The Best Overlooked Pop Albums of the 2010s


It’s impossible to champion every pop album released in the 2010s that deserved a little bit more shine, whether from critics or casual fans, be it on streaming services or Top 40 radio. Every year of the decade brought with it a collection of full-lengths undeserving of dismissal, with respective jams, bops and bangers that should have been bigger. Yet these 30 albums are the ones that clearly warranted ubiquity; they never got there, but at least we can toast them in hindsight.

Check out the 30 most underrated pop albums of the decade in alphabetical order by artist name — give the ones you already know another spin, and dive headfirst into the ones you don’t.

Alec Benjamin, Narrated For You (2018)

Four words: “Let Me Down Slowly.” Another four words: Alec Benjamin Is Talented. The singer-songwriter’s mixtape is emotionally captivating at every turn.

Anna of the North, Lovers (2017)

To all the people who heard Anna of the North’s bewitching “Lovers” in the Netflix rom-com To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and didn’t dive deeper into the charming, pensive, carefully constructed electro-pop of the Norwegian artist’s 2017 debut album: What are you waiting for?

Becky Hill, Get To Know (2019)

Yes, British pop star Becky Hill’s Get To Know was just released a few months ago and could feasibly still catch on this sode of the pond, but based on the sky-high quality of previously released singles like “I Could Get Used To This,” “False Alarm” and “Wish You Well,” this electrifying LP should have been immediately hailed as a must-hear.

Betty Who, Take Me When You Go (2014)

After breaking through with the enthralling debut single “Somebody Loves You,” Australian singer-songwriter Betty Who released a first full statement worthy of that radio gem: Take Me When You Go is simultaneously classic and forward-looking, with Who shimmying through uptempo fare like “All of You” and “Heartbreak Dream” as well as the gorgeous ballad “Missing You.”

Broods, Evergreen (2014)

One year after producer Joel Little became a stateside sensation thanks to his work on Lorde’s 2013 debut Pure Heroine, he teamed up with another New Zealand alt-pop artist, the brother-sister duo Broods, for an album with a slightly different but no less intriguing approach to song craft; “Bridges” still goes, but don’t sleep on “Never Gonna Change” as a top-notch deep cut.

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Chairlift, Something (2012)

Chairlift may forever be best known for having their single “Bruises” be featured in an iPod Nano commercial, but if Apple helped a few more people check out the duo’s wondrous 2012 album Something — full of the adventurous songwriting that singer Caroline Polachek has recently flaunted in her solo work – -then they led to a discovery more sumptuous than an iPod, of any variety.

Chairlift, “Something”

Christine and the Queens, Christine and the Queens (2015)

The debut full-length from Heloise Letissier introduced the French provocateur to an international audience and is bursting with modern takes on gender fluidity, as well as propulsive hooks — it’s difficult not to shoulder-shimmy to “Tilted” or hum along to “iT,” even if you’re not quite sure what “iT” is.

Coin, How Will You Know If You Never Try (2017)

HWYKIYNT is about 40 minutes of indie-pop perfection, led by the absolute jam that is “Talk Too Much.”

Cut Copy, Haiku From Zero (2017)

Just about all of Haiku From Zero is a groove; file standouts “Black Rainbows” and “Airborne” under Australian electropop at its best.

Dragonette, Royal Blues (2016)

If you don’t know Dragonette beyond their collab “Hello” with Martin Solveig, get busy. Standout “High Five” features whistles AND claps. Who could resist?

Empress Of, Me (2015)

While Lorely Rodriguez’s indie-pop project Empress Of has been a critical darling since debut album Me was released in 2015, a more just society would have allowed the inventive arrangements of “How Do You Do It” and “Water Water” to cross over to a mainstream audience.

Fickle Friends, You Are Someone Else (2018)

The English indie group delivered sixteen synth-pop bops with their debut studio album; standout single “Glue” will stick to your brain as its title suggests.

Ingrid Michaelson, Stranger Songs (2019)

Ingrid Michaelson wrote an entire album of heartfelt, melodic pop songs inspired by Netflix’s Stranger Things. Problem?

Kate Boy, One (2015)

In an alternate universe, Sweden-based group Kate Boy is playing this propulsive, instantly engrossing collection of songs at arenas across the globe, with singer Kate Akhurst leading thousands in sing-alongs of gargantuan tracks like “Northern Lights” and “Higher.”

