Trying to narrow down the top 10 best pop songs of all time is like asking a mother who is her favorite kid. Sure, every mother secretly prefers one child over her others, but pop music's birthed so many beautiful bouncing babies over the years, it's hard to choose. These songs stand out for their timelessness and memorable melodies.
- “She Loves You” Long before Britney Spears appeared onstage in a schoolgirl uniform, schoolgirls around the world screamed as The Beatles broke into their early hits, especially this 1963 single which sounds as explosive as it did back then. It seems like punk rock next to all the schlock that sat on the charts at the time of its release. Yeah, yeah yeah!
- “Material Girl” Madonna acted as spokeswoman for a decade of greed with this single off her second album “Like a Virgin.” The heavy beat sounds like a thousand workers toiling away at the bottom of the corporate ladder and the chorus drives home Madonna's point that this is her world. "Material Girl" helped catapult Madonna to unearthly solo success and stands as both one of the catchiest songs of the 1980's and one of the best pop songs of all time.
- “Be My Baby” Long before murderer Phil Spector’s lunacy caught up with him, the madman produced this song for girl group The Ronettes. A classic drumbeat copied by a zillion bands from Billy Joel to The Boss, Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production and dreamy vocals make this song one of the best pop songs of all time.
- “I Want You Back.” Long before Michael Jackson gave the world some of the other best pop songs of all time (like "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "Bad") he and his brothers gave the world this Motown classic. The opening piano glissando, endlessly chiming guitar, and infectious descending bass line make for a totally brilliant pop moment, complete with “ba ba boo boos."
- “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” From it’s ridiculous “jitterbug” intro to George Michael’s declaration “You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day,” this song is one, if not the, most happy sounding pop songs ever. Its sunny keyboards, big brass and one of the most undeniably catchy choruses make it one of the best pop songs of all time.
- “Walking on Sunshine” Katrina & The Waves: one of the biggest pop groups of all time…in an alternative universe. This one-hit wonder rivals “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” as the 1980’s most unbelievably cheery singles. Try listening to this song without tapping your feet: the true mark of one of the best pop songs of all time.
- “Isn’t She Lovely?” The album version started with a cry from Wonder’s baby Aisha, the inspiration for this joyous song. Though it was never released as a single, "Isn't She Lovely?" is played everyday on pop radio and still radiates the same exuberance. Listen to pop music after 1976 and hear tons of other artists aping this song and Wonder’s style.
- “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” Taking a lyric from a Beatles tune, adding "she does is magic" and spicing it all up with a playful keyboard line, The Police, the biggest band in the world in the early 1980’s, achieved pop perfection with this 1981 single off their considerably darker album “Ghost In the Machine.” Sting managed to squeeze out a blissful line amidst his usual snootiness: "it's a big enough umbrella but it's always me that ends up getting wet."
- “Umbrella.” Rhianna brings this list into the 21st century with this 2007 hit. Verses featuring rapping by the best showboat around, Jay-Z, and Rhianna’s hypnotic “Umbrella ella ella” refrain, this song became a huge hit all over the world and will most likely last as one of the best pop songs of all time. By the way, what’s with pop songs and umbrellas?
“Dancing Queen” The Swedish pop sensation ABBA reached their zenith with this incredibly catchy song, bursting at the seams with beat, harmonies and strings. It inspired tons of covers, notably the 2000 version by the A Teens, who recorded a slew of ABBA songs and renewed deserved interest in this incredible group.