Hello! Welcome back to our final day of Listmas. This one may take some explanation.
Historically, I’ve run the pop chart aspect of Listmas as a Best and Worst list broken down in two parts each to keep them from being unwieldy to both read and write. I did abbreviated lists last year in one post by explanation that the pandemic and last year’s general 2020ness had 1. Made following the Billboard weekly race feel sillier than it had ever been, and 2. a lack of mass gatherings and public events altered how I engaged with capital P Pop music which is, at its heart, a communal experience. To be transparent, these factors also made winnowing down a best and worst hits list last year kind of a grind because I knew what I thought I wanted to go with, but at the same time I didn’t want to miss anything, so there was a lot of cramming and taking in the list as a whole.
So, that’s what you’re getting this year. There’ll still be a final verdict best/worst hits list at the end, but for 2021, I’m going to run down the entire year-end Billboard Hot 100 and give my thoughts on every single song, because I don’t want to halfass this or try to muddle through it again. I found some great stuff on here I wouldn’t have listened to otherwise, and I found some truly obnoxious shit, too, that I’m going to talk about because I had to listen to it, dammit, and that’s going to count for something. Plus, this just seems more fun, we get to look at everything this way.
2021 in pop felt like a transitional but not insubstantial year. Is it strictly better than 2020? That’s hard to say with every year having its peaks and valleys, but I’ll say that this year at least felt more distinct. In Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X, we even had new stars assert their presence, Doja Cat came through with a sneakily vicious year, and even Justin Bieber had a possible career-saver with Justice; it felt like there were fewer hits this year that got big off just being TikTok ephemera, as well. I’d be hard-pressed to call this year an unabashed winner with the number of holdover hits and some deeply middling efforts, but we at least had good stuff in here, too, even if we held onto it forever. Let’s sing some praises, talk some shit, and ask some questions as we dig into–eep, all 5 hours and 21 minutes–of the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 for 2021!
(Since the best/worst list will be at the bottom, let’s start at the top; there’s no drama to preserve)
1 Dua Lipa – “Levitating”
For everything else good about the year, I knew this list was only going to generate so much excitement once I saw “Levitating” at the top (fun fact, this song never hit number one and missed it because Billboard caught on to Dua Lipa stan VPN chicanery). I don’t know. I’m on the record as a Future Nostalgia skeptic, and this song has always struck me as deeply Fine.
2. The Weeknd ft. Ariana Grande – “Save Your Tears”
Meanwhile, I’m on the record as being in the tank for After Hours. OG “Save Your Tears” is a great, just structurally solid pop song, and the version with Ariana Grande is even better. Grande’s main output post Sweetener can fairly be called a little underwritten, so hearing her on a track with a good foundation shows what she can really do.
3. The Weeknd- “Blinding Lights”
I wrote about this one last year, so I’ll use this space to highlight that the top 3 spots on this year’s chart are all from projects released as the pandemic hit. I don’t know what that says, but it says something.
4. 24kGoldn feat. Iann Diot – “Mood”
I also wrote about this one last year. Still not a fan!
5. Olivia Rodrigo – “good 4 u”
Finally, a new song! To be honest, this is probably my third-favorite of Rodrigo’s four singles on this list. Its parts never seemed to mesh to me, the production feels more “pop-punk inspired” than “pop-punk,” and overall I think it sells its teenage petulance a little too well. “I guess that therapist I found for you really helped” is a legit good burn, though.
6. Doja Cat feat. SZA – “Kiss Me More”
It isn’t the interpolation of Oliva Newton-John’s “Physical” that’s “Kiss Me More”‘s biggest earworm, it’s the second half of the lovestruck chorus that well and truly sticks in your head. This is one of those songs that just captures the giddiness of falling for someone so well, and its two performers balance each other out perfectly with SZA bringing some grace and texture to Doja’s manic highs. Also, this cover is just the most charming thing.
7. Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open”
There’s the impulse to bag on Silk Sonic as a too winking or too derivative soul throwback project that doesn’t live up to Bruno Mars or Anderson .Paak’s highest highs. I get that impulse, but this is plainly just a lot of fun and musically, the execution is there.
