02 September 2014


Here we are again, old friends - September rolls in like a lion as August bows like a tiger. With Labour Day passed and the Season of Sun officially behind us, it's time to countdown the Top Hottest Jams of the Summer, and finally, crown one ultimate winner that will have bragging rights over cognitive recollection for all eternity. All Summer long we've recounted the hottest jams each and every week, and in that time, we've managed to discuss a whopping sixty-four different songs. That's kind of nutty. But there's not room for everyone this summer, and before we count down our final Top Eight Jams, let's take a moment to recognize those that were just okay:

"Tennis Court" by Lorde
"Shower" by Becky G
"Maps" by Maroon 5
"Break Free" by Ariana Grande ft. Zedd
"Come Get It Bae" by Pharrell ft. Miley Cyrus
"Back to the Shack" by Weezer
"Pills N Potions" by Nicki Minaj
"Ain't it Fun" by Paramore
"La La La" by Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
"All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor
"Latch" by Disclosure ft. Sam Smith
"Digital Witness" by St. Vincent
"Habits" by Tove Lo
"Summer" by Calvin Harris

So now, let us dig into the Top Eight Greatest Jams of Summer, ranked in order of seasonal ubiquity:

Fart Noises: "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX

Weeks on Jam List: 4 (07/28, 08/11, 08/25 - 09/01)
Peak Position: #2 on 07/28

"Boom Clap" debuted pretty early in the Summer Season, originally to accompany the soundtrack for the sappy cancer film, The Fault in Our Stars (2014). The film did pretty well, but not many payed attention to the jam until later in the season, where it hung around without ever really dominating anything. It's notable for being the first real mainstream solo outing for Charli XCX who had previously lent her jaded vocals to hooks for Icona Pop's "I Love It" and this year's megajam, "Fancy" with Iggy Azalea. "Boom Clap" never really rose above the entry stage, possibly because Charli XCX on her own isn't much more than a discount Lorde.

Colossal Ass Salute: "Wiggle" by Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg

Weeks on Jam List: 4 (06/23, 07/07 - 07/14, 07/28)
Peak Position: #2 on 07/07

While it's always nice to see Snoop Dogg back on a Summer Jam song, this track is pretty terrible in every way. Except for how fun it is to insert "WIGGO WIGGO WIGGO!!" into every day activities like putting on shoes or trying to get out of a chair. It definitely had some solid cultural penetration this summer thanks to its catchiness, but never really caught on too crazily. Towards the middle of the season it seemed like it was coming close to reaching peak saturation, but it then faded even if its verbage remained in the cultural discourse.

Wedding Wonderlands: "All of Me" by John Legend

Weeks on Jam List: 3 (05/12 - 05/26)
Peak Position: #1 on 05/12 and 05/19

"All of Me" wasn't really a tremendous Summer Jam in longevity - it peaked crazily early in May, but for those first few weeks it dominated the List with no one else even really close to threatening it. Then Summer picked up and it fell by the wayside. It's an alright, if not sort of confounded song, even if its ostensibly a love jam. Nothing about it is really epic enough or fun enough to make for a truly great Summer Jam. But still, it earns its place here by breaking us into the Summer before everyone else felt like getting going.

Swing Baby Swing! "Chandelier" by Sia

Weeks on Jam List: 6 (06/02, 06/23, 07/07, 07/21, 08/11, 09/01)
Peak Position: #2 on 07/21

Jeez, looking back on it this jam was everywhere, eh? From early June to early September we found an excuse to listen to this delectable track and watch the super-crazy energy video attached to it. I think it was sometime around late July where suddenly everyone knew all the lyrics to this one, and as Rihanna's "Umbrella" can tell us, adding extra syllables to multi-syllabic words is always a good thing. Sia has done better, but not more popular. This jam spent no consecutive week on the Jam List, which considering its longevity may be more an indication of its cultural penetration than not.

One Night Stand Antithesis: "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith

Weeks on Jam List: 7 (06/23 - 07/14, 07/28, 08/11, 08/25)
Peak Position: #3 on 06/23 and 08/25

This was the kind of song I wrote off at first as banal pop but damn if it doesn't grow on you. Sam's got the most passionate set of pipes on this list and the slow building beat fits the mood of this jam perfectly. It was another track that never really dominated this summer, peaking at #3, but it straddled the Season's Midpoint for four consecutive weeks and then flirted here and there for the remainder of August. Sam Smith also lent a voice to a few reject Jams listed above and did as fine a job of launching himself into the National Consciousness as anyone else here. Except probably Iggy.

