Everything you need to know about the 13 songs of the summer. The list includes a variety of genre with a handful of incredible artists.
No. 13 – “Wake Me Up,” Avicii
UBIQUITY A gigantic summer song across Europe, “Wake Me Up!” hasn’t made much of an impact in the U.S. yet.
LONGEVITY Give it a little time. It was only released in mid-June.
SOCIAL POWER Avicii’s got hordes of followers from the dance-music world; his social platform of choice seems to be SoundCloud.
ROOTS “Wake Me Up!” is arguably the first post-Mumford & Sons Eurodisco hit.
CONTROVERSY What do you make of a bluegrass-tinged collaboration from a Swedish DJ, soul singer Aloe Blacc and the guitarist from Incubus?
No. 12 – “Clarity,” Zedd featuring Foxes
UBIQUITY A No. 1 dance-club hit, “Clarity” has also turned up on Glee and The Voice.
LONGEVITY Originally released last October, it’s been clawing its way into public consciousness for the past four months.
SOCIAL POWER Zedd worked on Lady Gaga’s forthcoming album, and he’s been pushing “Clarity” hard on the dance circuit.
ROOTS Apparently, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” is now a genre.
CONTROVERSY None so far.
No. 11 – “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons
UBIQUITY If you’ve seen ads for video games in the past year, you’ve heard this song’s lighters-up chorus.
LONGEVITY “Radioactive” crawled up the charts for 42 weeks before hitting the Top 5 in June—the slowest-ever ascent.
SOCIAL POWER There are countless YouTube covers of “Radioactive,” including several with the “Cups” beat.
ROOTS The song’s distorted, half-time beat couldn’t have happened without the emergence of the bass-heavy dubstep genre.
CONTROVERSY Wait, a rock band? They still make those?
No. 10 – “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Lane featuring Nelly
UBIQUITY The longest-running No. 1 country song ever was pushed over the top by a rap verse from Nelly; it’s topped 5 million downloads.
LONGEVITY Originally a 2012 summer song, “Cruise” kept on motoring and didn’t peak until this June
SOCIAL POWER Florida Georgia Line posts regularly to Instagram and Twitter, but the success of “Cruise” seems more about the song than about its artists.
ROOTS “Cruise” mentions the Marshall Tucker Band in passing, but otherwise it’s modern—country hip-hop, if there is such a thing.
CONTROVERSY Not unless “a brand-new Chevy with a lift kit” is somehow illegal.
No. 9 – “Cups” (Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone”), Anna Kendrick
UBIQUITY Expanded from a fragment in last fall’s Pitch Perfect to a full-length single, “Cups” is nearly double-platinum
LONGEVITY Kendrick’s sweet, family-friendly recording has been rising up the pop chart since January.
SOCIAL POWER Dozens of YouTube tutorials demonstrate how to play the song’s distinctive plastic-cup beat.
ROOTS Kendrick learned it from a 2011 video by Anna Burden, by way of Lulu and the Lampshades, via a 1931 Carter Family tune.
CONTROVERSY Please, someone, think of the cups.
No. 8 – “Best Song Ever,” One Direction
UBIQUITY This summer’s entry in the Boy-Band Stakes is a global Top 5 pop hit.
LONGEVITY Hot start, but too soon to tell: it was released in late July.
SOCIAL POWER Thanks in part to a ridiculous video (with the lads in multiple roles), One Direction is killing it on social-networking sites.
ROOTS The song’s main riff is blatantly lifted from the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” Points for recognizing greatness.
CONTROVERSY You’d think they could have at least used the phrase “tweenage wasteland” somewhere.
No. 7 – “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun!,” FiNATTiCZ
UBIQUITY This L.A. crew’s flabbergastingly catchy track was huge in California last summer, and it’s become something like the twerking national anthem.
LONGEVITY FiNATTiCZ recorded “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun!” in 2009, but it didn’t hit the national chart until this summer.
SOCIAL POWER For a week or two in late July, it seemed like every video on Vine was a “Thun Thun” joke.
ROOTS It’s built on the hip-hop subgenre called ratchet. (See also: Sage the Gemini’s underground summer hit “Red Nose.”)
CONTROVERSY “Thun thun” is yet another nickname for ecstasy.
No. 6 – “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus
UBIQUITY Its unnerving, woozy video has upwards of 120 million YouTube views.
LONGEVITY Released just after Memorial Day, “We Can’t Stop” is aimed squarely at the summer-break crowd.
SOCIAL POWER Cyrus commemorated her 13 millionth Twitter follower by announcing her forthcoming album’s title: Bangerz
ROOTS The lyrics are packed with old-school hip-hop phrases: “can’t stop won’t stop,” “hands in the air,” and “la-di-da-di/we like to party.”
CONTROVERSY A phrase that could be “dancing with Miley” sounds more like “dancing with Molly,” slang for the drug MDMA (aka ecstasy).
No. 5 – “Holy Grail,” Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake
UBIQUITY If you missed the hoopla around the release of Jay-Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail, you may well have been in a different solar system.
LONGEVITY Barely one month old, “Holy Grail” is still climbing the charts—and the video hasn’t even been aired.
SOCIAL POWER Jay’s mobile app required users to post Facebook or Twitter updates to unlock lyrics.
ROOTS Jay name-drops Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Kurt Cobain. Justin croons from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
CONTROVERSY The app that was part of Jay’s deal with Samsung mined users’ social-media and e-mail information.
No. 4 – “Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
UBIQUITY The Seattle duo’s uplifting hip-hop anthem has appeared in ads for software, beer, TV sports and the movies R.I.P.D. and Jobs.
LONGEVITY Initially released in August 2011, “Can’t Hold Us” hit No. 1 this May, and was still in the Top 10 until recently.
SOCIAL POWER Not as timely as “Same Love,” their other summer hit, but two guys going sky-high with a self-released album is an irresistible story.
ROOTS Nods to Kanye West, Michael Jackson, “My Way,” A Tribe Called Quest and the duo’s Seattle hip-hop forebear Sir Mix-A-Lot.
No. 3 – “Treasure,” Bruno Mars
UBIQUITY Mars has been all over the charts for the past few years, and this disco-ball glitter bomb is his big summer statement.
LONGEVITY It was initially on Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox album last December; listeners found “Treasure” when a video aired in June.
SOCIAL POWER The song’s promotional site integrates fans’ Instagram clips into the official video.
ROOTS It’s Mars’ most overt Michael Jackson homage yet: both the song and the video are halfway to being “Blame It on the Boogie.”
CONTROVERSY Of course not: who could be cuddlier than Mars?
No. 2 – “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
UBIQUITY A No. 1 song in most of the world, it never quite made the top of the chart in the U.S.
LONGEVITY A genuine summer song (well, late spring—it was released in April).
SOCIAL POWER Fan remixes started appearing after Daft Punk had only released two 15-second snippets of “Get Lucky.”
ROOTS Having Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers play guitar on this faithful pastiche of his late-’70s work was an awesome idea.
CONTROVERSY Conspiracy theories were flying after their recent Colbert Report cancellation.
…and at number one…
No. 1 – “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
UBIQUITY It has spent nine weeks and counting at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100.
LONGEVITY Can it be that we’ve only been living with “Blurred Lines” since March?
SOCIAL POWER Thicke cannily used his name as a hashtag in the video for “Blurred Lines,” unleashing a wave of parodies and covers.
ROOTS The groove is a dead ringer for Marvin Gaye’s 1977 R&B hit “Got to Give It Up.”
CONTROVERSY The video’s topless models were guaranteed to inflame one group of listeners; the lyrics’ “you know you want it” routine maddened another.