What actually decides the Song of the Summer isn’t an exact science — it seems like a real mixture of things. It has to be a track you can’t avoid no matter where you go, which also captures the vibe and mood of the season, and can somehow cross over to all different kinds of people. Predicting this alone, as you can imagine, can be tough, so it’s much easier to put it in the hands of the people rather than dictating it from on high.
After some incredibly close votes (and a blowout or two), we are down to eight tracks vying for UPROXX’s 2016 Song of the Summer. Vote below to make sure your favorite takes it all.
Now that we’ve made it past the opening round following with a few surprise knockouts (sorry Beyonce), we push further in this battle for Summer supremacy, and here is where things start to get tough. Who will be the victors of each of their brackets, to defend their respective genres in the final four? Voting for this round ends Friday, July 8 at 9 a.m.
Drake – “One Dance”
Why is “One Dance” the song of the summer? Because it’s a track that is impossible to get sick of. “One Dance” is dope background music, “One Dance” can be played for hours and you’ll at different times forget that it’s on and still be stoked that it’s on. “One Dance” could survive the apocalypse because its beauty is in its simplicity. Of course, if Drake also survived said apocalypse, he’d have plenty of material for a new album because he’d be so sad that no one else survived and they all abandoned him.
– Ryan O’Connell
Chance The Rapper – “No Problem”
Chance The Rapper is the best rapper who can adapt to rappers on their own turf. He Jay Elec-Hanukkahed all over “How Great” with prophetic sounding bars, and “No Problem” is Chance taking on 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne’s specialty: crazy big party music. Chance building a banger out of his beloved choir snippets and ad-libs is noteworthy enough, but what makes “Problem” the SotS is the fact that Tity Boi and Wayne refused to be shown up. Weezy delivers one of the best verses we’ve heard from him in years and Chainz’ dad jokes are in peak form. If you can listen to this contender without bouncing on your toes or laughing at the idea of dapping up God, then I don’t want to know you.
– Alex Galbraith
WINNER: Chance The Rapper – “No Problem”
Rihanna & Calvin Harris – “This Is What You Came For”
Rihanna and Calvin Harris previously showed great chemistry with the monster hit “We Found Love,” and now they’ve got another winner on their hands with the mid-tempo, tropical house of “This Is What You Came For.” It’s a relatively mellow dance-pop song which doesn’t seem like an earworm at first, until you realize that you’ve been nodding your head to the beat all along. For members of the Rihanna Navy disappointed by the more subdued direction of ANTI, the song title says it all.
– Eddie Fu
Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop The Feeling”
You’ll hear this song more this summer than any other song in the running. You’ll hear it at your cousin’s wedding, at the bar or club, at the gas station. It’ll be playing where you buy new flip flops, where you get coffee, where you get delicious fish tacos. Your neighbor will be listening to it during a cookout; the people next to you at the beach will be listening to it. And every time you hear it, you’ll be totally okay with it, if not super okay with it because it’s a near perfect pop song. Actually, it might be a perfect pop song. JT strikes again!
– Ryan O’Connell
WINNER: Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop The Feeling”
Fitz & The Tantrums – “Handclap”
“Handclap” has all the makings of being a stealthy favorite for Song of the Summer. It’s perfectly positioned to sneak up from the middle of the pack like a precocious Kentucky Derby colt and snatch the title from someone like Rihanna or Drake. For one, the beat on the song is almost exactly calibrated for skilled and dorky dancers alike to feel comfortably getting down to the rhythm without embarrassing themselves or others. It is also by Fitz and the Tantrums, a band that has already had enough radio success that “Handclap” can be on every summer playlist and radio rotation within earshot, yet it doesn’t seem like a one-hit wonder situation.
Beyond the societal reasons for this song to be in Song of the Summer contention, there is also the simple fact that it is an incredibly catchy song which incorporates solid vocals, a catchy bridge, just the right amount of synth, and a groovy sax underneath it all. Plus, you can organically clap along while you dance. Which more than anything is a key ingredient for songs that wish to remain completely inescapable from June to September.
– Whitney McIntosh
Twenty One Pilots – “Ride”
You know this song and, more importantly, you know that every time it comes on the radio you hesitate to change the station. The whole vibe of this song just screams “summertime.” That’s because “Ride” has so many key elements a great summer track requires: tropical melody, a big chorus you know after one listen, and the lyrics even talk about staying out in the sun.
You may not be a huge Twenty One Pilots fan just yet, but you’ll be singing “Ride” all Summer.
WINNER: Fitz & The Tantrums – “Handclap”
Anderson .Paak – “Celebrate”
“Celebrate” is truly a song for any occasion. If there’s any knock against Anderson .Paak’s perfect track being Song of the Summer, it’s that it doesn’t sound disposable enough. Summer songs are typically of their time and don’t have much life beyond that. This track from Malibu sounds like it’s always existed, to the point that it almost feels like a cover song on first listen. It’s just hard to believe that no one has captured the spot-on summertime theme of “You’re doing well, I mean you’re not dead/ so let’s celebrate while we still can” on wax before now.
– Alex Galbraith
White Lung – “Below”
What does summer need, more than anything? An anthem. White Lung wasn’t necessarily known for that, but with the release of Paradise earlier this year, the punk group embraces huge hooks for their big single. And no, “Below” isn’t a banger, and it’s not a carefree summer jam — it’s a song about how superficial things can be fleeting, but the way they make you feel can still be real. And you know what, sometimes you just need to shout til your throat goes sore. Thank you, White Lung for all of that.
– Michael Depland
WINNER: Anderson .Paak – “Celebrate”