10 Great Pop Songs From January You Might've Missed

Grace Mitchell performs at Music Is Universal Styld.by Gap presented by Marriott Rewards and Universal Music Group, during SXSW at the JW Marriott Austin on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Grace Mitchell performs at Music Is Universal Styld.by Gap presented by Marriott Rewards and Universal Music Group, during SXSW at the JW Marriott Austin on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. 

Despite only being a month into the new year, it's been a busy enough time in the pop world. So far, we've already had three different songs hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 -- a first in the chart's history for the month of January.

With such a flurry of activity in top 40's top tier, however, you might've missed some of the equally exciting pop music bubbling below the mainstream's surface. Four weeks into 2017, here are 10 songs that demonstrate what a great year for pop this is already shaping up to be.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, "So Close"

Former frontman of alt outfits Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin, Andrew McMahon has been creeping closer and closer to straightforward pop for some time now. He finally grabs it with both hands on "So Close," a sparkling synth thumper with a falsetto'd chorus euphoric enough to get Passion Pit watching their backs.

Grace Mitchell, "Kids (Ain't All Right)"

Grace Mitchell broke onto the scene a few years ago with a couple of turbo-charged alt-pop blasts of boundless energy and creativity. That still doesn't make the landing of "Kids (Ain't All Right)" any less stunning, though -- the still-teenage Portland, Oregon-based talent screws down her beats and grunges up her hooks without sacrificing a step of pep, ending up sounding something like Elle King produced by Trent Reznor.

Phoebe Bridgers, "Smoke Signals"

You won't hear a song this month approaching the sublime melancholy of emerging indie-folk artist Phoebe Bridgers' "Smoke Signals," whose dolorous guitars and weeping strings would have been brutal enough without Bridgers' own references to the deaths of Lemmy and Bowie. Low blow, but can't say the song doesn't earn it.

Mozart's Sister, "Moment 2 Moment"

Montreal native (and Grimes buddy) Calia Thompson-Hannant -- aka Mozart's Sister -- makes off-kilter dance-pop for fans of experimental pop who'd rather not go full PC Music. "Moment 2 Moment" is a gratifyingly pinballing and unpredictable production that never risks being alienating; Thompson-Hannant even assuring: "But if you freak out we don't have to stay together/ Just say that you like me."

Vanbot, "Collide - Krasnoyarsk"

Swedish light-and-darkwaver Vanbot's upcoming album Siberia will likely go down as the year's finest LP to be recorded entirely on a train, and advance single "Collide - Krasnoyarsk" carries the sense of forward momentum, majesty and just-outside-your-window longing you'd expect from such an ambitiously in-transit recording. Couple of the sound effects, too.

Jens Lekman, "What's That Perfume That You Wear?"

Sharply observed indie pop with melodicism dripping from every measure has been Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's M.O. for most of the century. This sensory-memory anthem drags him from Northern Europe to the beaches of Ibiza, with a steel drum disco groove that borders on the Balaeric and proves Lekman even more irresistible in warm weather.

Yasutaka Nakata feat. Charli XCX & Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, "Crazy Crazy"

Charli XCX will not stop until she's adopted the pop style of every major nation at least once, and she can cross Japan off her list with the addictive "Crazy Crazy," a moon-bounce of a collaboration with electro-pop producer Yasutaka Nakata and J-pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Can't wait till she gets to Greece.

Tei Shi, "Keep Running"

Argentina-via-Brooklyn singer-songwriter Tei Shi continues her run as one of the more reliable purveyors of alluring, mysterious pop with latest single "Keep Running," a throbbing slow burner of desire and tired desperation.  Watch the Billboard-premiered, karaoke-featuring video for the hypnotic track here.

Lost Kings feat. Tinashe, "Quit You"

While the world continues to wait for Tinashe's long-overdue album Joyride, we could do a whole lot worse for a time-killer than "Quit You," an '80s throwback confection so effervescent (and with a such a knockout chorus) it's a marvel Carly Rae Jepsen didn't get to it first. Tinashe talks about being addicted to Coldplay's "Fix You" on the refrain, but L.A. duo Lost Kings' irrepressible bop is catchy enough to dislodge that over-dramatic anthem from her head real quick.

José James, "Closer"

Another "Closer," really? C'mon, just one more. It doesn't sound like the other ones, we promise.


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