Memorial Day weekend traditional kicks off three months of summer fun, barbecue season, beach bashes, and the debate about which song will dominate the Top 40 airwaves, VH1 video charts and memories of the year. The so-called “Song of Summer” is not an official title, and there are different sources that chart the success. This year’s contenders for 2015’s Song of Summer, at least those released so far, hope to become as iconic as Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 seasonal blockbuster Call Me Maybe, the 2013 Robin Thicke Blurred Lines blitz (boosted by his “dance” with Miley Cyrus at the August Video Music Awards (VMAs), as well as older warm weather hits like 1996’s Macarena by Los Del Rio and 1986’s Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna.
Songs of Summer usually fit into three categories, or a combination of them: 1) summer is a topic, 2) Being in love (versus break up songs) or they make great dance tunes at weddings, pool parties and clubs. However, there seems to be two song of summer strategies these days: One involves collaboration between popular artists, the other involves lyrics or themes that will define the period when high schoolers or college kids reminisce in years to come.
Based on those trends and the past, the big contenders for 2015 overplay should be the pairing of Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea on Pretty Girls, Skrillex and Diplo along with Justin Bieber on Where Are U Now, Walk the Moon’s Shut Up and Dance or Lean On by Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring Danish singer MØ?
Many songs of summer through the years have promoted visions of bikini clad women or surfer dudes enjoying the season. These include songs like Katy Perry (with Snoop Dogg) serving up California Gurls in 2010 or a long ago classic like The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit, still played regularly today, Summer in the City. Through the years, there have been groups with several tunes specifically about the warm sun or waves like the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and other artists, as well as one-hits wonders like First Class with their 1974 hit Beach Baby. Will that mean Sia’s version of California Dreamin’ from the movie San Andreas or Maroon 5’s This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Mf – – ker will be played over and over this season?
The other theme that dominates the song of summer pantheon – and proms, weddings and such during the period – is love. Think of Beyoncé’s 2003 declaration Crazy in Love, Richard Marx’ 1989 Right Here Waiting or going way back the 1976 duet between Elton John and Kiki Dee on Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Will Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do or Meghan Trainor’s playful Dear Future Husband rule the airwaves?
Is there always a dominant song? No. Some years, it is hard to recall how the top song went (or who the artist is) while other years feature a song destined to be a classic. Additionally, some years feature a few masterpieces or must-repeats danced to at every wedding that summer and blasted at every skating rink or Forever XXI store. Which of these 2015 Song of Summer contenders will be dominant, if any?
By Dyanne Weiss
Billboard: 2015 Song of the Summer Poll:
Pop Crush: Song Of Summer 2015 Poll:
Radio.com: 79 Songs of the Summer, Ranked From Worst to Best