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Lola Marsh, Remember Roses (2017)

The Tel Aviv-based pop band brought soothing ukuleles and vocals to rival Lana Del Rey’s with their debut studio album. Also, who doesn’t like a good whistle like the one in “Wishing Girl?”

Marian Hill, Unusual (2018)

How do you follow up a juggernaut like “Down?” Marian Hill pulled it off with their crisp sophomore album, proving that they’re good for way more than one hit.

Marina and the Diamonds, The Family Jewels (2010)

Released in the first few weeks of the decade, Marina Diamandis’ debut album stands tall as one of the most arresting opening statements in pop this decade, introducing the world to an operatic vocal range and ferociously playful spirit; all these years later, “Oh No!,” “Are You Satisfied?” and “Girls” remain giddy shots of adrenaline.

Michelle Branch, Hopeless Romantic (2017)

The first album in 14 years by the singer of Top 40 confections like “Everywhere” and “Are You Happy Now?” demands your attention: produced by now-husband Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, Hopeless Romantic re-positions Michelle Branch as a seasoned pop-rock storyteller, ready to open up about her experiences in love over the course of a startling new beginning.

MisterWives, Connect the Dots (2017)

Connect the Dots is a look inside the New York City band’s colorful world, where the only rules are resisting the norm, and dancing as hard as you can.

Mø, No Mythologies to Follow (2014)

The deluxe version of Mø’s debut album clocks in at 22 tracks, and yet there’s almost no filler — quite a rarity. From the start, it was clear the Danish singer-songwriter would be around for a long time.

Montaigne, Glorious Heights (2016)

Drawing comparisons to Marina and the Diamonds, Montaigne showcased her impressive vocal control on yoyo-ing tracks like “I’m a Fantastic Wreck.”

Nina Nesbitt, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change (2019)

Scotland’s Nina Nesbitt spent more than three years on The Sun Will Come Up. It’s a masterful work of pop — at times, the singer/songwriter/producer gets deeply vulnerable with its lyrics, and most of the melodies are pure ear candy.

Olly Murs, You Know I Know (2018)

Partly new songs and partly greatest Murs hits, You Know I Know is full of jams (see: the infectious “Moves” featuring Snoop Dogg).

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Say Lou Lou, Lucid Dreaming (2015)

Lucid Dreaming couldn’t be a more apt title for the first album from twin sister duo Say Lou Lou — on tracks like “Nothing but a Heartbeat” and “Julian,” Elektra and Miranda Kilbey present a combination of soaring harmonies and flavorful hooks that somehow feels both pillowy and razor-sharp in its focus.

Sir Babygirl, Crush on Me (2019)

Kelsie Hogue’s debut album as Sir Babygirl never settles into one mode or style, but that’s what makes its scattershot approach to hook creation so riveting: Crush on Me contains airy alt-rock like “Pink Lite” and unhinged workouts like “Haunted House,” and an album this ambitious should have earned greater acclaim upon its release.

Shura, Nothing’s Real (2016)

It makes sense that two of the standout tracks on British auteur Shura’s debut album are titled “What’s It Gonna Be?” and “What Happened To Us?”; the full-length is constantly prodding, searching for ways to refract ‘80s synth-pop through the prism of a young, queer, uninhibited voice.

The Aces, When My Heart Felt Volcanic (2018)

The debut album from Utah quartet The Aces — half of the group are sisters, all of them are friends — is all about delicious, ’80s-tinged pop.

The Naked And Famous, Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010)

Back in 2010, the debut album from New Zealand indie electro-pop group TNAF was just as cool as Urban Outfitters, thanks to shimmering tracks like “Young Blood” and “Punching in a Dream.” Today, it is definitely cooler than Urban Outfitters.

Tove Styrke, Kiddo (2015)

Although she arrived in the U.S. roughly around the same time as Tove Lo, Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Styrke proved that she was too talented to be dismissively referred to as “the other Tove” with Kiddo, a triumphant pop statement full of slick Scandinavian songwriting and its creator’s effervescent energy.

Verité, Somewhere In Between (2017)

Somewhere In Between represents the most indispensable work by an artist, singer-songwriter Kelsey Byrne, who has been steadily releasing successful indie-pop songs and projects throughout the decade; her Verité persona is poetic and unflinchingly honest, transforming a track like “Phase Me Out” from straightforward pop to emotionally haunting.

Source: Billboard


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