Top Pop Picks: November 2018

In an industry dominated by rap songs, I understand that it can be hard to weed through the charts to find a stray pop track or two. So as The Oracle’s resident pop music-connoisseur, I’ve taken it upon myself to host a crash-course in the latest pop releases. Enjoy! 

“Voices in My Head,” Ashley Tisdale

Ashley Tisdale is an interesting character. After rising to teen stardom on Disney Channel, she did what almost every other Disney star of the early 2000s did and launched a music career. While her pre-existing fame never led her to music stardom, her catalog does have some tracks that have withstood the test of time: “Be Good To Me” and “He Said She Said” still slam to this day. 

Now after almost 10 years, Tisdale is ready to try her hand in the music industry yet again with the release of “Voices in My Head,” the lead single off her third studio album. For Tisdale, whose career felt stuck in 2008 for the longest time, the song is a valiant effort. As an ex-”High School Musical”  star and Sharpay Evans warrior, I would love to call it a triumph, but for the sake of my integrity I just can’t lie like that. 

But I’m not saying it sucks! The verses are actually really good. They’re simple enough, I love the snaps and I’ve always been a fan of Ashley Tisdale’s voice so I have no complaints there. The chorus, however, is where the song falls flat for me. It sounds cheap and exactly like what it is—an ex-Disney Channel star’s interpretation of what the music of today sounds like. But added bonus points for hearing Ashley Tisdale say “f***.” That was fun. 

“Party For One,” Carly Rae Jepsen

The pop-music supreme has returned!

It’s been three long, grueling years since Carly Rae Jepsen bestowed Emotion upon us, arguably one of the best, if not the best pop record of the decade. Though Taylor Swift made ’80s pop-influenced music mainstream, Carly Rae made it her bitch. Even with Emotion: Side B to tide us over, pop fans everywhere have been long awaiting the second-coming of Carly Rae Jepsen. 

Finally, she’s back and as good as ever. “Party For One” is the self-love, self-care anthem we needed as 2018 crawls to a finish, and it’s done in a way only Carly Rae could do. “Party For One” does not disappoint, and Carly Rae Jepsen is, as she sings, “Back on [her] beat.” If her beat is releasing golden pop-tracks that go overlooked by most, but are bible to a lucky few, then no lies were detected in that statement. 

“Hurts Like Hell,” Madison Beer feat. Offset

I don’t know much about Madison Beer, except that Justin Bieber has something to do with her (not sure what). That being said, I do know that her newest release, “Hurts Like Hell,” is good as hell. 

A VOCODER INTRO! I can’t even put into words how much I love a good vocoder intro. “Delicate,” “Getaway Car,” “Oh, What a World,” are all instant classics due to their vocoder intros. So naturally, “Hurts Like Hell” already finds itself in that category for me. My problem with a lot of pop newcomers like Beer is that their songs tend to start off so strong only to crash and burn at the chorus— ‘tis not the case with “Hurts Like Hell,” which stays strong right up until the Offset feature, which is pointless, then rebounds right back to legendary-status. Madison Beer is definitely one to watch!

“thank u, next,” Ariana Grande

This entire piece was originally planned to be about this song, but I held back. 

There’s no reason to touch on how terrible of a year Ariana Grande has had, but just to put it into perspective, since the last time I wrote about her year filled with “grief, anxiety and extremely public breakups.” Grande has been handed the death of her ex-boyfriend and a failed engagement to deal with, all in the public eye. 

Even with the horrible year she’s had, Grande has yet to stop working and in the ultimate power-move, dropped “thank u, next” shortly before Saturday Night Live on Nov. 3. The song is an R&B influenced pop-track (exactly where her voice sounds most natural) in which Grande name drops multiple ex-boyfriends, including short-lived fiancée Pete Davidson. It’s a move that’s common in rap culture, but virtually unheard of in the pop playing field. 

Though nothing about the song is natural. In the rap-dominated streaming age, “thank u, next” has been sitting at the top of both the Spotify and Apple Music United States charts since its release and easily became Grande’s first No. 1 on the Hot 100. “Next” also passed Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” to become the fastest song of all time to reach 100 million streams on Spotify.

With her fifth-studio album rumored to be released before the year is over and the Sweetener World Tour kicking off early next year, Grande will remain a household name for the foreseeable future. 

Singular Act I, Sabrina Carpenter 

I couldn’t pick just one song from this album. The first time I heard a Sabrina Carpenter song was when I was working at the frozen yogurt shop in my town and “Thumbs” came on the iHeartRadio family top 40 countdown. The song was so weird, and kind of annoying, but I knew potential when I heard it.

That potential manifested into Singular Act I, Carpenter’s third-studio album and by far her most polished. Despite being only eight tracks long, Singular Act I is FULL of hits. “Almost Love,” the album’s first single, is the clear star, but tracks like “Paris” and “Bad Time” (VOCODER INTRO!!!) also act as perfect testaments for Carpenter’s pop-potential, while “prfct” and “Diamonds Are Forever” take more of an R&B route. Even though it shouldn’t, it works… really well. Ignoring the fact that she was on “Girl Meets World,” I’m ready to stan Sabrina Carpenter. 2018 is weird.

About Jake Mauriello 100 Articles
Jake Mauriello is a fourth-year journalism and public relations major, with a minor in film and video studies. This is his seventh semester with The Oracle. Previously, he has worked as an Arts and Entertainment Copy Editor, Features Editor and Managing Editor. He dedicates each of his stories to his personal heroes, Taylor Swift and Alexis Rose.