The Song of Summer 2016 Smackdown

Will anything ever get close to “Call Me Maybe” status again?


No way am I going to bore you with an intro because we have a lot of work to do. We’ve got twelve tracks, one summer and have yet to assign an anthem to the collective beach party’s chorus, “THIS IS MY SONG!”

We polled you guys informally via the media that is social. Then we combined our own biases, removed anything that wasn’t born in 2016 (save for three exceptions — you’ll see, or hear), then pitted them against each other because nothing makes a better SPF alternative than competition.

Maybe don’t ask your derm about that. Ready?

The Top 11 2016 Song of Summer Contenders
Currently listed in no particular order. Things to consider: danceability, catchy-factor, sing-a-long-inducing chorus, locational context, annoyance level and relevance.

To note: Lemonade does not appear on this list because it is the work of a lifetime, not an ephemeral summer. Adele, we nixed your hit “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” because it sounds like you’re saying “left elbow” instead of “new lover” and also because it, too, isn’t right for a list that has the power to burn out by the fall.

1) “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake

Danceability: 10/10, dad and mom moves welcome
Catchiness: 10/10, whole family will love. The new “Happy.”
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 10/10, despite misspoken lyrics
Prime Setting: Great for weddings and Apple commercials
Annoyance level: For now, about a 5/10
Relevance: High. Burn-out predicted by late August.

2) “Into You” by Ariana Grande

Danceability: 6/10
Catchiness: 6/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 5/10 (her vocals are too hard to match plus what is she even saying)
Prime Setting: Car with girlfriends
Annoyance level: 5/10
Relevance: Low, surprised it made the list TBH

3) “Kings of Summer” by Ayokay

Danceability: 0
Catchiness: 0
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 0 but hum factor is high
Prime Setting:: Long car rides, hangovers poolside, hookups
Annoyance level: 0
Relevance: It’s from 2015 but continuing, strong and steady, thanks to it’s uniquely low annoyance level

4) “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” (Seeb Remix) by Mike Posner

Danceability: 6/10 I don’t know how to dance to this kind of song
Catchiness: 9/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 10/10, easy to get the words right except for the part that sounds like “Sara soda.”
Prime Setting: Broad: works in car rides, by pools, at bars and during at-home pre-games
Annoyance level: 8/10
Relevance: High. Literally. (It’s actually a cautionary tale if you listen to the lyrics.)

5) “One Dance” featuring Kyla & Wizkid by Drake

Danceability: 10/10, very easy to bob to when all else fails
Catchiness: 7/10, sneaks up on you
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 3/10 though not important. This songs about the dance floor grind.
Prime Setting: ^ Dance floor.
Annoyance level: 2/10
Relevance: High. Will carry well into the fall.

6) “Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Daya by The Chainsmokers

Danceability: 5, involves alternating swaying and dropping beats
Catchiness: 7/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 10
Prime Setting: “Out.”
Annoyance level: 2
Relevance: High now but we’ll be sick of it by mid-August.

7) “This Is What You Came For” featuring Rihanna by Calvin Harris

Danceability: 8/10 club dancing but not great dance-around-the-house music
Catchiness: 6/10, boring when sober, more exciting when drunk
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 7/10, you know the words but don’t really care
Prime Setting: Clubs
Annoyance level: 3/10
Relevance: High, with a strong likelihood of fading out into late August

8) “All Night (Coloring Book)” by Chance the Rapper

Danceability: 8/10
Catchiness: 5/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 2, but +5 if you can memorize key lyrics
Prime Setting: Beach party, day or night
Annoyance level: 1
Relevance: Low — you guys recommended this one and it’s on a few lists ’round the web, predicting it increases as summer moves forward

9) “Work from Home” by Fifth Harmony

Danceability: Like a…8/10? Grind song.
Catchiness: Ugh. 10/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 10/10 against your own will
Prime Setting: Dear god anywhere but the house
Annoyance level: 11 (Careful, though, it will grow on you. It’s an ear worm.)
Relevance: High but already on the decline

10) “Don’t Mind” by Kent Jones

Danceability: 9/10
Catchiness: 10/10
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 7/10, hard to learn correctly and questionable as far as content
Locational context: Anywhere with your friends
Annoyance level: I’m giving this a 2 but am aware it might be a 10 for others
Relevance: It’s a 2015 Vine hit — depending on how much time you spend around people deep in the internet you may already be over it

11) “Panda” by Desiigner

Danceability: 12
Catchiness: 11
Sing-a-long-inducing chorus: 3 because you mostly repeat “Panda” but if you can rap all the lyrics you’re as much of a hit as the song
Prime Setting: Dance circle — get in there
Annoyance level: 5 for now
Relevance: High, but has the capacity to die fast due to relentless repeats and the fact that the song is a 2015 stunner.

Play it all through once more and then cast your vote below.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Haley Nahman


    • Amelia Diamond


    • same

  • Loved the selection!

  • This has been on my chest for a few weeks… I don’t like JT’s new song. THERE I SAID IT. Thanks for the safe space.

    • Amelia Diamond

      This is a safe space. I don’t agree, but safe space. (CEEJ!??)

      • (I know, I can’t help it!!)

    • Kelsey Moody

      It doesnt sound like him until he hits the high notes its weird! Its good but like…J that you???!

  • Giulia

    LOVE this kind of post, super funny!!!! You guys are right even about the songs… how do you do that?!?!

  • Quinn Halman

    I think Vogue’s pick is Panda?

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      Dude, you missed the convo earlier about HOW OBSESSED WITH THIS VIDEO I AM.

  • Krista Anna Lewis

    Is he saying “sad soul” not “sara soda”?

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      p.s. everyone should watch Frank. Michael Fassbinder as a weird dude in a head like this for a whole movie is amazing.

  • Jasmin Aujla

    Chance The Rapper. All Day. Everyday.

  • While no song will ever compete to the legend that is Call Me Maybe (Four years later, and there it is: the earworm crawling around in my ear canal), I still think the 2-minutes-and-12 seconds of One Dance could easily be the big SUMMER ’16 hit just for the fact that it’s so short and catchy.

  • Kelsey Moody
  • Between One Dance and Can’t stop the feeling… very joyful this last one!

  • 1. Nooooooo. Relevance: The worst. Burned out literally the day it was released.