8. Olivia Rodrigo – “Drivers License”
It’s the handclaps during the verse that standout to me on “Drivers License. They’re not a prominent feature, but ballads live and die by what makes them different from each other, and the handclaps are a nice touch. This song’s good, and the anguish Rodrigo puts into “I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me” resonates; it’s a keeper.
9. Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me by Your Name”)“
“Montero” might be Lil Na X’s most Lil Nas X creation. Under the knowingly outrageous video is a salacious torch song that’s by turns funny and reckless, but undercut by a stinger (“Call me by your name/Tell me you love my in private/Call me by your name/I don’t care if you’re lying”).
10. Justin Bieber feat. Daniel Caesar and Giveon – “Peaches”
This song is deceptive as hell. That little chorus melody makes you think “Peaches” is a much stronger creation than it actually is.
11. BTS – “Butter”
Within BTS mega-hit canon, I’m still partial to “Dynamite,” which sounded both like an event and a fully tuneful song. “Butter” sacrifices some of the latter to power the former.
12. The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber – “Stay”
I don’t know. On one hand, this quasi-“Blinding Lights” rip is super catchy and gets the best out of both artists, but on the other, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something going untapped within it.
13. Olivia Rodrigo – “Deja Vu”
Now this is how you incinerate somebody. Throwing “good 4 u” sarcasm at someone is one thing but smirking at how you know every move they’re pulling with someone else is a great “aint shit” tactic. Add that into what’s to my ears the best production on Sour and some great group vocals (hey, if Taylor wasn’t going release “Cruel Summer” herself), and you have my favorite Olivia Rodrigo track.
14. Ariana Grande – “Positions”
Both “Positions” and the album of the same name feel both like Ariana Grande at her most here today, gone tomorrow, and the point where she became too big to fail. Even at the 14th spot, it feels like there’s a drop between “Deja Vu” and this.
15. Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”
Nothing I say about this song will be as damning as how bored Ed Sheeran sounds with his own chart-chasing.
16. Glass Animals – “Heat Waves”
For whatever reason, I just can’t hang with this one. “Heat Waves” reminds me of what I didn’t like about “Feel It Still,” it’s this worst of both worlds mix of arty self-satisfaction winking at its own poppiness with trend-hopping that sounds comprised of spare parts (I swear that every mainstream alt. act has a song with this same trap drum). A total pass.
17. The Kid Laroi – “Without You”
By weird comparison, this is much worse than “Heat Waves,” but pisses me off less. The whole of it sounds weirdly close to an ’00s acoustic radio ballad, and “Can’t make a wife out of a hoe!” is already a famously bad lyric. Plus, this seems like the type of hit destined to fade away.
18. Luke Combs – “Forever After All”
“Forever After All” is a prime example of what I’ve come to call “First Dance Country,” country songs built on a cutesy little “I love you” premise (in this case, that unlike the 12 ounces in a beer or the Duracells in a Maglite, your love is proof that some things can last forever after all) and feel like they exist to soundtrack wedding first dances. And for that purpose, “Forever After All” seems fine.
19. Chris Brown and Young Thug – “Go Crazy”
So, Breezy’s just making hits again, huh? That’s a shame.
20. Masked Wolf – “Astronaut in the Ocean”
The hook here is pretty strong (it went viral on Tiktok for a reason), but the verses–all po-faced, serious, talking about believing in G-O-D and not T-H-O-T, and fixated on rappity raps–made me look up if Masked Wolf was a youth pastor who got into rapping (not that I can see!)
21. Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion – “34 + 35”
The remix solidifies why “34 + 35” has a weird vibe: this song is not about that action. You put Doja and Megan on an Ariana Grande sex jam, and you realize how out of her depth Grande is; compared to “WAP” or “Go To Town” the single entendre of “34 +35” is like a pair of pink handcuffs trying to step to a catsuit.
22. Pop Smoke “What You Know Bout Love”
“What You Know Bout Love” sounds like Pop Smoke’s take on 50 Cent (who executive produced the late rapper’s posthumous debut)’s “Thugs need love, too” songs through a post-Drake filter, and it’s largely successful on those grounds. I’m also just thankful for this track after a particularly wobbly run on this chart.
