Top 100 Pop Songs 2008

Sara Bareilles

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

This is admittedly a subjective list based on judgments of quality instead of sales figures or radio airplay. A number of songs have expanded reviews, however.

This list should be a great conversation starter and feel free to agree or disagree. Either way there is a lot of great pop music to be found here.

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Colbie Caillat - "Realize"

Colbie Caillat followed her breakthrough hit single "Bubbly" with a more downbeat, reflective hit.

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New Kids on the Block - "Summertime"

14 years after their last chart hit, New Kids on the Block returned with a nostalgic song aimed squarely at their original fans who have aged a bit as well.

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Chris Brown and Jordin Sparks - "No Air"

This big hit almost feels a bit like corporate matchmaking with 2 of the music world's biggest teen stars singing a lightweight love song.

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Britney Spears - "Womanizer"

Yes, the title is repeated a few too many times, but Britney Spears proved her comeback was no fluke as this hit roared into the upper reaches of the pop singles chart.

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Danity Kane - "Damaged"

Diddy proteges Danity Kane proved they are no one-hit wonder by unleashing this solid hit single.

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Tokio Hotel - "Monsoon"

Few groups were hyped more to American teens this year than the German pop-rock group Tokio Hotel. However, it looks like all of the effort may have been fruitless. While it is an appealing power ballad, "Monsoon" barely made a dent on the US pop singles chart.

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Shwayze - "Corona and Lime"

This was the mellow, laidback, sun-splashed hit of the summer. Celebrity buddy Cisco Adler kicks in some assistance here for newcomer Shwayze.

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Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson - "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow"

American Idol judge and former pop superstar Paula Abdul made a brief and thoroughly charming return to the pop charts this year.

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Thriving Ivory - "Angels on the Moon"

Thriving Ivory's lead vocalist Clayton Stroope has one of the most distinctive new voices of the year in pop music.

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Seether - "Rise Above This"

Celebrated producer Howard Benson adds a strong pop sheen to this single from South African rockers Seether.

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Maroon 5 featuring Rihanna - "If I Never See Your Face Again"

Everything that Rihanna touched this year seemed to turn to gold including this reworked version of a Maroon 5 song. Don't miss the tastefully sexy accompanying video.

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Fall Out Boy - "I Don't Care"

Fall Out Boy failed to ignite their usual level of excitement among fans with this lead single from the album. However, it is still a solid pop-rock turn by the group.

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Saving Abel - "Addicted"

This is the breakthrough top 40 pop single by the Mississippi base rock band Saving Abel. File this one close to songs by Daughtry.

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Brandy - "Right Here (Departed)"

After a raft of bad publicity related to a recent automobile accident, former teen star Brandy returned to the charts with this cheerful, upbeat R&B love song.

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Rehab - "The Bartender Song"

Take a wry, humorous story, match it with easy, laidback Southern-edged rock, and lyrics easy to sing with, and you have a breakthrough hit.

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Metro Station - "Seventeen Forever"

The second hit single from this Hollywood-based emo-pop band is a bit on the reflective side.

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Gavin DeGraw - "In Love With a Girl"

4 years after his breakthrough top 10 smash "I Don't Want to Be," you might have wondered what happened to Gavin DeGraw. He came back this year with another catchy, lightly rocking love song.

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Fall Out Boy featuring John Mayer - "Beat It"

"Beat It" is a standard cover in Fall Out Boy shows. For this recording of the Michael Jackson classic, John Mayer, one of the most skilled guitarists in the pop world, lends his talent.

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Kardinal Offishall featuring Akon - "Dangerous"

Canada's top rapper rode assistance from Akon to the upper reaches of the US pop singles chart.

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Usher featuring Young Jeezy - "Love In This Club"

4 years after his 10 million selling album Confessions, Usher made a somewhat disappointing return with this club-themed hit.

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Leona Lewis - "Better In Time"

Leona Lewis further established herself as a pop star on both sides of the Atlantic with this beautiful ballad.

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Pussycat Dolls - "When I Grow Up"

It can get a bit irritating (see the 2008 Annoying Songs list), but the Pussycat Dolls big hit of the year is also very catchy. Enjoy in small doses.

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Lesley Roy - "I'm Gone, I'm Going"

For those missing Avril Lavigne this year, Irish singer Lesley Roy was a breath of fresh air.

