2017 Adult Pop Picks

The Spotify playlist features all the picks from 2017 plus others by the artists.


POETS OF THE FALL    Once Upon A Playground Rainy
THE RASMUS    Paradise
2 Finnish alt rock bands from Helsinki. The Rasmus debuted in 1996 and Poets in 2003 and they a superstars in their homeland, scoring multiple #1 albums. I discovered The Rasmus in 2003 when they had 2 top 5 songs on my personal chart with “In My Life” and “In The Shadows”. The Poets were discovered last September when doing a rock pick list. ‘Playground’ and “Children Of The Sun” have a lighter adult pop, radio friendly vibe than the songs I featured back then.

ONE OK ROCK    American Girls/I Was King
On the most recent album “Ambitions”, this Japanese rock band that started out heavier and more influenced by Linkin Park back in 2007, settles into a power pop mode that reminds me of Simple Plan, All Time Low or Good Charlotte. They even have a duet with Five Seconds Of Summer on the disc. ‘Girls’ is an undeniably catchy anthem. Both of these songs are ascending my personal chart with “I Was King”  soon entering my top 10. 

VINYL THEATRE    30 Seconds/New Machines
Fueled By Ramen  label-mates, this Milwaukee alt-pop foursome just released their 3rd album “Origami” last Friday. “30 Seconds” has a softer pop sound, while “New Machines” is a perfect fit for the slightly edgier songs that often populate Alt Nation on Sirius/XM. In 2015 they had a top 10 on my personal chart with ‘Breaking Up My Bones”.

PARAMORE    Told You So
Looks like both these bands will have at least top 15 hits on Hot AC radio with “Hard Times” and “Believer”. These are 2 just released singles previewing their upcoming albums. Paramore’s “After Laughter” comes out this Friday and the Dragons “Evolve” in June.

TONIGHT ALIVE    World Away/Human Interaction
This Australian pop punk band has had comparisons to Paramore over the years. They have released 3 albums since 2011 and do a punked up cover of Mumford & Sons song “Little Lion Man”. The more subdued “Human Interaction” reached  the top 20 on my chart last year.

THE COWSILLS   The Rain, The Park And Other Things
Hazlewood, a New Zealand native, performed on NZ Idol in 2006, placing 4th. He has a moody approach on this mid-tempo ballad. In 2012 he also was on the 1st season of the Australian Voice and was mentored by Joel Madden of Good Charlotte and the Madden Brothers.Back in 2014/15 they had 2 top 5 songs on my personal chart including the fabulous “We Are Done”, imbued with the flower child, late 60’s psychedelic pop sound and an inspirational message. It reached #1 in Australia and New Zealand while only cracking the top 30 in the States. That leads to the Cowsills who had a #2 song in 1967 with this song. The family band were the inspiration for the TV series The Partridge Family. I credit the band with being the original catalyst to my in depth love of music. “Friend And A Lover” was the final single by the band to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #99 but a #1 song on my personal chart.

L.A. based electronic trio formed in Nashville in 2014. The song abbreviation stands for “I Love You So Bad”. Their light synth-pop sound recalls some bands from the late 80’s like Simply Red. This song just entered the Hot AC airplay top 50.

THE SOUND OF ARROWS    Beautiful Life
2 artists from Sweden. The Arrows song from Sweden’s electronic duo has a subtle grandiosity. The sweeping strings are so very European. It is their first release since 2011. Their dream pop style has been compared to the more ethereal side of the the Pet Shop Boys and on “Into The Clouds” you can hear the vocal similarity. Johnson’s song from 1999 has a similar feel, if even more grand, and was my #7 song of 2001. He had 8 top 20 singles in Sweden between 1999 and 2010 and 10 placements on my personal chart.

BLONDIE    Long Time
The perennial band from NY just released their 11th album “Pollinator”. They hold onto the new wavey/dance formula that has worked for them all these years. Debbie Harry sounds as vital as any of their old hits. Back in 1981 she started releasing solo albums as well and “The Jam Was Moving” was a gem from the 1st one, “Kookoo”. She and the band, even though huge stateside had more hits overseas. Her 1989 song “I Want That Man” was never a pop hit here (it did reach #2 on Modern Rock)  but reached #2 in Australia and top 10/15 in many other countries. It peaked at #9 on my personal chart on Nov. 18, 1989, lower than I thought based listening to it now.
TEXAS    Tell That Girl
On the same week’s personal chart this Scottish band dropped from it’s peak of #2 to #7 with “I Don’t Want A Lover”, their first single. It was an international hit and reached #11 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart and even peaked at #77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Since then they have released 9 albums, including the current “Jump On Board”. It was 9 years before they reached the UK singles top 10 a second time (starting with “Say What You Want”) and then had a string of UK hits between 1997-2006.

SEPTEMBER 87.    Bad Dream Baby
GLASS TIGER   You’re What I Look For
To keep the theme alive this track from Australian synthwave duo sounds like 1987. So I went back to my Sept. 87 charts and on Sept. 19 this Glass Tiger song was my #1. Total similarities. The song did not chart in the U.S. but did hit #11 in Canada.

