Amidst the tumultuous current that is the year 2017, Summer has provided a somewhat brief breath of fresh air. Hollywood’s summer blockbuster season paired with a lull in the sports world and a comparatively lessened media coverage of our government has created the gap typically filled by what might be entertainment’s longest standing industry. Dating back to the times of dimly lit underground bars and the hazy July rock concerts of old, summer music has generally served as a unifying halfway point within the calendar year. And with it, comes an anthem for each year, what some have come to call: “The Song of Summer”.
Propelled by the emergence of radio broadcasting, each summer’s song has exponentially increased its ability to reach larger audiences. Yet, with the widespread use of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, the state of the summer song looked to be in jeopardy. But, not even Spotify could conquer a tradition as powerful as the Song of Summer.
Yes, “Song”, a singular musical entity that fills the ears of Americans everywhere usually from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In past years, the Song of Summer has been fairly easy to identify. In 2012, soon to be crowned Queen of Summer, Carly Rae Jepsen sent the www. into a frenzy with her single: “Call Me Maybe”
In the following year, Robin Thicke and Co. singlehandedly launched the cruise industry into monetary space with “Blurred Lines”. (One of the biggest blessings of my life, that I hadn’t realized until now, is that I was fortunate to be on a cruise ship during the summer of the greatest cruise ship anthem ever created. Lines will forever be blurred.) A personal favorite former Song of Summer comes at the hands of a popular legume group. In 2009, the Black Eyed Peas, en route to a Super Bowl performance, unleashed their identifying single, “I Gotta Feeling”. Those same feelings resurfaced in this past year when Justin Timberlake impersonated a friendly troll and took summer by storm with his Grammy award winning hit: “Can’t Stop the Feeling”.
While most Song(s) of Summer(s) differ from year to year due to the current climates of each precursing spring and upcoming fall, a few common themes exist within the Song of Summer. Playability is a must; the song must be able to played on loop at poolside, in the car, weddings, anywhere. Mindless lyrical choices that you don’t really feel the need to question cause hey, that’s will. i. am. jamming to a techno beat on live T.V.
In more recent years, feuds between popular musical figures have gained traction and led to the creation of some of the greatest subtweets ever, bonus points if it somehow involves Calvin Harris and/or Taylor Swift. But above all the content and backstory involving each summer hopeful, release date is the critical component when identifying the Song of Summer. Hitting № 1 on the Top 100 list is no small feat, and release date plays perhaps the largest role in a song’s summer lifespan. So with all of this in mind and us nearing the half point in Summer 2017, below are the current contenders for the 2017 Song of Summer.
Despactio by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee Feat. Justin Bieber
Who would have thought that a song containing lyrics primarily in a language other than English would have captured the hearts and minds of adults and teenagers alike… A fun summer party thing to do is look up the word for word translation and read it while the song plays. This continues to prove that if you add Justin Bieber to anything, it will likely attain high success, even if he doesn’t know the lyrics to his own song.
Slide by Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migos
Despite its early release date, “Slide” has continued to fill the ears of listeners everywhere. This single kicked off the Calvin Harris’ revenge tour we’ve all been waiting for and when it’s all said and done might garner him a Song of the Summer title.
Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran
Sentimentality is Sheeran’s forte. Recycling and evoking feelings of youthful regret and memories will always work for him. Also, I don’t think there’s another song out there right now that will automatically roll down a car’s windows by its own sheer will and compel you to belt the lyrics till your throat is raw.
I’m the One by DJ Khaled Feat. the Rest of the World
List of artists that have a line in this song: DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Lil Wayne. They rest their case. Your move Rihanna, Beyonce, J-Lo, Ariana, Selena.
Bad Liar by Selena Gomez
A recent addition to the Song of Summer race, but perhaps the most strategic. Shrewd Selena did it again with timely release of an intoxicatingly appealing music video and lyrics bolstered by a strong beat. I’d be lying if I didn’t include Selena with the frontrunners.
The Dark Horses
Green Light by Lorde
Lorde is in the running for most interesting artist in the world. Appealing to both the mainstream and the offbeat demographics is, for lack of a better word, very very very hard to do. Yet she does it seamlessly. “Green Light” is the initial punch of electric energy from her new album, Melodrama, that is honestly sitting at the top of the leaderboard for Album of the Year. Lorde for Artist of the Year. Lorde for Queen of the Year. Green Light for Song of Summer.
Swish Swish by Katy Perry
Similar to Lorde and Selena Gomez, Katy Perry’s late addition to the Song of Summer Race, was strategically planned. But it has an ulterior motive that might keep it from reaching its full Song of Summer potential. Rumor has it, the material of “Swish Swish” comes from an ongoing feud with counterpart Taylor Swift. It’s also interesting to note that Perry’s new album’s release coincided with a fairly popular artist’s return to Spotify.
Which reminds me…
Every Song Ever Written by Taylor Swift
Yes, in a glorious return, Swift has come back to Spotify and singlehandedly wrecked the trajectory of summer music. Being able to effortlessly stream Swift’s music is a pure, unseen delight and might ink the largest asterisk ever to be seen in a Song of Summer competition.
Humble by Kendrick Lamar
Nearly two months ago, Kendrick Lamar became the most popular non-deity figure over the Easter weekend. Releasing his latest album on Good Friday and nearly rumoring to release an entire second album in the span of three days made for a nice premature start to Summer. Helped by a nice promotional series courtesy of the NBA Finals and LeBron James, Kendrick has cemented his status as the current King of Rap.
Sign of the Times by Harry Styles
The most popular feature on Styles’ first solo album, “Sign of the Times” echoes the familiar tones of older rock elegies such as Mick Jagger and John Lennon. In a current musical age dominated by repetitive beats of the Chainsmokers, Harry Styles’ new album doesn’t quite have the firepower to withstand the Summer heat.
Malibu by Miley Cyrus
“Malibu” harkens back to a familiar period of Miley Cyrus’ early career. Following her pop hits, “Malibu’s” summer vibe is different and appealing but in a summer populated with her female counterparts feuds and music videos, it isn’t as noteworthy or interesting.
iSpy by Kyle Feat. Lil Yachty
The following is a line in iSpy by Kyle Feat. Lil Yachty:
“I got a selfie with Oprah / I just ain’t ever post it”
Who in their right mind would ever be fortunate enough to take a selfie with Oprah and not post it? That takes some major gall. Also, Kyle continues to refer to Lil Yachty as “Boat”. Kyle wins Summer 2017, next to Lorde.
Yes, your favorite musical duo gets their own category. It would be remiss to not mention the reincarnated form of The Beach Boys in the season they created.
Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
Props to Coldplay for recognizing true talent and teaming up with The Chainsmokers at the height of their power. This would be like the second best player in basketball joining the best team in the league, oh wait. It is still baffling that The Chainsmokers have already inserted their music into every facet of life, even though they still don’t quite know how to sing.
But as we know singing isn’t all the Song of Summer is about.
We still have a long way to go in the Song of Summer sweepstakes. A lot can happen in two months time. For now, these are our frontrunners. At the end of the summer, we’ll be sure to check back in and declare a true Song of Summer.
— Jackson Greer