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Matt Nathanson - "Come On Get Higher"

In a big year for solo male singer-songwriters, Matt Nathanson was one of those who stood out. The use of his music on various TV shows didn't hurt his career at all.

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Jonas Brothers - "Burnin' Up"

The Jonas Brothers were red hot in 2008, and this glitzy rocker was a significant part of the success equation.

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Boys Like Girls - "Thunder"

The first song ever written by Boys Like Girls as a group climbed aboard pop radio and became the group's 3rd top 40 pop smash.

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Colby O'Donis featuring Akon - "What You Got"

Colby O'Donis was one of 3 breakthrough artists this year (Kardinal Offishall and Lady GaGa were the others) to benefit from an Akon boost.

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Eric Hutchinson - "Rock & Roll"

If Eric Hutchinson's laid back, cheerful pop-soul doesn't make you smile, I'm not sure there is any pop music that can.

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O.A.R. - "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)"

After 10 years together, O.A.R. have broken into the mainstream with a song that simply would not let go once it began to sink into the consciousness of pop fans.

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New Kids on the Block and Ne-Yo - "Single"

Ne-Yo lends his magic touch here and the results are significantly better than New Kids on the Block on their own.

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Plain White T's - "Our Time Now"

It certainly was not anywhere close to "Hey There Delilah" in chart and sales success, but "Our Time Now" did show off the upbeat side of Plain White T's.

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Gavin Rossdale - "Love Remains the Same"

Gavin Rossdale successfully stepped out from the shadow of being former leader of the band Bush and husband to Gwen Stefani with this slow rising solo smash.

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David Cook - "Light On"

This year's American Idol champion David Cook shows off his respectable power ballad chops.

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Akon - "Right Now (Na Na Na)"

Proving he's not just a man behind the scenes for other emerging artists, Akon returned with his own mellow hit single.

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Nickelback - "Gotta Be Somebody"

Veteran producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange nudged Nickelback in a somewhat glitzier, more mainstream pop-rock oriented direction.

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Robin Thicke - "Magic"

Robin Thicke heads in a distinctively retro direction on this R&B tune with a disco-ish feel.

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Jack Johnson - "If I Had Eyes"

This fluffy single failed to signal the slightly more serious direction for feel good singer/songwriter Jack Johnson on his #1 smash album Sleep Through the Static.

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The Fray - "You Found Me"

Colorado-based band The Fray once again looked to TV for a boost as this single was featured in advertisements for a new season of the hit show Lost.

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Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne - "Let It Rock"

This anthemic first hit single from guitarist Kevin Rudolf was a left-field unexpected top 10 smash.

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Coldplay - "Lovers in Japan"

Though not as flashy as the album's title cut, this second single from Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends is a classic, slowly building Coldplay tune.

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Sara Bareilles - "Bottle It Up"

"Love Song" was a bigger hit, but "Bottle It Up," with close listening, possibly reveals even more of the cleverness in the songwriting of Sara Bareilles.

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Taylor Swift - "White Horse"

One of the keys to Taylor Swift's successful crossover from country to pop audiences is her impressive skill as a songwriter while still a teenager.

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Mariah Carey - "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time"

Mariah Carey's light, frothy tribute to enduring love is guaranteed to put a smile on your face if the song doesn't just float away first.

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David Archuleta - "Crush"

He may have finished second on American Idol, but teenager David Archuleta won the first round of competition for the hearts of mainstream pop audiences with this thoroughly charming piece of pop candy.

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OneRepublic - "Stop and Stare"

OneRepublic emerged from the Timbaland shadow to show they are quite capable of generating a big pop hit with a catchy chorus on their own.

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Mariah Carey - "Bye Bye"

This tearjerker was possibly unfairly overlooked in the wake of crushing publicity about Mariah Carey's career chart success. This gentle tune about saying goodbye is well worth another listen.

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Jennifer Hudson - "Spotlight"

After years of waiting we were finally treated to Jennifer Hudson's solo debut. Her vocal talents are undisputable on this smooth midtempo R&B tune.

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Shontelle - "T-Shirt"

Rihanna is no longer the only pop star from the island nation of Barbados. Shontelle's elegance and beauty could give her counterpart a run for the pop spotlight.

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Paramore - "Decode"

For the sountrack of the hit movie Twilight, Paramore put together one of their most expansive, polished efforts yet.