23. Machine Gun Kelly feat. blackbear – “My Ex’s Best Friend”
Y’know, it shouldn’t work, but on some level, I can admire Machine Gun Kelly doing “3OH!3 as a toxic hookup” character acting and bringing a flailing blackbear along to make himself look better.
24. Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow – “INDUSTRY BABY”
This is probably Lil Nas X’s best single as a standalone song (although dude is having an absolute blast in the video). “INDUSTRY BABY” has never failed to feel like a shot in the arm between Take A Day Trip and Kanye’s production and Lil Nas X’s ability to weave in and out of it. Harlow’s feature is a take or leave, but at least his rapping is solid, this is a winner for me.
25. Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am”
Preening, sneering Billie Eilish is one of the best Billie Eilishes, it’s one of times where she feels most herself and the most like she’s doing something better than her peers and people she’s influenced. It’s a shame more of Happier Than Ever didn’t match “Therefore I Am.”
26. Cardi B – “Up”
It’s also a shame that the biggest story attached to “Up” is a dustup over Tiktok dances and who benefits from whose creations, because “Up” is a stupidly well-constructed rap shit talker that feels too low at 26.
27. Walker Hayes – “Fancy Like”
This is exactly the type of thing that existed in 2021 that wouldn’t 2020 or even 2019: nothing in either of those years would have been willing to be as gaudy, dumb, and loud as “Fancy Like,” a song that’s actively unpleasant to listen to.
28. Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez – “Dakiti”
Bold and brooding reggaeton that I never feel like I have anything substantial to offer for commentary, but appreciate all the same. You have to appreciate the charisma here.
29. Saweetie feat. Doja Cat – “Best Friend”
A solid outing for a still-arriving Saweetie and a currently on fire Doja Cat, kind of a bummer that (like a lot of Doja’s work) Dr. Luke’s on it.
30. Polo G – “RAPSTAR”
The all-caps title treatment works for something as extroverted as “INDUSTRY BABY” but seems puzzling for the more pensive “RAPSTAR.” On the track, Polo G raps about his success and his BMWs like it half-expects them to be gone when he wakes up tomorrow, and about treasuring his son while still being haunted by his own upbringing. That he’s able to balance all of these on a sing-song bluesy rap track featuring a ukulele is a talent.
31. Giveon – “Heartbreak Anniversary”
Soul newcomer Giveon arrived with a Drake cosign and cites Drake and Franks Ocean and Sinatra as influences, all of which are promising. On “Heartbreak Anniversary,” the first artist who comes to mind is Sam Smith at their most pedestrian, which is less so.
32. Pop Smoke feat. Lil Baby and DaBaby – “For the Night”
Posthumous releases can get woozy. Something like “What You Know Bout Love” up above probably didn’t change much with Pop Smoke’s passing, but “For the Night” feels like it was cobbled together from an unfinished demo that was reworked and had verses added after the fact.
33. Lil Tjay and 6black – “Calling My Phone”
A competently performed R&B track with delectable production from two dudes who have been around longer than I thought, not a bad track by any measure.
34. Maroon 5 feat. Megan Thee Stallion – “Beautiful Mistakes”
It isn’t until you pay attention to this song that you realize how entirely too busy this vocal melody is, like it’s afraid to sit still for more than one second. This song would be twice as good (still not great!) if it did half a much. And has any rapper sounded comfortable on a Maroon 5 single?
35. Justin Bieber feat. Chance the Rapper – “Holy”
While we’re doing questions: has any musician (non-cancellation field) sputtered out like Chance the Rapper has in the last 5-6 years? Dude was the anointed one in 2016, and now he’s slumming it on Bieber singles.
36. Lil Baby – “On Me”
Lil Baby’s up and down this list as a featured rapper, and few of his verses really miss. While “On Me” is a hectic if somewhat formless track, I consistently enjoy the way his voice here and elsewhere sounds like if you taught a guitar solo how to sing and rap.
37. Tate McRae – “You Broke Me First”
Nothing about this song–the vocoder effect on McRae’s voice, McRae’s exaggerated Spotify Sad Girl vocals, the trap production that sounds like it’s never met a rapper, how blatantly this is a wish fulfillment kiss-off–works on any level.
