The summer of 2017 was the summer of “Despacito.” This isn’t really something worth rehashing a year later. It was everywhere, we were all cool with it being everywhere and when the fall of 2017 eventually rolled around and stole our #summervibes, “Despacito” was the soundtrack of the past few months.
This summer has been a little different. There really isn’t the consensus number one song of the summer. Billboard, who has been tracking songs of the summer over the years, and has a rundown of the top 10 tunes for every summer going back to 1958, recently declared Drake the winner of the summer of 2018, with “In My Feelings” topping their chart. According to Billboard, Drake also won the summer of 2016 with “One Dance,” an honor that seems more irrefutable than him winning for “In My Feelings.”
Despite heavy competition, “One Dance” was the song of the summer that year. 2016 was a monster summer and while we can all agree “One Dance” took home the title that summer, we can also agree that cases could be made for Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ “This is What You Came For” and “Cheap Thrills” by Sia and Sean Paul, as well as one or two other songs. The 2016 race highlights the complexity of naming just one song as the song of the summer. To hit that mark, the song has to have tentacles that allow it to reach numerous sections and aspects of American life. It should be applicable to a variety of summertime situations and at least on a handful of occasions during the summer have captured the zeitgeist in a way that just cannot be questioned. “One Dance” did that in 2016 whereas in 2018, “In My Feelings” did not.
“In My Feelings” may have a moment, but overall I do feel like it is the defacto song of the summer this year. It’s kind of a toss up. Personally, I’d go with “Apeshit” by up and coming folk act The Carters.
That song stirs something inside of me. It was perfect for blasting on a car stereo, blasting while playing corn hole in the backyard, blasting while out there in the hot summer sun mowing the lawn. For me, a summer jam has to follow me everywhere. Such was the case with “Apeshit.” I really think we’re about to see some great things from those two youngsters.
However, I also feel about as strong about a handful of other tunes. “This Is America” could be considered, but I feel like that’s the song of 2018, the whole (expletive deleted) year. It doesn’t seem fair for me to give it summer as well. As for other songs, I love that Cardi B song and I’m all in on Migos’ “Stir Fry.” I also think “Sit Next to Me” by Foster the People could be this summer’s “Feel It Still,” the song that gets overlooked as a song of the summer, but is also the one you might have heard the most, as it was played on a variety of different radio stations. I also think we can’t sleep on it’s staying power. It wouldn’t be out of the question for it still to be getting spins on radio stations next summer, much like “Feel It Still” is still going strong.
On the Differing Opinions on Drake podcast, Elyse and I compiled over twenty songs we felt were songs of the summer of 2018. Because again, there really isn’t just one. At least not for everyone there isn’t.
So instead of me arbitrarily naming one, I wanted to solicit some opinions from other folks. See what they thought. I also wanted to make sure that I stretched out geographically when seeing what people thought. So I asked someone here in New Jersey, someone who is currently in Israel, but had been in New York City, someone down in the heart of Texas, someone over in Chicago and someone way over in sunny California. I texted Sarah Palin in Alaska but she has yet to respond.
“I Like It” Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin
The song is with J Balvin, who had one of my summer jams from 2017, “Mi Gente!” Last year’s summer jam was “Despacito” and “I Like It” by Cardi B uses the same Latinx sounds. It’s a song that comes on and all you want to do is dance. Even if this was “another summer of Drake,” Cardi B held strong with a strong album and a fire hit! I think we will be listening to this song for years! – Elyse Washington
“Ghost Town” Kanye West featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR
Giddy Up America asked me to submit a piece on my song of the summer for 2018 and it’s important for me to give a little disclaimer.
This summer marks one year since uprooting from Boston and moving to Chicago, and in that year I’ve adopted a dog, become a homeowner, and gotten married. All that change meant that truthfully, I was listening to music that I was comfortable with; things like Vampire Weekend, The1975’s first two albums, old Clipse records, etc. HOWEVER, I am a Kanye fan (sorry?) and his flurry of releases held my attention for the early part of the summer. All of this is important context because my song of the summer isn’t a top 40 radio hit, it isn’t “In My Feelings” or “SICKO MODE” (though the latter was a contender). It isn’t by Nicki Minaj or Cardi B or Ariana Grande or DJ Khaled or Migos. You get it. It’s also not by XXXtentacion (rip) or Takashi 6ix9ine or any other how the hell do you spell/say their name?! artist. To be clear, I have nothing against any of the artists or songs listed above (except Drake. He can go.) It’s just that I wasn’t in the right space to ride any of those new waves. I stayed in a very comfortable, Cosmo Kramer sized lane. I listened to artists that I know & like and the songs they released that were accessible to me via Spotify.
