Way-Too-Early Song of the Summer Watch: What Are 2017's Best Bets So Far?
Selena Gomez, Lorde and… Linkin Park? Here are the 15 singles that are potentially poised to dominate the dog days.
Yes, it's mid-March. Yes, it's not even spring. And yes, some parts of the United States are in the middle of a blizzard. But let's face facts: 2017's song of the summer may very well have already been released.
Over the past decade, the defining song of summertime (which is tracked each year via a special Billboard chart that launches around Memorial Day) is often released well before the warm weather, in order to gain momentum at radio over the spring and reach peak ubiquity as school lets out. Drake's "One Dance," which was last year's champ? Released on April 5. Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," the 2014 winner? Out Feb. 17 of that year. Sometimes, a song takes months (even years!) to blow up in the States after bubbling up overseas; such was the case with the 2015 Song of Summer, OMI's "Cheerleader," which dropped way back in 2012 and became huge in the U.K. in early 2015.
All of which is to say: There's a pretty good chance that you've already heard this year's Song of the Summer. But which tracks are the ones to consider the strongest contenders? Here's a way-too-early (or is it?) look at what could very well be ruling radio during the summer of 2017:
The Major Players
Kygo feat. Selena Gomez, “It Ain’t Me”
This Kygo crossover cut, perhaps the most danceable Selena Gomez single since "Slow Down," has the star wattage, hypnotic hook and pulsating beat to hijack pop radio. It's already lodged itself in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and is set to grow at top 40, continuing the hit streak from Gomez's Revival era.
Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley, “Chained to the Rhythm”
It hasn't been as big as "California Gurls" or even "Roar" thus far, but underestimate Katy Perry's pop appeal at your own risk; "Dark Horse," the biggest hit from her previous album, took months to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100. And even if her Skip Marley-assisted "purposeful pop" anthem isn't the single to explode, it's a safe bet that Katy has more bullets aimed at top 40 in the chamber for her upcoming fourth full-length.
Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean and Migos, “Slide”
This summit of styles is starting slowly on the Hot 100 (it drops 18 spots to No. 52 on the current tally) … but Migos' "Bad and Boujee" started slowly too, and look what happened there. Calvin Harris, who has ruled summer with racing dance tracks (often featuring Rihanna), returns here with something sleeker and more meditative, but no less sumptuous. And hey, who isn't hoping to hear more of Frank Ocean's voice on pop radio?
Lorde, “Green Light”
Lest we forget, 2017 is the year of our Lorde, and the New Zealand chanteuse has come back swinging: "Green Light" doesn't quite fit in with current pop trends, but neither did "Royals" in 2013, and it spent nine weeks atop the Hot 100 that fall. If pop and alternative radio both keep spinning "Green Light," the lead single from Lorde's sophomore album Melodrama could be a monster.
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay, “Something Just Like This”
Go ahead and declare that The Chainsmokers' stranglehold on pop radio is over, because from our perspective, their reign isn't close to letting up. With "Closer" still in the top 10 of the Hot 100 and "Paris" burning up streaming sites as well, look for their Coldplay team-up "Something Just Like This" to emerge as the next Alex/Drew joint to become inescapable, especially with Chris Martin and co. potentially performing it at stadiums all summer long.
Ed Sheeran's Next Single
"Perfect"? "Galway Girl"? "Dive"? We don't know yet, but whatever gets serviced to radio when the unstoppable "Shape of You" dies down a bit has a good shot of continuing Ed Sheeran's winter domination into the warmer months. Sheeran's third LP is already a safe bet to be one of 2017's biggest-selling albums -- potentially even more successful than 2014's x (Multiply), which yielded four top 10 hits.
The Under-the-Radar Contenders
Kyle feat. Lil Yachty, “iSpy”
Released back on Dec. 2, the happy-go-lucky "iSpy" has slowly grown and become a bona fide breakout hit for L.A. rapper Kyle. The track has continued shimmying up the Hot 100 and landing pop airplay, and could turn into an even more successful Lil Yachty assist than last year's surprise top 10 smash, D.R.A.M.'s "Broccoli."
Starley, “Call on Me”
Another slowly growing Hot 100 hit, "Call on Me" has the breakneck speed and earworm EDM riff to compete with any A-list single for airplay this summer. Australian singer-songrwriter Starley -- who almost quit music before "Call on Me" took off -- has been topping charts overseas, thanks in part to a killer remix from fellow Aussie Ryan Riback.
Julia Michaels, “Issues”
Songwriter-for-the-stars Julia Michaels (Justin Bieber's "Sorry," Fifth Harmony's "Flex [All in My Head]") has strode out on her own with the delectable debut single "Issues," which received a high-profile launch in January and has been leaping up the Hot 100 ever since. Are summer songs usually this fragile? No, but Michaels' captivating delivery and the song's theatrical production (courtesy of pop maestros Benny Blanco and Stargate) make this one to watch.
Marian Hill, “Down”
The Philly rhythmic-pop duo has been showcasing a magnetic sound and live show for a while, but an Apple synch earlier this year hurriedly brought them to the mainstream. "Down" is a weird, wonderful hit that still has legs.
Pitbull and J Balvin feat. Camila Cabello, “Hey Ma”
Sadly, Cam'ron's "Hey Ma" is unlikely to be 2017's Song of the Summer, but this identically titled team-up between Pitbull, J Balvin and the very-much-in-demand Camila Cabello has a good chance to compete. Remember the last time that a Fast & The Furious soundtrack single took off? Never overlook the power of Vin Diesel potentially warbling part of your hit at an awards show.
The True Sleepers
Jax Jones feat. Raye, “You Don’t Know Me"
Is "You Don't Know Me" the 2017 equivalent of OMI's "Cheerleader"? British producer Jax Jones recruited Raye to deliver a scorching house track, and the result has been a top 10 hit across Europe, and already has 46 million YouTube views. If this starts taking off in the U.S. at the right moment, it could define the sound of this summer.
Sigrid, “Don’t Kill My Vibe”
The debut single from Norwegian artist Sigrid is one of the best pop songs of 2017 thus far, and has scooped up 5 million streams on Spotify in a little over a month. It's still pretty far away from capturing top 40, but "Don't Kill My Vibe" has such a strong hook that it shouldn't shock anybody if it makes the leap over the next few months.
Computer Games – “Every Single Night”
The Darren Criss Renaissance has arrived! The former Glee star just returned with Computer Games, a new project alongside his brother Chuck, and the track "Every Single Night" is the type of pop vocal stunner that we knew Criss had in him ever since he covered "Teenage Dream." If Joe Jonas can remake himself as the leader of a pop group and take over mainstream radio, why can't The Artist Formerly Known as Blaine Anderson?
Linkin Park feat. Kiiara, “Heavy”
You thought we were going to leave Linkin Park's new single off of this list, didn't you? You were wrong. "Heavy," the nu-metal gods' swivel toward current radio trends featuring "Gold" songstress Kiiara, is Twenty One Pilots meets "Closer," and it's starting to cross over. Remember when we all collectively laughed at the idea of Sean Paul scoring a No. 1 hit a decade after his commercial apex? This year, Linkin Park are looking for some cheap thrills of their own.