If you lived pretty much anywhere in America, Katy Perry's "California Gurls" most likely followed you from the beach, to the car, to the grocery store last summer.
It was inescapable, as any great summer anthem should be.
In fact, after a successful run on the Hot 100, including six weeks at No. 1, "California Gurls" claimed the top spot on Billboard's list of the 30 most popular summer songs of all time. And she's in good company.
Based on the tune's chart performance, Perry's summer hit surpassed songs like 1991's "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, not to mention all four Beach Boys tracks on the list.
One track that didn't make the cut is Sisqo's "Thong Song," which was played so often during the summer of 2000, it was more like constant background noise than a warm-weather anthem.
The same could be said for Black Eyed Peas' mega hit "I Gotta Feeling" in 2009.
But, with the exception of two years ago, when Perry's "Waking up in Vegas" took the 10th spot on Billboard's list of summer songs, the pop princess has owned the honor, beginning in 2008 with "I Kissed A Girl."
"It doesn't feel like summer if there's not a Katy Perry single," said Jessica Robertson, managing editor of MTVHive.com.
Perry's singles -- "I Kissed A Girl," "Waking Up in Vegas," "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream" -- resonate with listeners because they hit on all the touch points of a great summer song, Robertson added. They're catchy, not too message heavy and can hold their own in any setting.
But songs don't have to sound like they were written to accompany a beach party to find success in the summertime, said Keith Caulfield, the associate director of charts/retail at Billboard.
The second most popular song of the summer in 2010 was Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie," according to Billboard's charts.
"That wasn't exactly a feel-good song," Caulfield said. "When a song is good, it's good."
It might be too soon to predict what the song of the summer will be this year, but here are a few guesses ...
Lady Gaga, "Edge of Glory"
"Edge of Glory" is one of three singles that have been released off Gaga's latest album, "Born This Way," which came out Monday; and music insiders agree this tune has the most potential to soundtrack the summer months.
" 'Born This Way' is about a message, 'Judas' came out of left field in terms of pop sound, but ('Edge of Glory') finds Gaga doing what she does best -- straight-up pop. It's that youthful abandon feeling," Robertson said.
Caulfield agrees: "The summer could ostensibly belong to Lady Gaga."
Among Gaga's three released singles, he said, "Edge of Glory" is probably getting more positive reviews in terms of song quality ... and message."
Katy Perry, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)"
The track is from Perry's "Teenage Dream" album, which has held strong on the charts since its August 2010 release. In addition to the album's first single, "California Gurls," claiming "song of the summer" in 2010, singles like "Teenage Dream" and "E.T." continue to dominate mainstream radio.
It's a no-brainer, Robertson says: "('Last Frid
ay Night') is about getting belligerently drunk and having a wild night with someone you don't know."
That nostalgic element is what all of her hits have in common, she added.
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
"('Super Bass') could be (Minaj's) biggest hit so far," Caulfield said. "The video is sexy and colorful. She rides a motorcycle made out of ice. If you're baking on the beach somewhere, maybe you'll think of riding a motorcycle made out of ice with Nicki Minaj."
The tune, from Minaj's debut solo album "Pink Friday," has a "Teenage Dream" feel, if only for a second. And with a chorus like, "Can't you hear that boom, badoom, boom, boom, badoom, boom, bass," it's probably going to get stuck in your head whether you want it to or not.
Enrique Iglesias (with Usher, featuring Lil Wayne), "Dirty Dancer"
Based on Iglesias' recent hits, it seems he's less concerned with being our "hero" than he is with making sure we're not wallflowers at the club. Try standing still and listening to his newest track. It's not easy.
And even though his 2010 summer hit "I Like It" didn't manage to overtake Perry's tribute to the Golden Coast, he certainly earned himself a spot on the summer playlist.
"Enrique has really made a comeback in the past year," Caulfield said. "He stepped away for a bit and then came back really strong with 'I Like It' ... and then "'Tonight (I'm Lovin' You).' "
He added: "He's making really high-quality dance music that's great for the club, and it's really resonating with people."
Robertson agrees: "It's carefree and fun."
LMFAO (featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock), "Party Rock Anthem"
"('Party Rock Anthem') is a big party song," Caulfield said. "(It) sounds especially good when you're on a dance floor -- possibly two cocktails into the evening."
Plus, the lyrics are, "Party rock is in the house tonight, everybody Just have a good time, and we gonna make you lose yo mind, we just wanna see ya ... shake that."
Beyonce's fourth studio album, fittingly titled "4," comes out in June. The album could easily produce a summer anthem, Robertson said.
"Although, 'Run the World (Girls),' which I happen to like, wasn't quite the hit we're used to from [Beyonce]," she said.
And despite her amazing performances of the single on the "Oprah" finale and the Billboard Music Awards, it hasn't exactly "set the world on fire," Caulfield said.
"I don't know what the shelf life of 'Run the World' is going to be," he added. "It's definitely an interesting single."
Interesting perhaps because it channels Beyonce's Destiny's Child roots -- girl power and repetition. Think "Survivor" or "Independent Women" with a harder beat.
Jennifer Lopez (featuring Lil Wayne), "I'm Into You"
"This song is hot, the video is hot, it's the perfect soundtrack for summer," Robertson said.
Lopez's "On the Floor," featuring Pitbull, is already somewhat of a club staple, she said, and "I'm Into You" is about to blow up.
Adele, anything on "21"
Despite lacking Robertson's "song of the summer" prerequisites, music insiders agree that when an album is as well-done as Adele's second studio album, bombastic beats and catchy hooks aren't necessary.
It's rare that a ballad will claim "song of the summer," Robertson said, but don't expect to get away from Adele any time soon.
"While purchases and consumption can be influenced and directed by the season because of the kinds of activities you're doing," Caulfield says, "it doesn't always go hand-in-hand."
"(Adele's) success could have happened at any time of the year. When the song is just that good, it could be spring, summer, fall or winter."
Monday, June 20, 2011
What will be song of the summer?
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