Every year, a song defines the summer: it’s at every wedding, every beach party, and every festival you attend. You simply can’t escape it, but usually its such a perfect song you don’t mind hearing it again and again. Pharrell owned the last two summers, with last year’s giddy-gospel “Happy”, and in 2013, singing the hook on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and producing Robin Thicke’s rapey yet infectious “Blurred Lines”. In 2012, it was the sneaky great “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, and in 2011, it was LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”, which is still inescapable at weddings everywhere.
With Zoolander 2 coming our way at the end of the year, how else could we settle the 2015 Song of Summer than a walk-off? Here we go, with the five leading candidates for song of summer.
Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”
Dance Move: Bounce, bounce, bounce. Trap music is the flavor of the day, and on “Trap Queen”, Fetty Wap captures what people love about the ramped-up rap form in a catchy little package.
Drawback: Being the flavor of the day has its setbacks. I’m not sure we’ll be coming back to “Trap Queen” years from now, but I could be wrong.
Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
Dance Move: Do the time warp. The psychedelic elecro-pop ride of “Let It Happen” warps space and time for the good of the dancefloor, throwing you through new sound portals left and right.
Drawback: Run time. At 8 minutes, “Let It Happen” is a little long in the tooth for most summer dance parties.
Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ – “Lean On”
Dance Move: The globe trot. “Lean On” combines two of today’s biggest hit makers, Diplo of dancehall project Major Lazer and DJ Snake, with the ear worm vocals of young Danish pop star MØ to make a global dance hit.
Drawback: Repetition. For as much as the song’s repetitive nature makes it instantly catchy, it also makes it get a little old.
Jamie xx – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
Dance Move: The gold digger. Channeling the old soul sample magic that Kanye West mastered in the middle of his career, British master-producer Jamie xx makes an instant party hit that speaks to modern music tastes (with the rap stylings of Young Thug and Popcaan) with the strength of a timeless sample from the Persuasions “Good Times”.
Drawback: A face. Anytime there isn’t a main hook singer or artist for a song, it makes it a little harder for the song to catch fire, and Jamie xx is no forward-facing superstar; just an extremely wily producer and DJ.
The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
Dance Move: The moonwalk. Anytime you can channel the King of Pop, you do it. Canada’s Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd, has always sounded like Michael Jackson stuck in an echo chamber, but “Can’t Feel My Face” finally finds him with the hit worthy of his talent.
Drawback: Is it too much like MJ? Nah.
Your walk-off winner:
I’ll let summer movie superstar Tom Cruise do the honors:
The Weeknd it is!