It might not be surprising, then, that my song of the summer is Ye’s “Ghost Town.” It’s the powerhouse track on the album that features all of his usual co-conspirators: John Legend, Kid Cudi, Mike Dean and a new GOOD signee, 070 Shake, who commands your attention with her soaring vocals over Dean’s soaring guitar, over Ye’s soaring, loose drums, over some laser sounds. “Ghost Town” is what I listened to driving to work at 7:30am on a Saturday after working until 12:30am on Friday; it’s what brought me back to life when those Saturdays were doubles. It’s the track on Ye that makes the album and the nonsense worth it. It’s also the most popular track from the most recent album by my favorite artist. There were other contenders like A$AP & Skepta’s driving “Praise The Lord (Da Shine)”, Pusha’s braggadocios “What Would Meek Do” (“watch face came with a fuse box” “smell it through the Tupperware”) Labrinth, Sia & Diplo’s “Genius” and The1975’s new afropop bop “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME.”
So you can have your Drakes and Cardis and Post Malones, I’ll stick with Ye. – Adam Dube
“No Tears Left to Cry” Ariana Grande
She’s loving and living and she’s turning up. From going all in with Pete Davidson, to her upside-down Instagram captions, to surviving a Bishop’s boob grab, this summer definitely belongs to Ariana Grande. I used to not be the biggest fan because her only dance move was the “clap while looking at my butt”, but I’ve really come around after seeing how much Jimmy Fallon loves her. She had a lot of songs to choose from on Sweetener, but “No Tears Left To Cry” (though it came out in April), is absolutely the song of the summer.
I sometimes don’t realize I have the song on repeat and can listen for a whole car ride without complaining. I especially like this song because during summer, nobody wants to work overtime and this song only has about 20 words that repeat themselves over and over which make it easy to learn (…though I admit I probably still sing the lyrics at about 75% accuracy). I’ll keep playing this song on repeat for a few more months, because I can’t stop now (can’t stop so shut your mouth). – Samantha Greenleaf
“I Like It” Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin
There are some summers where the song of the summer is just a no-brainer. That was not this summer. So since there was no clear winner in the song of the summer battle this year I had to think about my song of the summer criteria.
My criteria is pretty simple. It’s the song that I can see myself being excited about at the beach, on a car ride, at a bar, at a club, a BBQ etc. You know, summer time stuff. Shoutout to Post Malone (who we all know is the secret child of his father Karl) for have a sneaky good summer song with “Better Now”. Also kudos to Childish Gambino, who was as straightforward with his intentions as Tom Cruise at the end of Jerry Maguire by unapologetically naming his song “Summertime Magic”. For most of the dog days, the song that best matched my criteria was “Nice For What” by Drake. I was always excited when it came on, but it didn’t feel summery (trademark pending) enough for me.
I was in need of a summer savior and then she arrived. Cardi B delivered my song of the summer with “I Like It”. It’s perfect for any setting. You can two step to it, you can salsa to it, you can drink to it, you can lay out to it. It’s a bonafide summer smash. Plus it continues the tradition set by many summer songs of the past of having Spanish lyrics that confuse, but excite white people (see “Living La Vida Loca,” “Despacito,” etc).
So congrats, Cardi B. You continue to own our hearts and now the summer. – Frankie Zamudio
“This Is America” Childish Gambino
Was Childish Gambino’s return to the spotlight the best banger these last few months? No. Did this hip-hop and rap jam warrant a Spotify loop? Not particularly. In fact, the track isn’t that special with the audio alone; the impeccably crafted music video is what makes “This Is America” the indisputable song of the summer.
Racking up millions of views, “This Is America” was engineered to go viral – and more than worthy. Hidden messages and catchy dance moves had us talking about Donald Glover’s work of art for awhile. – Elazar Abrahams of TV & City
“Sit Next to Me” Foster the People
“What’s your song of the summer?” I asked my wife.
She thought about for a second.
“The Foster the People song. “Sit Next to Me,”” she replied,
“You want to write something about it?” I asked.
“Nope.” – Kim O’Connell
“Beauty and the Beast” Ariana Grande & John Legend
Could not be reached for comment. – my daughter