Freelancer journalist, pop culture enthusiast and Pop Dungeon DJ Louise Bruton shares her favourite tracks of the year. Join her at All My Friends on Meath Street on Saturday for Britmas: a festival celebration of Britney Spears.
Here are her 10 tracks of the year.
MUNA – What I Want
I didn’t know what I wanted until’ What I Want’ by MUNA came along. Giving desire a new lease of life, pop songs should always dress up lust as something we have never truly experienced before, turning it into the be-all and end-all of our existence. A queer pop anthem for the ages, this is one to lose all inhibitions to.
Jessie Ware – Free Yourself
Following on the rip-roaring success of 2020’s What’s Your Pleasure?, Jessie Ware has realised that girls really just wanna have fun. Borrowing 90s house piano riffs and delivering clear cut messages of liberation, Ware leads us successfully into battle with the dance floor.
Tove Lo – No One Dies From Love
I really struggled to pick just one Tove Lo for this list because this year’s Dirt Femme album captures an artist in full prowess. A true student of the Max Martin School of Pop, Lo knows how to grab a listener emotionally; hook, line and power chorus. A slow build, it’s a glittering therapy session in love and loss.
Beyoncé – Pure/Honey
“Four, three, too fucking busy…” As is par for the course with any Beyoncé song since 2014’s self-titled reinvention, no detail is overlooked in ‘Pure/Honey’. Lyrically, sonically and spiritually, every bar is a pull quote to define a mood or a movement. Swerving from ballroom power drills to Chicago house to self-indulgent disco, this is a grand slam of serves. Most thrilling of all Bey uses the C-word, something we could never have imagined on ‘Dangerously in Love’.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mars
Let’s just dial things back for a second. Almost 20 years since their debut album Fever to Tell, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs watch the world burn on Cool It Down. To balance out the hedonism and animalistic drives of the album, ‘Mars’ is a spoken word song that acts as a nighttime story. Karen O asks her son what the sun looks like and he says Mars “with a glint in his eye”, bringing a new kind of wonder to the band that always thrived in youthful rebellion.
Charli XCX – Used to Know Me
My big hope for 2023 is that we stop prioritising the throwback. But, for now, let’s just savour the moment. Again. Like Tove Lo, Charli XCX is a pop connoisseur. She dictates the next taste before we are even sampling the latest. So while 2022’s Crash goes heavy on the big club samples of yesteryear, I have no doubt that she’s already sitting on an album that is set to change the course of pop all over again.
Rosalia – Chicken Teriyaki
This two-minute ditty of distressed reggaeton is proof that less can almost definitely be more.
SZA – F2F
Fresh offa her sophomore album SOS, SZA will probably save this as a single for next year, but I am grateful that she gave us an album to cry out the rest of Q4 to. Forever the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, I get inklings of Avril Lavigne here – major props to Lavigne’s Love Sux, which just barely missed a chance of being in my top 10 and I would easily write a full essay on – and I am not complaining.
RAYE, 070 Shake – Escapism
In this very same list for 2020, I wrote that I was ready for RAYE to be the biggest pop star on earth. Little did I know that she was in a shitstorm of a recording contract and was trapped to forever be a featured artist because her label had been holding her debut album hostage. Now an independent artist and free to do whatever the fuck she likes (My 21st Century Blues is out in Feb), she went straight to number one with ‘Escapism’, a paranoid song that throws the traditional pop structure away. We love a good revenge tale.
Shygirl – Poison (Club Shy Mix)
Shygirl is the rapper, songwriter and producer that all of the big pop stars will undoubtedly be handing big envelopes of cash over to in the coming years so that they can remain relevant. Taken from her debut album Nymph, the Club Shy Mix of Poison is heady. Taking Euro dance and underground grime, she gives us something solid to hold onto as we lose grip on sanity.