Pop Songs Of The Decade

We Judged The Best Year Of This Decade By Its Most Popular Banger

This decade has been such a ride – the ’90s gave us S Club 7 and Britney Spears, the ’00s gave us Pink and Delta Goodrem, and now the ’10s have given us the greatest gift of all: a Katy Perry and Taylor Swift beef-turned-reconciliation.

We could have just picked out our favourite pop songs of the decade (‘Wrecking Ball’, ‘Blank Space’, ‘Sign of the Times’), but instead we thought we’d go to the numbers. What were the most popular singles of the decade?

We turned to the ARIA Top 100 Singles charts to pull out the top songs of each year, including the highest charting Australian one, to pit year against year. Can an excellent #2 track save a terrible #1? What if a song we all bopped to ended up problematic? How come so many of our faves don’t even get a look-in here?

Let’s ruthlessly rank each year this decade based on the calibre of its chart-topping pop songs.

10. 2017

Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ dominated the charts for a whoppin’ 15 weeks in 2017, ahead of Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’, featuring Justin Bieber. The highest charting Aussies were Pnau with ‘Chamelon’ coming it at #32. There is so much more Ed Sheeran to go in the top 10 too, with ‘Castle on the Hill’ at #3, ‘Perfect’ at #4, and ‘Galway Girl’ at #7.

Conclusion: Meh. I’m not angry, just bored. Come for me Sheeran stans.

9. 2011

The top single of 2011 was LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’, with Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, which spent 10 weeks at the top of the charts. Coming in at #2 was the top-charting Australian single, Gotye’s ‘Somebody that I Used to Know’, featuring Kimbra, following by Maroon 5’s ‘Moves like Jagger’ and two Adele smashes, ‘Someone like You’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’.

Conclusion: I can’t believe I just listened to LMFAO. I honestly hadn’t heard this song since I was last in a club (circa 2012). This year was so terrible not even Gotye featuring Kimbra can save it.

8. 2010

The decade kicked off with this ARIA #1, Eminem’s ‘Love the Way You Lie’, featuring Rihanna. It spent six weeks that year at the top of the charts, ahead of #2 single of the year, ‘OMG’ by Usher, featuring will.i.am. The top Australian was Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP, with ‘We No Speak Americano’ at #34. There was plenty of Katy Perry rounding out the rest of the top 10, with songs ‘California Gurls’ at #5 and ‘Teenage Dream’ at #9.

Conclusion: This is a rubbish year, but at least I can see the appeal of ‘Love the Way You Lie’ (it’s Rihanna).

7. 2016

The Chainsmokers’ ‘Closer’, featuring Halsey, sat at the top spot for nine weeks in 2016, ahead of Drake’s ‘One Dance’, featuring Wizkid and Kyla. For our Aussie representation, Flume, featuring Kai, ‘Never Be like You’ sat at #4 and Sia wasn’t too far behind at #8 with ‘Cheap Thrills’.

Conclusion: I have to be honest. I heard ‘Closer’ for the first time today. It’s fine? The top songs here though are a pretty interesting counterpoint to the sugary pop of 2014/5. We’re moving into a new era now…

6. 2013

For nine weeks, Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ sat at the top of the Australian charts in 2013. It’s an anthem. It was followed by the repellent ‘Blurred Lines’ from Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and a now repentant Pharrell. Coming in at #12 came Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’, to rep our fair nation. Weirdly, this was the year that Lorde’s entire EP, The Love Club, counted as part of the singles chart, at #5, with its breakout smash, ‘Royals’.

Conclusion: ‘Roar’ is an anthem, and I’m not complaining about listening to it. I’m complaining about ‘Blurred Lines’.

5. 2014

‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams rose from #92 on the 2013 chart to the top spot in 2014, holding the position for 12 weeks. It was followed by Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About that Bass’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’, and Aussie artists Sheppard with ‘Geronimo’. They kicked off a run of Aussie representation, with Justice Crew at ‘Que Sera’ at #4, followed by Sia and ‘Chandelier’ at #5.

Conclusion: These songs all seem to indicate our mood that year – cautiously optimistic. They’re bubblegum pop songs and we can’t fault them.

4. 2015

For six weeks, ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, sat at the top of the charts. In its wake came the Felix Jaehn remix of ‘Cheerleader’ by OMI, and then, trailing at #14, Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’. And let’s put this year into perspective, shall we: Adele’s ‘Hello’ sat at #5, while Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean?’ was at #9 and ‘Sorry’ at #16.

Conclusion: ‘Uptown Funk’ still slaps, please don’t fight me on that.

3. 2012

‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen topped the charts in 2012, staying there for five weeks, after failing to chart in its year of release, 2011. It came in ahead of Psy and ‘Gangnam Style’, and the top Aussie, Guy Sebastian’s ‘Battle Scars’, featuring Lupe Fiasco. One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ only sat at #17, and Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ at #19 – can you imagine?

Conclusion: 2012 was great. A joyous year. A beautiful time that saw Carly Rae burst into popular consciousness.

2. 2018

‘Youngblood’ by Australians 5 Seconds Of Summer spent eight weeks on top of the charts in 2018, followed by ‘God’s Plan’ by Drake (‘In My Feelings’ placed at #16) and ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran sticking around for another year.

Conclusion: ‘Youngblood’ is a bop. That’s just a fact. And it’s all the better to see our very own hitting it out of the park alongside people like Drake and Ed Sheeran.

1. 2019

The ageless local Tones and I has so far spent a boggling 18 weeks on the top of the Australian charts this year, ahead of Lil Nas X and ‘Old Town Road’. It’s an amazing effort, considering other contenders for the top spot included Ariana Grande with ‘7 Rings’ and Billie Eilish with ‘Bad Guy’.

Conclusion: It’s delightful to see homegrown talent finally crushing it as this decade draws to a close. That combined with the queer power of Lil Nas X puts this year ahead of the pack.