38. Olivia Rodrigo – “traitor”
Olivia Rodrigo muses on “drivers license” that her friends have to be tired of listening to her talk this dude, and for a song like “traitor” that aims for diaristic but comes out sort of tedious and artless, I am very much a friend of Olivia Rodrigo. I know he broke up with you, Olivia. I know he’s seeing someone else, Olivia. I’ve got precalc coming up, Olivia, can we just eat lunch?
39. Pooh Shiesty feat. Lil Durk – “Back in Blood”
The two thoughts I have here are that Pooh Shiesty being a Memphis dude explains a lot, and that if your name is that close to “poo,” you probably shouldn’t use “blood” in a song title.
40. Gabby Barrett feat. Charlie Puth – “I Hope”
Fun fact: this was shortlisted for the Worst List last year.
41. BTS – “Dynamite”
Fun fact: this made the Best List last year.
42. Moneybagg Yo – “Wockesha”
I’m showing my age here by connecting the “Wockesha” sample to Ashanti when Biggie’s “One More Chance” remix is the clear spiritual predecessor (besides, both “Foolish” and “One More Chance” are built on a DeBarge track, anyway). It’s a smart play to connect Moneybagg Yo to Biggie; both dudes are gruff but have an upbeat edge.
43. Doja Cat feat. The Weeknd – “You Right”
You know that Doja was on a run last year because “You Right,” a not bad but not especially great single that gets a profile boost from a featured artist peaking when this was recorded, is still a pleasant listen instead of totally forgettable (it’s also gotten funny in the last few weeks to compare and contrast Abel’s stance here vs. on Dawn FM).
44. Spotem Gottem feat. Pooh Shiesty – “Beat Box 2”
There’s a bunch of rap singles living in the 30s to 50s on the chart. I like “Beat Box” less than a good number of them; it’s not bad but it’s competing in a busy field.
45. Drake feat. Lil Durk – “Laugh Now Cry Later”
This holdover hit from 2020 has big “new single for the greatest hits record” energy. Strikes a decent balance between afterthought and victory lap, I can get why this hung around as long as it did.
46. Doja Cat – “Need To Know”
I appreciate that this song is halfway to being the slowed and reverbed version of itself. Also, Doja making sex noises before rapping “Wait, I can take it/Give a fuck about what you’re wifey’s saying” is exactly why Ariana Grande is overmatched on the “34 + 35” remix.
47. Drake feat. Lil Baby – “Wants and Needs”
The official point of this chart where I thought, “Fuck, do I need to listen to more Lil Baby?” He goes absolutely ballistic here while Drake mostly stays out of the way and doesn’t embarrass himself. The extra 8 bars he crams into the end of his verse are a thrill.
48. Drake feat. Future and Young Thug – “Way 2 Sexy”
On paper, I should hate this. Drake all the way embarrasses himself and Young Thug is a complete non-entity but putting Future on a trapified “I’m Too Sexy” is one of those ideas so stupid it almost slingshots around to brilliant.
49. Kali Uchis – “Telepatía“
I’ve bumped this ever since Sin Miedo dropped in late 2020, and I’m still not tired of it. I like Kali a lot, although I think her inclination to be a ~vibes artist can be a soft liability even though it’s an overall asset, so hearing her put out a fully formed song like this is great.
50. CJ – “Whoopty”
As mentioned, there’s a whole slew of rap bangers bumping shoulders in this part of the chart. “Whoopty” throws a few elbows in that jostle.
51. Internet Money and Gunna feat. Don Toliver and Nav – “Lemonade”
This hook is breezy and pleasant, but we are 10 deep in rap/R&B song run and I can feel my brain starting to run out of my ears. Song’s okay.
52. SZA – “Good Days”
This is great, I don’t know what T.D.E. is waiting on, but the new SZA album promises to be special if it sounds like “Good Days.” The production with the guitars reaching out in all directions is lush, and SZA gives an affecting performance.
53. Chris Stapleton – “Starting Over”
Your country music smoke break. While “Starting Over” isn’t really my thing, I can still appreciate it as a cozy bit of a songcraft, and Stapleton’s charm puts him head and shoulders over the Luke Combses of the world. Seems like it’d be fun to play on guitar, too.
