What makes a great summer song? Typically, the Song Of The Summer bubbles up via some haphazard formula that includes airplay, chart ranking, and how quickly the beat worms its way into your brain and stays there.
"Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen was a perfect Song Of The Summer. It charted highly, spurred an imitation video craze, and was hella catchy. "Blurred Lines" may have been controversial, but it, too was incredibly catchy, dancey and enjoyable. I have even softened towards Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," with its braggy bass line and mediocre rapping.
Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again" is topping the charts right now (and it's been there for weeks), but it isn't a song to be played at late-night booze-filled summer parties, or during the day to motivate you through work. "See You Again" is a song about death, and mourning the loss of a young man gone too soon. "See You Again" is the kind of song that makes bros cry, and the last thing you need at your summer banger is boys crying. Even "Uptown Funk," with its incessant beat and year-long reign on the chart, would be better for summer nights than this sappy song.
2015 hasn't given us a great Song Of The Summer (yet). "Uptown Funk" is too old, "Thinking Out Loud" is too slow, and "Bad Blood" only hit no. 1 because of the video. So. Here are 7 songs worthy of summer 2015, even if none of them will ever top the charts.
1. "On the Regular" by Shamir
Shamir's "On the Regular" is a weird song. There's the cowbell, and the quick pace coupled with a bass that jumps around. From its very first line — "Hi, hi, howdy, howdy, hi, hi!" — it announces itself as the upbeat, really silly Song Of The Summer we deserve. It's chill enough to play by the pool, fun enough to start a party, and infectious enough to stick in your brain.
2. "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten
"Fight Song" is maybe the only song on my list chart that does have a chance of hitting number one and becoming a true Song Of The Summer. Currently, it's stuck at number 15, where it has been chilling for a few weeks. Platten's empowering, anthemic pop-country rack harkens back to a younger, more-naive Taylor Swift (who has also helped Platten get a listening base). "Fight Song" is just the kind of song you want to yell along to in your car with the windows down, and there's nothing more summer than that.
3. "Weight in Gold" by Gallant
"Weight in Gold" premiered on June 30, the first day of Zane Lowe's new radio show on Apple's Beats 1 Radio, and has an approachability in its high vocals and glittering soulful beats that make it addicting. Gallant's full LP should drop later this year, but there's no harm in embracing this lead single ahead of time.
4. "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)" by Jamie XX
"I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)" has a little bit of everything: The smoothness of barber shop pop, the grit of rap, and the flickering notes of EDM. In Colour, Jamie XX's debut album, has received rave reviews for its supreme ability to sample, blend, and produce crowd-pleasing, dancefloor-ready hits. This is the song you want to hear in a club and on your porch.
5. "Hold Me Down" by Halsey
For a summer song with a little more edge, try Halsey's "Hold Me Down," with lines like "I'm helpless/ clinging to a little bit of spine" and "throw me in the deep end/watch me drown." But there's something undeniably warm about Halsey's harmonies — and coupled with the electronic bubbling, it sounds like the kind of song that plays over and over again for hours before you notice.
6. "Better Man" by Leon Bridges
If soul music is undergoing a revival, Leon Bridges must be at the front of the pack. His debut album Coming Home is a syrupy sensational trip through the history of soul music. "I'd swim the Mississippi River/ for you to give me another start, girl," Bridges sings in "Better Man." With Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke vibes, Bridges' songs are raw while feeling incredibly upbeat.
7. "Here" by Alessia Cara
18-year-old Alessia Cara has only released one single, "Here," but her smoky voice and inspiring confidence could carry her far. The bass line might seem familiar since it was in Portishead's 1995 hit "Glory Box" (and Tricky's "Hell Is Around the Corner" — lifted from Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap") and has the same moody vibe. "Here" is a song about being at a party but wanting to leave — and the benefits of just staying in. "Really, I would rather be at home all by myself," Cara sings, and sometimes, even in the summer, ain't that the truth?
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.