I got a violent sunburn last weekend after sitting outside for maybe an hour and a half, that can only mean two things. 1.) My quarantine skin is fair as hell. It’s pale as ever. The lack of Vitamin D to my largest organ has made it easy for the big star in the sky to cook it up like the frozen chicken patties I’ve been cooking up for lunch every day for the past 6 weeks. AND 2.) Despite the ~summer vibes~ not fluctuating at a proper frequency given the virus, summertime is approaching quickly. And that means the Battle Royale for Song of the Summer is about to begin.
Each year at the end of the sunniest season I like to evaluate and declare a Song of the Summer. I have also discovered and patented the formula to creating the Song of the Summer.
Popularity Peaks Before August + Mass Appeal + Fun = Song of the Summer
Last year “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo was the winner by a landslide. It owned all 3 qualities. It was really blowing up around June-Julyish, every single person knew the song (even Moms were singing it), and it was a hell of a good time. The crown is back up for grabs though as Memorial Day approaches, and a new victor will make a bid for the ultimate prize. A Song of the Summer can be associated with memories that will last a lifetime. It can encapsulate an era of someone’s life that they hold near and dear. It’s a song that decades from now will still be played at barbecues, weddings…you name it.
So who do I think is going to make a valiant run for the title in 2020? Here are a few predictions I have about who will make the SOTS, what it will sound like, and where it’s popularity will stem from.
The Obvious Choice: Dua Lipa
Ms. Lipa’s entire new album Future Nostalgia screams Song of the Summer vibes. A studio exec must’ve found my formula and based her entire release around it. And in any situation WITHOUT a global pandemic isolating all of us, it would be working like a charm.
Her album was released in late March, teeing her up for a successful summer. The popular single off the album “Break My Heart” would kindle the fire with another banger to follow and dominate the summer scene. Dua has become a household name and her hit “Don’t Start Now” and has the capability to get big time radio play so kids, grandmas, teens, and young professionals alike can learn and love the lyrics. Lastly, the album is heavily inspired from 80’s pop and disco and is good vibes all around. I would love to see “Levitating” earn the title of Song of the Summer and it’s got all the potential to do so.
However, as you’ve heard from every email you’ve received in the past 2 months, these are unprecedented times. What constituted a perfect song of the Summer in the Pre-Covid world doesn’t necessarily translate to now. It’s hard to even imagine a song of the summer when we can’t go to bars and parties to enjoy music with friends. So there are some wild card options who could usurp what’s rightfully Dua’s.
Other Contenders Out Now
If You’re Too Shy Let Me Know -The 1975
This is a wicked fun song, but I’m not sure if it can get the mass appeal to truly become a SOTS. Their new album is due out later this month though and is sure to have some fun songs…would love to see them have a big Summer and for one of the tracks to get some radio play.
35.31 -Childish Gambino
This is another really fun song that’s got easy lyrics and has summer vibes sprinkled on it, but it’s a little repetitive and I don’t know if Gambino’s weirdness might be too niche for radio play and mass appeal. We’ll see, but this is easily in one of my top 5 favorite songs of the year so far.
ringtone (remix) -100 gecs
100 gecs has been getting clowned on on social media lately, and although I haven’t dug into too much of their music, I LOVE this song. Wicked fun, new cast of characters, and I could def see it nabbing some mainstream popularity (despite their unique sound).
Those are just a few that are out now that I could see maybe having a shot, but let’s take a look at a few factors that will have influence on the race for Song of the Summer in the coming weeks.
It’s Make or Break for Drake
Drake continues to produce chart-topping songs…but the quality really hasn’t been there since he dropped one of the greatest songs of all time. Of course, I’m talking about “Nice For What”. A would-be song of the summer if it hadn’t peaked a little too early.
Since then Drake has phoned it in and released boring textbook Drake music that relies on viral dance trends to gain popularity *cough* Toosie Slide and In My Feelings *cough*.
If there’s anything we realized from his most recent Dark Lane Demo Tapes it’s that he’s sticking to the same “sad boy” rap and boring trap production we were disappointed by on Scorpion. I don’t blame him for doing this. He’s got millions of dollars and legit records for most chart-topping songs at once. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But it breaks my heart to see because the man has the potential to create some INCREDIBLE music and he’s just not utilizing his resources.
Drake has said a new album is coming this summer, and he could easily have the song of the summer if he could only shake this habit he’s gotten into of creating the same boring music over and over with the same collaborators. It’s always a boring beat from the same producers everyone is using and then a standard feature from Future, Young Thug, or Chris Brown for God’s Sake. SWITCH IT UP.
Here’s a few things Drake could do to nab the title.
1.) Shake the Sadness: why is this man still being all emotional and lonely? It’s tiring. Have some fun. His two best songs in my opinion, “Nice for What” and “God’s Plan” are both great times. He’s got a kid now, a healthy relationship with his kid’s mother, plenty of money, and it seems like he’s surrounded by a bunch of friends and collaborators. REFLECT THAT IN THE MUSIC MAN! The reason Drake has maybe one classic album is because he hasn’t done anything new since Views came out.
