From “2002” To “GTFO,” 50 Songs That Should Have Been Bigger In 2018
2018 has come and gone. As we proved with our list of the 100 best pop songs, there was no shortage of quality content released last year. However, today we’re turning our attention to the anthems that didn’t quite get their due. From Mariah Carey’s straightforward kiss-off “GTFO” to Anne-Marie’s nostalgia-inducing “2002,” these hidden gems really should have been bigger on the charts. We compiled a list of 50 of the year’s most under-represented bangers, ballads and bops in alphabetic order for you to peruse below!
“2002” – Anne-Marie
Better hit me baby one more time
A summery, nostalgia-inducing anthem with a writing credit from Ed Sheeran – how did Anne-Marie not dominate the Billboard Hot 100 with this for weeks on end?
“Accelerate” – Christina Aguilera feat. Ty Dolla $ign & 2 Chainz
Stamina, fill me up, that’s what I need
Christina Aguilera kicked off the Liberation era with a demented, club-ready banger that was cruelly slept on by the public.
“Almost Love” – Sabrina Carpenter
No more, no more taking it slow
No slow burn here. Sabrina Carpenter’s “Almost Love” is all about taking a deep dive into a relationship, and the bouncy single goes equally hard from start to finish.
“Ashes” – Celine Dion
Let beauty come out of ashes
Celine Dion’s staggering contribution to the Deadpool 2 soundtrack stands toe-to-toe with some of her best ballads and surely deserved to make more than a ripple on the charts this year.
“Bottled Up” – Dinah Jane feat. Ty Dolla $ign and Marc E. Bassy
Work from home, but he gon’ stay up with me
Dinah Jane threw it back to her sparkly pop roots on her debut solo single, and she should have netted a “Work From Home”-sized hit.
“Boys” – Lizzo
Boys, boys, boys make a girl go crazy
There is nothing subtle about Lizzo’s gloriously thirsty “Boys.” The fact that it should have been a hit is as obvious as the answer to 2+2.
“Bitches” – Tove Lo feat. Charli XCX, ALMA, Icona Pop and Elliphant
Dripping in harmony, like fifth
Sexually charged and self-assured, Tove Lo recruited the ultimate lineup for a remix of her Blue Lips standout. And don’t even get me started on the utterly iconic music video…
“Colour” – MNEK feat. Hailee Steinfeld
All I see is colour like a rainbow in the sky
MNEK and Hailee Steinfeld linked up over supercharged beats for one of the year’s most vibrant but under-loved collaborations.
“Connection” – OneRepublic
Can I get a connection
OneRepublic’s “Connection” had all the ingredients to be one of the biggest songs of 2018. However, the relatable anthem failed to find the required spark.
“Curious” – Hayley Kiyoko
I’m just curious, is it serious
Hayley Kiyoko launched 20gayteen with a banger that proved her more than worthy of the title of Lesbian Jesus.
“Dance To This” – Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande
Under the kitchen lights, you still look like dynamite
A sensual anthem inspired by Janet Jackson’s “All Nite (Don’t Stop)”? Sign me right up. Troye Sivan featured pop’s reigning princess Ariana Grande on the slinky single, but even that wasn’t enough to garner an appearance on the Hot 100 because sometimes life isn’t fair.
“Dinero” – Jennifer Lopez feat. DJ Khaled and Cardi B
Cardi from the pole and Jenny from the block
A collaboration between J.Lo and rap’s latest queen should have added another hit to both icon’s discographies. It’s an absolute mystery how this was not the case.
“Electricity” – Silk City feat. Dua Lipa
Even electricity can’t compare to what I feel
With every release, Dua Lipa further cements her status as one of pop’s most successful Club Queens. “Electricity” is yet another tribute to how good she sounds over smooth EDM productions.
“Empty Space” – James Arthur
Only you could fill this empty space
No one does soul-searching balladry quite like James Arthur, and “Empty Space” is one of his best.
“Expectations” – Lauren Jauregui
But I expect, you expect, we expect
Lauren Jauregui’s first solo single was a stark departure from her work with one of pop’s most recognizable girl groups. Hopefully we give her latest offering – “More Than That” – the love both singles deserved.
“Faded Love” – Tinashe feat Future
Let’s just feel this moment, we can make it last
No song off Joyride seemed more likely to propel Tinashe back up the charts than her mellow but loved-up “Faded Love.” Easily one of the best songs in her jam-packed discography, it highlights all that she is capable of if we’d give her a chance to truly shine.
