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Crowning the best summer song

Move over, Bieber — The Weeknd is king


As summer comes to an end, the world of Western pop music is forced to answer the annual question “What was this year’s definitive summer song?” The concept of one song that can completely encompass a single season comes off as a marketing ploy created by music journalism and pop culture blogs. Decades from now, our generation will look back and only remember a few key songs which captured our youth — songs embracing the easy-going thrill of summer. The concept is a useful one to consider when judging the songs that dominated this season’s charts.

The criteria used here are largely unscientific, based on the general popularity of the song drawn from reputable sources such as the Billboard Hot 100, its lasting appeal and the general “summeriness” of the song. In order to establish the expectations a song of the summer should fulfill, a constant is required for comparison. Take for example the summer of 2003, which was dominated by Beyonce and Jay-Z ’s “Crazy in Love.” The song not only established Knowles as an incomparable star, but also introduced one of the most memorable horn intros and chinchilla-referencing raps in the history of pop music. Though it is impossible to hold other songs to this standard, the song of the summer should embrace the same carefree smash power “Crazy in Love” did. The following are nine contenders that received a massive amount of popularity this summer, with the winning song rounding out the list.

“Black Magic” by Little Mix is, for starters, a wonderfully catchy song, but is perhaps a little too sing-songy. The track would have been better suited for the fall, or as a theme song for another Halloween-themed Disney Channel Original Movie.

“See You Again,” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth, received a massive amount of radio airplay and promotion from “Furious 7,” so much so it became tiresome to listen to once the summer began. Although slow songs and ballads are not excluded from becoming songs of the summer, “See You Again” is too much of a eulogy to capture the essence of the season.

“Bad Blood (Remix)” by Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar benefitted from a superstar music video and a potential feud with Katy Perry, but too much is going on sonically with this “1989” do-over. The original is better because it relies on sparse beats and a bare chorus, and although Lamar is always a welcome addition to any track, his verse is drowned out by the ferocity of the rest of the song.

“Worth It” by Fifth Harmony ft. Kid Ink relies too much on the horn instrumental trend Jason Derulo restarted with “Talk Dirty.” Being so repetitive, this track barely has any lyrics and a 10-year old could have penned Kid Ink’s rap.

“Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo isn’t life-changing pop music, but this song does benefit from some 80s-inspired synths and Derulo’s glass-shattering falsetto. However, the song sounds too much like a Frankenstein mash-up of Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and Katy Perry’s “Birthday” to be unique enough to remember years from now.

“Where Are U Now” by Jack U ft. Justin Bieber may have slick production, and Bieber’s emotional falsetto combines to make a both chilled-out and turned-up tune. However, the song has quickly fallen off the pop radar as Bieber continues to experiment with electronic dance music.

“Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato features a most adventurous take and, coupled with an amazing MTV VMA performance, establishes Lovato as a confident and sexy pop star. With killer electronic production, as well as Demi’s alternating breathy and belting vocals, the song would have won the summer title if not for the top pick of the summer.

“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd is the song of the summer. Before “Earned It” was released, only the world of R&B enthusiasts knew who The Weeknd was. With this song, he quickly became a household name (or at least a college party staple) without conforming to the typical pop star image. His effortless range and the song’s unique production, which seems to juggle three tempos throughout, are just two elements that keep the song from becoming tired. Though the lyrics may not describe a love affair as crazy as Beyonce and Jay Z’s, there is something enticing in the way The Weeknd describes his lover, especially her command to “worry no more.” That kind of addictive, carefree love is what gives this song the summer crown.