Though we haven’t yet hit the summer solstice, the annual competition for who will be crowned the Song of Summer is already well underway, and the experts are making their bets.
One such expert is Spotify, which has combed through data on what its users are streaming most right now to predict the 10 top contenders for Song of Summer.
A few of these songs have already reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, like Justin Timberlake’s latest attempt at a universal hit, while others are starting to bubble to the surface.
We talked to Spotify’s trends expert Shanon Cook about how it decided on the songs and what she thinks will ultimately take over this season.
Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop the Feeling”
No surprise here. It’s Justin Timberlake, after all, and name recognition still counts, but there’s something else going on here.
“It’s so unbelievably positive and upbeat, reminding people of ‘Happy,'” Spotify’s Shanon Cook told Business Insider. “Kids listen to it and so do their grandparents. Having broad appeal like that is really working for it.”
Indeed, the throwback disco sound and universal lyrics that anyone can get behind are reminiscent of the qualities that propelled “Happy.”
But there’s reason to believe it could get edged out…
Ariana Grande – “Into You”
“I think Ariana Grande could take it,” Cook says of the threat the younger pop star poses to Timberlake’s feel-good jam.
Though it hasn’t been out long, the single from Grande’s new album is trending upward (one of the things Spotify looks for in its Song of Summer predictions), with 30 million streams as of this writing.
“It’s a real clubby jam produced by Max Martin, who’s incredible at making mega-hits for mega-stars,” Cook said.
Drake – “One Dance” (ft. Wizkid and Kyla)
You’d be forgiven for thinking the title of Song of Summer was already handed over to everyone’s favorite Canadian rapper. Drake’s album “Views” and song “One Dance” have topped their respective Billboard charts for weeks now.
Cook says Spotify has seen one million streams of “One Dance” per day, which is massive. But songs that peak early also often get toppled over the course of the summer as listeners get fickle, so don’t give this one to Drake yet.
Fifth Harmony – “Work from Home”
At 289 million streams currently on Spotify, “Work from Home” has “staying power,” according to Cook, consistently landing on the streaming service’s top 10 tracks.
The girl group’s single also has originality on its side.
“I don’t know any other songs that are about working from home,” Cook said.
(The lyrics also imply the song is about, uh, a different kind of work.)
Calvin Harris – “This Is What You Came For” (ft. Rihanna)
Even Spotify will acknowledge that streaming is not the only factor in determining the Song of Summer. A key example: Rihanna’s latest collaboration with producer Calvin Harris. (The two also did “We Found Love.”)
“It’s obviously a hit with radio. It’s a song listeners instantly took to. You can’t go wrong with Calvin Harris,” Cook said. “I’ve been hearing it everywhere – cafes, grocery stores.”
Jason Derulo – “If It Ain’t Love”
As Cook points out, Derulo’s “Want to Want Me” was starting to blow up at the same time in 2015, and now he seems to have a repeat.
“It’s climbing rapidly. It’s averaging one million streams a day. If you look at the trajectory, it’s going up and up. It’s starting to climb the US chart,” Cook said. “I think it has legs. He has great legs.”
Desiigner – “Panda”
“This is this year’s ‘Trap Queen,'” Cook said, comparing “Panda” to the out-of-nowhere hit from Fetty Wap in 2015.
“It’s having the same journey, and the artist is having the same journey. This is his big breakout. It’s also a trap song. He’s got Kanye West’s approval. It’s streaming about a million times a day.”
In other words, it’s checking all the right boxes. Last year’s Song of Summer according to Billboard came from a name mostly unfamiliar to Americans, Omi.
The Chainsmokers – “Don’t Let Me Down”
You might not know the name, but “these guys are starting to really blow up,” according to Cook, with three millions streams around the world daily. If the success of their previous single “Roses” is any indication, they have plenty of room to grow.
Keith Urban – “Wasted Time”
Sure, it’s a song from a country artist, which tends to dampen broad Song of Summer appeal, but this isn’t pure country.
“It’s got a dance-floor vibe. It has the banjo and a beat,” Cook said. “It’s a bit of a strange song.”
Whatever it is, Spotify users like it. “Listeners kept listening to the song a fourth or even a fifth time,” Cook said. And repeat value is key for a song that wants to stick around for the whole summer.
Frenship – “Capsize” (ft. Emily Warren)
Cook calls this the “dark horse” contender for Song of Summer.
“There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it,” she said.
Spotify’s Browse team discovered the song on a blog and put it on its popular New Music Friday playlist, where it became an unexpected favorite, and the indie duo has since gotten interest from major labels. Users are now listening to the track 650,000 times a day. And, well, people just love it.
“Oh my God, the hook is really cool,” Cook said.
And sometimes that’s enough to seal a Song of Summer.