| Lists |

When pop goes dubstep: Six pop songs propelled by the undeniable whomp of the wobbly bass

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

With dubstep's surging (and some might say waning) popularity, it's not surprising to hear explosive dubstep breakdowns bleeding into pop. Turn on Top 40 radio today, and there's a great chance you'll hear dubstep elements borrowed in one form or another to create a hook, verse, chorus or bridge. Below are six pop songs built on dubstep's biggest hallmark, the wobbly bass.

06. Britney Spears - "Freakshow"

Despite the shaved heads and the husbands and the sweatpants, Britney Spears has always been known in the pop world for the progressive sounds in her songs. Her most inventive album was 2007's Blackout, which was released at a time when Ms. Spears was, well, receiving all sorts of publicity for everything but her music. The twelve tracks -- some of the raciest Spears has ever recorded -- are also the most intriguing in her catalogue to date. This one, "Freakshow," was well ahead of its time because of one helluva hook, built around, of all things, a wobbly bass line.

05. Flo Rida - "Good Feeling"

Unlike "Freakshow," Flo Rida's foray into dubstep doesn't happen until the 2:48 mark of his most recent single, "Good Feeling," released earlier this year. Before and after the dubstep breakdown, however, "Good Feeling" sounds just like every other Flo Rida track. Nevertheless, the dubstep influence is undeniable, though it only lasts about half a minute before the rhythm builds back into the chorus, which samples Etta James's "Something's Got a Hold on Me."

04. Britney Spears - "Hold It Against Me"

Spears's second appearance on this list, "Hold It Against Me" is considerably different than "Freakshow." It's more dance- and even house-oriented, and it frankly sounds much more accessible and ready for radio than "Freakshow." Though it doesn't have as much of a dubstep backbone as that track, "Hold It Against Me," released in March 2011, used much of its dubstep breakdown at the bridge to its advantage, taking the song from a Top 40 single to a cut ready for remixing by dubsteppers everywhere. Even more interesting, the video saw Britney fight against Britney during the dubstep bit. You could argue that the sequence was symbolic of the progressive, dance-pop sounds of New Britney fighting for dominance over the more sugary pop sounds of Old Britney.

03. Rihanna - "GFL"

Considered by some to be even more on-trend than Britney Spears, Rihanna jumped on the dubstep bandwagon in 2009 for "G4L," an album track from the darkest of Rihanna albums, Rated R. You can hear elements of the genre in other Rihanna songs, too, especially the reliance of a heavier bass, but nowhere is that clearer than on "G4L," which claims a wobbly bass and a beat all too familiar to the world's dubstep enthusiasts.

02. Martin Solveig, feat. Kele - "Ready 2 Go"

The "Hello" hitmaker, Martin Solveig, has a sound similar to David Guetta's, but not quite as overplayed on the radio yet. Releasing tracks that have a more noticeable bounce to them than any of his previous work, Solveig's 2011 album Smash contains a collection of dance-related influences, all rehashed into a poppier, catchier form. This one, "Ready 2 Go" -- which Solveig released as the followup to "Hello" in Europe -- features Kele Okereke of Bloc Party on vocals and a subtle, seven-second dubstep breakdown at the 1:15 mark.

01. Katy B - "Katy on a Mission"

The most distinctively dubstep track on this list, Katy B's "Katy on a Mission" is a composite of sounds, but the dubstep easily overpowers the pop, dance and subtle ska (at the refrain) vibes. While Katy B hasn't quite taken off yet in the States, she's seen considerable success overseas with this song and others from her debut, On a Mission, which features other dubstep pop and peaked at number two on the Official Charts for the United Kingdom.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.