“Fall In Line” – Christina Aguilera feat. Demi Lovato
Little girls, listen closely
“Fall In Line” should have replicated the success of Xtina’s Lil’ Kim-assisted “Can’t Hold Us Down.”
“GTFO” – Mariah Carey
Why don’t you get the fuck out
There is nothing elusive about the meaning behind Mariah Carey’s massively underrated, expletive-riddled slow jam. In a perfect world, this would have become the legendary diva’s 19th number one.
“Happy Now” – Zedd feat. Elley Duhé
There’s nothing left to say, so I shut my mouth
Following the breathtaking success of “The Middle,” Zedd’s follow-up single surely should have been equally monumental. However, it unjustly left little more than a blip on the charts.
“Head Above Water” – Avril Lavigne
I won’t let this pull me overboard
Avril Lavigne marked her return to music with a sweeping ballad tracking her battle with Lyme Disease. I’m still waiting for it to get the respect it truly deserves.
“Heart To Break” – Kim Petras
Angel eyes, tell me lies
Relentlessly hopeful and buoyed by a euphoric production, Kim Petras’ “Heart To Break” defined pop perfection in 2018. I will never forgive The Gays for being unable to send it to the top of the charts.
“Jump” – Julia Michaels feat. Trippie Redd
Every time I see you, I just wrap myself around you
From “Issues” to “Worst In Me,” Julia Michaels has time and again proven capable of capturing relatable emotions and presenting them as perfect tunes. “Jump” is yet another example.
“Lay With Me” – Phantoms feat. Vanessa Hudgens
Every time we touch is gold
Vanessa Hudgens did not save pop music with cult classics like “Sneakernight” and “Say OK” for us to continue sleeping on her musical career. But here we are, once again with her latest should-be hit.
“Let Me” – ZAYN
Sweet baby, our sex has meaning
To call the roll-out schedule for ZAYN’s Icarus Falls a little overwrought is an understatement. This may explain why none of the singles really had a chance on the charts. However, the silky smooth, early millennium stylings of “Let Me” should have warranted the album’s first global smash.
“Let You Be Right” – Meghan Trainor
We can make up if you just kiss me at the next traffic light
Meghan Trainor has more shimmery pop bops to her name than almost any other hitmaker on the scene. One of 2018’s best was the disco-tinged “Let You Be Right,” which didn’t even chart across the globe. What gives?
“Level Up” – Ciara
I just keep elevating, no losses, just upgrading
Ciara sparked a viral challenge with the release of a fast and furious banger. It was enough to propel her back onto the Hot 100 for the first time since 2015, but “Level Up” really should have left more of a lasting impact.
“Like That” – Kris Wu
Got me spending all my cash like that
Kris Wu set his sights on American markets with the release of “Like That.” He broke onto the Hot 100 after conquering US iTunes, but the breezy cut could have been so much bigger.
“Long As I Live” – Toni Braxton
Long as I live I’ll never get over you getting over me
A tribute to lost love, Toni Braxton’s “Long As I Live” is the defining heartbreak anthem of 2018. World-weary but gorgeous, it offers a mature glimpse into moving on without your heart’s true desire by your side.
“Lost In Japan” – Shawn Mendes
Do you have plans tonight
Shawn Mendes gave us his best Justin Timberlake impression on his funk-laced “Lost In Japan,” and then he teamed up with Zedd for an even more danceable remix. The result has the staying power to compete with any of his biggest hits but inexplicably peaked outside the Top 40.
“Mad At You” – Noah Cyrus feat. Gallant
It’s gonna be hard as hell
A devastating ode to a relationship on the brink of collapse, Noah Cyrus added another standout single to her discography with the Gallant collaboration. It is hard as hell to figure out why this failed to chart across the globe.
“Mad Love” – Sean Paul feat. David Guetta and Becky G
Watch the tempo
With 214 million streams and counting on Spotify, Sean Paul, David Guetta and Becky G’s club-ready banger should have been an early contender for the title of Song Of The Summer.
“Made For Now” – Janet Jackson feat. Daddy Yankee
We’re made for now, not tomorrow
Janet Jackson did everything right with her anti-FOMO bop “Made For Now,” but it only peaked at number 88. Surely, the timely floor filler deserved a higher placement.
“My My My!” – Troye Sivan
I die every night for you… living for your every move
“My My My!” is the only song off Bloom to make an appearance on the Hot 100, but the frenzied banger truly should have climbed much higher than the Top 80.
