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Pop Goes Reggae: Top Reggae Songs in Pop Music

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“Rude” by Magic! is already being flagged as the potential song of the summer, and really it’s no surprise, as reggae has spent plenty of time on the pop charts.  As we get ready for “Reggae on the River” tomorrow, take this flashback Friday moment to see how many of these reggae infused pop tracks you remember.  Then go get your tickets at the US Cellular Center to join us for the fun at the McGrath Amphitheater tomorrow.

Top 5 Classic Reggae Hits


UB40 – Red, Red Wine



Originally recorded by Neil Diamond, UB40 released their cover in 1983, but it wasn’t until a 1988 re-release that the song would rise to #1 on the charts.



Snow – Informer



A Canadian reggae singer becomes a one hit wonder, spending 7 weeks at #1 on the charts with the reggae smash from 1992. Might not catch all the lyrics however.



Shaggy – Boombastic



Reggae really hit the mainstream in the 90’s, where many of these songs hit the charts.  Makes sense for a Jamaican to join the ranks.  Boombastic hit #3 on the Hot 100 chart in 1995, and #1 on the hip-hop charts.



Rihanna – Pon de Replay



Before Rihanna was a household name, she was a girl from Barbados with a cool sound, as demonstrated in the reggae pop vibe of her debut track, which went to #1 in the clubs, but only #2 on the pop charts in 2005.



Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy



Warning, once you start singing this, you can’t stop.  An addictive track, with a ridiculous video, everyone was smiling in 1988 as it rose to the #1 spot, becoming the first a cappella song to ever do that.



Kevin Lyttle – Turn Me On



Originally a Soca song (dance cousin of reggae), the song would get the club remix, and rise up to #4 on the pop charts in 2003/2004.



Inner Circle – Bad Boys



Thanks to the TV show COPS, this 1987 reggae jam became popular in 1993, rising to #7 on the Top 40 charts.  The song references Sheriff John Brown, the Sheriff “shot” in the popular Bob Marley song.



Sublime – Santeria



While not their highest chart topping song, Santeria is the most popular for punk group Sublime, who found a vibe infusing the reggae/punk sound in 90’s alternative.  The video was filmed after the lead singers death in 1997.



Matisyahu – King Without A Crown



Matisyahu became a sensation in 2005 with this single, as he did not look like anyone who would be releasing this style of music.  It rose to 7 on the modern rock charts and barely cracked the top 30 on the pop charts.



Sean Kingston – Beautiful Girls



17 year old Sean Kingston broke onto the charts with this one in 2007, combining a pop/rap/reggae style with sampling. The song would hit #2 on the Top 40 charts, becoming his signature song.



Ini Kamoze – Here Comes the Hotstepper



While they’d become one hit wonders in the US, Ini Kamoze saw massive success with this #1 track from 1994-95.  It was a popular track connected to 90’s fashion shows.



Led Zepplin – Dyer Maker



A definite detachment from the normal sound of these legendary rockers, that many fans didn’t take it seriously in 1973, so it saw very limited success.  However, it grew on people to become one of their most popular songs.



No Doubt – Underneath It All



While not one of No Doubt’s most popular songs now, it was their highest charting track, and won them a Grammy in 2003.  The track also feature reggae star Lady Saw.



Big Mountain – Baby I Love Your Way



Bi Mountain took this Peter Frampton classic, and reggae-fied it in 1994, thanks to reggae’s pop resurgence.  One it hit the “Reality Bites” movie soundtrack in 1994, the song surged to #6 on the charts.



Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long)



As the reggae sound made its way into the pop charts in the 90s, the Jamaican band Inner Circle was able to make it’s way to the mainstream with this track, especially in Europe.  Eventually got to #8 briefly on the US Top 40 charts in 1992-93.



Michael Franti – Say Hey (I Love You)



While the song did not see major chart success, it was a major download song in 2009, and saw quite a bit of commercial success.



Travis McCoy – Billionaire



Travis teamed with Bruno Mars for this debut track. The lyrically creative song would make it to #3 on the Top 40 charts in 2011



Sean Paul – Temperature



Sean Paul found success combining the reggae rap sound with pop/dance in 2005/2006, with this song and “Get Busy”.  Both song would rise to #1, though Temperature stuck around longer.



Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me



Although it’s Shaggy’s best known hit, this track was never intended to be a single.  Thankfully for him it became one, as it helped launch his career, easily taking the #1 spot in September of 2000. However, true reggae fans criticize this track for being more pop than reggae.



Bruno Mars – Lazy Song



With a catchy hook, strange video, plenty of pop culture references, and a subject everyone could relate to, it was no surprise it became on of the best selling digital singles of 2011, while peaking at #3 on the Top 40 charts.


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