It Makes No Sense! "Rude" by MAGIC!

Weeks on Jam List: 9 (07/07 - 09/01)
Peak Position: #1 from 07/14 - 07/21 and from 08/11 - 08/25

This was a very serious contender for the Upset Special award this Season, as it debuted in early July and NEVER AGAIN fell off the Jam List. It spent five weeks at #1, trying one other song for lead at that position, and dominating August in the process. It also never fell further than the #5 position. All this from a white Canadian reggae band with borderline insulting lyrics that make no sense and only lead to frustration. I really hated this song but its crazy catchiness and applicability to any life situation (You won't share your tater tots? Why you gotta be so rude?!) made it an instant classic. I think we'll forget it by Halloween.

Head in the Clouds: "Problem" by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea

Weeks on Jam List: 12 (05/19, 06/02 - 08/04, 08/18)
Peak Position: #1 on 06/02 and from 06/16 - 07/07

What more can I say about this one? It spent ten consecutive weeks on the Jam List and five weeks at #1, tied for the most of any song. It also spent four consecutive weeks at #1 in the peak of Summer. It was awe-inspiring. This has been a remarkable Summer for new acts - who is the most established artist here besides the small inclusion of Snoop Dogg? John Legend maybe? Ariana Grande has had some success on radio and television prior to this, but now she's a household name. That's all kind of bizarre, though, because she's an incredibly boring artist. I wish I could stand there looking cute and shaking awkwardly while my voice soars like Black Bolt, making millions of dollars. I can't even watch the video. The jam's audial fun, fast-paced, and high spirited nature is a terrible contrast to its visual laziness. The big question now is whether or not Ariana will last, and more importantly, which of these Iggy Azalea tracks will be remembered come 2015.

QUEEN IG: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

Weeks on Jam List: 13 (05/12, 05/26 - 08/11)
Peak Position: #1 on 05/26, 06/09, and from 07/28 - 08/04

It was a bit of a tough call deciding between this and "Problem," but ultimately, "Fancy" just remained hotter a bit longer. While it had one less first place finish, and wasn't nearly as streaky, its seven second-place finishes and never falling lower than fourth (on only two occasions) put it over the edge. The relationship between these two songs was awesome. There were only two weeks that neither song was on the List (the last two), two weeks where "Problem" was featured where "Fancy" was not, and only one week where "Fancy" made an appearance where "Problem" did not. For five straight weeks at the Apex of Summer these two songs dueled for first and second place, and at least one of them was in the top two for all but four weeks. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before.

I always doubted "Fancy." I thought it was too much of a niche song or a placeholder song until something really big and game-changing came along. It took me too long to realize that "Fancy" was that game-changer, that Iggy, who had only really been known for "Work," and who was this bizarre gangsta-rap emulating Australian white chick that seemed too intense and obscure for mainstream popularity, was an epic national force to be reckoned with. I'm infinitely curious about what Azalea can do next now that her unique style has been accepted by the masses. Will she be corrupted and sell out and compromise her renegade attitude? Will she stay true to her gansta-ism and continue making bucks by the acceptance that the thing that makes her special is her outsider-ness? We'll have to wait and see if we're going to have this conversation again next year.

For as diverse and new this Summer was, three artists had a voice on three of the top eight songs, and the whole season basically came down to dueling Iggy's. It's pretty wild, but then again, it always is. So, we are now able to officially crown Iggy and place "Fancy" among the pantheon of Summer Jams. I have only really been keeping track since 2007, so here we go:

2007: "Umberella" by Rihanna
2008: "Bleeding in Love" by Leona Lewis
2009: "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
2010: "California Gurls" by Katy Perry
2011: "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO
2012: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
2013: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.
2014: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea ft. Charlie XCX

Holy Damn, "Fancy" might be the best of that lot. Look at how awful this list is! Actually I can't believe the high quantity of grammar and spelling errors here as well. For some reason I never really noticed that "I Gotta Feeling" doesn't really make sense - is it "gotta" like "I gotta go to the bank today?" That is, is it more like "I have to feeling"? Ugh, it's horrible. And no one cares about "Party Rock Anthem" or "Call Me Maybe" a few years removed. And "Blurred Lines" is still one of the greatest mainstream cultural blows against women ever.

So that's it. Summer 2014 is officially behind us. What will next year bring? If this year is any indication, I have no idea.

G'night, folks!

