Music

What Are The 2021 Song Of The Summer Contenders?

Now that the world is eagerly rushing a return to normalcy after over a year of shutdowns, cancellations, and rigid social distancing rules, the need for music to keep everyone’s spirits up is more integral than ever.

Since music serves as a snapshot of our life experiences, the Song Of The Summer plays a huge role in remembering and cherishing those moments. (I’ll never forget the summer before eighth grade thanks to Rihanna’s “Pon De Replay.”) If 2021 is as massive in real life as it is in theory, this year’s summer hit could be etched in our memories forever.

While we have the power to christen our own Song Of The Summer, there is often one song that the mainstream unofficially dictates as “the one.” This song is inescapable, often catchy, gives you the feeling of being carefree, and sometimes, it’s incredibly danceable. What better way to kick things off than with a prediction of what that coveted track will be?

Here’s a list of 10 potential “songs of the summer.”

Justin Bieber – “Peaches” Feat. Daniel Caesar and Giveon

The sweet and tangy vibe of the Billboard chart-topper basically oozes fun in the sun, so this pick should be a given. Its continent-trotting chorus — where Biebs mentions hitting up Georgia, California, and his Canadian home up-north — also provides inspiration for listeners’ safe, CDC-regulated summer travel plans.

Dua Lipa – “Levitating” Feat. DaBaby

Lockdown didn’t allow Dua Lipa to have the summer anthem she deserved in 2020 after releasing the Grammy-winning album Future Nostalgia last spring. However, the rap remix to her hit “Levitating” continues to sit pretty on the 2021 charts, so there’s a chance her reign will finally hit. (Better late than never!) The song’s disco-heavy energy also capitalizes on the country’s collective yearning for better, simpler times.

Doja Cat – “Kiss Me More” Feat. SZA

Doja Cat owned summer last year with her ‘70s inspired “Say So,” so another hit for the singer/rapper during the sunny season would be most apropos. As with “Levitating,” “Kiss Me More” has old-school club vibes (with an interpolation of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”) that brings throwback themes to the forefront, while Doja’s slick-tongued rap and SZA’s laid back swagger modernize the tune.

Kali Uchis – “Talepatía”

In a sea of chart-topping anthems, this is somewhat a dark horse in the competition. However, given the song’s theme about a long-distance lover, it works perfectly given our socially-distanced circumstances. The TikTok-favorite found on Uchis’ sophomore album, “Talepatía” also comes equipped with production befitting of her Colombian heritage, which provides a different sound for those cross-country, top-down road trips.

Olivia Rodrigo – “Good 4 U”

Unlike other Song Of The Summer selections which utilize the disco/R&B sound, the pop-punk style is strong with “Good 4 U.” With Hayley Williams-levels of enthusiastic aggression overlaying the entire track, Rodrigo shows her range as a performer. Plus, if she rules the summer, it’s proof that the *future* Grammys Best New Artist nominee is a singer for all seasons. (Remember, she had winter on lock with “Drivers License.”)

Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open”

The soulful, smooth, and silky song evokes vintage vibes (do we see a pattern here?), which is perfect for ditching our collective present-day COVID-19 nerves for a few minutes. The inviting, sensual lyrics could provide listeners with the courage to begin a potential summer fling, or to have a chill evening with that special someone…

“Twerkulator,” City Girls

…but if you’re trying to live out #VaxxedGirlSummer or #ShotGirlSummer to the fullest, look no further than “Twerkulator.” Thanks to long-awaited sample clearance (it uses Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s “Planet Rock”), the Miami rap mainstays released their highly-anticipated song just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. It certainly may be time for the twerkulator, so shake what ya mama gave ya.

Nicki Minaj – “Itty Bitty Piggy”

If you’re looking to be on your boss b*tch tip this summer, allow Nicki Minaj to give you the anthem. Now that the streets are opening back up, Onika’s enduring hit from her now-streamable mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty is a perfect contender for the coveted Song Of The Summer honor, especially since it continues to “go awf” 12 years after its initial release. The Queen of Rap could still be on top.

BTS – “Butter”

With synthy, ‘80s-drenched production, the Bangtan Boys’ latest dance-pop anthem (released May 21) hit DSPs just in time for the change in temperature, and is sure to keep things “hot like summer” for both their diehard fans and casual listeners.

Natasha Bedingfield – “Unwritten”

Though it was released in 2004, the English singer’s euphoric pop track was given new life thanks to a trap-friendly TikTok remix (“Like Yhop” by Esco featuring Shawn P). The original musical breath of fresh air has been heavily praised since the dance challenge popped off. Many hope that Summer 2021 is a reintroduction to freedom, and we’re ready to (safely) “feel the rain on [our] skin” again.

Honorable Mention: Whatever Drake Drops

Drake had the summer season in his clutches at least two times in the past. 2016 was the year of “One Dance,” and 2018 gave us “In My Feelings.” Given what he teased fans with his March EP Scary Hours 2, we don’t have any doubts that Certified Lover Boy will provide some sort of summer anthem whenever it drops. Kudos to you, Drake, for keeping us on our toes.

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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