Soon it will be summertime (again!), and once again, the Jezebel staff has imbued ourselves with the power to choose which songs will fill the thick, hazy summer air as women trot down blazing sidewalks wearing Fashion Nova shorts while slurping on the finest of popsicles. Each year, we attempt to predict what will be the big summer anthem (a thing music nerds love to do), and half the fun is in being extremely wrong about our selections once summer is over.
This is never an easy task. In fact, it is stressful and terrifying—in a fun way! Which song is worthy of occupying that three-month span during which human happiness is at its height? What singular song will blast as equally in laundromats as it does in whips and Whole Foods? (Can Carly Rae Jepsen step in and hit us with a yummy summer jam to unseat Drake’s crafty anthem “Nice for What,” which is currently the No. 1 song in the country?) As usual, our predictions will be off, but trust that our hearts are in the right place. Here are your songs of the summer.
Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa, “One Kiss”
While last year I chose my actual personal song of the summer (the nihilist slow-burner “XO Tour Llif3”), this year I took a more calculating, math lady meme approach and listened to my head and not my heart, like a complete asshole!!! So I set my sights on the sweet, short, deep house-biting cut “One Kiss,” which is…fine but potentially extremely intrusive. You might hear this on a bar patio, in the sweltering heat, several margaritas in, or perhaps booming from the karaoke room three doors down from yours one July night.
It has several, promising summer song ingredients! 1) It’s produced by EDM Ken Doll Calvin Harris, who can make a perfect, feel-good synth-pop banger. 2) It has the smoky-voiced pop singer Dua Lipa on it, who keeps getting bigger and bigger (for example, her song “New Rules” is still on the Hot 100 chart, despite coming out LAST summer). And 3) It’s annoyingly catchy. The song has been moving up the charts, so don’t be surprised if it takes over your summer. —Hazel Cills
Post Malone, “Better Now”
Ever get the feeling that contemporary, popular music fandom is split up into two camps? Those who’ve welcomed Post Malone into their hearts, and the rest of us? My personal appreciation of him is limited, but my professional acceptance is through the damn roof—this dude, regardless of his your-garbage-cousin aesthetic, is super fucking popular, and, however unfortunately, can write a hook that makes even Taylor Swift jealous. (I realize in 2018 that’s not saying much, but it’s certainly saying...something.)
“Better Now” is already inescapable, and as the summer continues, it is guaranteed, without a doubt, 100%, that we’re going to be hearing more of Malone, specifically “Better Now,” before the sweet scent of early autumn restores my will to live. At the very, very least, this song isn’t offensive or colored in Malone’s usual misogynistic/ridiculous white privileged rhetoric. It’s actually kinda sweet—an affectionate song about love lost. If it’s going to be a Beerbongs & Bentleys track that defines summer 2018, it might as well be this one. —Maria Sherman
Ariana Grande, “No Tears Left to Cry”
I am straddling the fence between this and “Mad Love” (Sean Paul)—both perfect songs—but have chosen this because it is currently playing in every commercial location in New York City and I am ALWAYS excited to hear it. Also, Ariana is newly dating Pete Davidson, making her a relatable legend! I have no tears left to cry for this summer, because she has found her song. —Joanna Rothkopf
Sean Paul, David Guetta & Becky G, “Mad Love”
A good test for a song of the summer is to consider whether or not you’ll hear it coming from cars and in the drugstore whilst you browse toothpaste. But an even better test is to think about whether or not you’ll hear it at a summer wedding. While a wedding DJ’s repertoire is often shaped by the lucky couple in question, this Sean Paul/David Guetta/Becky G number sounds like something an enterprising DJ might slip in during a small but very special all-Sean Paul block (right after “Temperature” and before “Baby Boy”), just to see if it hits.
Under the influence of enough wedding wines —or beach nutcrackers, or backyard beers—this song does. Nothing is going to come close to Cardi, J Balvin and Bad Bunny this summer, so nominating anything else is a lost cause, but I’m pretty sure this song was engineered specifically to be a song of the summer. For that, I give it two stars and an A for effort. —Megan Reynolds
Camila Cabello feat. Pharrell, “Sangria Wine”
It’s not that I love this song (I wish Pharrell wasn’t on it); it’s more that I can totally envision Camila Cabello having a song of the summer. She has a knack for making sensual confections (a la “Havana”) of the mindless variety that are capable of soundtracking fun, chill moments and that’s what summer is to me. Not to mention, this song has what people call global appeal and a sticky chorus, and she’s the pop star of the moment, currently covering both Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan. No, I don’t think anyone will be doing the “Sangria Wine.” This may not be her summer yet, but I feel like it’s in the cards. —Clover Hope
Charlie Puth, “Boy”
I have to admit that I put my Spotify on “private” every time I listen to Charlie Puth’s horribly fantastic new album Voicenotes, which I guess isn’t a great sign that this track is destined to blare out of anything but my own headphones. But “Boy” is a fun and underrated song from a fun and underrated album and I’d like everyone to know it. In “Boy,” Charlie Puth whines all up into his pert little falsetto about how the lady he is having sex with won’t take him seriously because he was born in 1991, which is a problem that I cannot relate to but really enjoy hearing about. —Ellie Shechet
Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin, “I Like It”
I don’t know about y’all, but I live in New York City and summer here to me is sweat, ices in the neighborhood, and viejos playing softball in the park by my crib while a car stereo alternately blasts salsa, bachata, or Dominican dembow. I’m mad that Margiela Replica doesn’t make a scent based on that (they could call it Los Sures, 1992; it would smell like platanos and weed), but even still Cardi B has captured its essence with “I Like It,” a boastful, boogaloo-based party-starter that will have you screaming “BORICUAAAAA” even if you’re not.
