One of These Tunes Will be the Song of the Summer
Say goodbye to Robin Thicke’s jaunty jingle. It’s about to get loud.
Summer hasn’t officially started, but radio DJs have already put a handful of pop hits on repeat in an attempt to discover the “Song of the Summer” through an aggravating process of trial and error. Unfortunately, the songs monopolizing the airwaves have already reached peak play – they’ve got nowhere to go on the charts but down. The 2014 song of the summer has yet to truly explode and that’s exactly the point. Taking over the drivetime is as much about timing as it is about a catchy rhythm. Here are the 10 jams vying for the title. Expect to still be singing at least one of them come Labor Day.
“Do It Again,” Robyn and Royksopp
She’s a Swedish pop savant; they’re the eccentric duo behind the best after-hours records of the ’00s. Together, they’ve cooked up a five-track mini-album that dips into spacey disco odysseys and straight-up pop. The highlight is the title track, which is both an ode to that moment when a party really gets started and the perfect way to make that moment arrive sooner.
“Rent I Pay,” Spoon
One of indie-rock’s most reliable bands returns with their first single in four years. “Rent I Pay” features more of what Britt Daniel and Co do best: maximal guitar riffs, pummeling grooves, and impossibly cool, nicotine-stained vocals.
“If It Wasn’t True,” Shamir
Calling a singer the second coming of Michael Jackson might sound more like an accusation than a compliment, but with Shamir it’s appropriately high praise. This buzzy Las Vegas teen – he works as a clerk in a Top Shop – lays down ’70s funk moves and edgy LCD Soundsystem-esque production beneath his pinched falsetto. He won’t be working in retail for long.
“Inspector Norse,” Todd Terje
Todd Terje is a Norwegian DJ with a serious jones for ’80ssynths and kitsch. On this stellar track from his often odd, frequently transfixing electro record It’s Album Time, he crafts an epic seven-minute disco instrumental that sounds like something you might have heard on a Max Headroom episode – but in a good way.
“Frontin’ Rework (featuring Pharrell and Jay-Z),” Disclosure
The British electro duo of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence have a bona fide hit this summer with their year-old instant-classic “Latch,” but they still keep turning out incredible edits and remixes at an alarming pace. On this out-of-nowhere remix of Pharrell’s 2003 hit, they replace Pharrell’sfunk-lite guitar riff with some icy synths and a jittery dub-step beat. Better than the original? Definitely.
“Summer,” Calvin Harris
If anyone knows how to tap into the mindset of pop music fans this decade, it’s Calvin Harris, the producer behind Rihanna’s smash “We Found Love.” Like his last hit “Feel So Close,” Harris’s new attempt at seasonal supremacy features him singing. This one also dials back the excesses of EDM (bludgeoning percussion, formulaic beat drops) in favor of a breezy groove. The massive synth hook will not be denied.
“Brill Bruisers,” The New Pornographers
A song without gimmicks or production trickery, “Brilly Bruisers” is an insanely cheery anthem by Canada’s masters of guitar power-pop celebrating the Brill Building, New York City’s legendary ’60s pop songwriting factory. The tune seems almost artisanal compared with the hyper-produced competition.
“Tropical Chancer,” La Roux
The title is corny as hell, but on this comeback single from the British duo of singer Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid mixes Caribbean grooves and reggae-ish guitar riffs with synths and Elly’s unmistakable high-pitched croon. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
“Day Drinking,” Little Big Town
Contemporary country music isn’t for tobacco-chewing, woman-leaving Nashvillains. On “Day Drinking,” Little Big Town’s follow-up to 2012’s undeniable “Pontoon,” the quartet delivers an almost touching tribute to summer’s most revered pastime.
“Instant Disassembly,” Parquet Courts
These Brooklyn slacker heroes shamble through a seven-minute ballad about getting all bloozed-up, listening to AM radio, and hanging with a questionable “mamacita.” It’s the perfect cut to spin when the keg is kicked and the party’s over, which might make it a better “Song of Fall.”