The tides are turning at pop radio. Over the past few months, different sounds have infiltrated the charts. Electropop has dominated the top 40 for almost the past three years and it’s starting to feel like it’s run its course. Here are some of the next trends I can see making a splash:
Although house music is often associated with the cheesy, one-hit wonders of the early 90s, I can see it making a comeback as a natural progression from electropop. Rihanna delved into synth-heavy, house territory on “Only Girl (In the World)” and the influences are all over Lady Gaga’s new album (particularly on “Marry the Night” and “Scheiße”). Max Martin also tried it out on Britney’s “Up N Down,” only a bonus track on “Femme Fatale,” but one of the most downloaded cuts on iTunes. I’m just waiting for a big-voiced diva (think Whitney’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”) to really hit it home.
Sure, there have been a few one-off ballad hits on pop radio over the past few years, but they’re few and far between. Rihanna couldn’t even score a big hit with “California King Bed,” following a string of number ones. However, if anyone can bring them back, it’s Adele. Coming off a massive hit and the number one album of the year, “Someone Like You” should have no problem at least getting noticed. Hopefully pop radio gives “Someone Like You” a chance and Adele doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Cee Lo Green and Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.), with only one big (novelty) hit in the U.S. It will also be interesting to see how radio responds to “Yoü and I,” a very different sound for Lady Gaga and after ten singles, her first ballad.
Before it was even officially announced as a single, radio jumped on Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That).” You may be wondering why I’m mentioning that under this category. I’ve seen quite a few people say “Cheers” reminds them of the alternative rock crossover hits of the late 90s. At first, I didn’t hear it either. But, after going back and listening to songs like Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and “Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eye Cherry, I get it. It’s definitely a different sound for her and I’d love to see alternative rock make a comeback as opposed to more disposable pop/rock. I don’t think Rihanna’s the artist to bring back alternative rock, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Another natural progression from electropop is the Eastern European-influenced dance sound. Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez both scored comeback hits with Eastern European dance-tinged songs (“Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” and “On the Floor” respectively) and new artists have also recently made their debut on the pop charts with a similar sound. Romanian singers Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina had a surprise hit with “Stereo Love” earlier this year and Alexandra Stan (a fellow Romanian) is poised to break the U.S. with her international smash, “Mr. Saxobeat.” Keep it coming from Romania, because I like what I’m hearing.
R&B hasn’t gone anywhere, but it’s certainly not dominating the pop charts like it was in the early 2000s. However, songs like Nicole Scherzinger’s “Right There” and Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” are getting more attention on the pop charts now than they probably would have a few months ago at the height of the electropop craze. Most surprisingly is Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation,” which just entered the top 40. Her track record on pop radio is less than stellar and this song sounds tailor-made for rhythmic/urban radio. Is top 40 radio finally ready for more R&B jams?