Charli XCX, Rita Ora, Tove Lo and Foster the People
Charli XCX, Rita Ora, Tove Lo and Foster the People
Getty; Design by Quinton McMillan

The Best Overlooked Pop Songs of the 2010s: Staff List

The 2010s gifted us with countless major pop hits -- heard of "Tik Tok," "Roar," "Shape of You?" -- but as always, even more bops slipped under the public’s radar. 

Some of these artists are on the rise, while others are well on their way to pop superstardom. All have something in common: there’s at least one song in their catalog that deserves another shot. So, Billboard went deep and gathered the 40 pop songs that went woefully overlooked. The main rule? The track can’t have impacted the Hot 100.

Without further ado, here are Billboard’s picks for the best underrated pop songs of the past decade, in alphabetical order by artist name. (Scroll to the bottom for a handy playlist.)

Allie X, “Prime” (2014)

When Allie X debuted as a mysterious, multimedia auteur earlier this decade, her high-concept approach was grounded in great pop singles like “Prime,” which thrives on a mannered twitchiness until arriving at its catchy demand: “Forget what I need / Give me what I want / And it should be fine.”

Amy Shark, “Adore” (2016)

Australian artist Amy Shark’s “Adore” was a breakthrough single in her native country and a minor hit in the States; given the gravity that the song’s chorus commands, and Shark’s ability to convey fragility in a few syllables, the song should have been a much bigger deal over here.

Banks, “Trainwreck” (2016)

If you were ever to pull off an elaborate heist at a high-profile museum, this is the menacing electropop song you’d want to soundtrack your scheming.

Børns, “Seeing Stars” (2014)

Yes, "Electric Love" got all of the attention that year, but "Seeing Stars" is on its own plane of sparkly pop perfection. 

Capital Cities, “Kangaroo Court” (2012)

Capital Cities’ “Safe And Sound” became a crossover hit and an alternative radio staple for months on end, but the duo’s brand of cheery chant-pop also shone on follow-up single “Kangaroo Court,” which gets its power from a jittery synth line snaking throughout.

Carlie Hanson, “Toxins” (2018)

Carlie Hanson proved that she’s one of the most exciting new voices in pop with this excellent sing-songy track, which is about love and other things that are bad for your health.

Charli XCX, “SuperLove” (2013)

Look, Charli XCX has released plenty of top-notch projects over the course of the 2010s…but how is it possible that “SuperLove” -- a combustible, damn-near-pristine banger released between her True Romance and Sucker eras, with a chorus that makes you scream long -- still exists on none of them?

Cher Lloyd, “I Wish” (2013)

British pop star Cher Lloyd crossed the pond with your kicky solo single “Want U Back,” but “I Wish,” an utterly charming team-up with T.I. that preceded her second album Sorry I’m Late, brought the concept of the Skee-Lo song of the same name into a new generation.

Dua Lipa, “Hotter Than Hell” (2016)

Nearly every single that Dua Lipa released before “New Rules” took off in the U.S. was under-appreciated by American audiences, but while “Be The One,” “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” and “Last Dance” are all worthy of inclusion on this list, it’s the sensual, stylish “Hotter Than Hell” that remains an early standout for the U.K. star.

Echosmith, “Over My Head” (2018)

Echosmith lament a lost connection over an incredibly catchy piano melody, showcasing a matured sound.

Ellie Goulding, “Figure 8” (2012)

This Halcyon single is an electronic pop-rock dubstep banger (that chorus!) that we remember ever so fondly as a beacon of 2012.

Elliphant & Mø, “One More” (2014)

Elliphant and Mø each have an impressive array of uptempo jams in their respective catalogs, and the muted, reflective “One More” is a career highlight for both: “Stay, with me tonight / We can count the streetlights,” the pair sing together in a simple, yet effective refrain.

Erik Hassle, “No Words” (2015)

A few years after Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” brought a disco mini-revival toward the top of the charts, “No Words,” the skillfully fashioned and emotionally raw single from Swedish maestro Erik Hassle, pitched in on a (sadly) much smaller scale.

Felix Cartal & Lights, “Love Me” (2019)

Producer Felix Cartal and singer/songwriter Lights are perfectly matched on this dancefloor dream. Also, just try to nail Lights' cadence on the ultra-fast verses. It is hard.

Fitz and the Tantrums, “Out of My League” (2013)

As the lead single of the band's incredible sophomore album More Than Just a Dream, the sweeping "Out of My League" deservedly became the band's first Alternative Songs No. 1.

Foster the People, "Houdini" (2012)

Never, ever forget that Kenny G guested on the band's 2011 Saturday Night Live performance of "Houdini.” Even if you hated that moment, you've got to admit this is a perfect song.

Glass Animals, “Life Itself” (2016)

The first single of the British psychadelic pop group's sophomore album How to Be a Human Being didn't disappoint. Do yourself a favor and watch the cinematic video, which has a better plot than most of the movies released in 2019.

Grimes, “Flesh Without Blood” (2015)

Grimes has been critically lauded since releasing her 2012 album Visions, and 2015's “Flesh Without Blood” certainly made its fair share of best-of lists that year, but for a song as immediate and wildly imaginative as “Flesh Without Blood” to never receive a mainstream moment (or get a sliver of shine at pop radio) still makes us grimace on Grimes’ behalf.

