My Top 25 Favorite Pop Songs Of All-Time

The epitome of POP music? Discuss…

There seems to be some confusion over what exactly pop music is. Is it dance music? Is it electronic music? Is it country music? Can it BE defined? I have MY opinion of what pop music is…but that doesn’t mean that it is what I think it is. Pop music, by definition, can really be ANY kind of music that is loved by a mass audience. For decades, artists who could be defined as “country” or “dance” or any other kind of genre could be found in the Billboard Top 100 Most Popular Songs. Take a look at the early 80’s. Pop was littered with country artists like Dolly Parton or Eddie Rabbitt. In the 90’s, hip hop entered into the pop scene and nowadays it seems like electronica has made a major splash in the pop arena. So “pop” music has come a long way since Buddy Holly and Neil Diamond. But for me, pop music is more simple. And when I say simple, I don’t mean as in the definition, I mean the song itself. Usually a pop song is simple. There’s no drama surrounding it. There’s no anger or violence or sex. Usually I consider a good pop song something that I can sing along too or I can crank up in my car without having my neighbors all complaining about the noise. And usually it involves love or the yearning for love or the loss of love.

A good example of a classic pop song is Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” from 1990. Seriously…it’s not my favorite song…but it has a refreshing hook and a “feel good” vibe about it. It’s got a nice beat and there’s nothing about it that screams angst or anger or violence. It’s just an easy song to listen too and it doesn’t intrude on your thoughts. It’s about as simple a song as you’ll ever find and that is why I use it as an example. Is it gonna rock the world? No. But it was the Single Of The Year that year and it was nominated for “Song Of The Year” at the Grammy’s. For MY money, one of the best pop songs I’ve heard in ages is by Erik Hassle called “Wanna Be Loved.” It just came out last week and I’ve already worn it out on my car stereo. Both of my kids LOVE it and for some reason it tells me that I’m not the only one who likes my pop music to be easy on the ears.

Pop music, to me, is a simple melody. Simple lyrics. Simple music. And it is usually not as simple to make as I would imagine it is. Here are my personal Top 25 Favorite POP (by MY definition) Songs. I’m not gonna lie…I’m partial to the 70’s & 80’s, mostly because those decades are when my musical tastes were being developed. Let’s see what you think…

25. Olivia Newton John – “A Little More Love” (1979)

24. Jude Cole – “Better Days” (1987)

23. PM Dawn – “A Lifetime” (1995)

22. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – “Too Late To Turn back Now” (1972)

21. Pete Townsend – “Let My Love Open The Door” (1980)

20. Icehouse – “Crazy” (1987)

19. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” (1966)

18. Richard Marx – “Should’ve Known Better” (1987)

17. Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” (1972)

16. Rick Springfield – “Love Somebody” (1984)

15. The Weepies – “World Spins Madly On” (2005)

14. Michael Jackson – “Rock With You” (1979)

13. David Gates – “The Goodbye Girl” (1977)

12. Patsy Cline – “Crazy” (1962)

11. Bryan Adams – “Heaven” (1984)

10. Alexander O’Neal – “Criticize” (1986)

9. Barenaked Ladies – “Falling For the First Time” (2001)

8. The Outfield – “Your Love” (1986)

7. The Beatles – “In My Life” (1965)

6. Cyndi Lauper – “True Colors” (1986)

5. Elvis Presley – “Memories” (1968)

4. The Spinners – “Could It be I’m Falling In Love” (1973)

3. America – “Sister Golden Hair” (1975)

2. Phil Collins – “In The Air Tonight” (1981)

1. George Harrison – “What Is Life” (1970)

So there you have it. Pop music as I think it should be. These songs are all a part of me and my history. They are forever in my mind as a part of who I am and that can never be changed. They are what I think pop music can best be defined as. So now…what are YOUR favorite pop songs and what do you feel best defines pop music?



  1. Thanks for your articulate insights. I agree that any definition of pop music is highly subjective and personal. Here a few that come to mind that I never seem to tire of: Hello It’s Me by Todd Rundgren; Holdin’ On To Yesterday by Ambrosia; Time by Alan Parsons Project; Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell; Norwegian Wood by The Beatles; Across the Universe by The Beatles; Ready by Cat Stevens; Call On Me by Chicago; Ventura Highway by America; Constant Craving by k.d. lang; House at Pooh Corner by Loggins & Messina; Hummingbird by Seals & Crofts; Dreamer by Supertramp; You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder; I’m Not In Love by 10cc, and so many more….

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