Song Of The Summer. It’s not a tangible accolade but it’s something any major pop artist shamelessly aims to achieve at some point. Here we are on July 10th and the crown for 2018 has, somewhat frustratingly, yet to be won. So while we wait, a look back at some of the most recent winners…
2008: “I Kissed A Girl” – True story, when I heard this song and some cuts from Perry’s One Of The Boys album it sounded to me like she was trying to be a female version of Weird Al Yankovic. Clearly she was no parody act but the playfulness of “I Kissed A Girl” is one of its most endearing qualities. It speaks perfectly to the summertime – when people generally are more loose and more willing to take chances, sexually or otherwise.
2009: “I Gotta Feeling” – Try to say “I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas” out loud without immediately thinking or saying “woooo hoooo!!” People seemingly got tired fast of The Black Eyed Peas, especially after their widely panned Super Bowl halftime performance. But their place as one of the most influential acts of the 2000s is secured, as evident by how timeless a song like “I Gotta Feeling” still sounds almost 10 years later.
2010: “California Gurls” – Perry had formidable challengers for the Song Of the Summer crown in 2008, but she won in 2010 by a landslide.”California Gurls” with its lyrics about bikinis and sun kissed skin is the most obvious choice here but practically all of Teenage Dream was inescapable at this point.
2011: “Party Rock Anthem” – This one’s pretty self explanatory. The club jam to end all club jams that’s still reigning 7 years later.
2012: “Call Me Maybe” – This song and Summer 2012 are intertwined forever. That’s how popular it was. “Call Me Maybe” is such a perfectly crafted pop song it would have to be included in any textbook about great songwriting. The melodic line, the way the chorus has melodic hooks in the vocal line and the instrumental track. Absolutely brilliant.
2013: “Blurred Lines” – This song and “Get Lucky” were neck and neck but the ensuing controversy around “Blurred Lines” puts it over the edge. Controversy has pretty much always followed this song, really. Not only were there the arguably misogynistic lyrics in the song itself (“I know you want it” in a creepy baritone), there was the music video with naked women, the infamous VMA performance and the copyright lawsuit from Marvin Gaye’s estate. Personally, I think it’s a good song but with a rap sheet that long it’s almost impossible to defend at this point.
2014: “Fancy” – Aside from songs that have a token guest verse, rarely do primarily hip hop songs own the charts in the way that I-GG-Y (and Charli XCX) did in Summer of 2014. Sure, the chorus is an instant earworm but no rap song becomes this popular without a seriously impressive flow – whether people can truly appreciate it or not. In other words, Iggy is the unsung hero on her own track.
2015: “Cheerleader,” – The tightest Song Of The Summer race in recent memory. “See You Again,” “Shut Up And Dance,” “Want To Want Me”, and “Can’t Feel My Face” all had huge moments in the Summer of 2015. But the median winner according to most tangible stats is “Cheerleader” with its thumping bass and sultry trumpet licks.
2016: “Can’t Stop The Feeling” -When Justin Timberlake and Max Martin tell you to “dance, dance, dance” it’s a practically unstoppable force field. No other 2016 song stood a chance. For the record, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” was by far the best thing to come out of Trolls.
2017 : “Despacito” – I didn’t get “Despacito”‘s appeal at all when it first hit. A song almost entirely in Spanish that didn’t even have a line dance attached? When I was at a wedding and witnessed a mass flocking to the dance floor as this song began to play I incredulously asked the DJ why people love it so much. With a shrug he said, “It makes people feel sexy.” Fair enough. There’s the calypso beat that infiltrated, err, dominated pop music for two years and enough little ear worms (“bang bang!” ,”oh oh’s”, the title hook itself) that are fun to bop along to. Justin Bieber showing up to deliver this party’s opening benediction didn’t hurt either.
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