How many other pop boy bands have a song with a guest rap verse? Not many, outside of *NSYNC's most underappreciated jam, "Space Cowboy" -- a delightful pop crossover with a sing-along chorus featuring the late great TLC MC, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Left Eye's fast-paced, unexpected 25-second verse alone may be what prevented the song from becoming the next single from No Strings Attached, but the track is unlike any other song in *NSYNC's catalog. -- X.Z.
25. Maroon 5, "Shiver" (Songs About Jane, 2002)
Yes, Maroon 5 was once an actual rock band: four-fifths of the original members came together as Kara’s Flowers, a Weezer-indebted outfit that released a Rob Cavallo-produced debut album for Reprise in 1997. When Maroon 5 debuted in 2002 with Songs About Jane, the alt-rock edge was still faintly intact, though their focus shifted to Stevie Wonder worship, libidinous blue-eyed soul, and generally any sound that led to Adam Levine taking his shirt off more often. Lead single “Harder to Breathe” was a fine example of this rock-funk hybrid, but you haven’t felt it in full force until you hear “Shiver,” where a slithering guitar riff explodes into a steamy, back-and-forth chorus, and a soundtrack for Levine to wail about a girl he only seems to get along with when the lights are off. -- C.P.
24. Justin Bieber feat. Kanye West & Raekwon, "Runaway Love" (Remix) (Never Say Never: The Remixes, 2011)
Not like this moon-bounce of a Justin Bieber deep cut even totally needed a new edit with verses from Kanye and Raekwon (?!?!?) -- it was still a total blast even when The Bieb was doing his intergalactic strutting solo. But man, when you've got cameos from two of hip-hop's greats at their uncharacteristic jiggiest, bragging about their IHOP-like stacks and rhyming "accoutrements" with "Grey Poupon," you've got a once-in-a-lifetime gem worthy of a more dignified fate than B-side placement on a remix EP. Best part, of course, is 'Ye shouting out one of The Chef's signature dishes: "No question we the reason why the summer's blazing/ They say, 'You looking good, fly colored Asian.'" -- A.U.
23. Ariana Grande, "Be My Baby" (My Everything, 2014)
If anything, Ariana Grande has excelled where she’s experimented most -- some of her most fruitful productions have derived from when she’s encroached on the margins. That's proven particularly true with frequent producer Cashmere Cat, who enlisted her for his singles “Adore” and “Quit,” and mans the boards on Ari's own My Everything sleeper “Be My Baby,” a dip into electronic pop with little bombast and subtly quaking textures. -- S.J.H.
22. Avril Lavigne, "Anything But Ordinary" (Let Go, 2002)