Declaring which song will be the “song of the summer” just isn’t what it used to be. Earlier this year, as the unofficial start to summer began with Memorial Day Weekend, we posited that there just might not be a song of summer for 2019. Now, as we move in to fall, we can say for certain that there just wasn’t a song of summer that did it for us like the songs of yore.
Yes, we know Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” is still getting radio play and we admit that the charm has not quite yet worn off for the song, either. It’s a record-breaking, boundary-pushing meme-able anthem that deservedly topped the radio charts for 19 weeks in a row (even after he kept adding more and more remixes into the mix). But what else could have completely and totally defined this fragmented year? Some songs that were bops and could have dominated the charts were released too late, some were released too early, and some that deserved to be on the tips of everyone’s tongues just didn’t get the reach they should have, so instead of deciding which song was actually the song of summer 2019, here are all of the contenders that either just missed the mark or would be better suited for different categorical ranking system altogether.
Song of Summer That Was Released Too Early
Lizzo – “Truth Hurts”
Lizzo probably wouldn’t have added “Truth Hurts” as a bonus track to her album, Cuz I Love You, had the song not been featured on the Someone Great soundtrack, which in turn likely caused its number of streams to increase. “Truth Hurts” was released on September 19, 2017, making it two years too early to be considered the song of summer 2019, but it only just went number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. All summer long, you probably heard it on the radio or heard your mail man humming it or maybe overheard it on a commercial. Plus, with that exciting MTV VMAs performance Lizzo gave in August, there’s really no excluding “Truth Hurts” from a playlist that outlines the soundtrack of summer 2019.
Song of Summer That Was Released Too Late
Normani – “Motivation”
Normani, Normani, Normani. She could have had the song of summer, full stop, had her label let her release “Motivation” in June instead of August. The song is a certified bop. The music video is an homage to other early aughts R&B music videos. What’s not to love?
K-Pop Song of Summer
BLACKPINK – “Kill This Love”
Even if you’re not well-versed in the world of K-Pop, you know this year there was an explosion of popularity for groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, and you know those anthemic trumpets that blast open the first few moments of BLACKPINK’s “Kill This Love” were everywhere. If we had to choose a runner up for this category, BTS and Halsey’s “Boy With Luv” would come in second place.
Anti-Pop Pop Song of Summer
Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”
Nary a workout class this summer was absent of at least one play of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.” That’s not a scientific theory but you can test it and it would probably be proven right. Anyway, everybody loves Eilish now, right? Like, even the early naysayers and haters who had no idea what this gen-z combo of Lana Del Rey and Tyler, the Creator was up to? The 17-year-old anti-pop pop star (if that’s what you want to call her) has proven herself and has the Billboard Hot 100 chart ranking (“Bad Guy” hit number one on August 24) to prove it.
Spanish-Language Song of Summer
Rosalía ft. J. Balvin and El Guincho – “Con Altura”
There were actually too many Rosalía bangers to choose from this summer, and how lucky are we to have such an embarrassment of riches. But “Con Altura” (featuring J. Balvin and El Guincho) was the one that was released early enough for it to be a summer bop (it came out at the end of March) and the one that seems to have put the Spanish songstress on the radar for a lot of people (who were admittedly late to the game if they were only just discovering Rosalía in the middle of 2019).
Song of Summer For People Who Really Just Wish It Was Fall Already
Taylor Swift – “Lover”
Taylor Swift tried to have a song of summer by releasing “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down” early enough to make the cut, but even real Swifties know that neither of those singles are demonstrative of the best parts of her seventh studio album. In fact, it is the titular track, “Lover,” that does the trick. But it’s a ballad and it’s too slow to be a summer bop. “Lover” is much better suited for slow strolls near the end of autumn (or beginning of winter, for that matter—who wants to be thinking about leaving Christmas lights up until January when it’s barely even back to school season?). And if you really want to dig in to the late-fall aesthetic, just throw on some Norman Fucking Rockwell and call it a day.