What will command pop radio as we head toward summer? Let's make the case for 10 (soon-to-be) big hits.
"Uptown Funk!," Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' amazingly successful single, spent its 10th week atop the Hot 100 chart last week, and the song could very well occupy the penthouse for a few more. However, "Funk!" is unlikely to keep the No. 1 spot through the entire spring season… and if Ronson and Mars won't rule the Hot 100 in the months leading up to summer, which artist is the most likely to do so?
We're still a good amount of time away from kicking off our Song of the Summer chart at Billboard, but let's take a moment to ponder what might become the Song of the Spring, which is currently a wide-open field of potential hits. Current Top 10 songs like Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," Hozier's "Take Me To Church" and Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" have been holding on long enough to presumably bow out of the running -- will they be replaced by new tracks from Zedd and Selena Gomez, Carly Rae Jepsen, Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande? What about current smashes from Swift, Pitbull and Ellie Goulding? Which song will define the spring of 2015 in the way Pharrell's "Happy" owned the season last year?
Check out the 10 songs most likely to end up as the unofficial Song of the Spring, with SOTSp odds assigned to each track. Note: these picks are not based on any existing Song of the Spring chart, and are based on current Hot 100 chart movements, among other factors.
Maroon 5, "Sugar" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 3 Song of the Spring Odds: 5-to-2
"Sugar" is Maroon 5's third Top 10 hit from their V album, and has the opportunity to absolutely dominate the spring: the blend of disco and soul makes for the band's tastiest cut in years (seriously, even Maroon 5 haters have been all over "Sugar" in recent weeks), and after debuting in the Top 10 less than two months ago, the song has only gotten more ubiquitous, posting in the Top 5 of the Digital Songs and Radio Songs charts. Frontman Adam Levine's continued Voice stardom, a smash music video -- which has 224 million YouTube views and quickly blew by the totals for the "Maps" and "Animals" clips -- and a new remix featuring Nicki Minaj certainly aren't hurting "Sugar's" chances at chart supremacy. Simply put, it's easy to imagine this song ruling radio as the flowers bloom, and it deserves the song of the spring inside track.
Taylor Swift, "Style" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 6 Song of the Spring Odds: 3-to-1
Underestimate Taylor Swift's chart dominance at your own risk. In the same chart week that the total sales of 1989 surpassed Swift's last two albums, its third single, "Style," crept closer to becoming its third straight No. 1 single. The follow-up to "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space" -- which spent four weeks and seven weeks atop the Hot 100, respectively -- just hit No. 1 on the Pop Songs chart, and at this point, it would be naive not to expect another Hot 100 chart-topper. If that's the case, we could all have that James Dean, daydream look in our eyes as the weather warms.
Zedd feat. Selena Gomez, "I Want You To Know" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 38 Song of the Spring Odds: 5-to-1
After debuting in the Top 20 on the Hot 100 chart upon its release, rumored couple Zedd and Selena Gomez's new collaboration "I Want You To Know" dipped to No. 38 on the chart -- but that doesn't mean it's not primed to be a huge hit. The sleek club banger is just getting started at radio (it moved up to No. 20 on the Pop Songs chart last week), and Gomez has proven a reliable hit machine, with the downbeat "The Heart Wants What It Wants" reaching a surprising No. 6 peak on the Hot 100 following its release last fall. Gomez and Zedd have each visited the Top 10 with individual songs like "Come & Get It" and "Clarity"; it's not hard to envision their first collaboration becoming their first No. 1 hit, as thousands of teens fist-pump to the track during spring break parties.
Pitbull & Ne-Yo, "Time of Our Lives" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 9 Song of the Spring Odds: 11-to-2
Pitbull and Ne-Yo are no strangers to the Top 10 of the Hot 100: "Time of Our Lives" is Mr. 305's 10th Top 10 hit, and Ne-Yo's 12th (the R&B veteran also appears in the Top 20 with "She Knows" featuring Juicy J, another potential song of the spring). They're also a winning duo on record, as "Give Me Everything," also featuring Afrojack and Nayer, spent a week at No. 1 in the summer of 2011. Like "Give Me Everything," "Time of Our Lives" is an undeniable party track with Pitbull tossing out positive sentiments on the verses and Ne-Yo adeptly handling the chorus; the new single might also be better-suited to the summer than spring, but it might reach the top of the Hot 100 before the dog days arrive.
