The Best Mainstream Pop Singles of 2013

Many genres collided in the pop realm in 2013, and the result (mostly) sounded great.

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5. Hunter Hayes ft. Jason Mraz - "Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me"

Admit it. We’re all tired of those empowering anthems about how we can make it on our own. There are far too many club hits about how great the single life supposedly is. What we really needed was a good, old-fashioned lament about not having anyone to dance with. (The rest of lyrics explain that he just went through a break-up, but that’s hardly the point.) This update of the original has a more pop sound, due to the inclusion of Jason Mraz, who turns the song into a rousing commiseration.

4. Kelly Clarkson - "Tie It Up"

You know that friend of yours who really wants to be married and have kids? Kelly Clarkson was the pop/rock equivalent of that friend, who is so fun and likable, but can never seem to find the right person. Her biggest hits spoke of heartbreak and bad relationships, how to break away and tell off the cad who did you wrong. But in 2013, she found real-life wedded bliss and a song singing its praises. And when was the last time you actually heard a song with something good to say about marriage? “Tie It Up” isn’t slow and sentimental; it is a joyful, all-out Country celebration. And what it celebrates is all the trivial little family details (dancing relatives, the band, chairs in the backyard) that can make a wedding day the happiest day of our lives.

3. Hanson - "Get the Girl Back"

Hanson and the happy, retro R&B sound of brass instruments are as delightful of a combination as vanilla ice cream and cherries. If you are familiar with the similarly boppy tunes on their 2010 Shout It Out album, then you will be elated by this fun throwback. Add special credit for its fantastically fun music video, which features celebrity special guests and a dance-off!

2. Paul McCartney - "Queenie Eye"

Everybody knows that Paul McCartney is a rock legend. He’s also a gifted pop craftsman. So it’s really not that surprising that in a year where his blistering, partial-Nirvana collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack” was released, he also released “Queenie Eye”: an electronica-flavored backbeat stomper with sampled strings. The ditty has a rock sound to it, but its other flavors and schoolyard chant lyrics make it pop. The reason why its music video features a recording studio filled with various people and celebrities rocking out simply must be because this song appeals to everybody.

1. One Direction - "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)"

It may be a cover, but that doesn’t stop this from being the most inspired, fun track of the year. Whoever got the idea to combine Blondie’s iconic 1979 stalker anthem with the Undertones‘ ode to young, romantic frustration is brilliant. But you can’t deny the effervescent charm of its performers. It sounds like the boy band had a blast recording it. And for all those who dismiss this as mere bubblegum teen pop: remember that “One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)” was a Red Nose Day charity single, raising funds to help poverty-stricken people all over the world.

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