G.R.L., “Ugly Heart" (2014)

The girl group G.R.L. sadly did not persist long enough to dominate the charts due to the tragic death of member Simone Battle, yet “Ugly Heart,” their stomping slice of empowerment that became an overseas hit, endures at the quintet’s greatest pop achievement.

Hayley Kiyoko & Kehlani, “What I Need” (2018)

With the pop-rock anthem that is "What I Need" (and an epic accompanying video), #20GayTeen got that much better.

Icona Pop, “All Night” (2013)

Icona Pop’s “I Love It” actually did receive a more-than-worthy follow-up, as the rambunctious and surprisingly sweet “All Night” allowed the duo to progress its party-ready shout-along approach. Alas, radio didn’t love it, but fans of the pair still bump this one regularly.

Jessie Ware, “Champagne Kisses” (2015)

The video for the triumphant "Champagne Kisses" is a playground of geometric impossibilities and primary colors. Like Jessie Ware herself, it is modern art.

Kiiara, “Intention” (2015)

Kiiara's lighter-than-air vocals are coupled with a flirtatious beat on "Intention," which definitely didn't get as much consideration as Low Kii Savage single "Gold," but is no less catchy.

Mallrat, “Groceries” (2018)

“Groceries” begins with a circular guitar lick, and as Grace Shaw -- the Australian singer-songwriter who records as Mallrat -- adds more elements to the track, they similarly spin around, swirling around the listener’s head until they sucked into the twister.

Marina and the Diamonds, “Primadonna” (2012)

Marina's Electra Heart era is basically unparalleled in its aesthetic (see: hearts, lipstick, Topshop) and bop factor. All together now: “I know I've got a big ego/ I really don't know why it's such a big deal though!”

Marlene, “Next to Me” (2017)

“Next To Me,” from Swedish singer-songwriter Marlene, radiates heat -- in a romantic sense, sure, but also in the warm textures of the production, as well as cozy harmonies of the chorus’ first half, creating a blanket of a pop track that’s worth hiding under often.

Nick Jonas, “Teacher” (2014)

“Jealous” and “Chains” were the Nick Jonas solo songs that made him a successful brand name outside of the Jonas Brothers (and years before the trio’s improbable comeback), but “Teacher,” -- with a flirtatious instrumental hook that came with its own plucky dance moves when performed onstage -- always deserved to be on that hit list.

Phoebe Ryan, “Mine” (2015)

On all almost all of her songs, Phoebe Ryan’s upper register cuts through the clutter, yet “Mine” remains her standout, thanks to a feathery hook that pairs exceptionally well with her delivery.

Pop ETC, "What Am I Becoming?" (2016)

Formerly known as The Morning Benders, Pop ETC debuted this certified jam after making waves with their contributiont to the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 soundtrack a few years earlier.

Rita Ora, “Your Song” (2017)

Co-written by Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora’s “Your Song” is the sort of love song that burrows into your brain without a whiff of flashiness. Credit the songwriting, but credit Ora as well, who stays restrained on the chorus but sells the line “I'm not proud, but I'm usually the type of girl that would hit and run,” with a heavy wink.

Saint Motel, “Move” (2016)

Never has a song been so aptly named. Also, we love a good trumpet.

Sara Bareilles, "Uncharted" (2011)

For the video to her jaunty piano tune, Bareilles consulted her Rolodex and called up some musician pals (Adam Levine, Pharrell, Tegan and Sara, Josh Groban, Professor Ben Folds, Ryan Tedder and more) to submit their best lip-syncs.

Selena Gomez and the Scene, "When The Sun Goes Down" (2011)

The ultimate weekend song from simpler times, back when it was still cool to brag about having an iPhone, and Selena still had The Scene.

Sky Ferreira, “I Blame Myself” (2013)

The years have been kind to the entirety of Sky Ferreira’s masterful 2013 debut album Night Time, My Time, but “I Blame Myself” -- a scathing response to the expectations bestowed upon a woman living in the public eye -- has aged especially well, with a lock-step beat among co-producer Ariel Rechtshaid’s very best.

Tegan and Sara, “U-Turn” (2016)

Three minutes of buoyant air synths from Candian National Treasures Tegan and Sara.

Terror Jr, “Terrified" (2019)

“Terrified” has several qualities that make it one of 2019’s most arresting singles, chief among them a seamless incorporation of a trap beat into the group’s indie-pop aesthetic, as well as a killer hook that begins and ends with the same sentiment: “I’m not afraid of love -- I’m terrified.”

Tove Lo, “B--ches” (2017)

While the star-studded video for the remix is not to be missed, it’s the OG that holds a special place in our hearts. “Dripping in harmony like fifth” ranks among all-time best Tove poetry.

Years & Years - “King” (2015)

For as enormous as Years & Years’ “King” became overseas -- the dance-pop anthem hit No. 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart, and has hundreds of millions of streams to date on Spotify alone -- the fact that such an irresistible track never even graced the Hot 100 in the U.S. remains inexplicable, and inexcusable.

Yumi Zouma, “In Camera” (2018)

New Zealand-based pop troupe Yumi Zouma perfected its dreamy sound on “In Camera,” an immaculate ‘80s throwback that sighs and glides as Christie Simpson demonstrates why her voice has been able to slice across the crowded pop blogosphere in recent years.

Zara Larsson, “I Would Like” (2016)

Zara, it’s not too late to release a video for this electropop gem. Please.

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