I have already explored the vagaries of the video here, but I just need to reiterate how perfectly crucial this song is for this and every summer, and also how much I love San Juan charmer Bad Bunny. If you love this song as much as I do, a good thing to do is listen to it one billion times, and then donate some money to Unidos por Puerto Rico. —Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
Donald Glover, “This Is America”
I’m a Childish Gambino fan and, like pretty much everyone else on the internet, was captivated by a bold music video that illustrates how black identity is commodified, appropriated, ignored, and ravaged, all at once. Maybe this isn’t the “Song of the Summer” in the typical sense—I don’t see it becoming a club anthem, nor is it a carefree summertime song. But since it debuted three weeks ago, the provocative, hypnotic song reached the top of the charts. It’s currently sitting at No. 2, and I don’t think it’s going to move from the top half of the charts any time soon. —Prachi Gupta
Anne Marie, “2002"
We don’t talk enough about the songs of summer that are terrible but everywhere. The “Malibus,” the “7 Yearses,” or even the “Rudes” are forgettable, jaunty torture, yes, but also undeniably count as songs of the summer. I’m way out of my depth here, but I feel confident that this ode to the year 2002, “2002" (????) by “Anne-Marie” (????), will be everywhere this summer. It’s a perfect summer hit because it features lyrics that revolve around old cars, lost loves, the words “hold up” for no reason at all, and the most boring melody imaginable.
You’re gonna hate this song, but you will be unable to deny that it is the song of the summer when you hear it everywhere: the cool-down section of your workout class where everyone wears shirts that say “but first, coffee”; in the video your frenemy from high school posts on Facebook to celebrate her engagement; and in the waiting room for your July dental cleaning. —Kelly Stout
Casper Magico & Darell feat. Nio García, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny & Ozuna, “Te Bote Remix”
In the final weeks of winter, I was walking and heard the Puerto Rican singer Ozuna blasting from a set of portable speakers and immediately fast-forwarded to late summer dreams. Obviously, I got a little ahead of myself. A month later, I walked off the train and a food truck was blasting Nicky Jam and J Balvin’s “X” and the thought entered my brain—summer is here. Again, I jumped the gun.
A month ago, I walked into my apartment and heard from the window a song that sounded so familiar, but I didn’t immediately place it. Then I heard kids yelling along to every word and realized this was the real song of the summer. The song was a remix of Nio García, Casper Magico & Darell’s “Te Bote,” with recruited verses from reggaeton veteran Nicky Jam and Latin Trap rulers Bad Bunny and Ozuna. The song’s epic seven-minute run time makes it far too long for pop station or playlists, but perfect for summer days where you have a little more time to enjoy each verse. —David Turner
Shawn Mendes, “Nervous”
I wish I could tell you about this song and you could load it up on Spotify and just get right to the good part: the chorus. Skip the first verse—it’s boring and makes me feel like I’m sitting in a Starbucks. The stripped-down verse does, however, provide a crucial contrast to the effervescent refrain, which’ll make you wanna do a little jig because suddenly you’ve got a guitar riff, hand claps (hand claps!), and Shawn Mendes harmonizing with himself. “I get a little bit nervous around ya,” Mendes, a 19-year-old toothpaste model, admits in a falsetto in the refrain.
He goes on like this: “I get a little bit stressed out when I think about ya.” Eventually, another Shawn Mendes with a deeper voice comes along, “Yeah, when I think about you, baby!” It’s fun. You’ll love it. Towards the end, it’s as if Shawn Mendes is afraid that just one hook, one catchy drumroll, or one infectious melody won’t be enough, so he starts overlapping all of them like a bad Photoshop. But it’s still great, it’s everything a song of the summer should be, and it’s his best since “Stitches,” another song that sounds like a sugar-crazed race towards the finish line, in a great way. —Frida Garza
Ella Mai, “Boo’d Up”
A slow-burning earworm that took more than a year after its release to become a hit, “Boo’d Up” is the clearest shot we have for an 808-based ballad becoming the song of summer since Mariah Carey scored the hit of her career and the comeback of a lifetime with 2005's “We Belong Together.” Appropriately, this DJ Mustard production is humid with the sizzle of metallic percussion reminiscent of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis’s work with the S.O.S. Band (namely: “Weekend Girl” and “Tell Me If You Still Care”). Mai’s hook lyric ingeniously folds the song’s commitment-focused title into onomatopoeia describing a heartbeat (“Listen to my heart go ba-dum, boo’d up”), resulting in a candied double entendre. Jesus Christ, this song is sweet. —Rich Juzwiak
Cardi B, “She Bad”
This is more an attempt at wish fulfillment than anything else, but I really need “She Bad” by Cardi B to be a summer banger. It’s fun, twerkable, and the kind of beat I want to hear in passing cars all summer long in Brooklyn. Cardi mentioned wanting to do a video for this song on Twitter a while back, but she’s so busy doing a billion other videos and, uh, having a baby and everything that I’m a little skeptical that she’ll come out with a “She Bad” video this summer. But if she does, that song’s gotta climb it’s way to the top 20 on Billboard and get enough play to be a thotty summer anthem. I’m crossing my fingers but like...when is she due again?! —Ashley Reese