As your local ice cream truck driver can tell you, summer’s where it’s at. Granted, that’s because said ice cream truck sells drugs on the side and drugs are very popular in summer, but there are other lovely things to the summer. Y’know, like the annual battle royale to determine what will be crowned the Song of the Summer®.
Every summer, there’s an inescapable track (or two) that simply dominates the landscape and is THE summer anthem. Sometimes it’s something good (see: “Call Me Maybe”), sometimes it’s something that fundamentally changes Top 40 radio (see: “Despacito”) and sometimes it’s Robin Thicke and Pharrell doing a terrible song suggesting sexual assault is a cheery good time (see: “Blurred Lines”). Not every track that earns Song of the Summer status is a masterpiece, but that’s not the point. It’s song embraced en masse by the public as they sweat themselves into a fine stew at a pool party.
A.Side has elected to peer into the current contender landscape for 2018’s Song of the Summer and has found 18 tracks that are already jockeying for position. Of course, the moment Rihanna, Kanye or Ghost Harrison (George Harrison’s ghost) release a surprise single this list is completely fucked and can be tossed in the recycling. Some tunes you’ll love, some tunes you’ll hate, most are going to be hard to avoid if you’re not hiding out in a BioDome that only has old Rush cassettes.
These aren’t all endorsements, but some of these tracks are simply marvellous. Do with that information what you will.
Drake — “God’s Plan”/”Nice For What”
6 God’s summer plans? A colossal album rollout and probably a lot of very exciting rich handsome recording artist sex. The former’s more important to this list with singles “God’s Plan” and “Nice For What” already major smashes with memes and celebrity involvement to their name. “Nice For What” has a better chance of replicating the mighty dancefloor success of “One Dance,” but “God’s Plan” syncs up better with people looking at someone or something in contemplative slow motion. Both are serious contenders and possible front-runners at this stage of the game as they should be.
Janelle Monae — “Make Me Feel”
Janelle Monae is back and thank RoboChrist for that! Armed with a number of capable 2018 monsters (like the Grimes and vagina pants aided “Pynk”), perhaps it’s “Make Me Feel” that’s the most mighty of all. Prince’s DJ Lenka Paris said the Purple One had a hand in the crafting of this funky sexy track which might explain why this homage has an extra Paisley Park touch to its presentation. Monae, the ArchAndroid who never fails to convey human and superhuman all it once, is reliably a treasure Prince assist or no and that crackles forth in this genre-melt of a hipmover. 2018 could use more songs to crawl across the floor to with a feeling of empowerment. The tune being unapologetically queer doesn’t hurt, either.
Hayley Kiyoko — “Curious”
Elsewhere in queer-friendly anthems snapping up a healthy market share, “Curious” serves up sensual pop thump with bottlerocket energy that has been too darling to keep off the charts. Hayley Kiyoko mixes questions of the heart, laces them with hard truths about societal expectations and plunks it all in a remarkably appealing megawatt package.
Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line — “Meant To Be”
Frequent “yes, I’m available for that guest spot” pseudo-temp Bebe Rexha pairs up with chart-friendly modern country fellas Florida Georgia Line for this hybrid cut. “Meant To Be” is a relatively breezy confection designed for recovery and acceptance underneath the glow of barroom neon, although it also sounds like something to be blasted as inspiration as your bud going through a bad breakup power-vomits lime-flavored beer off some sort of railing. As of this writing, no tune has knocked “Meant To Be” off its #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Songs chart at any point in 2018.
Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa — “One Kiss”
Tracks like “New Rules” don’t exactly tumble out every day, so it wouldn’t be the worst thing for Dua Lipa’s breakup masterpiece to get another run this summer, but the pop dynamo still has a shot at summer glory in 2018. She’s paired up with summer anthem crafter and former Taylor Swift french kisser Calvin Harris on this brisk house banger destined to be remixed six million ways from Sunday. Mileage tends to vary on Harris’ singles, but “One Kiss” is a pulsating dance gem with replay value to spare and the charisma of Ms. IDGAF.
Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”
Summer 2018 might not have everyone dolled up in the Fly Girl finery of the “Finesse (Remix)” video, but Bruno Mars and Cardi B have crafted something special with this infectious upgrade of this 24K Magic cut. (Between “Finesse (Remix)” and PRETTYMUCH’s “Would You Mind,” we’re in a lovely period for New Jack Swing influenced pop marvels.) As is the law in 2018, adding Cardi B to anything you do enhancing its artistic and financial value by 200%. Full marks on crafting a tune that’s excellent AND catnip for cruise ship activity directors.
Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny & J Balvin — “I Like It”
Underestimating Cardi B in 2018 is dumber than playing hopscotch on the highway. A whole host of tracks from Invasion of Privacy threaten to snatch the crown (howdy “Drip”), but “I Like It” might be the strongest commercial contender of the bunch. Surfing on a mutated version of the Pete Rodriguez boogaloo classic “I Like It Like That,” Cardi B pairs with surging Latin trap sensation Bad Bunny and “Mi Gente” singer J Balvin to dish out bon mots over salsa-rap fusion.
