It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means summer is officially here and you can start wearing all white (but please don’t), sipping frozen margaritas and eating unholy amounts of barbecue.
But more importantly, you may now start blasting the same song over and over. It’s time for the Song of Summer.
Hold up — you’re thinking, sassing me in your mind — isn’t it too early to pick one? Of course, but there are already a handful of songs in contention and pre-summer releases have snagged the title in the past. “Rolling In The Deep” was heralded as 2011’s Song of Summer even though it dropped many months earlier.
Pop powerhouses almost always win out. They’re engineered for mass appeal, and packed with good feelings and crazy catchy hooks. Then again, there’s always a small chance an indie band pulls ahead, resulting in irritating and pointless debate over indie cred.
So, here is my shortlist for the Song of Summer. Let me know who else deserves a spot.
Carly Rae Jespen, “Call Me Maybe”
Confession: I only heard this song for the first time last week. I was starting to wonder about the song that was spawning memes, driving college baseball players to record themselves dancing and sneaking into my Twitter feed in joke form. Clearly, I was missing out on something, so I cued it up. Since then it’s popped into my head at least once a day and I’ve even voluntarily listened to it a few more times. Writing this actually has it stuck in my head. Damnit. Current chart position: No. 2
fun., “We Are Young”
This one came out a few months ago, but it definitely has a shot. It’s still sitting in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 and the mood fits summer so perfectly. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a Facebook status that said “Tonight we are young, so let’s set the world on fire,” or every time I belted the song out in the car, I would have, like, a dollar. Based on popularity, “We Are Young” is worth much more than that. Current chart position: No. 4.
Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know”
The dark horse. Gotye makes quirky indie music, and this song is neither upbeat nor cheery, but it’s caught on and spread like Uggs in a freshman dorm. But that’s not quite right. Uggs are awful and this song is fantastic. How it snuck into the mainstream is anyone’s guess, but everyone and their mother (literally) has had it on repeat, singing along and making their best heartbreak faces. Current chart position: No. 1
Maybe it’s just because I almost never listen to Usher, but every single one of his songs sounds the same to me. That said, the Usher thing works well for a summer hit. “Scream” is club-ready with dance beats and the resequit lyrics about drinking, saying ‘yeah’ and how wonderful some girl is. Sorry, I mean, how wonderful you are, drunk girl. Usher loves you. Current chart position: No. 15
Rihanna, “Where Have You Been”
It’s not fair for me to snark on Usher fans and then profess my love for Rihanna, but oh well. “Where Have You Been” is another summer jam designed for the club, and the gritty, twisting synths over the steady bass beat demand dancing. Honestly, I’d prefer it if “We Found Love” made a comeback for the summer, but right now that doesn’t look likely. Current chart position: No. 13.
Katy Perry, “Part Of Me”
Dance beats, belting vocals and empowering lyrics. Katy Perry owns this kind of music. If “Part Of Me” doesn’t stay in the running, then the newer “Wide Awake” has a good chance of taking over. Current chart position: No. 14.