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We the Kings - "Check Yes Juliet"

A heavy touring schedule paid off for these Florida pop-rockers as their reference to the classic Romeo and Juliet story rode into the pop top 40.

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Miley Cyrus - "7 Things"

Miley Cyrus' clever pop romp about teen romance generated significant speculation about who the target of the song's lyrics may be.

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Kanye West - "Heartless"

Kanye West uses auto-tune technology to deepen the sense of emotional pain.

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Lil Wayne - "A Milli"

The only man this year to sell one million copies of an album in one week celebrates himself and his money.

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Duffy - "Warwick Avenue"

Duffy wraps a soulful caress around the song's lyrics that makes the record instantly unforgettable.

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Flobots - "Handlebars"

How does riding a bike without using handlebars lead to widespread oppression? Listen to the Flobots and find out.

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Secondhand Serenade - "Fall for You"

Secondhand Serenade is the name used by singer/songwriter John Vesely for his recordings. "Fall for You" is a heartfelt ballad of a relationship in trouble.

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John Mayer - "Say"

"Say" was recorded by John Mayer for the soundtrack of the film The Bucket List.

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All-American Rejects - "Gives You Hell"

All-American Rejects aim for memorable anthem status here. The song is perfect for all those with revenge fantasies.

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Britney Spears - "Circus"

The title song of Britney Spears' latest album is a ramped up electronic stomper that easily outdistances the first single "Womanizer."

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Metro Station - "Shake It"

Miley Cyrus' half-brother Trace became a household name among pop fans when his band Metro Station rolled into the top 5 of the pop singles chart with this irresistible pop-rock tune. Listen for the unmistakable influence of 80's pop-rock band the Cars.

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John Legend featuring Andre 3000 - "Green Light"

The singing talent on display here is irresistible as is the sunny mood.

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Jesse McCartney - "Leavin"

As if co-writing a massive hit like "Bleeding Love" wasn't enough, Jesse McCartney dove headfirst into R&B to generate the biggest pop hit single of his career.

of 100 - "It's a New Day"

In a flood of songs celebrating President-Elect Barack Obama,'s effort stands out.

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Jordin Sparks - "One Step at a Time"

In case you thought she couldn't move beyond the hit single "Tattoo," American Idol winner Jordin Sparks delivered another upbeat pop hit.

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Panic at the Disco - "Nine In the Afternoon"

Wearing Beatles influences on their sleeves, Panic at the Disco returned with this charming slice of baroque pop.

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Michael Cera & Ellen Page - "Anyone Else But You"

Cheerful, minimalist pop songs were at the heart of the success of the Academy Award nominated movie Juno. This is perhaps the most memorable of those.

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Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis - "Just Dance"

Rising swiftly out of the New York club underground, Lady GaGa is an unapologetic advocate of pop music. Just try not singing along to this smash.

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Rihanna - "Take a Bow"

You can hear the bitterness seething just below the surface in this masterful performance from Rihanna. Even if she does not possess the most powerful pipes in pop music today, her interpretive skills continue to impress.

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Mariah Carey - "Touch My Body"

Don't miss Mariah Carey's sexy sense of humor in this #1 smash single.

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Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"

The original 8-minute version of this song has one of the longest instrumental introductions in recent memory. However, a radio-friendly edit gets to the intriguing lyrics of obsessive love much more quickly.

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Ne-Yo - "Miss Independent"

Ne-Yo continues to prove he is a master of sweet, smooth R&B here.

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Duffy - "Mercy"

60's pop star Dusty Springfield is smiling from beyond every time Duffy opens her mouth to sing.

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Daughtry - "What About Now"

The final hit single from Daughtry's massively successful debut features a video that is an inspiring call to create meaning in life through volunteer work.

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The Veronicas - "Untouched"

Somewhere in the musical land between Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, you are likely to find the Australian twins that bill themselves as the Veronicas.

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T.I. - "Whatever You Like"

This huge single from rapper T.I. inspired an instant parody Weird Al Yankovic, master of the art form.

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Yael Naim - "New Soul"

Advertisements for Apple's Mac Air computer brought this French-Israeli singer-songwriter into the pop spotlight. "New Soul" is utterly charming and is well deserving of the attention.

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Natasha Bedingfield - "Pocketful of Sunshine"

It seemed to be a struggle to put together the album, but when the project was finally put together, the title song became one of the most memorable pop hits of the first half of 2008. Natasha Bedingfield looks like she is here to stay.

