10 Songs Guaranteed to Rule Summer 2015
Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" was pretty much last year's song of the summer. However, it got the honor by default; the 2014 hip-hop drought lasted past August. The competition looks like it will be far closer in 2015 when it comes to the track that will serve as summer's definitive soundtrack.
The odd thing about the potential songs of the summer is that you could mistake this year's lineup for artists releasing music in 2012. Miguel is back with another romance anthem, except this one has a bit more rock. You have your rapper whose song-of-the-summer come-up is assisted by a Drake feature. There's Nicki Minaj, who's pissing off hip-hop fans while satisfying others with her hip-hop approach. There's even Snoop Dogg going through another reinvention (although not as drastic and criticized as Snoop Lion).
This isn't to say the songs are recycled; it's just the same artists and similar situations. There's plenty of freshness to go around on this list. We may even have a new summer barbecue standard and another dance from the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y.
There's parity and star power in the 10 Songs Guaranteed to Rule Summer 2015. Give a listen to them all below.
Surprisingly, Janelle Monae hasn’t released a Billboard hit in her nine-year career -- you’d think the Erykah Badu-assisted “Q.U.E.E.N." would’ve done numbers. It’s doubtful that Monae is going to completely switch up her style, but she is at least using the time between her albums to experiment. New Wondaland signee Jidenna helped her seize the opportunity on her new song, “Yoga,” on which she ditches her trademark orchestral structure and grandeur. It’s more Zaytoven than Wondaland, but Monae is confident enough to make the switch seem fluid: “You cannot police me, so get off my areola.” Monae really didn’t change that much.
Major Lazer have ventured far off from the dancehall influence evident on their 2009 debut album, Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do, which serves as their best effort to date. The move onto EDM pastures didn't pull Diplo and his team far away from those reggae-inspired delights on their follow-up LP, Free the Universe, in 2012. But three years later, the new album they'll be releasing on June 1, Peace Is the Mission, finds them swimming away from the islands by teaming up with DJ Snake (whose since calmed down from Lil Jon and “Turn Down For What”) and MØ (from Iggy Azalea’s “Beg for It”) on "Lean On." The location is different -- we’re touching on Indian Bhangra here -- but the banger potential remains.
Snoop Dogg's assist on Katy Perry's “California Girls” was most likely for the paycheck. The singer's frenetic, bubblegum vision clearly doesn’t intersect with what the Doggfather has his sights set on. However, “California Roll” does. It’s a laid-back and funk classicist as the rest of his new album Bush is, but what makes the opener stand out isn’t just the welcomed Stevie Wonder feature. It’s a deliriously lucid song that’s given color by a tumbling harmonica and Snoop Dogg’s presence, which sounds of another astral plane, yet very of the Hollywood Hills he’s singing to.
Right on time, there’s a new dance coming out of New York that can potentially take over the city (and the nation) like the “Shmoney Dance” did only a year ago. “Milly Rock” isn’t as momentous, though. It doesn’t have the help of instantly memorable Vine-worthy moments to catapult it or any lines like “I’ve been selling crack since like the fifth grade” to make it stick. But the dance -- robotic, but aggressive -- is a memorable one. In fact, it’s great enough to inspire Rihanna to give it a shot. And although “Milly Rock” doesn’t have the catchy elements of the “Shmoney Dance," one advantage it does have is that production, which in some ways encapsulates the inner city madness that birthed the dance in the first place.
When Beyonce decided to reveal she was a fan of D.R.A.M.'s song “Cha Cha,” that moment was huge for him (this is Beyonce and he's a seemingly unknown rapper out of Virginia in her mainstream world). But it isn’t an odd one; “Cha Cha” is infectious enough to spur that reaction from listeners. Its main goal is to charm, and flourishes like the Nintendo sound effects featured and D.R.A.M.'s everyman sensibilities (how many songs reference Taina) make achieves it. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a 2015 summer barbecue standard. “Cha Cha” does some possible legal tightrope walking by sampling Super Mario World. Here, the reward is worth the risk.
It took a Wale feature and a psychedelic outro for people to finally catch on to “Coffee” a few months after Miguel released the song in December. As expected, it justified the anticipation leading up to the follow-up to 2012's Kaleidoscope Dream. You don’t lose that rare combination of sensual dynamism and charm in just three years.
“Coffee” is also a tease of the great things sure to come with his WILDHEART album, due June 30. By itself, it accomplishes three things: produces a starry, post-terrestrial vision of love; imbues classic romance via Miguel’s singing; and isn’t idealistic enough to lose focus of bodily desires. You saw the subtitle.
On “Good Times,” Young Thug removes the Rich Gang vanity from last year’s “Lifestyle” to connect three different global regions: Atlanta, Jamie xx’s vision of London and Popcaan’s current Jamaica. This song transforms into something greater as the opening soul sample morphs to mimic island steel pans. Young Thug is a tour guide, one who brings promises of women and an amazing experience. Popcaan sounds convinced and the song’s overall warmth convinces the listener, too. For what it’s worth, Jamie xx’s In Colour album, which features “Good Times,” is packed with excellent tracks.
Part of the reason “Bitch Better Have My Money” made the immediate splash it did was the quietness that came before it was released. Prior to the singer dropping “FourFiveSeconds,” it’s been two years since a Rihanna single hit the Billboard Hot 100, the longest drought of her career. Then there’s the song itself. “Bitch Better Have My Money” throws away pleasantries for what’s essentially a series of boasts over a beat that sounds like it’s been crafted in a post-apocalyptic red light district. But it works only because this is Rihanna singing “Bitch better have my money!” as if she’s the liberation goddess for freelancers and starving artists. Like Rihanna’s best material, it’s audacious but infectious.
It was a bit overly optimistic to think Nicki Minaj was going to make a complete turn from the pop excess of Pink Friday: Reloaded. It makes sense that she wouldn’t because that focus gave us “Beez in the Trap.” However, “The Night Is Still Young” isn't limited to the trap and although The Pinkprint is packed with hit-potential songs, Minaj’s latest single still stands out as the red herring type on the album. That said, by itself, you could get why it’s a single. Chances are this will be your girlfriend's pre-party turn up track plus the newly released video has given it new staying power. Like many Dr. Luke productions, “The Night Is Still Young” swings from a quiet, yet yearning verse and skips the buildup for the world-stopping hood. Minaj is on top of it all, which is why it will be a requirement for all clubs in Midtown New York.
This is one of the Drake co-signs that highlights a pre-existing song as opposed to actually making it better. Unfortunately, Drizzy turns in one of his more weaker verses in recent memory; his melancholic confidence is still there, but his wit has taken a sabbatical: “They should call me James / 'Cause I'm goin' hard in this bitch.” It’s not a waste, though. If anything, the verse draws attention to Fetty Wap’s charisma -- he’s the one carrying this track.
There’s been many like Fetty Wap, a mercurial roughneck whose main goal in life is to do right by his girl. He’s the same here -- “All headshots if you think you could take my bitch” -- and he uses what worked for him on “Trap Queen”: glossy, anthemic production combined with an atonal sing-songy presence that’s far more of an earworm than a nuisance. Winning formulas do exist.