[Image Credit: Praying Official Video]
2017 is an idiosyncratic year.
It’s the year that mainstream becomes uncool. Katy Perry went “woke pop”, Kesha dropped the dollar sign, Lady Gaga became Joanne, Miley Cyrus stuck her tongue back in to embrace her country roots.
In attempt to establish “indie cred”, some artists got it right. But others tip the balance too far and forgot how to write melodic hooks. Find out which songs make the cut in this sixth installment of Future Mainstream Classics.
[For complete list of all songs STAMPED as Future Mainstream Classics, follow this Spotify playlist.]
Rihanna – Love On The Brain
Damn if this doo-wop send up doesn’t already sound timeless. This is RiRi’s Love On Top—that magical moment when a former pop chanteuse proves that she has enough soul, talent and taste to carry the torch paved by former greats like Prince or Madonna.
Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times
The biggest boyband of all-time is The Beatles after all. One Direction’s lead heartthrob wasted no time fooling around with recycled club beats, but jumped straight to the source, landing with a sonic palate somewhere in between Pink Floyd, Oasis and John Lennon.
Zedd & Alessia Cara – Stay
In a year full of pretentious pop, the syncopated chorus of this EDM stomper represents one of the few “pure pop” aural pleasures. It doesn’t quite hearken back to the heyday of 2011 just yet, but an estranged less-industrial sister to Alex Clare’s Too Close will do for now.
Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug – Havana
Those somber notes of this Cuban-flavored anthem may very well be the most recognizable piano riff of the 2010s which cleverly forms a mid-tempo backbone—I have to trace back to at least 2007, possibly 2001, to find something more universally familiar. I think by now it’s official that both Camila and Fifth Harmony are infinitely better on their own.
Julia Michaels – Issues
The songwriter who helped find Selena Gomez’s new voice has clearly saved the best song for herself. This conversational, confessional love song marries raw post-Millennial lyricism with slick production. We’ll see in 2018 whether she can ascend to the brilliance of Tove Lo or Carly Rae Jepsen.
Kesha – Praying
Half a decade ago, the general public may have dismissed glitter-wearing Kesha as the weakest link among pop’s leading ladies (not me, who acknowledged her talent and indie cred as early as 2013 here), but on a year when mammoths like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift come across as try-hards, Kesha shows her chops and pulls the authenticity card better than anyone else.
Dua Lipa – New Rules
Not eligible simply by technical virtue that she hasn’t scraped Billboard Top 10 or the Year End Top 100 list yet (emphasis on yet)—but a shoe-in for 2018.
This Albanian Lana Del Rey is pop’s most exciting figure with larger-than-life potential since at least 2013, when I accurately predicted a certain ponytail-wearing princess will only perform so-so on her debut album, but will hit international superstardom on her sophomore effort with the right producer.
P.S. Dua Lipa, if you’re reading this, please don’t squander your potential and Charli XCX your way into obscurity. Give Max Martin a ring now.
Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
A truly impressive achievement that a song from 1994 has continuously re-charted yearly and officially hit the Top 10 for the first time this year, but unfortunately the eligibility cut-off is 1997 (the year the last great mainstream rock album was released before it shifted the landscape from Rolling Stones to Pitchfork and the first new millennium’s pop phenomenon hit fever pitch).
It’s needless to say that All I Want For Christmas Is You‘s legacy is already well-cemented and it’s ridiculous to even list it among other “future” classics. But congratulations are in order, MC, you earned it! 🙂
Lorde – Green Light
With all the Kate Bush-ishm going on, I really want to crown Lorde whom finally transcended the pretentious Pure Heroine into the realm of pop imperialism with Melodrama. Her chart figures imply otherwise, but she’s probably way too cool to care about Billboard success.