SUMMER ANTHEMS // WHO WILL RULE THE AIRWAVES?

Driving with the windows rolled down and lounging out on a beach towel don’t feel right without the right music to bring you back to those memories for years to come. More than any other season, the songs of the summer need to be warm, memorable and fun to sing along.

So what will the universal anthem for the next few months turn out to be? Or for the more cynical, what song will you be desperately trying to escape as you flip through radio stations? Veteran hit-makers like Katy Perry, Rihanna and Usher already have a leg up, but there’s plenty of room on the airwaves for unexpected successes.
Check out our list of artists, new and old, who may have the defining song of this summer.

Iggy Azalea
“First things first: I’m the realest,” Iggy fires off on the first bar of her debut hit, “Fancy.” It’s not clear if the Australian rapper is claiming her Black Southern drawl or her Brooklyn bravado is the most authentic, but her stakes on the charts are as real as it gets for a woman in hip-hop. The track is already at #2 on the Hot 100 with help from a chorus by Charli XCX, who penned Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” Prepare to hear Iggy’s quotable one-liners over and over until you can recite her rhymes in your sleep.
Azalea also makes an appearance on Ariana Grande’s newest hit, “Problem,” the newest jewel in Grande’s crown as the “new Mariah Carey.” The message that Iggy parrots on her verse is an old favorite: she’s better off without him. But the melody Grande delivers feels fresh and makes for a slow-growing earworm. Even if you don’t hear back from Iggy, Ariana will surely be back with a vengeance.
If you like this, try this: Kreayshawn – Gucci, Gucci, AlunaGeorge – Attracting Flies

Sam Smith
This young, powerhouse singer takes notes from traditional American soul and gospel, as well as his English contemporaries like the late Amy Winehouse. Smith’s first step into the music scene was on EDM duo Disclosure’s track “Latch,” a bubbly love song elevated by his spot-on falsetto. His more recent songs like “Stay With Me” and “Leave Your Lover” offer the same hopeless romanticism but against a gloomy, soulful background.
Smith’s chops are best exhibited on his acoustic version of “Latch,” in which he forgoes the electronic bells and whistles for a quiet piano track. With nothing else to focus on, the yearning in his voice is palpable on lines like “Now I’ve got you in my space/I won’t let go of you.”
The way Smith controls his voice like a fighter pilot makes people wonder if he’s the male answer to Adele. He’s gearing up to put out his first proper album, so the next “Rolling in the Deep” could be near upon us.
If you like this, try this: Jamie Lidell – Multiply, Raphael Saadiq – 100 Yard Dash

Sia
Sia Furler prefers to stay out of the spotlight, which is hard with a voice like hers. Best known for the inimitable vocals on David Guetta’s “Titanium,” the second Australian on this list is one of the few pop stars today who puts vocals first and image last. She’s not a household name (yet) but she’s written songs for every pop star from Beyonce to Britney Spears to Christina Aguilera, and offered vocals to other hits like Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.”
Her newest solo effort, “Chandelier” starts modestly enough with light, party-girl lyrics, but everything unhinges when Sia starts swinging from ceiling fixtures. She lets loose an operatic bellow that feels exhilarating and dangerous. It actually sounds like she might be a weeping mess when she belts out “feel my tears as they dry,” and she definitely sounds like someone holding on for dear life.
If you hear incoherent screaming from a neighboring car at a stoplight, it might just be someone trying to sing this chorus.
If you like this, try this: Florence + The Machine – Dog Days are Over, Phantogram – Fall In Love

Bleachers
Jack Antonoff’s new project is an offshoot from the biggest rock band of the past decade, fun. He still tours and plays guitar for the band, but with Bleachers he wants the freedom to write and play what he wants. Antonoff brings a less polished rock sound than fun.’s arena anthems (thanks again for “Some Nights,” a Crimson Tide favorite!), but his rough edges may break the glittery mold of current radio fare.
The first taste of Bleacher’s debut album is “I Wanna Get Better.” Antanoff uses the song to sprint through erratic piano mashing and a dynamo of a guitar solo, cheesy 80s ballad crooning and angst-y punk howls. It’s a lot to take in, but in a school’s out, freedom-waving way that takes the “empowering pop” climate to a different plane. The lyrics can be read as an antithesis to the cartel of songs from Katy Perry and P!nk assuring target demos that “it gets better.” Antanoff puts the reins in the listener’s hands and takes them on a bumpy ride.
If you like this, try this: MGMT – Your Life is a Lie, TV On The Radio – Will Do

Beyonce
There’s no hyperbole for Beyonce’s talent or power that hasn’t been explored, but damn if we don’t give it a try. The titan of pop, RnB and hip-hop, mother, entrepreneur and Time magazine’s most influential artist, reconstructed the way fans interact with the music industry by releasing her fifth album in the middle of the night with no promotion whatsoever. Right now she’s embarking on two monstrous tours, one with her husband, an older rapper from New York called Jay-Z. At some point, dominating radio became insignificant for Queen Bey, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility.
“XO” is the love anthem from Beyonce’s self-titled album that seems poised for single promotion. The tender proclamation of marital bliss will undoubtedly soundtrack firework shows and wedding proposals for years to come with the heartfelt plea to “love me, lights out.”
As ZZ Packer wrote for Newsweek, “It’s Beyonce’s world, and we’re just living in it.” If she wants to rule the airwaves too, she’ll get her way.
If you like this, try this: Solange – Lovers in a Parking Lot, Janelle Monae – Primetime

Robyn
America’s appetite for dance music has become even more ravenous since Robyn released the excellent Body Talk in 2010. Could radio audiences be ready to launch the Swedish pop singer into the next strata of megastars? The recent crop of pop sensations have all been veterans to their niche genres before one song caught the attention of millions. Robin Thicke and John Legend were both pleasing the smooth RnB crowd for years before their hit singles caught on. Pharrell Williams and Daft Punk were both legends in their own right before they happened to collaborate on the biggest song of last year.
Robyn’s newest single with production duo Royksopp is called “Do It Again,” and it checks every box of an undeniable pop tune without feeling like a corporate board-written Frankenstein. Shimmery synths and Devil-may-care lyrics may sound stale on paper, but Robyn dares you not to break out your Disco Point and dance along.
If you like this, try this: The Knife – Heartbeats, La Roux – Let Me Down Gently

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