54. Megan Thee Stallion “Body”
The downside of someone like Megan who can bang out a song in 20 minutes is that occasionally you get a song that sounds banged out in 20 minutes.
55. Taylor Swift – “Willow”
Two things. 1. On one hand, the cottage(core) industry that exists just to speculate on Taylor Swift’s sexuality can get kinda gross and invasive, but on the other, “That’s my man” sounds like comphet. 2. Like most of evermore, my reaction to “Willow” is “Hey, this hasn’t been bad, are we just about done ye–motherfucker, still a minute and a half to go?”
56. AJR – “Bang!”
There’s no way around it: I hate this song. Between the obnoxious, thrown together, circus from Hell instrumental and the “I’m having wine and pizza for dinner because I’m a Hufflepuff who adulted today!” insufferable millennial preciousness of the lyrics, this is a complete miss for me. An anthem for people whose personality consists of Friends trivia at breweries and buying Stranger Things Funko Pops at Target.
57. Luke Combs – “Better Together”
More First Dance Country! This time built on the idea that “Like a cup of coffee and sunrise” or “Coke cans and BB guns” you two go better together. This is fine if kinda schmaltzy, but my main question is, what does Luke Combs’ speaking voice sound like? I run into him year after year on these lists, and he always sounds like what someone thinks that someone on the verge of tears sounds like.
58. Yung Bleu feat. Drake – “You’re Mines Still”
There was this meme a few months ago about “male manipulator music” that boiled down to the music version of “Oh, he has a copy of Infinite Jest? Dump himmm,” and most people took it as a joke, and some didn’t, and then no one knew how serious anyone else was being, and this is all to say that whatever “male manipulator music” is, “You’re Mines Still” is definitely that.
59. DJ Khaled feat. Lil Baby and Lil Durk – “Every Chance I Get”
Despite DJ Khaled’s stock being as low as it’s ever been and this beat needing a little variety, I think “Every Chance I Get” actually works really well as some Super Saiyan powerup shit? Baby and Durk are a good fit here as performers who aren’t too big to mail it in for a DJ Khaled single, but aren’t small enough to get blown off stage by it, either.
60. Wizkid feat. Justin Bieber and Tems – “Essence”
A super tuneful and groovy number that got a profile boost from Bieber, but eh, even he’s more tolerable than not here. I was always happy when I encountered this one.
61. Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
I don’t know, it’s tough going for a ballad like this when your two stars don’t really have chemistry. Sort of makes the whole thing fall flat.
62. Gabby Barrett – “The Good Ones”
I saw this joke online that I can’t find again that goes something like like “Women will post a picture of their husband with the caption ‘God did something special with this one’ and it’s a picture of Greg, the human equivalent of a Toyota Camry” and it’s all I can think during this song.
63. Marshmello and The Jonas Brothers – “Leave Before You Love Me”
I started working on this list during the holiday season, so I hear in “Leave Before You Love Me” just enough of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” to throw me off.
64. Dan + Shay – “Glad You Exist”
I’d almost call this more First Dance Country, but it seems a little too tepid for even that. Let’s call it Cocktail Hour Country.
65. Justin Bieber and Benny Blanco – “Lonely”
Another holdover. “Lonely” exists in a murky space, because you don’t want to discount someone who’s been famous for almost half their life when they talk about it taking a toll on them, but at the same time “Lonely” feels unconvincingly performative, and it doesn’t square with the dude who keeps making albums after this.
66. Måneskin – “Beggin'”
I can fuck with some unlistenable shit, so when I say that making it through “Beggin'” once was a battle of wills, you know it means something.
67. Doja Cat – “Streets”
A best case scenario for vibes music in that you don’t even notice that this song (which got big when its drop was used on Tiktok) basically rides that muted guitar, trap drum, gravity-bomb bass, and a cooing vocal for its entire sensual-as-hell runtime.
68. Drake – “What’s Next”
I actually really like this song. Drake routinely tries for exactly one single per extended album cycle (last time was “Nice For What”) and it’s a lot of fun when he does, even if his higher, sing-songy flow here amounts to a Lil Uzi Vert impression.
