The charts will determine which anthem will be this year’s Song of the Summer. Together, we’ll choose which song should be the Song of the Summer.
That’s right. The Uproxx Music brain trust has gathered in an attempt to build a 16-song bracket full of bangers that will be pouring out of car windows, seeping out of headphones, and generally soundtracking your sweatiest days. And now we’re putting that bracket in your hands to crown Uproxx’s first Song of the Summer.
Let’s face it: The actual Song of the Summer is going to be one of a couple of the ubiquitous hits currently dominating the charts. So arguing over what will get the official title is kind of boring and pointless. Our bracket has those smashes, but they sit alongside lesser-known cuts that happen to also be choice for these sweltering times. There were no prerequisites for airplay, sales, downloads, streams, etc., to be included in our bracket. In fact, there were only two rules: Each song had to be released as a single in 2015 (so before you start asking in the comments where “Trap Queen” is, now you have your answer; it came out in March, 2014), and it has to in some way fit the ethos of summer. That’s it.
We’re sure some of you will disagree with our final 16 choices, and that’s OK. This is our bracket, built from our tastes! You’re more than welcome to create your own bracket; we’ll make sure to vote in that one.
Below, you’ll find our bracket, with our writers making their case for why each song should be the winner, along with videos for each song for reference and polls for each first-round matchup. The voting will close at 10 p.m. EST Monday, and Tuesday morning we’ll be right back with voting on our Elite Eight.
Pop / Dance 1 Region
No. 1 Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood”
No. 4 Years & Years, “King”
This tournament is already over, and the winner is “Bad Blood.” Thank you all for playing. You have not read this far if you came here to vote for “Bad Blood” because you have already voted for “Bad Blood,” refreshed your page and voted again. And we thank you for that. Taylor Swift is the new queen of the summer, and we are all her subjects. – Martin Rickman
“King” topped the UK Singles chart before conquering our shores, and it’s easy to see why. The synth-pop melody grabs the listener from the jump, while the chorus is begging for a sing-a-long. It’s perfect for the dance floor or blasting in the car with the windows down — which fits any definition of Song of the Summer. – Eddie Fu
No. 2 David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, “Hey Mama”
No. 3 Carly Rae Jepsen, “I Really Like You”
If Song of the Summer was decided strictly upon a rubric of sheer number of plays and “most likely to be in a trailer for a show called Ballers,” then Nicki Minaj and David Guetta would have this thing in the bag. It’s earworm-worthy, the beat works, it throws the always summerific reggae elements in there, and as we’ve all seen in the past with songs like “Super Bass,” Minaj knows how to own a summer. – Martin Rickman
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really like this song. (It’s so good and immediately catchy that I don’t need to explain myself. Also, Tom Hanks.) – Josh Kurp
Indie / Rock Region
No. 1 Tame Impala, “Eventually”
No. 4 Best Coast, “California Nights”
I can personally attest to the summer readiness of “Eventually,” having seen it performed live on a picture-perfect 80-degree afternoon. Really, the song pulls a little bit from all the various song-of-the-summer archetypes — the verse trades off equally between smooth-stepping and banging, and the “But I know that I’ll be happier / And I know you will too / Eventually” chorus brings the type of catharsis, lyrically and sonically, that makes it perfect for anthemic singalongs. – Tom Mantzouranis
Bethany Cosentino’s love for the sun-drenched shores of her home state is draped all over her work, from this song, to the album of the same name, to her band’s name. But the formula is tweaked in “California Nights,” giving the song a vibe that feels like a perfect match for a warm summer evening. It’s more symphonic than rocking, carried by Cosentino’s soaring vocals. Yeah, she’s singing about love gone wrong and weed again. She’s also great at it. – Chris Morgan
No. 2 Titus Andronicus, “Dimed Out”
No. 3 Passion Pit, “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)”
Summer goes by too quickly. Summer is sweaty. Summer is raw power. “Dimed Out,” the first single from Titus Andronicus’ upcoming rock opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, is all those things. It’s beautifully ugly, with Patrick Stickles singing about how he “saw the sun and felt its light’s power.” “Dimed Out” sounds like driving around in a car with the windows open, screaming the lyrics because you have no f*cks to give. Don’t listen to parents or priests or principals; listen to Titus Andronicus. – Josh Kurp
Michael Angelakos has a way of writing songs that sound like they are the brightest, most uplifting thing you’ve ever heard, and then when you read the lyrics, you realize how incredibly poignant the song is. “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” is like one of those Russian dolls that just grows more fascinating with each layer being peeled away. You may have first heard it this summer, but it’ll probably last for many more to come. – Michael Depland
