa – ‘You And I’
September, Peak #23
GaGa stormed back in 2011 with five new singles and one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated albums. ‘You And I’ stood out as a fave on Born This Way and made a natural choice for Single #4, despite not really setting the charts ablaze in the same way The Fame/Monster‘s late-campaign cuts ‘Alejandro’ and ‘Paparazzi’ did. The ‘NEBRASKA NEBRASKA ILOVEYAAAA’ is dying to be shouted at top volume, and the production is nicely different to the been-there-done-that anticlimax known only as ‘Judas’.
21. Avril Lavigne – ‘Wish You Were Here’
October, did not chart
Avril seemed to hit the rocks in 2011, despite kicking off her Goodbye Lullaby campaign with one of her best songs ever and following it up with two more gems. ‘Wish You Were Here’, probably the final single from the album, is everything you want in an Avrilballad – an epic chorus, an I’m-not-so-tough-after-all cluster of lyrics, and a big soaring finale. As with all other of her recent videos, the promo clip for this song was bad; pushing the emotion a bit too far towards being over-wrought. But judge the song as just a song and it’s fucking brilliant. What a shame it never took off.
Coming up in Nos. 20-11, we enter the upper end of the list with two more tracks from an act who have appeared once in our list already, the fourth of only five male solo artists on the entire countdown, and a bit of that boom badoom boom boom badoom boom bass.