69 (nice). Chris Young and Kane Brown – “Famous Friends”
I’ve also got a soft spot for this one. “Famous Friends” genuinely rocks as a country stomper, and the premise of shouting out your friends from back home is refreshing, plus Young and Brown come off as more sincere than not with a song that could be kinda hokey. And look, you’ve gotta take your wins where you can find them…
70. Nelly and Florida Georgia Line – “Lil Bit”
…otherwise you get shit like this.
71. Megan Thee Stallion – “Thot Shit”
This is just Megan throwing both middle fingers up for three minutes and it sounds incredible. There’s not really a miss here, “Thot Shit” is just withering and funny all the way down.
72. Roddy Ricch – “Late at Night”
This is enjoyable, I appreciate that Mustard is out here still making beats. Roddy Ricch, a guy I mostly associate with the “hey, this coronavirus thing may be for real” stretch of February and March 2020, seems to be finding his lane as an updated Bryson Tiller radio guy.
73. Ava Max – “Kings & Queens”
You could tell me this song came out at any point between 2015 and now, and I’d believe you. Wonder what Marina’s been up to lately.
74. Justin Bieber – “Anyone”
Y’know, with this and “Lonely,” I think the problem is that Bieber just isn’t suited for ballads. They have a requisite earnestness that isn’t and has never been in his arsenal. Even his most contemplative tracks like “Where Are U Now?” and “What Do You Mean?” have a sense of motion that’s perfectly fitting for someone who isn’t spending too much time on one emotion.
75. Mooski – “Track Star”
A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue. That’s a true fact. Listen, this is the 75th song on this list, and it’s by a TikTok guy where the most interesting thing about him is that he was in the Marines for 4 years. You’re taking this one off, and so am I.
76. Moneybagg Yo – “Time Today”
Cards on the table, even though I don’t listen to a ton of street-level rap, I just assume any rapper I don’t know is younger than I am, so my eyes jumped out of my head when I found out that Moneybagg Yo and I share a birth year. It makes sense, though, “Time Today” has some grown dude funniness and shit talk to it, I’m a fan.
77. Megan Thee Stallion feat. DaBaby – “Cry Baby”
“Her friends and her mom hate me,” they’re not the only ones, Jonathan!
78. Mariah Carey – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
With “AIWFCIY” living in the top 10 from November to the first week of January every year, it’s just always going to get a spot on the year-ender. Proceed.
79. Coi Leray feat. Lil Durk – “No More Parties”
I’m an easy mark for radio R&B like “No More Parties” and Coi Leray and Lil Durk play well of each other. Her hook and the ad-libs around it sound delightfully Future-y.
80. Thomas Rhett – “What’s Your Country Song?”
This is a polished and smartly made slice of First Dance Country that’s also a Country Song Talkin’ ‘Bout County Songs, so double points to Thomas Rhett for playing to the crowd.
81. Keith Urban and Pink – “One Too Many”
But admittedly I’m more partial to this offering from Keith “Wait, he’s still making hits?!” Urban and Pink. “One Too Many” is just a lot of fun in a playful, singalong kind of way, and neither Urban nor Pink try to take it too seriously, which is appreciated among the more faux-profound country on this chart (also, how did it take the universe this long to put Pink on a country song?)
82. Duncan Laurence – “Arcade”
Meanwhile, this overwrought, weepy ballad is tortuously self-serious. Laurence channeling anguish into “How many pennies in the slot?” is the second most accidentally hilarious moment on this entire chart.
83. Bad Bunny – “Yonaguni”
Bad Bunny has is high on my list of people I just need to stop funning around with and listen to, because I always really enjoy his voice. “Yonaguni” just places it front and center over this smooth as hell beat, and is aces for it.
84. Niko Moon – “Good Time”
I’ve realized it’s impossible for me to take these country trap songs seriously because the two sounds together are always going to sound like a gimmick to me.
85. Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood – “If I Didn’t Love You”
The middle ground between “One Too Many” and “Chasing After You.”
86. Drake feat. 21 Savage and Project Pat – “Knife Talk”
The window for Drake to sound convincingly tough is already narrow, and 21 Savage slams it on his fingers as soon as he goes first on “Knife Talk.” I think people flocked to this on Certified Lover Boy by virtue of it being an actual discrete song, but outside of that, it’s kinda long.
