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Searching for 2017’s Song of the Summer contenders

Ralph Bristout

 // May 26, 2017

What's in a song of the summer? Is it the production? Is it the artists behind the record? Is it its level of ubiquitousness?

As the most elusive of singles, the so-called "song of the summer" is one of the most coveted prizes in music. More than a title with bragging rights, it's a wide-angle snapshot of our current cultural moment. Last year, records like "All the Way Up" by Fat Joe and Remy Ma, Desiigner's "Panda," and Rihanna's "Work" delivered the summer breeze, but it was Drake's "One Dance" that was designed for the hot sun and thus sonically captured the season. So to test the temperature for this year’s front-runners that has the potential to soundtrack the backyard cookouts and block parties, here are a couple top contenders.

Calvin Harris ft. Migos & Frank Ocean "Slide"

Reason being: On paper, this lineup raised questions just as much as it did anticipation. In the end, the musical magician known as Calvin Harris superseded exceptions. The disco vibes, hearing Offset rhyme “diamonds dancing like Rick Ricardo,” and having Frank Ocean deliver his signature soothing vocals over delicate piano keys all go together like Nike Airs and crisp tees.

Drake "Passionfruit"

Reason being: As made clear these last eight years, there's no summer without Drake. Add this to the streak, and while we’re at it, the rest of More Life.

Lorde "Green Light"

Reason being: Easy, breezy and full of life, Lorde’s latest single is a pulsating jam that screams sunshine.

Donald Glover "Redbone"

Reason being: A sizzlingly soulful production, a viral trend, and slow-burner that is currently creeping up the charts, which altogether bodes well for a summery anthem.

Future "Mask Off"

Reason being: The standout from Future's eponymous release has captivated a generation this year — inducing the summer of flute, raising the Metro Boomin-Future kill streak, and once again soundtracking festival season. It's summer, mask off.

Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna "LOYALTY."

Reason being: Seeing what "HUMBLE." and "DNA." did for the spring, it's a sure bet that this superpower duet will effortlessly set the vibe.

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie ft. Kodak Black "Drowning"

Reason being: The single currently floods the airwaves in the Tri-State area and is a Top 50 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, where it sits at No. 47. It’s an easy listen and infectious enough to remain an earworm through the season.

Lil Uzi Vert "XO TOUR LIF3"

Reason being: This song is meant for sunglasses and Advil, while escaping your feelings for a chance to activate and come alive. In other words, this has summer written all over it.

French Montana ft. Swae Lee "Unforgettable"

Reason being: Swae Lee Gretzky skates over these steel drums like its Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and, boy, does he deliver a game winner. Add that to the signature French Montane infectious flavor that French Montana typically brings to records and you have an undeniable contender for summer 17's anthem.

Playboi Carti "Magnolia"

Reason being: This

DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne "I'm the One"

Reason being: DJ Khaled holds the keys to success and this collaboration was bulletproof evidence. "I'm the One" was a can’t fail formula. Between the sticky groove, gooey offerings from Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne and Quavo, and a Biebervelli stimulus package for good measure — this indeed is #anotherone for Khaled and #anotherone for the summer.

KYLE ft. Lil Yachty "iSpy"

Reason being: Kyle’s happy-go-lucky “iSpy” mirrors last year’s playful “Broccoli” (also featuring Lil Yachty) in execution, but its infectious melody is proof of its staying power.

Bruno Mars "That's What I Like"

Reason being: Revitalizing the glittering '90s sonic gumbo, otherwise known as new jack swing, Bruno's "That's What I Like" sounds like summer dripped in 24k gold. There’s no reason why this (or any other standout from 24k Magic) wouldn’t dominate the airwaves.

Ed Sheeran "Shape of You"

Reason being: Take a listen for yourself, this song isn't going anywhere.

Travis Scott "Butterfly Effect"/"A Man"/"Green & Purple"

Reason being: For the last two years, Travis Scott has supplied contagious earworms that outlive the summer season. There was “Antidote” for summer ’15 and “Pick Up the Phone” for summer ’16. With new music on the way, including a possible joint album with Quavo, La Flame is sure to keep the streak alive. “Butterfly Effect” is already out of here, but “A Man” and “Green & Purple” are also nothing to sneeze at. Either way, drop the top and watch La Flame cook this season.

Meek Mill "Glow Up"

Reason being: Meek's got another one with this record here. It's "Litty" meets "Levels" and altogether that's a dangerous combination for summertime. Wins & Losses coming soon.

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