For some of us, Summer is almost here. And for others, we are already deep into our summer plans. And every summer, we know that we can depend on one thing: pop assault from our favourite radio stations. The summer is the time when we acknowledge the music industry’s effort to release songs that we know are often not very impressive, but fun to listen to and put them on replay anytime we can. While we all know this to happen year round, the summer has become synonymous with fun and famous hits being pumped at us repeatedly over the airwaves, and usually, Billboard crowns one song as being the most played, most downloaded, most requested, most streamed, and supposedly most “loved” tune of the season: The Song of the Summer.
Well into the season, we have already seen a few pop anthems take the music industry by storm. Old favourites and new interests; guilty pleasures and heartfelt odes; a Beatles milestone being matched; whatever the news, we know that this summer will have its signature hits and that one will eventually come out on top. So please join me as I count down the Top 20 Contenders for 2014 Song of the Summer.
20. Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
Paramore’s catchy comeback single is the most fun breakup song that you don’t realize is a breakup song. Anybody fresh out of a bad relationship will want to cling onto this one. Unfortunately, it briefly peaked in the Top 10 at the end of May and only went downhill from there, so the odds of it topping the charts are not very high, let alone for an extended period of time. On the other hand, it may just need that extra push, like a feature in a viral video, for example, to send it over the top.
19. Happy – Pharrell Williams
Pharrell’s iconic hit was first released over a year ago as promotion for Despicable Me 2, but after his performance at the 2014 Academy Awards, the single became the longest running Billboard number one hit of the year so far. This song has connected with so many people and spread good vibes all over the world, and while its reign is long over, its remaining presence in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 proves that it is still a force to be reckoned with. Also, the lyric video has minions.
18. All of Me – John Legend
John Legend, easily one of the most under-recognized artists of our generation, scored his first Billboard Hot 100 number one song with the vocally charged piano ballad dedicated to his wife. The success of this single follows in the footsteps of similarly simple number one hits like “Someone Like You”, “Stay” and “When I Was Your Man”. He peaked on the chart and held his position until just under a month ago, but his hit is still in the Top 10. Many singles have topped the chart non-consecutively, so while resurgence is unlikely, it is certainly not impossible.
17. Turn Down for What – DJ Snake & Lil Jon
Coming from France and labelled as an Artist to Watch in 2014 by Fox Weekly, DJ Snake’s catchy Top 10 debut featuring Lil Jon’s signature yelling shows nothing special musically or lyrically, but it has a single line and memorable beat that people may find themselves subconsciously singing along to.
16. Wiggle – Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg
After the smash hit “Talk Dirty” that was solely reputable because of his impressive vocal talent, Jason Derulo follows with his memorable and catchy collaboration with Snoop Dogg that is so ridiculous, those who contributed to its place in the Hot 100 Top 10 probably did so after laughing at how comedic and borderline disrespectful the lyrics are. That being said, being poorly written has not stopped music from charting well in the past, so if enough young people are wondering “what to do with that big fat butt?”, the reign of this song may go strong for a long time.
15. Good Kisser – Usher
Usher’s simple and repetitive hook over an infectious beat hasn’t quite taken off to the same success as his recent successes like OMG or Climax, but with his smooth vocals and moves to match, the man has been a contender since his debut in the 90’s, topping charts in every decade since. Good Kisser is off to a slow start, but don’t be surprised if he takes a lead and wins over the crowd.
14. Classic – MKTO
The group who gained popularity after touring with Demi Lovato and Emblem3 have released their breakthrough single. While it sounds freakishly like Hot Chelle Rae’s 2011 breakthrough “Tonight Tonight”, Classic lives up to its name, adding a classier, cleaned up feel to the borrowed instrumental. The single is still probably known as “that song from somewhere” as opposed to having its own identity; despite some charting, it hasn’t quite broken through completely. But given time, it could be a Dark Horse in the running.
13. Chandelier – Sia
After being featured on a number of David Guetta and Flo Rida singles, co-writing Top 10 hits for stars like Rihanna and Ne-Yo and being featured on the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Sia finally makes waves with her breakout single as a lead artist. Her rise is similar to that of Keri Hilson not too long ago and her music video for Chandelier, featuring Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler, has already made huge waves and garnered a lot of attention. It’s got a catchy hook, soaring vocals and a trapped and haunting, but rebellious feel about it. Sia has aided many artists in topping the charts, but is the time right for her own dominance?
12. Come Get It Bae – Pharrell Williams
Pharrell’s follow up to his hugely successful “Happy” is another infectious tune worthy of being blasted with the windows down on a hot summer day. With a surprise uncredited feature from Miley Cyrus, one of the most talked about singers today, the single is sure to make waves as soon as the major promotion kicks in. Should it ever kick in.
11. La La La – Shakira ft. Carlinhos Brown or We Are One (Ole Ola) – Pitbull ft. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte
Artists like Ricky Martin and K’Naan became household names after their songs were chosen as World Cup Anthems; needless to say, football (or soccer, if you prefer) is one of the most widely played and influential sports in the world. This year’s World Cup Anthems come from established artists Shakira and Pitbull with Jennifer Lopez (let’s be frank, the two are basically a package deal now), the former having released a hugely successful single for the South African games 4 years ago. While Pitbull’s number was not very well received at first, Shakira’s is one of the most watched on Vevo right now. Another Shakira dance anthem could just be what this summer needs.
