Yesterday, maybe in celebration of labelmate Justin Bieber’s 21st birthday, Carly Rae Jepsen released the first single from her forthcoming album. It’s called “I Really Like You,” and it is an absolute beast.
Like Jepsen’s 2012 breakout juggernaut “Call Me Maybe,” “I Really Like You” sounds somewhat slight on first listen, mildly annoying on its second, utterly essential on listens three through seven, and an instant classic thereafter. Thanks to its catchiness and its spot on the calendar, it’s safe to say that “I Really Like You” should put Jepsen in a conversation with which she is all too familiar: Whether it’ll be the official Song of Summer for 2015.
“Call Me Maybe” undoubtedly took the crown back in 2012. It was as exciting a production of pure pop as we had seen on the radio landscape in a long time, and between the swooping strings, sticky hook, and Jepsen’s breezy charisma, it was destined for greatness even before Justin Bieber turned her into his own personal YouTube cause célèbre.
But three years ago, Jepsen didn’t have much competition for one of the most important unofficial music prizes of the year. The only track that had any kind of life on top of the Billboard Hot 100 that summer was Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which was never going to be bubbly enough for beach listening (though people certainly did that, which must have made their tanning extra melancholy). Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was a smash but arrived too late to make much impact during the warm months, fun.’s “We Are Young” was too languid and peaked too early, and I cannot remember a single thing about Flo Rida’s “Whistle,” even though it spent a few weeks trading the top chart spot with Swift’s song late in the season. (I assume it involved whistling?)
This time, Jepsen has to fight off some heavy hitters if she wants to claim the best months of the year for herself. Over the weekend, Kanye West dropped the official version of “All Day,” which comes from his forthcoming album So Help Me God. “All Day” has been kicking around in various versions for a while, but the final recording—which features drop-ins from Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and some dude named McCartney on whistling—is a surprising, bracing blast of grimy low-end boom-bap and West’s trademark unpredictability. It’s dangerous to underestimate Yeezus himself, but while “All Day” is going to go on every mix I make through 2017, it’s maybe one commercial nod away from really crossing over. It’d be a long money bet, but a satisfying one if this song ends up dominating the next few months of 2015.
Shorter odds are on the new single by Wale, which is called “Matrimony” and features Usher crooning another buttery Usher hook.
“Matrimony” is the lead single from Wale’s upcoming album The Album About Nothing, which is the major label extension of his Seinfeld-referencing Mixtape About Nothing series. Jerry Seinfeld himself appears multiple times on the album, but even if TAAN didn’t feature a beloved stand-up comedian and sitcom star, it would still be a huge moment for Wale, a super-talented rapper who has spent the first decade of his career standing right on the edge of mainstream acceptance. His association with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group has helped, but The Album About Nothing is going to be his big pop moment—and “Matrimony” is a pretty spectacular hip-hop ballad with a smart verse and an absolutely killer hook. Summer wedding DJs should keep this thing on loop.
When discussing dominant singles, it’s never a good idea to leave out Kelly Clarkson. Her about-to-be-released album Piece by Piece has a couple of potential jams on it, and though “Heartbeat Song” has stumbled on the Hot 100, “Take You High” could be the thing that sends her into the stratosphere.
What about Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter”? It’s already burning up the charts, features fellow superstars Drake and Lil Wayne, is delightfully kinky in the way that summer songs should be, and is called “Truffle Butter.” I’m on record as not being wild about The Pinkprint, but I’d totally endorse a summer full of bikini-clad girls quoting Nicki’s line “I floss every day, but I ain’t a dentist.”
And then there’s always Madonna. The walk-up to the release of Rebel Heart has not been without its stumbles, but “Ghosttown” might as well have called itself “High School Graduation Anthem” up front. Like the rest of the tracks here, it sounds huge and could easily find its way into heavy rotation in everyone’s earballs.
So that’s your competition, Carly Rae. I’m rooting for “I Really Like You,” and not just because I wrote thousands of words tracking the rise of “Call Me Maybe” a few years back. Any of these other songs could catch fire as we approach the start of pool party season, or we could be thrilled by the most exciting song of all: the one we don’t expect.