Nothing puts a spring in our step or carves hearts and stars into the deepest corners of our musical minds like a healthy dose of femme-pop. From the recent resurgence of 80s-centric sonics comes a bounty of female artists boasting infectious jams that hold tightly to the genre’s calling cards: synth razzle dazzle, some serious pipes, and hooks that just won’t quit. Our ten favorites below have an extra bit of that irresistible, unforgettable pop swagger.
Foxes – “Body Talk”
On paper, Foxes ought to be huge by now. She’s the voice behind Zedd’s monster hit “Clarity”, she’s basically the living embodiment of the manic pixie dream girl, she’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, and most of her music’s actually pretty great. Latest offering “Body Talk” keeps her winning streak going strong. All the pop pieces are in place, but it’s those pre-chorus “Ohhhhs” that set the track apart and keep us coming back for more.
Samantha Urbani – “1 2 3 4”
Production man-of-the-moment Dev Hynes (Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing”, Solange’s “Losing You”, Jessie Ware’s “Want Your Feeling”, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “All That”) maintains his pop savant status, lending his touch to this sparkler from former Friends frontwoman Samantha Urbani. As usual, there’s plenty going on musically to trigger the brain’s pleasure centers, while Urbani perfectly channels early Madonna with a potent mix of attitude and vulnerability.
Party Nails – “Break”
With fewer than 400 Facebook likes as of this writing, Party Nails is probably the most obscure act on this list. Don’t expect it to stay that way for long — not with a gem like “Break” making the net rounds. It takes all of ten seconds to fall in love with the percolating synth riff that drives the track — toss in some earnest lyrics about devotion, a love-worn delivery, and sheer momentum and you’ve got yourself a should-be hit, for parties and after-parties alike.
Allie X – “Prime”
“Prime” is a pure pop punch to the gut, one that will leave you seeing stardom. Indeed, Toronto-based Allie has been playing at global domination for a minute now: check the sunglasses fixation, expert hashtag branding, and proliferation of regional Facebook fan groups. Like a lot of great pop lately, “Prime” leans heavily on the expressionist sounds of the 80s, mixing Cyndi Lauper’s proto-girl power panache with all those “we”s and “us”es that make Lorde and the like so insta-relatable. In case the pummeling, staccato synths and drumpad hits don’t make it clear, an actual Allie X world takeover is imminent — consider yourself warned.
FEMME – “S.O.S”
Bass, beats, and a big voice rocket this bonafide hit straight to the top of our personal pop charts. Appropriately named London songstress FEMME has yet to miss in her stacked repertoire of pop gems. There’s a gentle ferocity in Laura Bettison’s delivery of “S.O.S”’s desperate message that is all too familiar. So much so, you’ll surely be singing along before it finishes. Fashionable FEMME and her perfectly pink tresses are tailor-made for reaching the highest of pop heights, and now you can enjoy the ride along with her.
ELLA THOMPSON – “I Go Over”
There is a reason Mark Ronson added this next pop maven to his Australian supergroup. Melbourne’s Ella Thompson has previously showcased her signature voice as a member of The Bamboos, Dorsal Fins, and GL, before launching her solo career with an impressive debut album full of luscious pop. “I Go Over” is a pristine package that comes complete with entire soundscapes of synths. While the nearly screamed, suitably repetitious chorus is instantly memorable, the track’s tinkling synths and rhythmically engaging drumpad patterns build in a slow rise to full pop glory. Arguably the most artful addition to our list, the swirling ebb and flow of this one will leave you in a pure pop trance.
Petite Meller – “Baby Love”
It takes a lot to stand out in a world of 7.3 billion (at least half of whom seem to be Soundcloud singers and/or producers), but fashion-forward multinational pop starlet Petite Meller has the off-kilter style and off-kilter tunes to do it. Her best yet, “Baby Love”, prances in on some keyed-up house piano rolls and full-on explodes with that soaring chorus. Just when you think it can’t get any better: saxophone. Bonus points for shooting a video in Africa that features actual Africans…
Dotter – “My Flower”
It’s no secret that Sweden is overflowing with pop goddesses, but we think we have found one who deserves a seat among the elite: Dotter. “My Flower” delivers lighthearted pop in a massive, floral-themed wallop. Tambourine and snare taps lead the graceful chorus in its momentous charge forward while delicately plucked strings guide the verses through a story of a regrettable love. Clever little flutters and the far-reaching range of Dotter’s voice transform what could be an ordinary pop song into something special.
Meredith – “Levels”
First Avicii, then Nick Jonas, and now Meredith have found a hit in “Levels.” The young Brisbane singer-songwriter really hits her stride on her latest single by complementing her husky whispers with thickly layered production. It’s an unassuming tune that benefits from counterpointing the feathery delicacy of Meredith’s vocals with the weighted beats and synths, perfectly rounding into a final product as smooth as silk. Dark pop is on the rise and so is Meredith — a clear match made in pop heaven that you ought to keep an ear on.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Boy Problems”
Though you may have thought you’d never hear anything from her after 2012’s “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen littered her latest album Emotion with 80s pop gems that we can’t resist. Co-written with a powerful songwriting team of Sia, Greg Kurstin and Tavish Crowe, “Boy Problems” is the kind of pop song that demands repeat listens. Above a veritable wall of synth, funky bass, handclaps, and backing vocals, Jepsen’s croon is used as part of the carefully calculated instrumentation, belting out her love woes in her sugary pop high register. Insatiably addictive from the inter-chorus “na”s to the ultra-relatable message, “Boy Problems” has the makings of a pop music phenomenon as welcome and unyielding as Ms. Jepsen’s previous hit.