Rap / Hip-Hop Region
No. 1 Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
No. 4 Action Bronson feat. Chance the Rapper, “Baby Blue”
When a song works its way into your heart, it can have a hard time finding its way out. Like its cinematic companion in Furious 7, “See You Again” may have debuted a little early to technically be considered a summer smash. But sometimes the rules go out the window when a sad, sweet ditty just charms America in an indescribable way. Who would have ever thought it would come from a man who resembles a stoned catfish. – Michael Depland
With Mark Ronson — who is having one hell of a summer — handling the production on this ode to unrequited love, the heavy piano chords strike the perfect notes with a jazzy inflection. Even better, Ronson saves the horn section until the end of the jam, making the song beg to be replayed. Action Bronson is entertaining as always, but it’s Chance’s poisonous and clever barbs that really put the cherry on this sweet summer jam. – Dariel Figueroa
No. 2 T-Wayne, “Nasty Freestyle”
No. 3 Jamie xx feat. Young Thug and Popcaan, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
“Nasty Freestyle” became a hit in the most “summer of 2015” way possible: Its opening lines became a meme that dominated Instagram and Vine, catapulting the song to a very unlikely No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. That alone should earn it consideration. That the song also is just a good bit of mindless fun (emphasis on “mindless”), an endlessly quotable novelty — “I’m just barely gettin’ started / You already upset / Got a tiger as a pet / I just took him to the vet” — seals the deal. Let’s not be mistaken: This isn’t the type of song we’re going to be talking about years from now. We probably won’t be talking about it in October. But that’s the thing: Summer is the type to embrace a little bit of debauchery. Save those embarrassing regrets for the fall. – Tom Mantzouranis
The way Jamie xx seamlessly blends his shadowy textures with the Afro-Caribbean and Jamaican influences of his partners here makes this a brilliant song; really, you can’t tell where the producer’s stylings end and his collaborators’ begin. But then there’s that sample. That glorious sample. That life-affirming sample, bringing up memories of dusty ’90s feel-good hip-hop jams. That sample, courtesy of The Persuasions, not only makes “…(Good Times)” the song of the summer, but the song of the year in my mind. Jamie xx has managed to craft a tune that is equally nostalgic and now. Oh, and it’s so much g*ddamn fun to listen to. – Tom Mantzouranis
Pop / Dance 2 Region
No. 1 Jason Derulo, “Want To Want Me”
No. 4 Disclosure feat. Gregory Porter, “Holding On”
The time is now. Jason Derulo has come so, so close to having a song of the summer. “Talk Dirty” was close, and “Wiggle” was even closer, but this could truly be his time. Four equal parts of INXS, Usher, Maroon 5 and Cheap Trick, “Want To Want Me” is a scorching and sexy statement that presents exactly who he is and the perfect slice of pop he can bring to the table. Ironically though, on this “statement,” he no longer sings his name in the beginning of his songs. Bring it back, Jason. Jason Derulooooo. – Michael Depland
Time will tell if Disclosure will top “Latch,” its best song and an easy entry onto the all-decade list. But the brothers should be good if they’re at least three-fifths as good as “Latch.” “Holding On” is that and more. The brothers’ strength is in how they’ve been able to imbue humanity in the eclecticism of the dance floor. This time they do so with the help of jazz vocalist Gregory Porter. His track-opening howl serves as a beacon to the dance floor. As with typical Disclosure, you enjoy your stay. – Brian Josephs
No. 2 Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”
No. 3 Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. Mø, “Lean On”
The original version of the song was a stripped-down piano ballad until Justin’s manager, Scooter Braun, handed it off to Diplo and Skrillex for their Jack Ü project. The duo infused Bieber’s signature sweet vocals with their latest twist on EDM, and it’s hard to argue with the result: It’s a massive worldwide hit that’s been equally at home on the R&B charts and closing out Ultra 2015 earlier this year. – Eddie Fu
“Lean On” is like the Swiss-Army knife of summer songs. Is it something that could be played in a party setting? Check. Does it have aspirational lyrics about friendship and long nights? Check. Is it something danceable, yet innocuous enough that you conceivably hear in sports arenas for the next few years? Check. While Diplo may be the Chris Brown of the EDM world, he knows exactly what he’s doing when he steps into the DJ booth. Major Lazer know how to make a perfect sunny, summer jam. – Michael Depland
Thanks for voting! Remember, voting on each round ends at 10 p.m. EST. Check back Tuesday morning to vote on the Elite Eight.