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Rock Songs of the Summer Picks: Bishop Briggs, Beck, The Head and the Heart & More

Who'll score rock's biggest hits this summer? Programmers make their picks.

Billboard has already handicapped what might be the biggest smashes this summer, with safe bets pointing to, among others, hits by Drake, Justin Timberlake and Calvin Harris and Rihanna.

Plus, the annual Songs of the Summer chart has returned, ranking the top songs all season long based on cumulative performance on the Billboard Hot 100.

But those songs tend to represent the biggest hits among mainstream pop audiences. What about other genres?

Tuesday, country radio decision-makers weighed in with what might be the biggest country hits from now through Labor Day. Yesterday, programmers in R&B/hip-hop and rhythmic radio checked in with what might rule their format in summer ’16. Today, as we wrap our three-part series of predictions, alternative, adult alternative and mainstream rock programmers predict the summer’s top songs in their genres.

Song of the Summer Showdown: 5 Top Contenders, From ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ to ‘One Dance’


Jeff Regan, program director, SiriusXM Alt Nation
“Go!,” M83 feat. Mai Lan. “Sunshine vibes personified. Great fusion of synths, dreamy vocals, sweet guitar and splashes of saxophone. This one went right into rotation on Alt Nation and has already been embraced by our listeners.”

“River,” Bishop Briggs. “Stomp, clap and stomp your way into summer. Bishop Briggs kicks in the door with massive vocals. Alt Nation has been playing her music for months and now it’s awesome to see her getting much-deserved national attention.”

“HandClap,” Fitz & The Tantrums. “The probability of this being that ‘everywhere’ song this summer is super-high, and rightfully so. Energy, energy, energy in the form of handclaps! The whole songs exudes fun, and that is what summer is all about. This song has held the No. 1 spot on our weekly most-requested countdown show for over a month now.”

“Wow,” Beck. “The maestro of alternative rock has returned and he’s brought a summer banger with him. Seasonally appropriate, genre-bending beats, ideal for window-down, slow-rolling through the neighborhood. All hail Beck, the summer may now begin.”

Ron “Crash” Kissell, music director/assistant PD, WKZQ Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“HandClap,” Fitz & The Tantrums. “This song is a sure hit at your next BBQ.”

“That’s All I Need,” The Dirty Heads. “The hook on this song is so catchy, it just makes you want to grill and chill.”

“Fire,” Barns Courtney. “Needs to be in everyone’s summer playlist.”

John O’Connell, PD, WSFS Miami
“Dark Necessities,” Red Hot Chili Peppers. “This one is going to stick around for a while. From the very beginning, this song builds and builds and doesn’t quit. Flea’s hypnotizing bassline, combined with a strong backbeat, makes this one perfect for dropping your car’s top and cranking the dial up to 11. I think it’s the Peppers’ best effort in some time, and having Danger Mouse produce it was genius. My No. 1 summer song. I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t like it.”

“Take It From Me,” KONGOS. “The first time I heard the song, I asked our local record rep to play it again … and again … then, one more time. I got it and I loved it. It’s funky, full of energy and haunting all at the same time, and It’s another great driving song that pushes the pedal to the floor for you. On the boat or on the beach, this one [feels like] summer and beyond.”

“That’s All I Need,” The Dirty Heads. “Around here, songs with a reggae vibe become part of the scenery. They fit South Florida in the same way that palm trees, hot sand and beach bars do. Is it a hit for every part of the country? I’m not sure, but for us this could be a summer anthem. Close your eyes and you can smell the salt air! This song defines summer, in my opinion.”

Country Songs of the Summer Picks: Cassadee Pope, Thomas Rhett & Maren Morris

Adult alternative:

Rita Houston, PD, WFUV New York
“Wow,” Beck. “This song puts it all together: beats, memorable lyrics and a giddy-up, too! This will be the song of the summer on ‘FUV.”

“Silly Me,” Yeasayer. “We’ve been playing this song since early March, so this is sure to be a summertime sing-along.”

“All We Ever Knew,” The Head and the Heart. “We are so psyched to welcome back one of our favorite bands with this big, hooky song that reminds us to live in the moment and always seek the joy in life.”

“How I Love You,” Robert Ellis. “This guy has a way with words, and this song has a classic summertime chorus.”

Sky Daniels, PD, KCSN Los Angeles
“All We Ever Knew,” The Head and the Heart. “This song is the one where they break through in a big way.”

“Also: Catfish and the Bottlemen’s ‘Soundcheck’ and The Monkees’ “Me and Magdalena.”

Matt Phipps, PD, WXRV Boston
“Good Grief,” Bastille. “Any song that features Kelly Le Brock soundbites from the movie Weird Science is a hit in my book.”

“All We Ever Knew,” The Head and the Heart. “Big hooks, big chorus, big sing-along.”

“Ain’t No Man,” The Avett Brothers. “Sometimes all you need for a great summer song is a bass guitar, some drums and some handclaps.”

“Wish I Knew You,” The Revivalists. “Some New Orleans sticky soul for a hot summer day.”

“Not a One,” The Young Wild. “The 2016 version of the classic California sound. Just try to get the chorus out of your head. ‘They’re never gonna take us alive, my love’ …”

Brad Savage, PD, WAPS, Akron, Ohio
“Ain’t No Man,” The Avett Brothers. “A one-listen infectious anthem with a huge sing-along chorus and huge tempo.”

“All We Ever Knew,” The Head and the Heart. “Probably the best radio song yet from this buzz band from the Seattle area with a dedicated, organic fan base, built over its previous releases.”

“All for One,” The Stone Roses. “After 22 years (!), The Stone Roses prove that it was worth the wait. A mysterious U.K. band with so much heritage.”

“Don’t You Cry for Me,” Cobi. “Keep an eye on this new singer from Lutsen, Minn., a ski resort town almost in Canada. Really memorable and smart. We hope to see big things from him as his acclaim grows.”

“River,” Bishop Briggs. “She’s from the U.K. and raised in Japan and Hong Kong. This song just sounds like summer. We get response after almost every play on-air. It stands out because it sounds like nothing else.”

R&B/Hip-Hop Songs of the Summer Picks: Maxwell, DJ Khaled & Drake

Mainstream rock:

Gabby Canella, active rock/metal PD, Music Choice
“The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” Volbeat. “A great summer rock track that you will hear blasting from car speakers. Volbeat has been a rising band and will sweep the summer with its upcoming shows.”

“Paranoia,” A Day to Remember. “A fun and anthemic song. Seeing ADTR fans going nuts to this song at the Rock on the Range festival in May was an early hint that it will continue to grow and become a hit this summer.”

“Asking for It,” Shinedown. “A household rock band staple. This is one of my favorites off its latest album. This will definitely go over well live as Shinedown tours this summer. Plus, the new video is hilarious.”

“Take It All,” Pop Evil. “Pop Evil has been turning lots of heads with its latest album, UP. This is another hit off an incredible album. Very catchy and upbeat.”

Kirby Ray, PD/MD KCGQ Cape Girardeau, Mo.
“From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” Ghost “For the rocker who wants to keep wearing black all summer!”

“The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” Volbeat. “Major riffage to get your pool party amped up.”

“Take It From Me,” KONGOS. “Super-cool song that won’t let you forget to have a good time!”