Chromatica lead single "Stupid Love" hinted at Lady Gaga's return to the breakneck electro-pop that made her a household name... and then follow-up "Rain On Me," a maximalist dance workout with Ariana Grande, confirmed pop fans' greatest hopes. Two of the most powerful pop vocalists of the past decade linking up for an uptempo stunner built around the line "I'd rather be dry, but at least I'm alive," proved to be as life-affirming as intended. -- J. Lipshutz
24. Soccer Mommy, "Circle the Drain"
Sophie Allison (the artist behind the Soccer Mommy persona) has always had a knack for writing songs that cut deep. But perhaps no song in her catalogue has cut as deeply, or as catchily, as "Circle the Drain," the pop-twinged standout strummer on her Color Theory album. While the ebb and flow of the song's dreamy production certainly lends to its success, "Circle the Drain's" songwriting is some of Allison's best to date, as she sings about the downward pull of depressive episodes. The emotion she portrays with words as simple as "I've been falling apart these days/ Split open, watching my heart go/ 'Round and around," is nothing short of a revelation. -- S.D.
23. Lil Baby, "Emotionally Scarred"
Lil Baby has emerged as one of the most consistently engaging rappers of the past several years, specifically because of songs like My Turn's "Emotionally Scarred" -- where the 25-year-old star can rap soberly about all he’s achieved and accumulated, while acknowledging the trauma and losses that he’s endured along the way. It’s what sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, providing a different element and a secondary appeal to his music, a deeper emotion that binds his listeners to his story. Who can’t relate to a line like, "I ain't got nothing against you, we human, we all got issues/ But I'm tired of being tired of being tired"? -- DAN RYS
22. Billie Eilish, "No Time to Die"
In yet one more sign of the astounding speed with which Billie Eilish, 18, has commandeered pop culture, less than a year after the release of her Grammys-sweeping debut album, she has joined an elite group of stars (Adele, Paul McCartney, Madonna) in recording a James Bond film theme -- becoming the youngest artist ever to do so. On “No Time to Die,” a tension-laden opening piano line introduces Eilish’s whispery, wavering vocals. “Was it obvious to everybody else/ That I'd fallen for a lie?” she sings, as an electric guitar rises in the mix, then drums, then full orchestration. An aural epic befitting the Bond franchise, “No Time To Die” displays Eilish taking on a dramatic new vocal challenge and killing it. -- T.D.