The 10 Best “Songs of the Summer” of the Past 20 Years

Billboard just declared that Carly Rae Jepsen‘s pandemic pop sensation “Call Me Maybe” is the official “Song of the Summer.” Turns out Billboard chooses a definitive summer song every year, and with Fourth of July cookouts right around the corner, I figured it’s time to rank the best of Billboard’s yearly #1 picks. I chose only Billboard’s #1 summer tracks from 1992 to 2012, which means only song per year qualifies. Double-check my work, but I think my pick for the greatest summer song of the past generation remains a stunner.

10. Nelly Furtado, “Promiscuous” (2006)


It may have marked a departure for dear, sweet, folky free spirit Nelly Furtado, but “Promiscuous” was a sassy singalong that enlivened all my best car rides of 2006. Normally I would assume the Furtado role while my female contemporary would grumble the Timbaland section. I remain an MVP (like Steve Nash)

9. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe” (2012)


Ugh. Sigh. I firmly believe the song of the summer — quality-wise, funk-wise, sass-wise — is Kylie Minogue’s “Timebomb,” but Billboard has other ideas. I can’t deny that Ms. Jepsen’s drop-of-a-hat phenomenon is catchy. It’s sweet and silly and dreamy and classic pop and features a great video. My problem is just… where is the funk, guys? If we’re comparing summery phenomena, “Moves Like Jagger” is far superior in terms of danceability and funk, and I’m just as shocked as you are that I’m defending a Maroon 5 song. For now, Carly’s crooning is worthy of a #9 spot. But I’m not thrilled about it!

8. Katy Perry, “California Gurls” (2010)


Is it dopey? Yes. Does that matter? No. “California Gurls” is just the boppiest, beachiest, most Golden Coast-obsessed track of the past five years. It’s raunchy and whimsical, and those are the two most essential qualities in a summer jam.

7. Eve feat. Gwen Stefani, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”

Congrats to America for getting this one right, because summer songs are rarely as cool as this. Eve’s kickback jam remains remarkably fresh, and Gwen’s slithery work on the chorus is killer. It helps that these women are gorgeous.

6. Nelly, “Hot in Herre” (2002)

I don’t make the rules: “Hot in Herre” is just the nuttiest and naughtiest of summer specials, and you can’t help but move when it comes on the radio or when I play it five times in a row as I just have right now, sitting here. Words to live by: “Take it off like you’re home alone!”

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