JORDAN GABLE    Didn’t Mean It
A bright, upbeat and fun pop song from the Nashville singer songwriter Gable. His songs definitely have a slightly retro pop style that should, but may not, find space on the current radio landscape. Gable grew up in Ohio which is where Blessid Union hails from. There has always been a somewhat spiritual side to the band, though not necessarily a Christian band, and when they tackle that on songs like 1999’s “Standing At The Edge Of The Earth” (my #3 of the year) and 2006’s “I Still Believe In Love” (#32 that year) they resonated on my chart. The band actually did reach the Christian chart in 2011 with the release of their album “The Mission Field”. “Get Along” is their first new song since then.

It seems like this pick list has turned into a real exploration of my personal chart history through the lens of new music. Here the Christian artist offers a reggae tinged ditty. He has had a long solo career but started out as one third of the massive 90’s Christian rock band DC Talk. The first Christian act to incorporate hip hop influences. Their 1995 album “Jesus Freak” was my introduction to the band and in 1997 they placed 6 songs in my top 50 of the year, including the #3 “Mind’s Eye”. They clocked 17 #1 Christian hits during the course of their career. Since 2001 TobyMac has had 7 albums, one of which hit #1 on the Billboard 200 in 2012. Stylistically he can go from pop to dance to rock to hip hop with ease.

INCUBUS    State Of The Art
SONS OF THE SEA   Jet Black Crow
Celebrating 20 years together the band just released it’s album 8. Never easy to classify as they dabbled in so many styles,I would classify the band as experimental/art/jazz rock. Their best period on my personal chart was in 2007/2008 when they scored 3 #2 songs on my personal chart, including my #3 song of 2007 “Dig”. Sons Of The Sea was a side project of lead singer Brandon Boyd in 2013. It expands on the singer’s more alt-pop side.

Country goes Pop
SAM HUNT   Body Like A Backroad
Hunt’s current #1 song on country radio is already starting to heat up the pop charts and “Craving You” could potentially do the same if programmers are looking for an adventurous summer song.

More than a year after release to Adult Alternative radio, this week the song hits #1 on the Alternative chart and is currently #32 on Hot AC. Nice, if way too long build, for a great song.


ALL MANKIND    Welcome Home
Australian band formed in 2007 and compared to Coldplay and Snow Patrol.

TWIN WILD    Another Stranger
BANNERS    Into The Storm
A trio of songs from alternative artists that are perfect for adult pop radio. Of the three UK’s Twin Wild has the the rockiest tone but with a perfect bright and melodic pop-rock edge. Banners is UK artist Mike Nelson whose falsetto vocal is similar to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. His main success has come in Canada where he reached the top 30 on the rock chart with this and #5 his song “Shine A Light”. Jimmy Eat World debuted in 1994 and has had much alt rock success since 2001’s album “Bleed American” and their huge single “The Middle”. They had 3 songs in my top 10 of 2005 including my #2 song of that year, “23”.

HALF THE ANIMAL    Saturday Night
In a similar vein to Jimmy Eat World’s hit, this song from L.A. band hits all the radio friendly pop rock elements. Two members were featured on the MTV series “Laguna Beach”.

CALUM SCOTT    Rhythm Inside
Follow up to the Britain’s Got Talent winner’s international hit “Dancing On My Own”.

CEMETERY SUN    Sleeping It Off
Sacramento band that falls somewhere between Walk The Moon, Twenty One Pilots and 30 Seconds To Mars. They debuted in 2015 with “Wish it Was Love”.

GAVIN DEGRAW    Making Love With The Radio On
Latest single from Degraw’s current album.

THE BAND PERRY    Stay In The Dark
Keith Urban got as high as #127 on the Beyond Radio 250 last August with his Carrie Underwood duet “The Fighter” when it was receiving airplay in Australia. Now maybe the poppiest song on country radio ever, where it now in the top 25, finally enters the top 100 at #70. I expected this would be pitched to Hot AC and a different song would be promoted to country radio. The Band Perry seems to have skipped country radio and gone straight to Hot AC with their current single “Stay In The Dark” (194-161).  Lady Antebellum’s new single “You Look Good” (57-40) also sounds to me like a Hot AC song. We’ll see how it all plays out in the end.

JANE’S PARTY    San Francisco
SIMPLE PLAN    Problem Child
A trio of Canadian artist. Jane’s Party offer up a bright and summery song from their album “Tunnel Visions”. They were featured on the adult alternative list last spring with “Comin’ On Strong”. British Columbia’s Mother Mother offer up a rare ballad from their new album “No Culture”, their 6th album since 2007. The pop/punk boys of Simple Plan have been around for 15 years. They have had 21 songs on my personal chart and performed best between 2008-9 when 5 songs reached my top 100 of the year, including the #1 “When I’m Gone”.

Introspective tune from new UK duo.

