Since the beginning of time, when cavemen first started freestyling and rhythmically scratching on walls, summers have been defined by a single hit pop song. In the last decade, we've seen 50 Cent, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry take home the title of Unofficial Official Summer Jam, with hits so massive and season-defining that they may as well have been the Mr. Softee jingle. And so it's become something of a ritual among pop fans, that once pants give way to shorts, we begin to hum the field of May/June tunes and predict: Which song will emerge as the definitive jam of the summer?
Music geeks that we are, there's no shortage of opinions here, but we've failed to reach a consensus. So we've decided to let you guys decide. Of course, because we're music geeks, we can't give up control COMPLETELY, so here's the deal:
Below, our Popdust writers and interns have each made their case for a song they feel should be named official Popdust Summer Jam. As for who will ultimately win, that's totally up to you. After looking at and listening to the five nominations, cast your vote in the poll at the bottom of the page for the song that's most won you over. REMEMBER, THE OFFICIAL POPDUST SUMMER JAM IS IN YOUR HANDS! Once your votes are tallied and a winner is named, we'll be devoting a week's worth of Popdust home-page features—including interviews, performances and a guerilla stunt or two—to the top vote-getter, with at least one new feature each day devoted to celebrating the Official Popdust Summer Jam, as voted by you. It'll be like our version of Shark Week.
So here are our five choices. Don't forget to vote in the poll at the bottom, and feel free to leave us a comment explaining your choice—or about the totally obvious nomination that we somehow missed. With your help, we can get this summer kicked off properly.
1) NICOLA ROBERTS, "BEAT OF MY DRUM"
Behold, the Girls Aloud splinter-song that's broken the U.K. enough for you to be reading this—but not enough for a U.S.-sanctioned video to come out and keep the States from learning the steps to "Beat of My Curiously High-Pitched Drum." Not that that'll stop anyone. "Beat of My Drum" is a choreographer's dream, built from verses that trip along with flourish and precision, a chorus tossed off like one of those sparkler packets, and a closing whirl of clap-stutter-stutter-clap beats like "Run the World (Girls)" evacuated from the battlefield. There's nothing nearly as joyous as this on or approaching the charts, still muddling in their post-apocalyptic gloom and rolling in their deep heartbreak. And isn't that the point of a summer jam: whiz-banging into your world to teach you again that you don't have to fight until you see the sunlight, that you could get a little L!O!V!E! in your life instead?—Katherine St. Asaph
2) MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE, "HELLO"
It's a little weird to be nominating "Hello" for the Summer Jam of 2011, considering that the song's been out since last September. But it's taken a long time for French DJ Martin Solveig and Canadian electro-pop band Dragonette's euphoric collaboration to reach its way to American shores—anti-Euro-Canadian bias and all that—and it's only recently that the song's hit the U.S. charts, climbing to a new peak of No. 46 this week. It should go a lot higher, considering how obscenely catchy the thing is, with an insistent earworm of a hook, and the coyest, cutest tease of a vocal since Kelis' "Milkshake" ("Yeah I think you're cute / But there's something you should know / I just came to say hello.") With David Guetta's hits becoming increasingly rote these days, the U.S. needs a French dude to be the go-to DJ for celebrity pop collaborations, and after "Hello" officially conquers pop music this summer, there's no reason why it shouldn't be Solveig.—Andrew Unterberger
3) BRITNEY SPEARS, "I WANNA GO"
Whether she can dance or not, Britney Spears' comeback is in full swing. Femme Fatale is great, but "I Wanna Go" is THE jam that will put the entire album over the edge in the coming months. If being insanely catchy and ridiculously fun doesn't win you over, take a listen to lyrics like "takin' out my freak tonight / I-I-I wanna show-ow-ow / All the dir-ir-irt / I got running through my mind," which evoke the perfectly scandalous behavior that summer flings are made of. (What happens in Seaside stays in Seaside! Unless, of course, it comes back with you.) It's got the fist-pumping bass of past Song of the Summer winners ("California Gurls") and contains the perfect response to various invitations you'll be receiving throughout July and August. Something that will work for everyone, whether you want to spend your lazy days at the beach, by the pool or sitting inside reveling in the magic that is central air conditioning.—Emily Exton
4) PITBULL FEAT. NE-YO & NAYER, "GIVE ME EVERYTHING"
I first heard this song at the gym (or maybe Dunkin Donuts...memory fuzzy) and was instantly transported to the club. Pitbull obviously got the memo from the Black Eyed Peas that songs predicting the epicness of the evening become summer anthems. The beat is highly fist-pumpable and the message is simple: Have high expectations for your ability to hold court and low expectations for your ability to hold alcohol. Their sage advice on how to bed a lady is to remind her that "We might not get tomorrow," but politely leave it up to her with a bashful "If I could?" Chivalry is not dead! It's nice to see four gentleman who are amped enough to sing about the night's activities without mention of a fair fight rumble.—Samantha Martin
5) BIG SEAN FEAT. CHRIS BROWN, "MY LAST"
There’s just something about the carefree tone of this song, and the juxtaposition of Chris Brown’s vocals with Big Sean’s rapping, that exudes summertime. With sun shining, breeze blowing and fun times in abundance, this track is the perfect theme song to doing things like they’re your last. What better time to live like it’s your last than during the summer? Any song that encourages you to do it like you never had it at all has got to be a hit, right? And let's be honest—we all just want “the baddest bitch in the world” on our laps.—Jazmine Gray