There’s no debate that the early 2010s were some of the best years for pop music, and we had a serious girl gang of pop stars topping the charts to prove it. A small trip down memory lane will take you right to the days of C4, iPods, and timeless throwbacks coming from the likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. Here we take a look back at a recent golden era of pop that was the 2010s, and the women who lead the way.
1. Firework – Katy Perry (2010)
One of the biggest hits of the decade came right at the very beginning, with Katy Perry’s empowering dance-pop hit ‘Firework’. Its uplifting message combined with Perry’s knack for pop music resulted in one of her biggest hits that had serious staying power, continuing her streak of addictive Teenage Dream era singles that sealed her fate as one of the most iconic pop stars of the 2010s.
2. Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna (2010)
Barbadian Queen Rihanna came onto the scene with ‘Pon De Replay’ in 2005 and has been blessing fans with hit after hit since. Filled with upbeat bass, synths, and her powerful voice, ‘Only Girl In The World’ was the lead single from the ‘Loud’ era that saw her rock not only the charts, but her bright red locks as a re-energised Rihanna shook the scene with her addictively catchy single.
3. Skyscraper – Demi Lovato (2011)
This ballad arrived following Lovato’s successful Disney-era career & subsequent withdrawal from the public eye, and was an ode to her emotional resilience and internal strength. Stripping back her sound & look alike and allowing the sheer power of her voice to shine, this moving track won the hearts of fans both old and new alike with its raw message resonating with them along the way.
4. Born This Way – Lady Gaga (2011)
Just one of the many memorable singles Lady Gaga delivered in the last decade, ‘Born This Way’ was the upbeat celebration of self that felt the most Gaga of them all as she celebrated her ‘little Monsters’ for exactly who they were. This dance-inducing anthem became known to all around the world, being played on radio and in clubs alike.
5. Work – Iggy Azalea (2013)
This sleeper hit from the Australian emigrant quickly had us all rapping the words to her irresistibly catchy ‘Work’. The track details her journey from the small town of 4000 in New South Wales to the oasis of Miami, Florida as an aspiring rapper. Clever lyrics paired with her impeccable flow gave Azalea the headway in the industry she was after, and ensured the start of her rap career.
Kiki Rockwell – ‘Madeline’
6. Come & Get It – Selena Gomez (2013)
A rebrand of the Disney artist lead to her edgy solo debut, ‘Stars Dance’, leading with the banger ‘Come & Get It’ that was produced by pop production legends Stargate. Influenced by a little bit of everything from Bollywood, Britney Spears, and Skrillex, ‘Come & Get It’ was an electropop hit that had us all dancing, peaking at number fourteen on the charts here in New Zealand.
7. Royals – Lorde (2013)
A proud moment for New Zealand comes from our biggest musical export, Lorde, who shook the world with ‘Royals’ sharp lyrics and minimal beat (at the hands of Joel Little), becoming the anthem of the millennial generation. Based on Lorde aka Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s experiences growing up in Takapuna, Auckland, the anti-pop track was equally successful here at home, becoming a core classic.
8. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (2014)
This uptempo number saw Taylor Swift at nearly a decade into her career quite literally shaking off the haters. Departing from the country-pop style she was known for, she regained her narrative and told the world she was letting go of the negative feedback – and encouraging her fans to do the same too. The catchy song got stuck in everyone’s head and stayed there, slowly but surely bringing everyone to know and love the playful & carefree single.
9. Break Free – Ariana Grande ft. Zedd (2014)
Teaming up with electronic producer Zedd, ‘Break Free’ was a heavily EDM inspired track that shook off any remnants of Ariana’s Nickelodeon image and instead embraced her newfound independence,kicking off what would become a legendary solo career. The track became the club hit of Summer as Zedd’s addictive EDM production combined with Grande’s soaring vocals lead to a winning single that has us all singing and dancing along.
10. Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding (2015)
Recorded for the highly anticipated 50 Shades Of Grey film, Ellie Goulding joined forces with an all-star writing & production team including Max Martin & Tove Lo to create this melodic slow burner that draws you in before bursting into its grandiose chorus. This romantic and sensual pop ballad was the hit of 2015 we all needed from the well-acclaimed Ellie Goulding, and its colossal climax paired with Goulding’s distinct vocals resulted in one of her biggest hits to date.