MIGHTY OAKS    Be With You Always
Folk rock trio based in Berlin that includes an American, an Italian and a Brit specializing in 3 part harmonies.

This Danish alt-rock trio a song called “Berlin” and has gone increasingly pop with each release since 2010. They are best known for their song “Harlem”, a top 5 alternative hit in 2013.

A duo that brings a 90’s pop rock vibe reminiscent of bands like Toad The Wet Sprocket, Vertical Horizon and Gin Blossoms into the current landscape.



This will be the highest debut on my personal chart this week. My favorite Williams song in many years. He’s had over 60 songs reach my personal chart since the late 90’s.

COLD WAR KIDS    Love Is Mystical
I love this song!! The gospely, anthemic, alt rocker with an inescapable groove should be this decade old  band’s real breakthrough. I would totally program this as a pop radio song as it would totally distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

In many ways Alternative radio is the best place to hear pop-rock, and while this hasn’t made any inroads there, it would fit in well. There is a Walk The Moon vibe I’m feeling here though the UK band claim the 1975 and Two Door Cinema Club as influences.

Debut single from young Canadian, sounding like a lot of EDM inspired current hits.

BIFFY CLYRO    Flammable
Fifth and poppiest release from the venerable Scottish rock band’s latest album. Their last 4 of 7 albums released since 2002 have reached the UK top 3.

It’s Blondie, the title explains it all. From their upcoming 11th album.

Lyrically appropriate for our time in the universe. This trio includes the daughter of Mark Ronson, on the map because of the ubiquitous “Uptown Funk”, though he’s had a lengthy career. Currently starting to see some HotAC airplay.

JONATHAN ROY    Good Things
Son of Canadian hockey star Patrick Roy and former player himself, he is the protégé of Corey Hart of “Sunglasses At Night” fame and one of my fav artists of the 80’s.

This Richmond, VA band wears their 80’s influences proudly. I had featured them on an alternative pick list in Nov. as well.

JULIA BRENNAN    Inner Demons
Another song currently starting to see airplay, this gorgeous and introspective piano ballad from the 18 year Minneapolis native recalls Christina Perri.

TYLER GLENN    Shameless
Solo debut album, aptly titled “Excommunication”, from ex-Neon trees lead singer, addresses his path out of the Mormon church after coming out. Here he offers a funky dance-rocker and he is unabashedly shameless.

THE SUMMER SET    The Night Is Young
Arizona pop band that formed in 2007 came up with their name after opening up an atlas and coming across the town Somerset, New Jersey. The song “All Downhill From here” was my #16 song of 2016.

KUNGS f/ RITUAL    You Remain
This young French producer’s music often builds EDM rhythms around acoustic guitar, jazz or off center vocals, giving it a more adult feel than others in the genre. He scored an across the board smash with “This Girl” last year and a great follow up with Jamie N Commons on “Don’t You Know”.

PANIC! AT THE DISCO    Death Of A Bachelor
Almost a year and a half in, Panic is still milking the album with now the title track, seemingly a Sinatra homage. It is receiving alternative airplay and is a hit on Sirius XM’s Hits 1. Would easily fit into an adult pop radio station’s playlist.

GOLDFRAPP    Anymore
UK artist Allison Goldfrapp has been producing electronic music since the late 90’s with her artistic peak in 2005. This song just entered the Beyond Radio top 100 at #62 this week.


PORT CITIES    Back To The Bottom
Canadian Folk Pop trio

ENISA    Burn This Bridge
Debut pop/soul single from 20 year old Brooklyn singer 

COLEMAN HELL    Devotion
Reggae tinged song from Toronto based singer-songwriter

Akin to KT Tunstall, Scottish artist whose 1st release was in 2007

YOU ME AT SIX    Heavy Soul
Softer side of British rock band whose debut was also in 2007 

EMELI SANDE    Highs And Lows
Another soulful winner from her current album

MICHELLE BRANCH    Hopeless Romantic
Her first release since 2010. Her “Til I Get Over You” was by #4 song of 2004.

DANNY GOKEY    If You Ain’t In It
Upbeat song from American Idol alum and Milwaukee native who has found his biggest success with Christian music

FUZZBOX    Let’s Go Supernova
Comeback single from British punk-pop girl group from the mid to late 80’s. Their biggest UK hit was “International Rescue” in 1989.

JAMES ARTHUR    Safe Inside
Latest single from Brit whose riding international and U.S. success with his current Hot AC and Pop hit “Say You Won’t Let Go”

A collaboration between a NY singer-songwriter and German producer. The lgihter side of EDM.

THE KENTS    Something About Her
Indie pop foursome from Ontario. “The Stakes” was featured on a June 2016 AAA pick list.

EYES ON THE SHORE    Starting Fires
Breezy song from San Francisco quinter

5 SECONDS OF SUMMER    The Space Between A Rock And A Hard Place
From a recent B sides EP. Sounds more like an A side.

WEEZER    Wind In Our Sail
The poppier side of the band