I’ve gotten my first sunburn, sandal blisters, and fire ant bites of the year, which means that it’s officially summer. Those of you who aren’t suffering from the same seasonal ailments may be looking for other signs that summer is underway, and for that, I’d like to point you towards the endless articles debating which pop song is going to be everybody’s jam for the next few months. Seriously, there are so many. Google “2014 song of the summer” and go nuts.
Most of these articles pit various pop songs in a musical battle royale, where readers can cast votes and only one song will emerge with the hearts and minds of the people. Others are a little more egalitarian and just document a whole bunch of songs that will be part of the cultural zeitgeist this summer. I’ve decided to take a different approach this year. With only a very loose understanding of what a field guide is, I’m presenting a field guide of 6 of this year’s inevitable songs of the summer (and by “inevitable” I mean the songs you truly won’t be able to avoid if you live within 50 miles of other people). I hope you find my insights as useful as I convinced myself they were while writing them.
“Problem” by Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea
Natural habitat: Already queued up on your little cousin’s phone (and your phone, who are you kidding?)
Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon
Where to play it: The next time you’re ghostriding the whip… or sitting inside reading a book because you saw an article talking about the dangers of ghostriding
Additional notes: Normally I hit a maximum limit for the number of times I can listen to a song in the course of a day, but I haven’t hit that limit with “Problem” yet. Only time and incessant radio play over the course of the summer will tell, though.
“Turn Down for What” Lil’ John and DJ Snake
Natural habitat: The dingy, fire exit-less basement of a fraternity house
Wine pairing: No wine, just Four Loko
When to play it: Whenever you’re feeling nostalgic for LMFAO’s “Shots”
Additional notes: I managed to not hear this song or any references to it for quite a long time, but then I heard about 5 people use the phrase “turn down for what” in the course of one afternoon and did not approve. Also, the first time I heard the actual song was in the context of this adorable kitten video, which is the best way to hear it.
“Summer” by Calvin Harris
Genre: Electronic dance
Natural habitat: The yacht parties that I imagine are primarily attended by young professionals more financially stable than me… also sometimes found blasting in the cars of 16-year-old girls who haven’t found themselves yet
Wine pairing: Franzia (you can choose the box color)
When to play it: When you’ve exhausted all other options
Additional notes: I kind of feel like Calvin Harris is cheating by trying to win the Summer Song Battle with a song called “Summer”. It’s like when musicians get the audience to cheer by yelling out the name of the city they’re in, only Calvin Harris made it more universal by repeating the name of the season we’re all in. Points off for pandering, Harris.
“Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz
Genre: Norwegian pop (because yes, while the song sounds like it was inspired by a warmer climate, Nico & Vinz are from Norway)
Natural habitat: Backyard barbecues, your dad’s house when he puts on the “Adult Alternative” Sirius station to seem with it
Wine pairing: Vintage port
When to play it: The next time you want to get a drum circle going
Additional notes: Does anyone else feel like Shakira should have come in for a verse? Even just some “oh ohs” or “nay nana nay nana nay nana nays”?
“Sing” by Ed Sheeran
Genre: Justin Timberlake
Natural habitat: high school graduation parties, overly air-conditioned malls
Wine pairing: white sparkling wine
When to play it: when you’re ready to branch out from The 20/20 Experience, but not that ready
Additional notes: This upbeat, light-hearted song might seem strange in the context of Sheeran’s other two most well-known, coffee shop songs, “Lego House” and “The A-Team”. However, if you dig deeper on his first album, you’ll also find a bouncy song called “You Need Me, I Don’t Know You” that features the line, “They say I’m up and coming, like I’m f***ing in an elevator”, so maybe this new single isn’t so out of character.
“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
Natural habitat: An iPhone placed inside of a cup in an attempt to make the speakers louder
Wine pairing: Riesling
Where to play it: The next time there’s an awkward silence on your girl’s night out
Additional notes: I tried really hard to resist Iggy Azalea at first, but I’ve given in. This is clearly her summer, and I’m completely fine with that.
Honorable Mention Songs of the Summer*:
“Hideaway” by Kiesza
“I Will Never Let You Down” by Rita Ora
“SuperLove” by Charli XCX
“Stay with Me” by Sam Smith
“Chandeleir” by Sia
“Rude” by MAGIC!
“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
*because let’s face it, you’re going to be hearing a lot of these songs, too