Presenting Your Hot Weather Jams


    Truthfully, there’s usually more than one “Song of Summer.” There’s your typical pop smash, a la “California Girls” or “Umbrella,” your indie breakthrough, a la “Pumped Up Kicks” or “Electric Feel,” and your hip-hop/R&B jam, a la “I’m On One” or “Hot In Herre.”

    Which brings us to this summer. Here, for your consideration, are my personal submissions for the aforementioned categories. Some are contested, others are definitive, all are catchy as hell.

    1. For this summer’s pop smash, I’m placing all my hopes on Usher. The past few years were dominated by women — Katy Perry, Adele, Rhianna — but Usher is a summer pop mainstay (“Yeah” was ‘The Song’ back in ‘04), and he has a few stellar singles under his belt going into June. Slow jam tour de force “Climax” and thunderous Rick Ross collaboration “Lemme See” are the better songs, but “Scream” fits the Song of Summer formula to a T — the dancefloor banger of the bunch, not unlike past summer hit “O.M.G.” Written and produced by Max Martin, the mastermind behind many a hot weather smash, the track is like the perfect amalgamation of every club ready Usher hit, only faster, dirtier and way more fun.

    2. In my perfect musical world, “I Love It” by Stockholm electro-pop duo Icona Pop would become a massive hit and take the crown. First and foremost, it has a shout-along chorus featuring lyrical gems  (“I put your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs / I crashed my car into the bridge, I don’t care”). Secondly, the track is pure maximalist electro ecstasy perfect for stumbling through a blackout rager. If it isn’t on your summer 2k12 playlist, you won’t be living it right.

    But there’s some close contenders in this category. “All of Me” by Tanlines has more or less the same appeal: Exuberant synth you can imagine playing in the background of a backyard BBQ party, complete with a perfectly timed rise and fall — in essence, the bliss and nostalgia that go hand and hand with summertime. It’s the sound of seasonal love — or, at the very least, one good hookup.

    The second runner-up goes to “Hey Jane” by Spiritualized — a ‘90s throwback in the vein of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain-era Pavement. Make it your road trip soundtrack.

    3. For the hip-hop end of the spectrum, the competition is really between two women — one up-and-coming and one full-blown phenomenon. So, obviously, Azealia Banks and Nicki Minaj.

    Banks would have this entire thing in the bag if she had released “212” in April, but her new single “Jumanji” is promising. The beat is lighthearted and her rhymes are delightfully bratty (“Real bitch, everyday / Uptown, Broadway”). The drum-heavy production is absolutely surprising throughout, quickly flipping from tropical steel-pan to booming bass drums while Banks does her usual sassy thing in the background.

    Minaj’s “Beez In the Trap,” on the other hand, does a lot more with a lot less. Where “Jumanji” is all about the boisterous production, making the actual rapper less of the focus, “Beez in the Trap”  — with its sunken, minimal beat — makes Minaj the rightful star, weaving her schoolgirl stingers around every inch of the track. Girls will memorize the words just so they can join in the smack talk.

    But, unfortunately, “Call Me Maybe” and Justin Bieber will likely dominate the radio this summer. If you play these instead, I sa

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