My incredibly non-scientific quest to find Song of the Summer 2K15: The Rankings

Emphasis on “incredibly non-scientific.”

For the third year in a row, my obsession with finding America’s mainstream Song of the Summer (SOTS) is slowly reaching its climax. Prefaced by “Fancy,” “Get Lucky” and “Call Me Maybe,” this year’s winner has a lot to live up to. With the summer solstice just a few days behind us, I wanted to figure out whether the public already had the SOTS 2K15 within its sight.

I wanted to follow the trends closely this time around. Was there any strategy, any characteristic, any particular feeling these songs evoked that made them the definitive anthem for the summer of that year? And if there is, what does that mean for that song, and for the people who claimed it to be SOTS? Most of all, what does it say about the summer?

You may know of my fascination if you follow me on other social media accounts, where I’ve made the routine effort to provide updates on the SOTS selection process. There have been songs that were once considered frontrunners now be out of the race. There have been underdogs quickly rising to the ranks. Most importantly, there have been no clean-cut winners just quite yet.

Let’s take a look at some of the contenders for Song of the Summer 2K15:

Trap Queen - Fetty Wap

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: Pretty dang likely.

Going for it: This song is loud, bright and quick: You can bounce, cook, point, rage etc. to your full potential. People dig the strange singing/wailing, as well as just finally having a song called “Trap Queen” in their lives. Phrases such as “I said hey, what’s up, hello” and “married to the money, introduced her to my stove” were written for virality. Bonus points to this song for sounding the most like “Pop That” out of all the other contenders this year.

Not going for it: I strongly believe people will get tired of hearing this one multiple times a day, a la “Fancy” or “Blurred Lines.” And for those particular artists, that was the only big song they had going for them at the time. Remember Fetty also has “My Way,” an equally, if not superior, song to get hype to. It could be that song expands him beyond a one-hit wonder status and shares the load.

Will you enjoy it in the car? You will the first 15 times, but wait until the 20th, or 30th. 40th? The same melody for four minutes? You’ll be wishing this “One Note Samba” would disappear.

Post To Be - Omarion feat. Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15If Omarion can have a hit in 2015, so can this be our SOTS.

Going for it: One of the best things about DJ Mustard’s beats is that you’ll never really grow tired of hearing them, no matter how old the song is. That’s good news for one of the producer’s best beats thus far. Incredibly crisp, goofy and filling, the song captures what the summer now should feel like. The identifiable sounds and strict definitions of high-mid-bass is something SOTS’s could gravitate to in this latter half of the decade. Great performances by everyone on the bill. A fun-yet-smart tune that is prime for the pool party is exactly what people have been looking for all this year.

Not going for it: This track may have already been out in the airwaves for too long.  People too shy to speak about grocery eating may not like the lyrical content.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Only if the Jhene Aiko line doesn’t bother you.

Bitch Better Have My Money - Rihanna

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15:  Slim.

Going for it: A lot of swag. The “getting hype” levels are turned way up. Rihanna has that high success rate, especially after “Umbrella” and “Pon de Replay” took over the summers of years past. You can count on her.

Not going for it: Just a tad too heavy and bombastic for wider audiences. This one could also suffer the same one-note longevity issues of “Trap Queen.”  Rihanna is a bit pinched with her scream – she has to be, she’s trying to get her money.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Yes, especially if you enjoy pretending that someone better have your money.

I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) - Jamie xx feat. Young Thug and Popcaan

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: We can only hope.

Going for it: This track has all the bliss and joy that we imagine in a dream summer. Put bouncy and colorful instrumentation, the unique stylings of Thugga Thugga and the rugged flow of Popcaan into a blender and you get what has become the “alt” SOTS 2K15. You can pretty much picture the swimming pool/BBQ/trip to the beach/park frisbee sesh/evening party with this one.

Going against it: Our arranger Jamie xx is not the most well-known producer out there. Fresh out with his debut solo album, it may take a bit for more radio stations to pick up his sound. Also, our leading man Young Thug does not have the best praise – plenty of people online are not fans of his flow, appearance and outlandish personality. Finally, the samples and instrumentation may be a bit too off-the-beaten-path for a lot of the public to really appreciate on the first listen. It just is that way.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Correct.

Bad Blood - Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: High AF.

Going for it: You got Kendrick on the track, you can do no wrong. Those EDM claps that really get people turnt. The fact that it can work in the morning as well as at night plays in its favor. Taylor also sounds an awful lot like our friend Charli XCX, star of last year’s SOTS, on the hook.

Not going for it: If I say anything bad Taylor Swift may publish an open letter criticizing me.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Your Uber driver will dig it when you take the aux cord.

Want To Want Me - Jason Derulo

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: High.

Going for it: A sweet performance from Mr. Derulo. Upbeat, loud, crisp. A bunch of those happy chords that make us happy and loving melodies that make us want to be wanted. If the video played a part, he would get bonus points for the pop-and-lock moves.

Not going for it: The dude is just BEGGING to be SOTS 2K15 with this one. It’s like he gathered the songwriting think tank and asked them to take components of every SOTS in the past ten years and mix it together. No one likes a try-hard.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Yes you will, and your hair will flow in the breeze, too.

Earned It - The Weeknd

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: No.

Going for it: A swell vocal performance from the don.

Not going for it: Too slow, whispery, violin-y, smoky, directly associated to “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Will make it feel like it’s 100 degrees hotter than it actually is.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Maybe at 2 a.m., but that’s about it at the moment.

Shut Up And Dance - Walk The Moon

Likelihood of being SOTS 2K15: Way too high.

Going for it: Those dance hi-hats we all love, a solid hook. Nile Rodgers guitar chunks that drove SOTS 2K13 “Get Lucky” into the SOTS HOF. The name “Walk the Moon” will get people thinking that it’s a cool, hip band.

Not going for it: I’m not really sure what’s up with this singer’s voice. It sounds like his mouth is much more open than it needs to be. He tells you to “shut up,” which is a mean thing to do. Also, it reminds me of “Jump” by Van Halen. 

Will you enjoy it in the car? If you like being yelled to shut up and dance, yes.

See You Again - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth

Likelihood of it being SOTS 2K15: What Wiz Khalifa accomplishes never ceases to surprise me.

Going for it: This song would work well if you’re driving with your windows down along the coastline. It doesn’t seem like it would get old fast, but rather age into the sunset. Pretty safe-and-sweet pop rap from the master of pop rap.

Not going for it: Too many feels for a solid summer track. The only emotions welcome in SOTS’s are general feelings of happiness, wealth and buffoonery. I’m trying to imagine a scenario where I am with a group of people and everyone is singing along to the hook. Pretty cheesy.

Will you enjoy it in the car? Yes, until you read the lyrics and realize it’s about Paul Walker. Then you will get sad.

Look at the selections above. That is the competition. It’s not definitive. It’s possible the true SOTS 2K15 hasn’t emerged yet. The summer just began, after all. 

Keep your ears open. Ultimately there is only one SOTS, and we all have to live with that decision.

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