Summer unofficially started Memorial Day Weekend, officially started when the summer solstice hit a few weeks ago, and now it's clearly in full swing, with a seemingly never-ending heatwave hitting the Northeast for the Fourth of July. Especially with all the parties happening tomorrow, we thought it'd be the perfect time to look at some contenders for Song of the Summer.
What makes a song the Song of the Summer? Did it have to be released during summer? Does it have to be super popular? Does it have to be uplifting? Does it have to be by Cardi B? These are all questions we asked ourself during the making of this short list and we're still not sure if we have any of the answers, but you can check out the picks we came up with below.
What do you think this year's Song of the Summer is?
BEYONCE & JAY-Z - "APESHIT"
"APESHIT" isn't the best song on Everything Is Love, and it isn't really indicative of how anything else on the album sounds, but it's clearly the most fun and it was the obvious choice for lead single. It's the kind of song you put on right away at a party because you can't wait to hear it, and then you play it again later when everyone is drunk because you just need to hear it again. Two thirds of Migos contribute to this trap-pop banger, but Beyonce The Rapper beats them at their own game, all while celebrating how rich, successful, and generally awesome she is. Jay does the same thing, comparing himself to The Beatles and letting the NFL know he's bigger than the Super Bowl. Nobody on earth can relate to this song, yet somehow, it's impossible not to want join in on the fun.
CARDI B - "I LIKE IT" FT. BAD BUNNY & J BALVIN
The Song of the Summer last year was "Bodak Yellow" (obviously), and it looks like Cardi may have done it again. It feels like just about any song on the nearly flawless Invasion of Privacy could've held this title, but if we're picking one, it has to go to "I Like It." To quote Rolling Stone, "American pop is Latin music as much as anything else," and "I Like It" is "a pan-Latin masterstroke." Having just become the No. 1 song in the country this week, it makes Cardi B the first female rapper ever to have two No. 1s, and it helps shine an even brighter light on Bad Bunny and J Balvin, two Latin music stars who are already having huge breakthroughs in the English-language mainstream. (It was reported just last week that J Balvin is the most streamed Spotify artist in the world and Bad Bunny entered the billion-views club months ago.) In an era where the president's attitudes towards the Latinx community are horrifying, it feels like a small victory that the No. 1 song in the country is a Latin trap song as we approach Independence Day. It's a reminder that America is truly a melting pot, and that America is great because of that, not in spite of it. And whether you speak Spanish, English, or another language entirely, "I Like It" is the kind of jam that can bring a whole melting pot of different people together.
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE - "HUNGER"
A song that opens with a line literally referencing an eating disorder may not seem like a candidate for "song of the summer," but the anthemic first single from Florence and the Machine's spectacular new album is not just about the feeling of discomfort caused by lack of food. It's a song about our hunger for more, for love, for the opposite of loneliness and the temporary things we sometimes do to try and overcome it, like literally starving ourselves, taking drugs, or singing about it on stage in arenas. And about the people we wish we could be and the people we're proud of for not feeling that way but actually they do feel that way, because... WE ALL HAVE A HUNGER. And thanks to this song we also now have a new temporary fix. To quote Florence:
And by singing it out loud, together
we become a choir, a chorus
higher than the hurt,
louder than the loneliness.
(And maybe just louder than the jerks making the decisions in Washington right now.)
LET'S EAT GRANDMA - "HOT PINK"
When Let’s Eat Grandma shared the first single off their recently released sophomore album, I’m All Ears, back in January, it sounded a world away from the eerie whimsy of their debut in a way that was almost jarring. Repeat listens revealed the charms of this undeniable weirdo jam, with its bright glossy sheen of SOPHIE-produced synths giving way to a more sinister collection of sounds, then circling back to an anthemic shout-along of "Hot pink! Is it mine, is it?" It sounds as ready for the club as it does for the beach, and it's the kind of song that makes you want to celebrate being your own weird self, which is something a lot of us need to hear in times like these.
DJ KOZE - "PICK UP"
While there are a lot of very cool guest vocalists on DJ Koze's excellent new album -- Roisin Murphy, Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, Jose Gonzalez to name three -- the real star is Koze's deep-dive samples and his mastery of construction. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on single "Pick Up," a French-touch style banger that is amazingly simple, using snippet of a vocal melody from Gladys Knight & The Pips' "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" overtop a loop of Melba Moore's "Pick Me Up I'll Dance." With those two element (and almost nothing else), DJ Koze weaves glorious magic for six minutes, teasing the beat and not letting you realize it hasn't fully kicked in until the the halfway mark. He cheekily pulls back the curtain on his process in the song's very minimal, but effective video, but who really wants to read captions when you can dance?