Hi 5: Top 5 Summer Songs of 2015

Posted September 15, 2015 by J Matthew Cobb in Jukebox

Slim pickings aside, the pop market in 2015 left us wondering what was the real summer anthem. HiFi focuses on five good candidates, and a few optional picks

Summer 2015 is now behind us. But before we say goodbye to the hot humid weather and those endless pool party selfies, we must crown the year’s best summer song.

The task at hand isn’t exactly an easy assignment. That’s because this year the selection of Top 40 songs hasn’t exactly defined what we have typically defined as summer songs (and yes, we have defined it before). No, we don’t always go by the standard of Billboard magazine, by reaching for the song that has been played the most on radio or that has sold the most units. In this new tech-driven age where most people would choose to stream a song for free rather than actually putting it on their iPhone (or if your really archaic, in your CD player), it’s become more difficult to crown a song in these type of categories. So on this round and until the music biz gets a bit more organized and structurally sound, I have to put on my thinking cap and resume my critical prowess in making a sound decision on the matter. Before unveiling the No. 1 choice in my book, let’s pull off the veil on four other summer anthem standouts.

First, those that might have made the list, if only circumstances didn’t ruin its fate.

Mark Ronson‘s funky rollercoaster, “Uptown Funk,” pretty much dominated the Hot 100 in 2015, much like Robin Thicke did the year prior. But there’s a big problem here: The song is old. It’s like ten months old. And even though summer parties were not complete without hearing the city calling of “Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson, Mississippi,” the age on this Bruno Mars-carrying uptempo party smash nullifies all of its chances of wearing THE crown. We wish it wasn’t that way, because it’s one heck of a jam.

“Watch Me,” the breakout single for Silentó, was practically everywhere in pop culture throughout the summer of 2015. It was hard to dodge such a sneaky tribute to the latest assembly of urban dances. It’s been certified gold and has already hit a number of Top Ten charts nationwide, so why isn’t the song in this year’s Top 5 Summer Songs? Well, for the same reason we wished didn’t give too much hype and praise to previous songs that are only mere Dance Dance Revolution workouts. It seems like since Chubby Checker roared out the gate with the Dick Clark-endorsed “The Twist,” young America has had a fixation with songs that are set-ups for the latest dance crazes. “Watch Me” is our modern-day “Daisy Dukes, the 21st century “C’mon ‘n Ride It (The Train).” It’s the latest to appear on the tree of heritage that brought us “The Macarena,” “Whoomp There It Is,” “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and “Wobble Baby.” Sadly, all of those songs are by artists that have becoming the laughingstock of one-hit wonders. Expect for Silentó to make that list.

And many were pulling for “Cheerleader,” a song anchored by Jamaican singer OMI. There’s a trove of mixes of the original out there, but the Felix Jaehn remix has been the preferred version used in the pop marketplace. Cute V-Day lyrics and a melodic breeze lights up the path, but it just never takes off like a rocket. There’s tropical sounds and trumpet and sax horns aglow, particularly on the original, but it’s seriously an overrated song — even with the forced rap verses. It’s just serendipitous because it’s island-inspired.

So these five are only considerable for the throne.

“Want to Want Me”
Jason Derulo


With Derulo’s Michael Jackson register and a perky melody cooing for One Direction fans, “Want You to Want Me” made an easy run on the pop music’s non-stop treadmill. But what really sealed the deal was the song’s popularity on a karaoke app, which allows anyone to sync their voice with the star for a little duet magic. When country party boy Luke Bryan uploaded his version, the world went wild. You know you have a huge summer hit on your hands when a country star emasculated his Southern pride for a teen-squealing synth pop hit.

“See You Again”
Wiz Khalifa (feat. Charlie Ruth)

As an emotional goodbye to actor Paul Walker after dying during a tragic car crash in 2013, this song is the “I’ll Be Missing You” of our generation. Instead of relying on a simple R&B sample, this all-original rap ballad snuggles up on tender piano chords, Charlie Puth‘s sweet chorus and Wiz Khalifa “family” rounded lyrics. Not just appropriate for funerals, it’s also perfect for class and family reunions.

“Can’t Feel My Face”
the Weeknd

On “Can’t Feel My Face,” the Weeknd is placed way outside of his usual comfort zone of pillow talk emo-R&B. Instead he dances and struts his stuff with MJ execution and a mean bass line with DNA tracing back to Dennis Edwards’ “Don’t Look Any Further.” It’s a fun tune, albeit slightly mundane when compared with heavy-hitting summer anthems of yore.

“This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherfucker”
Maroon 5

Squeeze the word summer and the dear old fuck obscenity into a radio-ready pop song and you’re already tapped into the decadence of the summer code. There’s something about celebrating rebellion and teen spirit in summer anthems, and Maroon 5 seems to have carved out that recipe quite well on this track. No, this doesn’t come as close to touching the after glow of “Misery,” “If I Never See Your Face Again” or even “Moves Like Jagger,” but for a band that’s already seen the mountaintop this is suffice for now. And yes, the popularity of the song may have been powered by seeing Adam Levine‘s bare ass in the opening steamy parts of the concept vid.

“Lean On”
Major Lazer & DJ Snake

A song with massive far reach pivoting on world rhythms and a sparkly return to dancehall since Rihanna left that post some years ago. It’s a bit short (clocking under three minutes), but it gets the job done — thanks to the cute accent on Danish singer and the smooth ballad-type construction of the song. It also feels the most summery of this year’s healthy choices in the running for 2015 Summer Anthem.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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