"Fancy" by Charli XCX, left and Iggy Azalea was released in February, but its steady climb to ubiquity is not unlike "Get Lucky," which was released in February of last year. CREDIT: Getty Images
To celebrate the Fourth of July, we pick 13 songs (because there were originally 13 colonies, duh!) that are vying for the distinctly American honor of this year's Song of the Summer. And in true American melting pot tradition, most of the people on this list aren't even from the United States.
1) TIE: ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX and ‘Problem’ by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea Just like Pharrell Williams in the summer of 2013, Iggy Azalea has her hands in two separate collaborations that are vying for the Song of the Summer title. “Fancy” pairs her with Charli XCX — who wrote a previous summer hit, Icona Pop’s “I Love It” — for a super singalong chorus and words that are the very stuff that Lorde so successfully made fun of on last year’s “Royals.” And though “Problems” is a showcase for Ariana Grande, Iggy Iggs gets some good rhymes off. Big Sean gets an odd star turn here too, whispering “one less problem without you” against a deep sub-bass boom.
2) ‘Turn Down for What’ by DJ Snake & Lil Jon There are only 12 words in this song, said over and over in Lil Jon’s inimitable voice.
3) ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz Yes, this song has been kicking around online since August of 2013, but it was only released as a single in the States earlier this year and we've definitely been hearing more of it this summer than ever. Plus, we like it a little bit better than "Wiggle," Derulo's current collaboration with Snoop (that "you've got a bright future behind you" line is just too much of a groaner to excuse) which is why we've included "Talk Dirty" here. Perhaps "Dirty" is headed for the type of second life that UB40's "Red Red Wine" enjoyed five years after its original release? Anyway, enough of the justification: Jason Derulo singing about lipstick stains on his passport, 2 Chainz using high school health class terms to rap about “international oral sex” and the snake charmer sax riff make for a combo so ridiculous it could easily be mistaken for an Andy Samberg SNL Digital Short, which is also why it’s awesome.
4) ‘Good Kisser’ by Usher A year later and Jason Derulo isn’t the only one bragging about traveling the world and doing things with his mouth with the people he’s met there. Usher channels his inner Prince over a fat, stumbling bassline in this tune, which will inevitably segue into the Purple One’s 1986 Song of the Summer hall of famer, “Kiss.”
5) ‘Do It Again’ by Royksopp & Robyn No longer dancing on her own, our favorite Swedish nymph is now working with a pair of Norwegian producers who have given her material a colder edge, but there’s something about Robyn that could never seem like she’s a mean girl. When she says “We should not be friends” in the breakdown it’s reminiscent of Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but this is actually a good romance.
6) ‘Sing’ by Ed Sheeran This red-haired Brit has out-JTed Justin Timberlake with this something-for-everyone song. He gets sultry against a jazzy acoustic strum, gives one of the catchiest “oh ohh ohh” choruses since Arcade Fire and he raps about weed and tequilla, all in a charming accent.
7) ‘Summer’ by Calvin Harris Who’d have thunk a few years ago that DJs singing on their own songs would be a good thing? Though the title feels like an attempt to stage a coup on the Song of the Summer honor, the synths are sunny and the melody is innocuous, there’s something underneath the surface that hints at this season’s temperance. The leaves turn brown and the subject of the song has lied to our boy who once found love in a hopeless place.
8) ‘Chandelier’ by Sia Sia sounds like Rihanna, if Rihanna could actually sing. She belts out the carpe diem chorus so strongly that it’s guaranteed to inspire some off-key versions come “American Idol” tryouts.
9) ‘Money on My Mind’ by Sam Smith At first listen Sam Smith might sound like sound like the type of act you’d laugh at on a local cable access talent show, but his blue eyed soul charm will grow on you until you’re telling your friends, “He’s like Adele, but ya know, with a penis.” Or maybe you don’t talk like that with your friends.
10) ‘Come Get It Bae’ by Pharrell Williams Two-time 2013 Song of the Summer champ Pharrell Williams tosses his oversized ranger hat into the ring for the 2014 honor with this Earth, Wind and Firey followup to the spring’s ubiquitous “Happy.” Seems like he’s also attempting to pop a wheelie into an Urban Dictionary listing for popularizing the use of the word “Bae.” Another great part about this song is how absolutely relentless the background sample of the people shouting "Hey!" is. How do we know it's a sample? Because we tried singing it throughout and it was damn near impossible! Oh yeah, Miley Cyrus also turns in a guest performance so fitting that you might not even know it's Miley. Kinda like Big Sean on "Problem."
11) ‘Pills N Potions’ by Nicki Minaj “Super Bass” was a 2011 contender for Song of the Summer and “Starships” was a dominating force on the charts in summer of 2012, but last year was a quiet summer for the pink princess. This is definitely a subdued effort, but
12) ‘She Looks So Perfect’ by 5 Seconds of Summer These punky poppers from Down Under singing about how hot a girl looks in American Apparel underwear are basically this summer’s Hot Chelle Rae. You don’t remember them? Exactly. That doesn’t mean you can’t dig it now.
To download a complete mix of these songs and more from iTunes, click here or just click the link below to stream it. And yes, these are the explicit versions. (How else could we demonstrate the ridiculous rhymes of 2 Chainz?)
The songs are as follows 1) ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX 2) ‘Problem’ by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea 3) ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz 4) ‘Good Kisser’ by Usher 5) ‘Come Get It Bae’ by Pharrell Williams 6) ‘Summer’ by Calvin Harris 7) ‘Money on My Mind’ by Sam Smith 8) ‘I Love You Money’ by Lowell 9) ‘We Sink’ by Chvrches 10) ‘Do It Again’ by Royksopp & Robyn 11) ‘Seasons (Waiting on You’ by Future Islands 12) ‘Little Fang’ by Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks 13) ‘Alexandra’ by Hamilton Leithauser 14) ‘Same Side’ by The Casket Girls 15) ‘Pills N Potions’ by Nicki Minaj 16) ‘West Coast’ by Lana Del Rey 17) ‘Chandelier’ by Sia 18) ‘Looks So Perfect’ by 5 Seconds of Summer 19) ‘Turn Down for What’ by DJ Snake & Lil Jon 20) ‘Sing’ by Ed Sheeran