With summer (sadly) officially over, Billboard has posted their annual list of the biggest songs of the summer. And, per usual, I’ve decided to give them a look! Did your favorites make the list? What about your least favorites? How about mine? Well, let’s take a look!
10. Flo Rida – Whistle
Billboard’s Songs of the Summer list is comprised of the season’s runaway hits; the songs that you found on the charts, the radio, YouTube, your best friend’s iTunes, and probably the moon. Between May and September, these are the songs you could not get away from, or enough of.
Oh, and “Whistle”.
“Whistle” is a late arrival, probably bumping off something like “What Makes You Beautiful” only because it managed to get the number one spot a few weeks ago. And, as much as I don’t like this song…I can’t bring myself to really hate it. It’s not so bad it’s good or anything, it’s just so mindlessly dumb that I can’t justify the effort. It falls so flat on its face at being seductive that it almost U turns into being entertaining again, like a drunk guy doing a point and wink at somebody. But I won’t miss “Whistle” when it’s gone.
9. Nicki Minaj – Starships
Oh, “Starships”, how far you’ve come. Back when you appeared in Young Money Madness, you didn’t even have your own barely relevant video. “Starships” isn’t impressive in itself, but it has done the impressive: it’s been Minaj’s one consistent hit off her otherwise misfire Roman Reloaded album. In the context of that album, “Starships” is a refreshingly solid banger leading into half an hour of spastic monotony. Outside of it…well, the hook’s alright. I read somewhere that Minaj slapped the verses together right before recording, and it shows. “Starships” is a big, empty pop song. Nothing wrong with that on its face, but Nicki Minaj is one of the artists that can do this exact same thing with way more character and fun. Hell, she’s proved that already.
8. David Guetta ft. Sia – Titanium
Finally, one I haven’t touched yet. I don’t mind David Guetta when he’s not in “keep it simple, stupid” mode, although his house-pop thing is getting kind of old. This song’s been a single since late December, but it was Sia’s performance on “Wild One” that finally pushed it into public consciousness. And Sia gets to do more here than she ever did on Flo’s song, which is always nice. My only two real complaints are that the lyrics are pretty eh, and that the explosion at the chorus isn’t that big, despite a killer build up. I thought about Radio Ranting this one a couple times, but had trouble coming up with anything to really say about it other than it was an above average song.
7. fun. ft. Janelle Monae – We Are Young
I can’t pinpoint when, but sometime between the Radio Rant for “We Are Young” and now, my opinion on the song soured hard. I don’t get that; it’s essentially a big, indie rock anthem, and I’m a sucker for big, indie rock anthems. I guess it’s just too on the nose for what it’s trying to be: the production is fussy, the lyrics are damn near meaningless, the song drops the actually interesting part in a hurry, and Janelle Monae–one of the most captivating artists out there today–is reduced to an uninspired blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo. Listening to it as a whole, the song is just too tedious for me, and not fun at all.
6. Rihanna – Where Have You Been
Aaaaaaaand here’s the other one I never got to this summer. Whereas I didn’t review “Titanium” because I didn’t have a ton to say on it, I steered clear of “Where Have You Been” because there’s nothing to say about it. Out of everyone out there today, Rihanna is single-iest single artist; at pretty much any time, there’s “the big Rihanna single” out. Despite a surprising four minute run time, the guts of “Where Have You Been” is in those anxious, stabbing synths at the chorus. Like “We Found Love”, the chorus and the accompanying build-up are the best part of the song, but while WHYB has way less going for it as a song than WFL ever did. WFL’s verses were just as strong as the chorus (granted, they were basically the same thing), but the rest of “Where Have You Been” resembles “Sexy and I Know It” way more than I’d like. This isn’t a bad song, just really boring. Gah, I hate how snobby I sound.
5. Ellie Goulding – Lights
Would you believe that in a year that includes number ones by a blip on the indie radar, a guy who’d never been heard of on this continent, and a plausible Robyn Sparkles single, this is still the one that baffles me? “Lights” is in week number 37 on the charts, and even worked its way all the way up to number 2 during the summer. And, like I mentioned in its Radio Rant, the song’s accomplished all of this basically on its own: no Glee, no viral video, no super promotion, nothing. It’s just a really sleek neo-disco electropop song that’s incessantly catchy, won’t go away, and is one of my favorites of the year. Ellie Goulding’s next album is due here in a month or two, and I’m looking forward to hearing what else she’s got.
4. Katy Perry – Wide Awake
Meanwhile, I’m glad to see this artist go. It wouldn’t be a Songs of the Summer list without Katy Perry, whose been up and down these things since I started writing about them in 2010. Of her Teenage Dream singles, “Wide Awake” is the most mild, but not the most likeable. Once you get past the fact that has all the spark and visceral nature of waiting room music, it’s not so bad a song, but there’s nothing really that special about it, either. One thing I noticed is that, despite being reasonably popular, no one seemed to really love this song; I never heard anyone sing it, it wasn’t an all-occasions must…hell, it barely seemed to exist. I’ve tried liking “Wide Awake”, but it leaves me sleepy and grumpy.
3. Gotye ft. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know
The other indie song to make it big this year is “Somebody That I Used To Know”, which is tied to “We Are Young” not only because they have similar backgrounds, but because they were no. 1s back to back, and stayed close together for most of their chart run. I was ambivalent towards both songs at first, and while my opinion on “We Are Young” went south, I’ve only liked “Somebody That I Used To Know” more and more as time goes by. It lends itself to more replays than I first thought, and it’s got a stronger melody you’d think. And it’s just fun to sing along with, to boot. Kimbra’s part is what makes the song interesting, and gives the “woe is me” aspect a nice kick in the ass. Yeah, I like this one.
2. Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa – Payphone
I’m a little surprised that “Payphone” made its way this high. I honestly expected it to trade places with “Wide Awake” or “Somebody”, not end up all the way at number 2. Looking back, it makes sense–the song benefited from being released just as summer started, and never really waned until recently, once “One More Night” started getting serious airplay. I Radio Ranted this one when it first came out, and since then, I’ve pretty much ignored it. “Payphone”‘s always struck me as an awkward song: the metaphor’s weird and undeveloped, the vocals are processed and irritating, and Wiz strikes out hard on his verse. Unfortunately, I imagine plenty more Maroon 5 in my future. Grrrrreat.
Watching the ascension of “Call Me Maybe” earlier this year was one of the more fascinating things I’ve seen since I started this blog. It wasn’t a song that you heard of, it was a song you heard about. Your first exposure to “Somebody That I Used To Know” was probably hearing it somewhere, then looking it up/asking a friend who did it. “Call Me Maybe” was the song you heard because your friends played it for you. It became a thing here and there, but as we rolled into summer, it built up steam. I had two thoughts about it as the song was getting big: how funny would it be if “Call Me Maybe” went to number one, and how much it would not go away if it did.
Well, it happened. The little, incessant pop song that could went from a one-off from a Canadian Idol 3rd place contestant to a hit big enough that it let Carly Rad Jepsen make another album. On most levels, it’s still a pretty unremarkable pop song, but it’s just so damn likeable. And it’s the official 2012 song of the summer.