“Ocean” – Martin Garrix feat. Khalid
It won’t keep us apart
From collabs like “Youth” to his Suncity EP, Khalid peppered 2018 with a slew of quality content. However, a clear highlight was his work with Martin Garrix on “Ocean.” The restrained club anthem truly should have soared so much higher.
“On The Loose” – Niall Horan
She’s coming, she’s coming for you
Niall Horan proved he had what it takes to make it as a solo star with “Slow Hands,” and he hasn’t put a toe out of place since. However, it’s a mystery why his follow-up singles – particularly “On The Loose” – haven’t rocketed back up the charts.
“Party For One” – Carly Rae Jepsen
I’ll just dance by myself
2019 is going to be the year we stop letting the public sleep on Carly Rae Jepsen. Until then, join me in a moment of silence for her latest underrated, perfect pop release.
“Promises” – Calvin Harris feat. Sam Smith and Jessie Reyez
I can’t do golden rings, but I’ll give you everything (tonight)
Despite claiming top honors in the UK, Calvin Harris, Sam Smith and Jessie Reyez’s ode to one night stands only peaked at number 65 on the Hot 100. Can anyone explain this travesty?
“Right Now” – Nick Jonas & Robin Schulz
You’ll never be alone, I’ll never let you go
When are we going to stop ignoring Nick Jonas’ massive potential? The “Jealous” hitmaker has what it takes to be one of the biggest men in the game, if only we’d give him a better chance. Sadly, “Right Now” is another under-appreciated slice of quality pop.
“Sangria Wine” – Camila Cabello feat. Pharrell Williams
Counter-clockwise, I’m mixin’ it up
Camila Cabello reunited with Pharrell Williams on “Sangria Wine,” which feels like a grown-up relative of “Havana.” However, the sensual bop failed to pick up enough steam to match its predecessor.
“Savior” – Iggy Azalea feat. Quavo
I’ve been looking for a savior
Survive The Summer was undeniably a step in the right direction for Iggy Azalea. But her comeback should have started several months earlier with the release of her trop-bop “Savior.”
“Say My Name” – David Guetta feat. Bebe Rexha and J Balvin
If you love me, let me hear you
Club-ready and complete with a neon-hued video, “Say Something” is a clear highlight on David Guetta’s 7. So I really need someone to explain to me how it hasn’t even appeared on the Hot 100 yet.
“Secrets” – Pink
I like to make-believe with you
Shockingly, the fourth single from Pink’s Beautiful Trauma failed to chart across the globe, and that’s just not alright.
“Shame” – Elle King
I can make you shake, rattle your bones
Elle King recaptured the rollicking sass of her breakout hit “Ex’s and Oh’s” on this year’s “Shame.” It is truly a shame that we, the people were unable to return the favor by sending her back into the Top 10.
“Solo” – Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato
I wanna f-woop, woop woop, but I’m broken hearted
Demi Lovato and Clean Bandit’s stuttering, self-love banger hit the top spot in the UK but peaked at 58 on the Hot 100. Excuse me while I grab a plane ticket to travel somewhere with actual taste.
“Song About You” – Mike Posner
Since you’ve been gone, ain’t got nothin’ to do
Mike Posner’s “Song About You” is a brutally honest tribute to heartbreak, and the soul-bruising single deserved much more love.
“Sun In Our Eyes” – MØ feat. Diplo
And just ride that wave until we higher than life
MØ and Diplo once again proved to be the perfect musical pair by dropping the thinking man’s Song Of The Summer. And humanity proved that we are unworthy by failing to send their latest release up the charts.
“Teach You” – Tiffany Young
If you mess with me you’ll get hurt
Solo stardom looks very good on Girls’ Generation member Tiffany Young. The hitmaker showed she has what it takes for sustained success with her feisty “Teach You.”
“The Way I Am” – Charlie Puth
That’s just the way I am
A throwback-inspired ode to being himself, Charlie Puth’s “The Way I Am” should have netted the hitmaker another “Attention”-sized smash.
“Tongue” – MNEK
I think I love you, I think you’re the one
Admitting to your feelings for someone has never sounded sexier than it does on MNEK’s Language highlight. The club-ready bop proved the songwriter-for-the-stars had what it takes to front an artist project of his own.
“Waves” – Normani feat. 6LACK
You come in waves, waves, waves
Following the breakout success of “Love Lies,” it is shocking that Normani’s equally slinky 6LACK collab didn’t also rocket into the Top 10 (or even warrant a music video).