In a fickle pop music climate where listeners chew through songs with alarming frequency, longevity is the ultimate currency. Singles will ascend and descend the charts for the next three months, but only one will snatch the crown to become song of the summer. It doesn’t matter if these songs came out last week or at the end of last year, so long as their indelible hooks find their way onto millions of playlists by the end of August.
1) Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber — “Despacito”
Infectious Latin beats, delicate guitar flourishes, and a genuinely tender Bieber feature rocketed Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” to the top of the charts. But it’s Bieber’s ensuing fuckboy antics—forgetting the lyrics onstage and subbing a bunch of unintelligible, racist gibberish—that will give this baby legs through the dog days of summer.
2) Selena Gomez — “Bad Liar”
Gomez refines the sultry, mischievous persona she crafted with last year’s Revival on her new single, which rocketed from No. 80 to No. 27 on the Billboard chart in its second week. Well-placed handclaps and a plucky bassline propel flirty, syncopated vocals that evoke the fleeting passion of summer romance.
3) Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna — “Loyalty”
Picking the catchiest track on DAMN. is a fool’s errand, but there’s no denying the chemistry between Kung Fu Kenny and Bad Girl RiRi as the two trade bars over luxurious beats and synth hooks that beg to be blasted from a convertible at sunset. Lamar’s never sounded more flirtatious; Rihanna’s never rapped with more swagger.
4) Drake — “Passionfruit”
Last year’s “One Dance” proved Drake is no stranger to dancehall, but he eloquently imbues its sequel, “Passionfruit,” with an electro-pop sheen that makes it unintrusive, but still memorable. The rapper’s plaintive, pitch-corrected vocals lend the track a wistful melancholy that defines his best songs. “I’m trying to think of the right thing to say,” a woman says tepidly near the end of the song. Shhh—just listen.
5) Lil Uzi Vert — “XO TOUR Llif3”
Forget the pool parties and hazy late nights: Sometimes summer just sucks, and Lil Uzi Vert knows it. The glam rapper’s highest-streamed single soars on its sublime, Auto-Tuned chorus, perfectly chronicling the vicious comedown that follows every fervent fling.
6) Bruno Mars — “That’s What I Like”
The retro-pop star’s latest single already topped the Billboard charts, but it shows no signs of slowing down and could easily snatch back the crown by July. Gorgeous production and Mars’ cross-generational appeal make the track a perfect choice for clubs, cookouts, or cozy midnight bonfires. For best results, serve with strawberry champagne on ice.
7) DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne — “I’m the One”
Nobody curates red-hot talent better than DJ Khaled. His latest pop-rap confection pits Bieber’s breezy hook against playful, Auto-Tuned bars from Quavo, Chance, and Lil Wayne. If Khaled can get Weezy to spit a passable verse and hit No. 1 in 2017, he really must be the best.
8) Lorde — “Green Light”
“She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar,” Lorde snarls on her brooding, cathartic anthem. The enigmatic antihero doesn’t give a damn about your lukewarm Bud Light or dollar-store sparklers: She just wants to run—away from heartache and disappointment, toward something infinitely greater if not yet tangible. On “Green Light,” she makes it sound possible. For herself. For all of us.
9) Carly Rae Jepsen — “Cut to the Feeling”
Glittery synths, massive electro-beats, and an anthemic chorus make Carly Rae Jepsen’s new single the perfect soundtrack to a summer like the ones in camping commercials where everybody flashes perfect smiles as they toss beach balls and play with bootleg fireworks. Sitting at just over 1 million Spotify streams after a week-and-a-half debut, it’ll need a lot of oomph to get off the ground, but if it lodges itself in enough ears by July, it’ll be unstoppable.
10) The Chainsmokers feat. Coldplay — “Something Just Like This”
Every song of the summer battle needs a milquetoast EDM banger, the aural equivalent of cracking open a cold one with the boys or buying a crisp new pair of $800 salmon shorts at Vineyard Vines. You may be thinking, isn’t this whiny, three-chord banger the same as the other 11 tracks on Memories… Do Not Open? Au contraire! This one features the godfathers of modern whiny, three-chord bangers, Coldplay! Unlike Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, these atonal sadboys show no signs of consciously uncoupling anytime soon, so you might as well strap in until August.
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