Camila Cabello — “Never Be the Same”
Camila’s departure from Fifth Harmony coupled with her big personality could have plunked her in Geri Halliwell for the Kik generation status. Instead, Camila’s had a pretty impressive run of chart success since going solo. “Never Be The Same” doesn’t glue itself inside your brain quite like “Havana,” but it is a widescreen electropop ballad built to spread over top of TV and movie montages for supreme dramatic effect. In a field of bangers and anthems, beware the thorny ballad.
Lil Pump – “ESSKEETIT”
Could we have another “Gucci Gang” on her hands? Lil Pump continues his quest for desirable chart real estate on his own terms with this MDMAzing offering with retro gaming bounce and a hearty assortment of quotables. Do you doubt how quickly your friends might fall under the spell of letting out a loud “ESSKEETIT?” Bruh, they’re under it already. Probably you too.
Shawn Mendes — “Lost In Japan”
Has the last ten years of Justin Timberlake been a real bummer? Yeah, a lot of people feel that way an who could blame them? Thankfully, there’s this non-threatening Canadian life preserver arriving in time (or ten years late) for your rescue. Shawn Mendes has the proper gentle-funk sunbeam to soak in courtesy of “Lost In Japan” which lures you in with cheery horniness and effortless charm. We really don’t do enough to appreciate this valuable national resource.
Kendrick Lamar & SZA – “All the Stars”
Black Panther understandably ranks as 2018’s biggest blessing so far in the public’s eyes and that extends to the Kendrick-indebted soundtrack. Included in the wealth of quality tunes is this cinematic pair-up featuring Kendrick Lamar and the force of nature known as SZA. The two share this dramatic sprawl of a cut that inspires visions of T’Challa on the throne, Nakia whooping ass and Killmonger’s scarred up physique.
lovelytheband – “broken”
The most likely contender on the alternative charts, lovelytheband have this year’s current rock-adjacent pseudo-pop hit a la MAGIC! with more spiritually in common with Foster the People or a car commercial focus group. The lyrics may have been plucked from a 7th grader’s duotang, so go in armed with that knowledge.
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey — “The Middle”
Tragically not a song championing the long-running sitcom of the same name, this combo effort is exactly what you imagine a balcony-friendly effort from Zedd to be. Maren Morris subs out her country pedigree for infectious if sparse EDM anthem about not being a dink and compromising a tad in relationships. Anyone that has ever masturbated to a sunglasses catalogue will likely cheer with recognition when they hear this at a party this July. It’s that sort of number.
Derez De’Shon — “Hardaway”
If Nike has any sense, they’ll recognize the popularity of this Derez De’Shon composition and release a line of Lil Penny dolls immediately to capitalize. Derez may not be great at selling dope as he confesses on this spellbinding composition, but he sure as shit knows how to make a woozy reflection on dragging yourself by your fingernails towards success. “Buy a foreign whip to see what’s fastest, if I ain’t eatin’ then I’m fastin’, yeah, Fat as fuck, bought a coupe just to see if I can fit in, It didn’t work, so I gave it to one of my bitches,” raps Derez as he lowkey snags your heart.
MØ — “Nostalgia”
MØ Szyslak knows her way around crowd-pleasing summer hits. She’s popped up on a few of them this decade thanks to tracks like the Major Lazer and DJ Snake combo cut “Lean On.” “Nostalgia isn’t exactly in the realm of the EDM behemoth and that plays to its strength as a swelling alt-dance directive you’re welcome to project whatever you wish to on top of it. A contender for one of the more cleansing bops of 2018 and in turn Song of the Summer. Or it’ll fall into oblivion in a manner of weeks. The magic of music-related commerce!
Bad Wolves — “Zombie”
Could we be on the precipice of metalcore earning the (made-up) Song of Summer title? Not likely, but it could have a shot with this Cranberries cover that’s picking up steam with modern rock enthusiasts. Originally intended to be a cover that included the vocals of the Dolores O’Riordan, the track morphed into a de facto tribute when the Cranberries frontwoman passed away before the recording. There’s a lot of sentimental goodwill built up with this 2018 repurposing of the ‘90s alt-rock hit. It’s also COMPLETE dogshit, but bless your heart if you love it.
Kacey Musgraves – “High Horse”
Kacey Musgraves has been clutched to the chest of folks who make a big fuss about their strict collection of personal country music rules, but she’s loads more fun than that snooty designation would lead you to believe. “High Horse” comes covered in disco glitter and ready to enhance the Grammy-decorated singer-songwriter’s crossover appeal. (It’s a bit Feist goes Countrypolitan yet not at all.) If there’s a country dark horse in these sweepstakes, Kacey Musgraves fits the bill.
Hoodboi featuring Tkay Maidza – “Glide”
If there’s room for a dark horse in this roundup, there’s also space for a deserving contender that’s an impossibly longshot. Hoodboi and Tkay Maidza link up for the quicksand-esque dance number “Glide” which feels custom built for meaningful glances at unreasonable hours. Tkay Maidza spits bars with the regal brilliance you’ve come to expect and floats over top of Hoodboi’s cosmic production like she was handpicked by God(dess?).