Summer doesn't officially begin for another few weeks, but already the season's pop music landscape is taking shape. For a certain song to be crowned the so-called Song of the Summer—the consensus name for that truly inescapable track that seems to be everywhere during the warmer months—radio domination is no longer a ruling factor. Yes, radio play is still a key component—and last year's undisputed champ, Drake's "One Dance," was all over the airwaves—but in today's streaming economy, all it takes is Spotify and Apple Music plays, for a song to crest in popularity. With that in mind, we chose nine tracks that will be everywhere in the next few months, and have the chance to claim the coveted title of Song of the Summer.
Kendrick Lamar - “Humble”
One of the major complaints surrounding Lamar’s last magnum opus, To Pimp A Butterfly, was that it lacked a no-doubter, a banger that would claim its rightful place at the top of the charts and solidify Lamar as not just the greatest rapper alive, but the biggest. But this Mike Will Made It-produced track, Kendrick’s first-ever number one, does just that.
Lady Gaga - “The Cure”
Gaga debuted this surprise single on the biggest stage possible, at Coachella, and although no one in the audience had heard the song before, it played like one of her greatest anthems. That’s because “The Cure” is instant pop perfection, an anthem that serves as an antidote to Gaga’s most recent album, the country-inflected Joanne, and a reminder that when she wants it, radio ubiquity is hers.
Drake - “Passionfruit”
It’s almost as if Drake named this song with summer domination in mind. Not only does the title conjure up ideas of tropical waves, but the music itself is dancehall Drake shaken and stirred with soft, romantic Drake, an automatic theme song for steamy summer flings that you’ll be hearing about until Labor Day.
Unknown Lorde song
Any other year, “Green Light," the first song off of Lorde’s wildly anticipated sophomore album, would be a top contender for Song of the Summer. But it feels like the song has already peaked, and given that the New Zealand pop star has a brand-new album dropping on June 16, our guess is she’s going to drop the real heater any day now.
6LACK - “PRBLMS”
Released last year, this narcotic, woozy track from the Atlanta rapper is riding a sudden wave of buzz thanks to a big push from the folks over at Apple Music. Normally this song, a dark-hearted existential crisis, might come off as a little too bleak for summer escapism, but these are bleak times we’re living in. Might as well revel in them.
Bleachers - “Hate That You Know Me”
Jack Antonoff has quietly become the king of stadium-sized hooks, whether he’s collaborating with Taylor Swift or Lorde or working on his own project, the buoyant pop-rock outfit Bleachers. “Hate That You Know Me” is the latest single off of the upcoming Bleachers album (which itself could dominate beach day playlists when it drops June 2) and features shimmering vocals from Carly Rae Jepsen, alongside a chorus that is as yearning as it is irresistible.
ODESZA - “Line of Sight” (feat. WYNNE and Mansionair)
It can’t be a coincidence that just yesterday, Seattle-based electronic duo ODESZA released their first new piece of music in over a year. It can't also be a coincidence that the track just happens to be a gliding, romantic song that blossoms into a full-blown bumper.
Unknown Lil Yachty song
It’s hard to believe that Lil Yachty, who seems to be everywhere these days, has yet to put out a proper full-length album. That changes on May 26, when his debut studio album, Teenage Emotions, drops. Yachty has perfected a bubbly style of lullaby rap that practically begs to be played outdoors. Based on the track list alone, if we had to pick one song that might dominate the summer, it would be “Forever Young,” featuring Diplo.
Paramore - “Hard Times”
And speaking of returns, Hayley Williams and the boys are back with this instant earworm that starts out sounding like an island jam and morphs into a pristine new wave jam. It’s also a reminder that Williams has one of the best voices in all of pop, which is a good thing, since you’ll be hearing it a lot this summer.