Pop Quiz, It’s a Pop Quiz—Demo’s Songs of the Summer

The song of the summer is one of the music industry’s “holy grails”, at least according to NPR. It’s hard to distill the essence of the season into a song, but that hasn’t stopped everyone from trying. This year, there hasn’t been that one hit that dominated the airwaves, but that opens the field for so many other possibilities. With the leaves falling and the return of pumpkin spice lattes, our contributors reflect on the songs that soundtracked their summers. The consensus favourite among our contributors is Jamie xx’s “(I Know There’s Gonna Be) Good Times”, but don’t miss our other picks.

Fetty Wap — “Trap Queen”

They’ve played 5 different shitty remixes of Trap Queen at every Caribana party simultaneously and probably at a bar on Ossington (ironically, of course). You probably hate how often you’ve heard this song. But you still like it. Or maybe you hate it, but you like how much you hate it. It’s the one song that everyone has an opinion on. But when that song comes on, and you’re at the club with your woes, you know all the words.

Trap Queen is a 2k15 classic. In five years, if the world hasn’t been completely overrun by natural disaster, you will hear this song and think, damn, what a great summer. Or maybe it was a shit show? I don’t know, but it was slightly less of a shit show, because of this song. That sweet croon, that sweet smile: Fetty can do no wrong. — Ayla Shiblaq

Eskimeaux — “The Thunder Answered Back”

Eskimeaux has always been captivating, but I feared she lacked the energy to do more with her captivation other than hold me. This song however, breaches her previous staticity with haunting loudness and hounding showers of drums and synths. It has resolve and resolution, and when she screams insults I can feel only joy. — Jacob Golledge

Carly Rae Jepsen — “Run Away with Me”

Yep — it’s that Carly Rae Jepsen. To a lot of people, she’s a one-hit wonder, but the beauty of this song is that she doesn’t try to replicate “Call Me Maybe”‘s success. The blaring M83-like sax riff at the beginning of the song should say everything — it’s shamelessly synthetic and all the better for it. And the way Jepsen phrases the chorus is exhilarating (“baby! take me! to the feeling!”), before she makes that manic pixie dream girl declaration: “I’ll be your sinner in secret.” This year, Jepsen released her album E•MO•TION on my birthday, when I was spending the summer travelling in Asia. I spent that night walking along the Hong Kong waterfront, drinking in the city lights and the muggy night air. And you can bet I listened to “Run Away with Me” that night. — James Li

Kendrick Lamar — “King Kunta”

On the night of its surprise release, “King Kunta” was instantly being embraced at house parties, getting us on our feet with its unforgettably funky bassline, and giving us a glimpse at a new Kendrick to come. Little did we know at the time that this iconic song was just a small piece of a much grander album. Regardless of where I was this summer, whether it be Kensington, Queen Street, or even the clubs of Reykjavik, “King Kunta”’s funk permeated the crowds. Sure it’s not your typical banger: it’s no “m.A.A.d city”, no “Backstreet Freestyle”, but it has importance to it, passion, artistry, it all seems to shine through. Kendrick doesn’t have to follow the standard hip-hop formula to make a killer song— now he’s the one redefining them. — Jamil Fiorino-Habib

Bassnectar — “You & Me” (ft. W. Darling)

Think fireworks. They’re hella cheesy, but they never get old. Hopefully, that image helps explain why the paradox of “’You & Me”s boilerplate sound fits like a glove to every summer scenario. It feeds that electrical rush you share with your friends on a sticky dance floor. It is the tune you wiggle to while making dinner with your crush. And for those midnight trains we’ve all waited for at one point this summer, this song makes an empty subway your private party. Bassnectar’s tune is a great pick-me-up in muggy Monday mornings, and makes you want to fly on Lakeshore breezes for those cool Friday nights when you prowl downtown. — Rachel Chiong

Marina and the Diamonds — “Froot”

Even though the single, “Froot”, came out on October 10th of last year, I played it non-stop throughout the summer. I was unfortunate enough to have a job and had to work for a majority of music festival season. The only festival I was able to attend was Field Trip, where Marina and the Diamonds was headlining. Her performance was captivating and I had a good time (despite her very enthusiastic yet very pushy fans). I totally forgot about Marina until this point. The last time I listened to her previous album, Electra Heart, I was in high school. Hearing her new material was refreshing and when I got home, I immediately downloaded Froot. I liked how it was upbeat and catchy. Plus, the analogies between fruit, love, and life are clever and fun to sing along to. Throughout the next few months, I played “Froot” over and over again. It brought back memories of the only music festival I attended that summer. Memories I held onto dearly as I punched in produce codes at my depressing job as a grocery store cashier. — Querobin Mendoza

Drake — “Back to Back”

My summer was pretty uneventful. I worked full-time and that was about it. And then Drake released “Back to Back” and I was brought back into the world. It was one of those moments where you want to ask everyone, “where were you at the time of Meek Mill’s death?” For me, I was on my mundane morning commute when it was announced on the radio that they would be playing a new Drake track. But not just any Drake track – a diss track for Meek Mill after accusing Drake of using a ghostwriter via Twitter. So, I turned my volume way up and spent the rest of my drive mouth open in shock. Listening to it that first time got me so fired up and to be honest, it still gets me fired up. I still lose it every time it gets to the line: “is that your world tour or your girl’s tour?” — Samantha Capaldi

Willow — “F Q-C #7”

I can’t say I understand what’s going on inside of Willow Smith’s crazy space child brain, but it makes some damn good music. This cool track pretty much made my summer, with a solid beat and entrancing vocals. And it’s cool to see an artist go from whippin’ her braids to experimenting with lyrics and sound the way she does — at only 14 years old. Listening to this song was an experience every time — like dancing down the street if that street was in a rainforest. Or maybe Mars. — Savana James

Jamie xx — “(I Know There’s Gonna Be) Good Times” (ft. Young Thug and Popcaan)

Song of the summer or: music to listen to while cruising thru the suburbs at 1:00am on a Friday night, looking for food that is not pizza. Most of my time spent listening to music this summer was while in my car, and Good Times probably had the higest play count. This Jamie xx track has all the elements a summer song must have: a catchy hook, witty lyrics (“I’ma ride in that pussy like a stroller,” Young Thug declares), a beat that can only accurately be described as dope and a danceablility rating of 10/10. The placement of the track on the album is perfect too. Followed by the incredibly satisfying The Rest is Noise, Jamie tells us that the good times have been had (finding a shawarma place that’s open ’til 2:00am), now it’s time to go home. — Mubashir Baweja

Sometimes a track becomes the song of the summer just by sheer popularity. A totally innocuous single releases onto radio, social media gets flooded with one-liners about #JidennaHive or 1-800-HOTLINEBLING, and at some point it becomes profoundly unsurprising whenever you hear the song playing.

But sometimes the success is calculated. A producer who’s spent years honing the art of making listenable alt-pop taps hip-hop’s current man of the hour for vocals. Prominent steel drums and the addition of dancehall’s biggest crossover artist set the scene firmly in the tropical summer. Drop in a sample from The Persuasions, adding enough class to offset some of the more (hilariously) vulgar lines, and you’ve guaranteed yourself a summer hit.

That hit is, of course, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” from Jamie xx, Young Thug, and Popcaan. And despite the modern music industry’s tendency to manufacture vapid radio hits, sometimes a little calculation can be a good thing. — William Goldie


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