87. Ariana Grande – “POV”
This is sweet, but there’s part of me that wonders if there isn’t a version of it that’s 5% tighter and 15% better for it.
88. Parmalee and Blanco Brown – “Just the Way”
I admire the bravery in openly declaring your love for someone by saying “I love the way it takes you forever to get ready, and that you watch the same stupid movie over and over again, and how you get passive aggressive and tell me you’re not mad when you clearly are.” It’s not for me, because I choose to love someone I actually like, but you do you.
89. The Weeknd – “Take My Breath”
A song I like that’s been absolutely ruined by the extended version and its lead-in from “How Do I Make You Love Me?” on Dawn FM.
90. Dua Lipa – “We’re Good”
OhthankGodwe’realmostthere. It’s kinda nice hearing a pop single this far down, even if it’s one I can take or leave and mostly makes me want to listen to Lana Del Rey’s cover of “Doin’ Time.”
91. Eric Church – “Hell of a View”
Eric Church and Chris Stapleton both exist in the lane of “trad-country dude who feels a little classicist to praise, but the results speak for themselves,” and I think “Hell of a View” works as well as “Starting Over” did earlier. Both are solid.
92. Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
I can get “All I Want For Christmas Is You” charting because it’s halfway to a meme at this point. With “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” I just have to assume this is the middle ground of all Christmas music.
93. Ritt Momney – “Put Your Records On”
The original is a gem, this cover is cloyingly precious. And Ritt Momney, terrible name.
94. Billie Eilish – “Happier Than Ever”
Buried down here in the mid-90s, I feel comfortable admitting that I don’t really care for this song? It’s meandering and somewhat shapeless, like Eilish and Fineas knew they were going to have their big guitar explosion halfway through but didn’t know where to go before or after it, and the song’s melody is all over the place. It’s an intriguing experiment if nothing else.
95. Cole Swindell – “Single Saturday Night”
In which Cole Swindell sees a woman drinking a White Claw and dancing to ACDC and it changes his life. Does it feel like White Claws have gone on a longer run than you thought they would? I didn’t think they’d stick around this long. This song also feels like it should have a key change but backs away from it.
96. Lainey Wilson – “Things a Man Oughta Know”
This is a cute and clever and mostly winning song, but when Wilson sings “And yeah, I know a boy/Who gave up and got it wrong” I want so desperately for the next lines to be something like, “His name is Kyle/And he’s a project manager/Who lives on his building’s third floor/And keeps talking about getting a dog” Just go all-in on the specificity.
97. BRS Kash – “Throat Baby (Go Baby)”
BRS Kash soulfully Auto-crooning “Throat babiesss (Throat babies)/I’m tryna give’em to ya” while you can hear him almost wince at what he’s singing is the most accidentally hilarious moment on this chart.
98. Rod Wave – “Tombstone”
“Tombstone” is a great, affecting song about not having all the answers, being scared, and struggling through hard times that’s halfway to a gospel song. I really like it, and Rod Wave has an affecting, vulnerable voice, which makes hearing this sandwiched between the blowjob song and a walking cliche of beer and God a fucking out of body experience.
99. Chase Rice feat. Florida Georgia Line – “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen”
Look, even if this song wasn’t complete ass (it is), there is such a thing as being too obvious.
100. Rauw Alejandro – “Todo de Ti”
Ending the chart with this immaculate Spanish language dance banger is everything I could want after dozens of mid-tempo and ho-hum tracks. This is my bliss.
In the interest of satisfying curiousity, here’s vaugely what the best list could have looked like:
Honorable Mention: “One Too Many”
10. “Todo de Ti”
8. “Deja Vu”
7. “Need to Know”
6. “Kiss Me More”
4. “INDUSTRY BABY”
3. “What’s Next”
2. “Good Days”
1. “Save Your Tears (Remix)”
And here’s eyeballing the worst list:
Dishonorable Mention: “Way 2 Sexy”
10. “Heatwaves” / “Put Your Records On”
8. “You Broke Me First”
7. “Good Time”
6. “Go Crazy”
5. “Throat Babies”
4. “Fancy Like”
2. “Lil Bit”