Whether due to antiquated radio perceptions, unfortunate timing, or errant label strategy, the best pop songs do not always become the biggest pop radio hits.
Headline Planet’s ongoing feature is revealing numerous songs that “should have been pop hits” in 2020.
The latest selection follows.
Selection Seven: The 1975’s “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”
Make no mistake, The 1975 is a legitimate rock band. The band’s musical proclivities, instrumentation, and artistic energy embody the “rock and roll” spirit that has largely gone missing from the contemporary music scene.
Acknowledging the act’s rock credibility does not, however, mean one cannot recognize the undeniable pop sensibility of its singles.
Since rising to prominence, The 1975 has not compromised on its authenticity. It has nonetheless proven masterful at making its art accessible. Its songs are infinitely engaging, all-at-once featuring familiar pop motifs, authentic throwback vibes, and admirable artistic risks. Several of the band’s singles deliver precisely what all pop artists are aching to achieve – they just happen to do it with rawer instrumentation and energy, as well as effortlessly charismatic lead vocals from frontman Matty Healy.
It did not receive love from mainstream radio, but “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” was one of the best pop songs of 2018.
The band’s similarly skewing “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” was one of the best pop songs of 2020.
Faithful to the band’s most familiar sound yet respectful of its ongoing evolution, “If You’re Too Shy” features a stunning melody, soaring hooks, timeless production, alluring instrumentation, killer saxophone solo, and striking lyrics that sparked diverse interpretations and analysis. With its unmistakable ’80s vibe (in both the music and lyrics) yet wholly contemporary energy, “If You’re Too Shy” embodies what today’s critics and fans would call a “perfect pop song.” This — not an actual song from 35 years ago — is what modern music fans really want when they clamor for an “’80s pop song.”
“If You’re Too Shy” found a degree of success at modern rock radio, but it frustratingly never crossed over to pop radio. Tears were doubtfully shed over that reality — nothing about The 1975’s aesthetic suggests it is not living if it is not receiving Z100 airplay — but the music industry should nonetheless be upset.
The mainstream music industry is supposed to be chasing songs that feature timeless appeal and youthful energy. It is supposed to be pursuing songs that trumpet as much artistic clarity and honesty as they do broad accessibility. It is supposed to be showcasing songs that are catchy without being desperately corny.
It is supposed to be letting songs like “If You’re Too Shy” fulfill their destiny of becoming major pop hits.