By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Last year, you couldn’t escape ‘Blurred Lines.’ The Robin Thicke tune was on just about everybody’s beach and party playlist. So, what will be the song of the summer this time around?
Some of the top contenders will play at Philly’s Fourth of July Jam on the Parkway: there’s Ed Sheeran, with ‘Sing‘; the newest single from Nicki Minaj, ‘Pills N Potions,’ and Ariana Grande, with ‘Problem.’
“Anyone who has a tween knows Ariana from the TV show ‘Sam and Cat,'” says Sean Ross, who writes the music newsletter Ross on Radio. “She had her first album out last year, which was notable for how much she sounded like early Mariah Carey.”
Ross, the vice president of music and programming for Edison Research in New Jersey, says winning the trophy for best summer song is a big deal for an artist, who can sell a ton of singles and tour tickets (and maybe albums) — and for the record label, which can be quite calculating when it comes to positioning a song for a season (take Calvin Harris, who’s released a track called ‘Summer‘).
“It says something about how big a deal the song of summer has become that people begin speculating on songs on albums nine months before summer — pretty much as soon as the previous summer ends,” Ross notes.
Breezy and up-tempo are classic features — but what about reggae? ‘Rude‘ by Magic! is one — or the only? — example.
“Magic! is a Canadian band helmed by a successful songwriter,” Ross explains. “It’s the first reggae-flavored hit to come out during the summer in a while. It was actually a hit in both Canada and Australia a few months ago, which means it’s already been both a summer hit and a winter hit. There’s also another song that has a vaguely tropical feel to it, called ‘Am I Wrong‘ by Nico and Vinz. That will be a summer hit.”
Maybe it’ll come from beyond the grave, like Michael Jackson’s ‘Love Never Felt So Good‘ (feat. Justin Timberlake). Or the song of the summer could be something we haven’t heard yet — Maroon 5’s forthcoming single, for one.
“I think the chances of an upset are as good as they’ve been, because people tend to over-indulge in new songs quickly these days,” Ross says. There are a lot of stations playing the same music; a new song can reach saturation pretty quickly.”
But singers, don’t drown in ‘Summertime Sadness’ (Lana Del Rey’s hit) if you don’t get the crown: Ross says past performance is not always indicative of future results.
“The last three winners have been LMFAO, who had one more hit and broke up; Carly Rae Jepsen, who put out a follow-up album that went nowhere. She’s on Broadway now, but is finally going back in the studio. And last year, it was Robin Thicke, who, for various reasons hasn’t had a great year since and hasn’t had another hit and is beat up regularly in the consumer press.”