01 September 2014

Summer Jam Week 17: The End of Everything That Matters

Oh Labour Day. Such a sad signal that Our Glorious Summer has finally reached its apex, passed, and that it's now time for school, pigskin, turkey, and cider. Everything sucks. Summer, in our reckoning, times out to about seventeen weeks, and so here we are, at the end of All Things. Tomorrow we'll be exploring who Won Summer, but for now, let's recount who's hot one last time:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj

I have some mixed feelings about this ass extravaganza (an "asstravaganza," if you will...). First, the track borrows crazy liberally from the landmark ass jam, "Baby Got Back," to the extent that Nicki is basically just rapping straight over the beat. If anyone should have the right to do that, though, it's Nicki, who is the current reigning Ass Queen. And it's sort of empowering in a sense of fighting a battle against skinny bitches that has been raging for centuries. I just get distracted by Nicki using the same intonations she did in "The Creep." Then there's that Drake lap dance. Damn this is a sexy video.

Charles 100: "Boom Clap" by Charlie XCX

Because XCX is one-hundred, right? Some one doesn't understand Roman Numerals. Anyway, "Boom Clap" ended up having a nice little run here and there this summer, even if I personally find the jam a little forgettable outside of the electric exuberation of "BOOM CLAP!" in the chorus. And The Fault in Our Stars (2014) is such an underrated success this summer! Shailene Woodley 4ever.

Sparkle Dangle: "Chandelier" by Sia

Here's another Jam that never quite made it to the top but had a pretty damn good run this summer in and out of this list along with our hearts. I don't think Sia is changing the game or anything, but with a super-crazy fun video and a time-tested technique of adding way more syllables to a word like "chandelier," this was a pretty good Summer Jam Success that hasn't quite gone away yet.

Kunta Kinte: "Break Free" by Ariana Grane ft. Zedd

Ariana Grande continues to prove herself to be one of the more visually uninteresting pop stars while her voice soars to become one of the more audibly intriguing artists out there. She's a walking contradiction! "Problem" rose above a lot of pop drek out there, but "Break Free" is pretty comfortable settling into monotony. It may be that I just really hate carbon copy EDM beats that homogenize pop songs, but this is so damn down the middle that I really can't find a reason to care about it.

Spotty: "Rude" by MAGIC!

Somehow "Rude" ended up with a pretty legitimate run at Iggy's 2014 Summer Dominance, but I think this is the week it finally cracked. I want to save the last couple slots for the new hot jams that will take over Autumn, as any Labour Day should indicate. That being said, "Rude" bows out like it existed all Summer - as a mystifying Canadian Reggae song with so little lyrical coherence that I'm still completely baffled that it was one of the serious contenders for the Summer Jam Throne. I guess it's mostly because it was so easy to yell at any passerby, "WHY YOU GOTTA BE SO RUDE?!" Sticky ideas, people.

Sling Slang: "This Is How We Do" by Katy Perry

Many weeks this Summer had themes, and this could be my unsettled opinion week. Katy Perry songs seem to bounce between the epic flavors of something like "Firework" to really innovative popular jams like "E.T." to more mainstream pop whatevers like "Part of Me." Anyway, when I first saw the video for "This Is How We Do" I thought it was more just another song of hers rather than something that really pushed her career forward in a meaningful way, but I may have just been distracted by the visuals that looked more like a VEVO lyric video than that of one of the world's most successful contemporary music artists. After hearing it on the radio, though, I reappraised it because that beat is actually really damn smooth and chilled. There's also this juxtaposition of its total lyrical appropriation of Black Culture and Katy appearing visually like the whitest poser ever. This is why my feelings towards this right now are "...huh?" I wish this had caught on earlier in Summer so I could dissect it more each week. It's kind of bizarre it didn't because Iggy Azalea seems to be doing just fine injecting her jams full of well-orchestrated and lyrically constructed street slang.

Bass Means Fat: "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor

Now, "Anaconda" be damned, this is the sexiest video on the List this week. Meghan has a crazy amount of confidence behind both her voice and her whole attitude towards our second pro-fat chick track of the week. It's fantastic! And that big Samoan guy needs to totally become the 2014 version of Maria Ratajkowski for all the right reasons. This country really needed a sassy do-wop white chick rap song about sexy fat chicks right now, I love it. It also reminds me of Easter. Or Miami. Something about those pastels make me think of Easter in Miami.

Haters Gon Hate: "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift

I really like Taylor Swift's ability to disown all of her country roots and just bounce around, becoming even more adorable and doofy in the process. Many hate Taylor Swift for these exact reasons but I dunno, I guess I fall for the hapless klutz persona. She just needs some me time. But hey, #1 last week of Summer, that's something.

Next week...

So long, suckers!
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