5 Forgotten Bops from Your Middle School Days

Okay, so not to be pretentious, but I have an opinion about pop music today: it sucks, and it makes me feel old. I’m only 20, and I’m already thinking wistfully about the good old days of 2009 when you could turn on the radio and a bop like “Tik Tok” would be on. The thing is, though, I’m not the only one who thinks this. There’s just a shortage of interesting, creative, or even catchy pop songs lately, so a lot of people are falling back in love with music from the ‘90s and early- to mid-2000s. I’m definitely one of them because the music from those eras was amazing. And when so much of pop culture today, including TV and movies, seems saturated with attempts to relive our memories of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and/or 2000s (we have the 20-30 year nostalgia cycle to thank for that), it’s no surprise that the trend includes music, as well.

But I wouldn’t say I have nostalgia for those songs. I wasn’t alive until 1999, so even though I appreciate the music, it’s not like it was a strong part of my childhood. Britney Spears’s “Gimme More” is iconic...but I was not aware of it when I was 8 years old. So as I’ve been revisiting old music, I’ve been listening to stuff a little more recent, too. And that’s how I realized that 2009-2012, which was my late elementary and early middle school years, was maybe the last great era for pop music.

Is it too early to be nostalgic for that time period? Maybe. We’re only about 10 years out, after all. But some of those songs were just so good. I’m no music connoisseur or anything, but they’re better than what we’ve got now, and I don’t think that’s just the nostalgia talking. They’re catchy, fun, energetic, and don’t sound like they were mumbled into a microphone after like 2 minutes of writing. A lot of these songs, like “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Call Me Maybe,” and “Grenade” never left my memory, and I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded of them either. But as I traveled back in time, I also came across some songs that I had completely forgotten about, and as soon I heard it, it all came rushing back.

Those are the songs I wanna talk about today. Maybe they’re also buried somewhere deep in your memory like they were in mine. Maybe you don’t remember them at all. But these songs are bops, and they deserve to be recognized. So in no particular order…

 

5. “Princess of China,” Coldplay and Rihanna, 2012

I miss Rihanna, guys. I miss her so much. If she can't put out another album, can she at least collab with Coldplay again? Because this slaps. The VOCALS. The PASSION. The SYNTHESIZER. When they sing "You really hurt me"??? That gets me in my feelings about a tragic break-up I never even had. The music video may be a little cringe-worthy nowadays, but the song is as epic as ever.

4. “Stereo Love,” Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina, 2009

It was so difficult for me to find this song. I had no clue what it was called, who sang it, or even what the lyrics were, but somehow I remembered. And then one day the video popped up on Youtube, I clicked it, and I was like...oh my God. This is the song. Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s rediscovered it, because it’s a dumb meme now I guess. Anyway, something about this song’s light, airy tune is still so nice to listen to. Thank you for this bop, Edward Maya. I’m sorry I forgot you.

3. “You Make Me Feel…” Cobra Starship and Sabi, 2011

Whatever happened to Cobra Starship? Between this and “Good Girls Go Bad,” they made some absolute bangers. This song perfectly captures the feeling of dancing the night away and falling a little in love. It’s just pure, infectious fun, and we need something like it on the radio again.

2. “Rocketeer,” Far East Movement and Ryan Tedder, 2010

How did I ever forget this song? Ryan Tedder sounds honestly beautiful on the chorus, and the rest is just as good. It’s a sweet, bubbly song about being in love and feeling on top of the world, and it has cheerful energy that makes you want to hit repeat.

1. “Written in the Stars,” Tinie Tempah and Eric Turner, 2010

I love this song. I really, really do. I think it’s just that it’s so passionate. When Eric Turner sings the chorus, he sounds like he’s putting everything he has into it. When Tinie Tempah raps, it sounds like he’s actually feeling the emotions. It’s not the “mumble-rap” we have today, where it sounds like the rapper popped a sleeping pill or two before going to the studio.

 

At the end of the day, I think that’s what makes the music of our childhoods so much better than the current pop landscape. It sounded like the artists tried. Even if it was just a shallow club banger, it sounded like the producers actually tried to make an awesome beat. It sounded like the singers actually tried to have some energy. Nowadays, so many songs just seem to blend together into the same bland, empty beats and thin vocals (with the exception of Ariana Grande; she’s killing it). But everyone else needs to try harder. Until that happens, though, I’ll just keep on listening to songs from the good old days. After all, great music never dies.