What Makes a Summer Song?


Summertime is the time most artists have their time to shine. In my opinion, summer should have its own separate Billboard chart, because summer is when artists tend to stamp their mark on pop culture. From Drake‘s ‘One Dance’ to Rihanna‘s ‘Work’ and Childish Gambino‘s ‘Feels like Summer’ – summertime is arguably the best season for music. Traditionally, the song of the summer is the song that spends the most time atop the Billboard Hot 100 or the Official UK Charts between May 1st and May 27th, so what does it take to have this position and be labelled a summer song?

Let’s go back in time. Although most summer songs are usually uptempo and invoke feelings of happiness, confidence and just all around goodness, in 1998 ‘I’ll be Missing You’ by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112 was the summer song of that year – an elegy to the death of well-respected rapper The Notorious B.I.G. This song went against the usual feel-good factor of what summer songs usually have, but seeing as the music industry had lost one of its most influential rappers, it worked as the for song of the summer. Released within that May window, the world supported the message of ‘I’ll Be Missing You’, which was essentially saying goodbye to a legend, inevitably leading to many plays and many purchases. With this in mind, a summer song that addresses what it is happening in pop culture at that moment in time works just fine. In this case, ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ made everyone deal with the death of Biggie much more easily, so a song that touches the hearts of people and also uplifts a legend is perfect for the summer.

On the other hand, the best – and usually most memorable – summer songs leave us with a dance craze that sticks in our minds over the summer. Take the summer smash ‘Party Rock Anthem’ by LMFAO: the phrase ”Everyday I’m Shufflin” was definitely the most overplayed phrase of summer 2011, but yet we couldn’t get enough – and we were all shuffling (some of us better than others, but shuffling nonetheless).

Another ingredient of the perfect summer song is catchy lyrics. Let’s take Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’. This song title itself coincides with the summer, whilst the chorus sticks in your head:

It’s gettin’ hot in here (so hot), so take off all your clothes
I am, gettin’ so hot, I wanna take my clothes off
It’s gettin’ hot in here (so hot), so take off all your clothes
I am, gettin’ so hot, I wanna take my clothes off

To this day, ‘Hot in Here’ gets played at every summer pool party and barbeque, and will arguably never go out of style. The same way that a knife and fork go in hand is the same way Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’ and summer go hand in hand; it is a summer essential.

Some other summer song essentials are hi-hats and some commanding horns – this particular instrument was introduced to us when Queen Bey herself released her first solo single ‘Crazy In Love’. The legendary horn intro is recognizable anywhere, and although it was sampled from The Chi-Lites ‘Are You My Woman’, it’s paired with Beyonce whenever its played. The summer of 2003 belonged to Beyonce as the horns and infectious hi-hats and unforgettable ‘Uh-Oh’ dance made ‘Crazy in Love’ the perfect summer song. It made people dance, it had catchy lyrics, and ultimately it made people feel good: all these elements make for the perfect summer song and Beyonce, along with other artists before and after her have made unforgettable summer songs using a similar formula.


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Everyone needs spice, culture, flavour, exoticness -you get the point. Hopefully, I can be that added spice to your life, a new member to The Edge at SUSU I hope you enjoy all my posts in the near future and erm, my name is Jason by the way.

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