Ellie Goulding, "Love Me Like You Do" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 4 Song of the Spring Odds: 8-to-1
As Fifty Shades of Grey mania slowly fades into the past, Ellie Goulding's hit single from the soundtrack, "Love Me Like You Do," is still going strong on the Hot 100 chart. Goulding has never had a No. 1 single on the Hot 100, and while the mid-tempo electro-pop track has been stuck behind songs like "Uptown Funk!" and "Thinking Out Loud" in recent weeks, "Love Me Like You Do" has become a Top 5 mainstay, and leapt into the Top 10 of the Radio Songs chart last week. "Love Me Like You Do" (and to a lesser extent, The Weeknd's "Earned It") has shown that it can outlast the Fifty Shades pop culture takeover and stand on its own; we'll soon see if it can also define the upcoming season on Top 40 radio.
Carly Rae Jepsen, "I Really Like You" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 48 Song of the Spring Odds: 10-to-1
Carly Rae Jepsen still has a long way to go before capturing her second No. 1 single on the Hot 100 -- "I Really Like You" debuted outside of the Top 40 on the chart last week, after a high-profile launch that included a music video co-starring Tom Hanks and Justin Bieber. Still, the "Call Me Maybe" star's deliriously upbeat new single is just getting started at radio, and Jepsen is enjoying a mini-career revival following two years of silence on the charts. "I Really Like You" might be destined to break big this summer, but the positive response the song has already garnered might move up its timetable as a hit.
"FourFiveSeconds" is perhaps the most unique Top 10 hit of Rihanna's career, with the acoustic soul track featuring a huge hook, a particularly vulnerable West and a musical legend brought on to play guitar. The unlikely collaboration has proven an unlikely Top 5 hit this winter… but does it have enough juice to keep moving up the Hot 100 and give its three mega-stars another No. 1 single to add to their resumés? It's a long-shot for the stripped-down track at this point, but "FourFiveSeconds" has already cleared enough hurdles to be a contender. With another much-loved performance to follow the Grammys, "FourFiveSeconds" could dominate the coming months.
Ariana Grande, "One Last Time" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 22 Song of the Spring Odds: 12-to-1
Like Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande is riding a current string of Top 10 hits -- the first three singles from her My Everything album, "Problem," "Break Free" and "Love Me Harder," all dominated pop radio to varying degrees over the past year. Now, fourth single "One Last Time" is plowing up the Hot 100 chart, jumping eight spots to No. 22 last week in its fourth week on the tally. "One Last Time" is a standout from My Everything and has real momentum, but its slightly slower tempo might prevent the track from giving Grande her long-coveted first No. 1 single on the Hot 100. It will be hard to outdo the success of a song like "Problem," but Grande will certainly try to do so with "One Last Time."
Nick Jonas, "Chains" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 25 Song of the Spring Odds: 15-to-1
"Chains" mirrors Grande's "One Last Time" in its upward trajectory: after "Jealous" peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100, Nick Jonas' follow-up single has been bolting up the chart in recent weeks, and jumped nine spots to No. 25 in last week's frame. "Chains" is slowly making its way onto radio (No. 46-37 on last week's Radio Songs chart), and Jonas' upcoming hosting stint at the Kids' Choice Awards and spring tour certainly will help increase awareness. Like "One Last Time," "Chains" might prove a little too slow to dominate the spring, but Jonas is a hot name in pop with another blossoming hit, so "Chains" is one to watch.
Walk The Moon, "Shut Up and Dance" On current Hot 100 chart: No. 36 Song of the Spring Odds: 20-to-1
A rock band with the song of the spring? It's not as ridiculous as you might think. "Shut Up and Dance" has become a monster at rock radio, hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Alternative Songs airplay chart last month, and is now crossing over to the mainstream, spending its first week in the Hot 100's Top 40 last week. The Cincinnati quartet may have stumbled upon this year's version of Bastille's "Pompeii" -- a crowd-pleasing, danceable pop-rock track with immediate hooks -- and while "Pompeii" was never as huge on the Hot 100 as something like Pharrell's "Happy," "Shut Up and Dance" could potentially be even bigger.