Avery and Elsie’s Playlist of Pop Perfection


Lukas Werner

Some of our favorite pop artists include Charli XCX, Taylor Swift, Fiona Apple, and Amy Winehouse.

Avery Rush and Elsie Buczkowski

The following article includes music containing explicit content.

The two of us both have diverse tastes in music spanning across any and all genres, but one that sticks out to us as a favorite is the pop genre. What we particularly love about this genre is its impressive versatility, and its ability to crossover with other genres like rock, country, and alternative. 

The genre is ever-changing, and the rules around what makes a pop song a pop song are constantly evolving. Here are some of our favorite pop songs.

“Be the One” by Dua Lipa:

We have both been fans of Dua Lipa’s music for quite some time, but a song that we both overlooked until hearing it live at her Portland concert is “Be The One,” a track off of her first full-length album. This is an upbeat song about how opposites attract, and how the differences between two people can result in a tumultuous but beautiful connection. The song is truly addictive, and it is perfect for when you just want to get up and dance.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield:

This song, to both of us, is much more than a song. It is a musical embodiment of memories and a time capsule of the best moments of our lives. From the subway ride in New York City where the words were sung by random citizens, to the rec center at Eagle Fern camp where we danced alongside our fellow classmates at Journey, “Unwritten,” packs a stream of emotion and love. It is also Elsie’s go-to karaoke song.

“XS” by Rina Sawayama:

Up-and-coming hyper pop star Rina Sawayama dissects the irony of performative activism and the blind eyes we turn towards materialism on the second track of her debut album, “SAWAYAMA.” The singer takes a self-aware stab at criticizing late-stage capitalism, as she identifies the problem of always wanting more while simultaneously acknowledging that she, herself, always wants more.

“Move Me” by Charli XCX:

Charli XCX’s new album “Crash” has had us addicted since the first listen. The entire album is full of bangers, like “Yuck,” “Lightning,” and “Used To Know Me.” “Move Me” sticks out the most, for its versatility and fast pace. This song always makes us want to get up and dance. Track 6 on her most recent album is melancholic in the most fun way. 

“Gorgeous” by Taylor Swift:

Taylor Swift’s discography boasts songs of pure poetry, with lyrics seemingly ripped straight from the lips of Shakespeare. Swift’s song “Gorgeous” from her 2017 album “Reputation,” presents a much more simple approach to songwriting, featuring no words that could not be understood by a middle schooler. In our eyes, the simplicity of these lyrics perfectly fits the energy of the song, as it is about the playful and childish sensation of having a hopeless crush. Swift sings about stumbling on her own words in the presence of her love interest because he is just that “gorgeous.”

“Your Love Is My Drug” by Kesha:

This hit from the inaugural year of the 2010s has been a favorite pop song of ours since we were kids. Kesha sings about feeling as if she’s going insane in the rush of a new relationship because her feelings are just that strong. This is one track of many off of Kesha’s album “Animal” that remains on our playlists even a decade later. The compelling beat and catchy lyrics on this track get us every time, pulling us in for yet another listen.

“Sorry Not Sorry” by Demi Lovato:

Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” is a song about revenge following a breakup, and it is the perfect self-love anthem for the summer. They sing about thriving in a moment where you might be expected to plateau, while placing emphasis on how good it feels to put your past partner in their place.

“Daylight (Live From Paris)” by Taylor Swift:

Swift is arguably known for her lengthy portfolio of breakup songs, but this track from her 2019 album “Lover” is about the warm rush of comfort that comes when you finally find true, genuine love. Her years-long relationship with actor Joe Alwyn has shown a new side of Swift’s abilities, including the ability to write excellent love songs. In “Daylight,” Swift sings about how she once thought love was “burning red” or maybe black and white, but she then discovered that it is in fact “golden, like daylight.” This live performance of the song, performed in Paris, is an exquisite, stripped-down version of the track that takes it just one step ahead of the original version by giving it even more raw, real emotion.

“Carey” by Joni Mitchell:

Lots of modern pop music sounds very different from “Carey” and Joni Mitchell’s other music, but this is one of our all time favorite pop songs from before 2000. Mitchell’s album “Blue” is a masterpiece, and this song is among the best on the tracklist. “Carey” is perfect for a long drive on a sunny day. 

“Teen Idle” by Marina and The Diamonds:

Although the music itself isn’t particularly gloomy, the lyrics of Marina Diamandis’ “Teen Idle” are darker than that of a typical pop song. She talks about self-doubt and self-hatred as a young woman, and how she yearns for the feeling of being an all-American high school beauty queen, even as a woman in her 20s. Although the lyrics are anything but optimistic, this song provides feelings of comfort for teens who might feel as if they are an outcast, or not good enough to have a place in the cool crowd.

“Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)” by Fiona Apple:

Off Fiona Apple’s third album, “Tymps” encapsulates the feeling of looking back on an old relationship. She sings about addictive nature of love, and how hard it is to cut off someone who you used to love. She knows that the “rush of remembering” is the only thing bringing her back to her love, clouding her logic. Apple’s smooth, jazzy vocals shine in this oddball song, making it the perfect tune to belt out in the car. 

“Yoü And I” by Lady Gaga:

“Yoü and I” is an amazing song from an amazing album. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” made waves in the world of pop music and it broke social barriers for its progressive attitude towards LGBTQ+ pride. This pop-rock love song is a perfect song for karaoke, and screaming the lyrics in the car with the windows down never gets old. Although this track does top most others on the album, the entire record is a genuine work of art and deserves your undivided attention.

“I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado:

Although the lyrics are somber, Nelly Furtado incorporates joy into the track through upbeat ad-libs and heartfelt vocals. She sings about the struggle to stay committed to people and places, and her urge to “fly away” from it all. The carefree song brings on feelings of happiness and liberation. Other pop hits from Furtado like “Promiscuous” and “Maneater” keep younger generations engaged in her brilliant music. 

“Lights Up” by Harry Styles:

Harry Styles has been a sensation in the world of pop music for more than a decade. His rise to fame began in 2010 due to his membership in the British boy band, One Direction. His fame has continued to grow since the start of his solo career in 2017, and his second full-length album, “Fine Line,” brought him extreme success on the Billboard charts. “Lights Up” was the lead single for his second album, and was released in October 2019. Immediately following its release this song became one of our favorites by Styles. We have continued to love it since then, especially when paired with a warm day and a big pair of sunglasses.

“Baby Boy” by Kevin Abstract:

In this song, Kevin Abstract breaks free of the harsher sound created by his now disbanded rap group, BROCKHAMPTON. He sings about the struggle of feeling that you have moved on from a severed relationship, but not being able to escape the dreams you have about them when you close your eyes. 

“Maria” by Justin Bieber:

Justin Bieber is undoubtedly one of the most prominent pop stars of the 21st century thus far. He has sold out countless concert venues and has gained the adoration — and even the idolization — of millions. “Maria” is a track that exhibits the dark side of fame — Bieber sings about a crazed fan who ignited a rumor that she was pregnant with his child. The lyrics are fascinating, and the song is electric with energy and gusto.