10. Pills N Potions – Nicki Minaj
Nicki’s hits have seen a fair bit of success, with Super Bass and Starships performing well in their respective summers. This year, she kicks off the season with a new, more intimate sound. She combines her raps and sung choruses over a relaxing, percussive instrumental. Other than her taking on her mentor Lil’ Wayne’s love of “the n word”, this track is probably the closest that she has come in recent years to releasing an artistic, heartfelt track.
9. Birthday – Katy Perry
How much can I really say about Katy Perry’s chart potential that hasn’t already been said? Her singles have consistently hit the Top 10, most of which peaking at the top. Birthday is another fun party song that people will be ready to dance along with. But it has not quite hit Perry’s full potential yet, falling far short of her previous number one Dark Horse, which would have been a contender if it was still in the Top 10.
8. Stay With Me – Sam Smith
While the song of the summer tends to be a more upbeat dance hit, it is impossible to ignore the sudden success of Sam Smith’s North American breakthrough single. His heartfelt plead for company in a lonely time in his life is beautifully written and emotionally delivered. North American audiences have already connected with this wonder from across the pond enough to put him in the Top 10, but only time will tell if his single will own the charts this summer. And if not this one, then perhaps one of his other major singles will steal hearts.
7. Am I Wrong – Nico & Vinz
The Norwegian duo broke into mainstream US radio earlier this year with this Top 10 Hit after being signed to Warner Bros. Records in January. The fun and unique sound and deep lyrics have given the duo a good climb, especially since the last big duo from Norway to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 did so much as educate us on what the fox says. It will be difficult to predict whether or not this single will bring these guys to international stardom, following in the footsteps of debuts of the past few years like Gotye, Icona Pop and Lorde.
6. Rude – MAGIC!
Canadian up and coming pop-reggae group MAGIC! received international attention from their inclusion on the 2014 FIFA World Cup soundtrack and their collaboration with Shakira on “Cut Me Deep” from her newest album. The low key plead to a prospective father-in-law has been climbing the charts in Canada, but recently surged in American popularity, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard chart.
5. Love Runs Out – OneRepublic
Debuting on primetime television about a year after Counting Stars, Ryan Tedder’s latest release brings a similar vibe to that which he brought to Adele’s “Rumour Has It”. It appears to be climbing the charts much faster than Counting Stars, which reached its peak at number two earlier this year. But OneRepublic are notorious for having hugely successful AND well-written/produced songs that don’t quite reach the top. Could Love Runs Out finally make it all the way and dominate the summer?
4. Summer – Calvin Harris
Aptly named, Calvin Harris’s latest mainstream single has the same features that made Feel’s So Close a massive hit. Actually, it has a very similar buildup and a similarly repetitive chorus that substitutes “I feel so close to you right now” with “When I met you in the summer”. It could not have been released at a better time, for with the season so close, people will probably just see the names behind the song and overlook the similarities enough to want to sing along with this while enjoying their favourite summer activities.
3. Sing – Ed Sheeran ft. Pharrell Williams
Sheeran’s latest hit from his upcoming album “x” takes a more upbeat swing, produced and co-written by Williams and inspired by Justin Timberlake. The catchy hook and infectious dance beats surprise fans of Ed Sheeran, but the credited featured vocals resulting in what sounds more like back up singing from Pharrell surprises no one. Seriously, I really do respect Pharrell, but can someone please tell him that yelling two words and harmonizing on one line does not constitute a feature; it’s called being a backup vocalist. Miley Cyrus does more singing in her uncredited vocals on Pharrell’s own “Come Get It Bae” than he does on his credited features like this and Blurred Lines (*end rant). This aside, the song is one of the musically stronger tracks on this list, so I’ll cut them a break.
2. Problem – Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea
Ariana Grande burst onto the scene when her first album, Yours Truly, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. Problem has it all, a memorable saxophone hook, infectious beats and lyrics, and it’s a breakup song by a female pop artist (recipe for success). Her latest single has peaked at number 2, becoming her highest charting to date. Don’t be surprised to see this girl top the charts in the years to come: her voice has been likened to a young Mariah Carey, the artist with the most number one hits of all time.
1. Fancy – Iggy Azalea ft. Charlie XCX
Iggy Azalea’s ironically named, but catchy tune has made her the fourth solo female rapper to top the Billboard Hot 100 and, more importantly, when coupled with her collaboration with Ariana Grande, she has become the first act since The Beatles to have their first 2 Billboard charting singles take the top two spots. Azalea’s smooth rap, Charlie XCX’s “Gwen Stefani” style vocals and a catchy beat and hook have become the recipe of a major summer hit. Currently at the top of the charts, the former model’s rap career is at its first peak, but only time will tell whether or not she can keep her strong hold.
Fancy takes the top spot on this list because it is currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for its fourth week. Only time will tell if it can go the distance. The fun thing about the music industry is that you never know when something new will pop up and completely take over. Perhaps the song of the summer hasn’t even been released yet. But whatever happens, this summer will be a fun one and by the looks of it, a loud one at that.
Did your favourites make the list? What should have been included? Do you agree with the above? Share your favourite summer anthems in the comment section below.