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Agree with jjpark, I just had a popping sound like that on my wife's SUV. The upper mount had torn through, leaving a washer-like ring under that top nut.

Of course, I then made the mistake of jacking it up to see what had happened and the spring forced the wheel down, nearly tearing the axle boot. Pulled out the spring, then three of us lifted the wheel and forced the shock back into position. Vice-grips replaced the top nut and a block of wood replaced the spring, just so we could roll it onto a flatbed.
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