When I was in undergrad, one of my favourite professors obsessed over the idea of the “song of the summer.” It was the year after 2003’s undeniable champion “Crazy in Love,” and he was upset by the fact that 2004 was looking like that rare year where no one takes the summer cake. And though its only May, I have already begun to keep an eye out for what might win 2008’s crown, as meaningless titles are a bit of an obsession for myself as well.
And I’m not alone. Last year, The New York Times ran a piece about the idea, tracing its origins and predicting who might rule 2007:
It’s an old-fashioned idea, but it was revived in the 1990s, with the dominance of hip-hop, when that genre pumped new life into silly love songs. Any brief history must include “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By,” the duet by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, which was ubiquitous in the summer of 1995. Open windows, crowded boardwalks, roofless cars, lazy barbecues: Somehow, summer’s traditions combined to make big songs feel even bigger. And in 2005, it seemed as if the entire country was listening to Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” which dominated the charts from May to September.
Last year, of course, the champion was perhaps the most secured since “Crazy in Love.” In case you’re not already clear:
And if I’m not mistaken, it was around this time last year when we first heard Rihanna’s “ella”‘s. The song actually reminds me of Cannes, as I think that was the first week of its months long heavy rotation on my iPod. “Umbrella” was a rare case for me, though. I usually crown my own personal summer song, and it almost never coincides with the true champion. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against radio pop done right, but I prefer my pop euro-ish, and it seems these days the official song of the summer NEEDS an urban flare or it won’t make the ranks.
This year, I expected the Timbaland/Pharrell influence of Madonna’s new album to push one of the tracks into the summer limelight, but personally I don’t know if they can cut it (they certainly can’t for me.. the best track on the album is actually a remix, the “bonus” track of Paul Oakenfold’s version of “Give It 2 Me”). Maybe Mariah Carey can make it 2 in 4 years, but again, I’m not rooting for that to happen (though “Touch My Body” HAS grown on me substantially). The four big releases between now and July – Usher, Coldplay, Missy Elliott and Nelly – are all fair game, but the first single on each of the albums doesn’t make me want to bet on any of them.
For my personal winner, two big contenders are MGMT, particularly this (though their other track “Kids” was my song of the spring, which doesn’t bode well.. there hasn’t be a consecutive season champion since 2000’s “Music”/”Don’t Tell Me” Madonnafest):
And, with the best pop album I’ve heard in a long while, Robyn. I’d gladly nominate any of the following songs (in fact, any song on the album is better than the songs I’ve heard from the candidates I listed before):
And, if all else fails, Coolio is releasing an album in July. I’ll admit, Gangstas Paradise WAS my song of the summer in 1995.