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Rihanna - "Disturbia"

Creepy sounds kick the song off, and it is accompanied by a weird freak show of a video. Rihanna is one of the very few pop artists big enough right now to get radio programmers to take a song as offbeat as "Disturbia" seriously. Few pop fans are likely to forget this recording any time soon.

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Pink - "Sober"

Pink is likely to make more than a few parents happy with the sentiments of this song celebrating the value of partying sober. She is one of the most consistent artists in the pop mainstream today.

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Taylor Swift - "Love Story"

Taylor Swift's lyrical mastery continues to impress. She is one of the most talented singer-songwriters at work today.

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Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"

Fans of Jack Johnson and Colbie Caillat may have found a new favorite. It took awhile for this song to rise up the charts, but once it began its ascent, it could not be stopped. The feel-good sound swept countless pop fans up in its wake. Jason Mraz has taken a leap into the elite group of today's top pop stars.

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Jonas Brothers - "Lovebug"

The Jonas Brothers want nothing more than to make you smile here. "Lovebug" is pure charm sounding like the guys next door improvising on your front porch steps.

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Chris Brown - "Forever"

Take a slice of trance dance music and weave Chris Brown's soulful vocals over the top. The result is a huge smash hit single that goes down so gloriously easy.

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Lupe Fiasco featuring Matthew Santos - "Superstar"

If you wanted to know what Coldplay would sound like if they hooked up with a rapper, "Superstar" gives you a good idea.

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Katy Perry - "Hot 'n Cold"

Katy Perry shows off both her edgy humor and her 80's musical roots here. "Hot 'n Cold" is a well-deserved second chart-topping hit.

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Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake - "4 Minutes"

Madonna borrowed the talents of Justin Timberlake and Timbaland to prove to American pop fans she still knew how to connect with them. Those horns are among the most memorable sounds of the year.

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The Ting Tings - "Shut Up and Let Me Go"

An Apple iPod commercial first introduced American pop audiences to the Ting Tings. However, the pair's instincts for a punky pop melody are likely to maintain the attention of music fans.

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Ne-Yo - "Closer"

With hints of an Off the Wall era Michael Jackson obsession, Ne-Yo proved he saved some of his best songs for himself.

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T.I. featuring Rihanna - "Live Your Life"

Who would have guessed sounds borrowed from a Moldovan pop song would top the US pop singles chart? Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

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The Killers - "Human"

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is the unlikely subject of the Killers' latest anthemic pop hit. You won't be able to get the chorus out of your head.

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Beyonce - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)"

Beyonce uncorked the live pop performance of the year when she took the stage at the American Music Awards with her two dancers and delivered a scorching version of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)."

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Adele - "Chasing Pavements"

You won't forget the video that accompanies this debut hit from UK singer Adele, and you are unlikely to forget the stunning song and vocal performance either. This recording should have been in heavy rotation on US pop radio as well. There are some signs it may finally get there with Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year.

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Kid Rock - "All Summer Long"

Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" is great. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" is great. Put them in the pop music blender and add Kid Rock. What comes out is an instant classic.

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Estelle featuring Kanye West - "American Boy"

The most effervescent, bubbly R&B hit of the year. After you listen to this, you will want to hang out with Estelle and Kanye. It sounds like endless fun.

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Katy Perry - "I Kissed a Girl"

Brush the petty controversies aside and you have an irresistibly in-your-face, perky pop classic. You will never see a tube of cherry chapstick in the same light.

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Beyonce - "If I Were a Boy"

Whether or not you agree with the sentiments of the song or not, Beyonce's performance is stunning and the song is gutsy. This is a textbook example of pop music that is challenging and meaningful.

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Pink - "So What"

Personal pain and tragedy frequently generate some of the most memorable pop music, and "So What" is no exception. However, Pink's big-hearted sense of humor effectively brushes off any sense of bitterness.

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Kanye West - "Love Lockdown"

Kanye West sings! And he wraps the singing in one of the most artfully constructed records of the year. Those drums will blow you away time and time again, and this is auto-tune in the hands of someone who knows how to use it as enhancement not replacement.

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M.I.A. - "Paper Planes"

U.S. pop radio needs songs like this to expand the consciousness of listeners and programmers alike. M.I.A. proves that pop music is truly a world art form.

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Coldplay - "Viva La Vida"

Coldplay simply get better with each album released, and this is a single for the ages. There is a majesty here that no other band today approaches.