2.) New Production: everyone wants to work with Drake. He’s one of, if not the biggest, musician in the world. Think outside the box! Call up Daft Punk! Call up Calvin Harris! Call up Brasstracks who did Chance’s “No Problem!”. MAKE SOMETHING FUN AND FUNKY! He’s an artist know for his rapping AND his singing if he works with any of these more funky-dance producers (who have all worked with rappers before) he could get a certified hit easily.
3.) Better Features: Stop working with Future for the love of God. “Life is Good” was just a Drake song and a Future song stapled together. It’s an incestuous relationship he has with the people he puts on his songs and it’s time he got some fresh vocals. There’s plenty of hot new voices out there. Get Roddy Ricch on there, get Doja Cat on there, get Dua on there! Get one of the fun newcomers who has given us a slapper in the past year.
Drake has the capability to pull this off, he’s just gotta pull the trigger. He’s marketing savvy (as we saw with Toosie Slide), which brings me to my next prediction.
Tik Tok Will Play An Important Part
Every artist right now is hoping their song will go Tik Tok viral. You can have a great song that gets accidentally pops off on the app, like Chinese New Year from SALES, or you can be a cheap sell-out who makes songs specifically to try to go viral on the app, like Drake with Toosie Slide or literally any Yung Gravy song.
I think in order to have the quality be there, and to get the mass appeal beyond just the app, the music has to come first. This has to be a fun song that just happens to lend itself to the Tok, but not be specifically engineered to do so. Once the youngins start making arm-dances to the song, radio hosts start playing it, Moms learn it, and next thing you know the whole family’s singing along in the car. If you don’t believe this app is a necessity for a hit right now, just look at the Billboard Charts right now.
Every one of these songs has gone viral on the app with the exception of The Scotts (at least from what I know). I seriously don’t think Toosie Slide or Savage would even be in the top 5 without the app. They’re both pretty ok songs but because they have a dance and you hear it so much on the hottest new social media, it’s considered a lot better than it would on it’s own.
The good thing about the app is that it means anyone’s song could blow up, maybe even someone we haven’t heard of. I wouldn’t know who Arizona Zervas or BENEE were if it weren’t for Tik Tok but “Roxanne” and “Supalonely” are both wicked catchy songs I played a bunch. So there’s a chance the Song of the Summer could be from someone we’ve never even heard of. That being said though, established artists are catching on (like Drake and the Weeknd), and could monopolize the viral moments. Regardless, one of the foundational components of a SOTS is mass appeal, and if you want that coveted 12-22 age demographic’s boost you gotta get it on Tik Tok.
Artists Coming Out of Isolation
I don’t just mean from quarantine, I mean the artists who we haven’t got new music from in a looooong time. There’s a few in particular I think could come back after drought periods with fun songs, bringing in a new era of Post-Covid bliss.
Frank’s been pretty quiet. He released “DHL” and “In My Room” which got people pumped for the possibility of a new album…but we haven’t heard much in months. He did send people the vinyls of some new songs “Cayendo” and “Dear April” though, which gives us a preview of what he’s working on…one of which I think could really make a solid SOTS.
Frank has said his new album is exploring the club scene and dance music and has teamed up with the D.A.N.C.E. duo “Justice” on a remix of one of his new songs. It’s said that they have a whole bunch of stuff they’re sitting on. I think if you get Frank’s vocals on a Justice song with vibes of something like Calvin Harris’ “Slide”…it could be an all time Song of the Summer.
Hear me out, because I don’t think people associate Kendrick with “fun” music, but I think if he comes back there’s a chance we could get a summer hit. It’s rumored his new album is “rock” inspired, but I think that probably just means there’s not as many trap beats and more guitar/bass production (Thundercat has confirmed he’s worked on the new album). So I think if Kendrick comes back with some songs collaborating with guys like Thundercat (who did Mac Miller’s “What’s The Use”) or with someone like Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals on a song similar to “Tints”, we could have an awesome comeback season for Kenny.
No matter what, when Rihanna finally drops her long-awaited new album, people will go insane for it. I think if she’s gonna come back with a single, her best move would be to go straight for a radio hit. Maybe a Caribbean dancehall slapper? Maybe a Calvin Harris collab? Maybe something 80’s inspired like the Weekend and Dua? I don’t know! But if Rihanna comes out with a fun song in the next few months she’s got it in the bag.
If even if these guys don’t do a surprise drop, we do know we’re getting new albums from Lady Gaga, HAIM, and Charli XCX in the next few months, all with the potential of one of those songs to blow up.
These are all my predictions, but these are unpredictable times. I could be dead wrong, so I ask? What do you think? Which artist do you think could come out with a song by then? What song are you loving now that you think could take over? Let me know. And if you know exactly what song is gonna be fire and will want to be the captain of the aux this summer, you’ll want to tell your friends by wearing the official DJCHICKENPARM “Pass the Aux” hat! There’s only 5 left so fill out the form below to reserve one! Time’s running out!
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