Why Is There No “Song of the Summer” This Year?

I’ve never been party to this whole mania of declaring a track to be the “song of summer” until now–and that’s because for 2015, there isn’t one.

To qualify, a SotS has to (a) be ubiquitous to the point of annoying; (b) be known by millions of people to the point where they can at least sing a couple of the lyrics; (c) be the cause of headache-inducing earworms; and (d) (and this is the nebulous part) somehow encapsulate the feeling and zeitgeist of a Northern Hemisphere summer.

As far as anyone can tell–and I track all the radio and music blogs–no song meets that criteria this year. There’s no “Blurred Lines,” no “Call Me Maybe,” no “Fancy,” no “Somebody I Used to Know.” Nothing that anyone can call a true anthem for those months between May and September. Nothing that, when we hear it years from now, we’ll say “I remember that year! It’s when [fill in the blank].” Nothing that will instantly get aunts and uncles to dance awkwardly at that wedding in two years.

This isn’t to say that there weren’t any hit songs. “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap was big as was “Cheerleader” by OMI. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa was huge, but it’s too slow. The closest we might have come to a SotS for 2015 is from Taylor Swift. “Shake It Off?” Peaked too soon. “Bad Blood?” Maybe, but the video turned off a lot of people. If The Weeknd had released “Can’t Feel My Face” earlier, it might have had a shot, but it’s only peaking now.

If we come to the consensus that 2015 will be song-less, it will be the first time in decades. Why?  A couple of reasons.

  1. The big stars (except for Ms Swift) have mostly been absent through these summer months. Sure, Rihanna had “Bitch Better Have My Money,” but not exactly a feel-good hit. Lady Gaga has been AWOL as has Pink, Katy Perry and Beyonce. We can probably throw Bieber on that pile, too. Meanwhile, One Direction may be setting all sorts of streaming records, but they’re still viewed as a band for little girls.
  2. The continuing fragmentation of music consumption. Radio is still huge, but there’s also YouTube and all the streaming services. It’s possible that there might have been something close to a SotS on terrestrial radio, another on YouTube, another on Spotify, another on Rdio and so on. If that’s the case, there hasn’t been a single track to link it all together in a musical Theory of Everything.
  3. No one wrote any good summer songs this year.

Me, I really don’t care about the whole SotS thing in is current media incarnation. But I do feel kinda sad that we seem to have broken the streak. Anyone else have any theories?

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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