What songs have pushed pop forward so far this year? Forget sales, chart positions, or anything like that… I’m talking about records that have forced us to redefine what a pop song is. Songs that were risky for an artist to release, because it wasn’t their ‘normal’ sound.
Three songs come to mind when I think about this (four if you count my ‘honorable mention’ pick). “Malibu,” “Million Reasons,” and “Sign Of The Times.” These three songs sound like nothing else on the radio. And when you first heard them, I bet they caught you off guard… like, “Harry Styles… the guy from One Direction!? He just dropped THAT???” Yes he did. And kudos to him for it. Harry hit us with some ’80s, David Bowie-influenced, rock music… that got played all over top 40 radio.
Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga managed to do something similar… drop genre-bending songs, that still would appeal to the top 40 audience. Both “Malibu” and “Million Reasons” gave off serious country vibes. At this point in both Miley AND Lady Gaga’s career, they don’t have to do the safe thing. They can go out on a limb, take a risk, and do the artistic thing. And they should! When an artist becomes predictable, they become boring… at least in my opinion.
Peep the vid. I break down those three songs in depth a little bit more.
Oh, and my ‘honorable mention’ song? “Slow Hands” by Niall Horan. Yes, it’s more of a ‘traditional’ pop song when you compare it to the other three I mention… but that’s only when you compare it to those three. Put it up against anything else on the radio right now, and it stands out like a sore thumb.
—Mike Adam/92.3 AMP Radio