Every year by the end of May, I try to predict the Song of the Summer. Last year, I picked Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling, which seems like an obvious choice now, but it was just barely getting airplay in May of last year before it became omnipresent in the months—and year—to come. I said it was between Timberlake’s song and Drake’s One Dance. I picked the top two songs, just not in the right order.
Predicting the Song of the Summer has become a fun way to start the season for many. Some do it based on their personal preferences and intuition, while others try to use some science.
I considered over 30 songs and narrowed it down to the top three. Before I tell my picks in order, I’ll tell you how I got there. Some consider the buzz a song is getting on blogs and websites, the release date, and the number of streams, but I apply three more subjective criteria to the choice:
Positive Emotion – the song has got to evoke positive emotions. It’s the Song of the Summer! No downers or cynical songs. Usually, this means it has to be up-tempo (though One Dance was mid-tempo and sultry) with fun or sexy lyrics.
Great Hook – the song has got to have a great hook that sticks with you.
Communal Experience – the song has got to be a song you enjoy in groups—at the beach, at a club, driving in the car with the windows down.
Now, this doesn’t mean the song has to be an especially good song or even a clever song. It just has to be a fun, happy song with a good hook that you want to sing or dance to with your friends. Also, while it’s easier for established performers like Drake or Timberlake or Pitbull to take the prize, the right song can be earned by a (then) relative unknown like Carly Rae Jepsen or LMFAO.
I considered songs by DJ Khaled, Drake, Paramore, Selena Gomez, Lorde, Pitbull, Kendrick Lamar, and a bunch of others. I put Slide by Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos, as well as Believer by Imagine Dragons on a short list. Ultimately, though, it came down to a strong number one and a solid runner-up.
Here’s my choice:
The Song of the Summer will be Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber.
The runner-up may be Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay.
If I’m right, Despacito will be the first Spanish-language song to rule the roost since…what? The Macarena? Bieber’s presence doesn’t hurt, but the song will win the summer on its own merits. It hits all the marks.
By the way, The Ringer’s mathematical prediction landed on the exact same song. I was sort of hoping to predict a different song (for bragging rights or something like that), but I think they got it right. By the way, if I’m wrong, it will be because DJ Khaled’s I’m the One was the winner. I just couldn’t pick two Bieber songs. I won’t be too surprised if this song takes the crown, though.
Finally, not that you asked, my favorite song in the informal competition is Want You Back by HAIM. It has zero chance of winning the summer, but it’s a terrific song. It’s the only song out of more than thirty that I downloaded right after I heard it.