20 years of radio in the summertime

Entertainment Weekly recently published a chart looking at the enduring relevance of the last 20 "summer songs."  That magazine loves lists.  Which is why we love that magazine.

Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There It Is)" - There is surely no one who still likes this novelty song.  Even at the height of its infamous run, didn't people listen to it ironically?  We, in fact, dispute this as a summer song.  Billboard tells us the biggest hit of that summer was actually UB40's "Can't Help Falling in Love."  We hate that song, too, but at the least the punctuation isn't so ridiculous.

All 4 One's "I Swear"
Ugh.  Seriously?  The last gasp of the early-90s Motown-styled boy bands.  The far more memorable song for us from summer is Lisa Loeb's "Stay," which immediately transports us back to the grungy days of college and Generation X's collectively snarky coming of age.  We'd argue that two movies define us and our peers: The Breakfast Club and Reality Bites.  ("Stay" was on the Reality Bites soundtrack.)

TLC's "Waterfalls"
If it came on the radio tomorrow, we wouldn't turn it off.  And isn't that the ultimate compliment for a radio hit?  For the record, we'd also listen to the entirety of "Creep" and "Unpretty."

Los del Rio's "Macarena"
Aren't we all a little embarrassed by this one?  How did we, as a culture, let this happen?

Hanson's "Mmm-Bop"
Ditto this one.  Yeah yeah, the brothers are actually talented.  But let's leave the record deals to people who've been on the road, crafting their sound and paying their dues, not jamming in the carpeted basement playroom in suburban Arkansas or wherever they're from.  Billboard's charts for the summer tell us that two far more interesting songs bracketed Hanson's number one hit: Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" and Puffy Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You."  But surely Entertainment Weekly is thinking that a summer hit needs to be frothy and fun, not dark and poignant.

Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine"
We remember this song sort of, but couldn't tell you what it sounds like.  At first we were going to wonder whatever happened to these two until we realized we really didn't care.

Smash Mouth's "All Star"
Not a number one hit, so says Billboard.  We find that hard to believe.  As we recall, this was one of those genuinely catchy, innocuous little songs that Corporate Radio decided to completely ruin by playing it on super-duper heavy rotation.  We can't listen to it anymore.

NSync's "It's Gonna Be Me"
Remember when Justin Timberlake was in a band?  Neither do we.  The better song, to us, from that summer was Vertical Horizon's crunchy "Everything You Want."

Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious"
There are a couple of good songs ("Say My Name," "Independent Woman Part I") out there from Destiny's Child.  This isn't one of them.  And not to be prudish, but that title is icky.

Nelly's "Hot in Herre"
We loved this song then, we love it now.  Not sure where Nelly learned how to spell, though.

Beyonce's "Crazy in Love"
Probably the strongest song on this entire list.  Still catchy all these years later and completely undated.  Who doesn't like this song?  When you hear that brass intro, who doesn't want to twist and bump and crank up the volume?  Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh-no-no.  It's amazing how Beyonce's career shot into the stratosphere once she left Destiny's Child, which is a testament to her own ambition and talent, as well as the importance of attracting the industry's best producers and songwriters.  It can be a self-perpetuating cycle at a certain point: the best songs and producer go to the most popular artists, thereby insuring their continued success.

Usher's "Yeah!"
We know we like it.  It's in our iTunes library.  But we must admit: we get it confused with Usher's "Burn," another hip-hop meets dance-pop number.  That's probably because we're so white.

Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl"
Honestly, this one's a little overrated.  We were all so happy for Gwen to do a solo album, weren't we? Not really as solid as the stuff she'd been doing with No Doubt (though "Cool" is a silky favorite of ours) but decent.  The better 2005 summer song to us actually comes from that spring: the plodding, rather sinister "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent.

Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"
Everyone loved this song, especially critics.  It's funky and distinctive, so we get why Entertainment Weekly would pick it.  And it was one of those odd songs that sort of came out of nowhere by some strangely-named group.  Everyone likes to be surprised.  But the song leaves us cold.  To us, Rihanna's "SOS" sounds more like summer.

Rihanna's "Umbrella"
A close runner-up to "Crazy in Love."  We had a love-hate relationship with this song.  When it first hit the radio, we really liked it.  Then they kept playing it and playing it.  There's no doubt this was the song of that summer.  You couldn't escape it.  We ultimately rejected it and formed a one-person backlash.  But eventually the song wore us down.  Even with that weird "ella ella" thing it's just too catchy, too poppy, too perfectly constructed.  We cannot deny its earworm appeal.  You win, Rihanna.  You win.

Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl"
Look at that: the ubiquitous Katy Perry has only been with us only five years.  This was her breakout hit.  We remember well the scandalous sensation this naughty little song caused, which probably accounted for about 50% of its popularity.  The funny thing is, looking back, it's not even one of her best songs.

Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling"
At this point, it's a little hard to be objective.  This was only a few years ago.  Who knows what song will best stand the test of time?  Lest you forget, 2009 was the year of the Peas.  For eleven weeks, their "Boom Boom Pow" was number one, then around July 4, it dropped out of the top spot only to be replaced by "I Gotta Feeling."  That song reigned supreme (we're totally channeling Casey Kasem right now) for another 14 weeks.  The Peas are usually fun, but they also seem completely disposable and unimportant.  Like cotton candy.  Sweet but evaporates.

Katy Perry's "California Girls"
We had a fondness for this song until we had a daughter of our own and started reconsidering the lyrics about Daisy Duke shorts and bikini tops.  These California girls are surely up to no good.  Shouldn't they cover up and stay indoors?  And what's all this about popsicle sticks?  It that what we think it is?  Even so, anything with "California" in the title is almost by default a summer song.

LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"
A strangely catchy song that got completely overplayed.  The words are all about party rocking, but the song itself feels very tame and manufactured to us.  The sort of things parents might approve of, which makes it uncool by default.  For 2011, we'd choose Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" or Pitbull's "Give Me Everything."  (As an aside, "Give Me Everything" is perhaps one of the greatest pop-dance songs ever composed - if you study it like we have, the structure is genius in the way the song shifts tempo and mood several times; it's like three songs in one, each one better than the last.  Radio perfection.)

Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe"
We get this one.  A fun, fizzy song from a newcomer (and a Canadian to boot; you how they're all so very nice and polite up there) that caught everyone by surprise.  Plus it has that nostalgic sort of vibe of summer parties where you flirt with the opposite sex, but not in a dirty way, more of a chaste Disney Channel, rated-PG sort of way.  Our three-year-old liked to sing it, in other words.''

What summer songs do you like?

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