05 September 2017

Summer Jam 2017 LIVE -- All Hail Your New God-King of Summer!

The time has come at last, folks. After seventeen long weeks of tallying, cataloging, guessing, and skipping summer jam weeks, we're finally here at the alpha and omega of all things pop, which is life. As is customary, let's recount our past summer jam winners - now, this is the magical tenth year in the official reckoning, although of course, the weekly rundown is a relatively new phenomenon, having started around these parts only as recently as 2010. But here is the auspicious company the New King of 2017 will join, to be forever echoed in the Halls of Valhalla:

2007: "Umbrella" by Rihanna
2008: "Bleeding in Love" by Leona Lewis
2009: "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
2010: "California Gurls" by Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
2011: "Park Rock Anthem" by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
2012: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
2013: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell
2014: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea ft. Charle XCX
2015: "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon
2016: "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake.

Let's go through this for a second, particularly the last couple jams. First of all, the grammar of "I Gotta Feeling" is terrible, that would mean like, "I have to feeling" like will.i.am is compelled to feeling. We don't talk about this enough. "Blurred Lines" is probably the worst-themed rapist mainstream pop anthem of all time. And I will forever have a disclaimer that I was upset with the past two summers, kind of regretting how things shaped out, and believing they should have belonged to "Bad Blood" and "Cheap Thrills" respectively, that I think have aged a bit better. Then again, I hear "Shut Up and Dance" all the time, so who knows.

So, we tracked an amazing fifty-seven songs this year, about half of which are notable. Let's get them into three big groups:

Tier 3: Songs That Were Sort of In Your Head for a Week

These suckers came and went pretty fast, but a lot of them were pretty good, so let's acknowledge them here:

"Element." by Kendrick Lamar
"Rockabye" by Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie
"Bon Appetit" by Katy Perry ft. Migos
"The Cure" by Lady GaGa
"Look At What You Made Me Do" by Taylor Swift
"Redbone" by Childish Gambino
"Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man
"I'm the One" by DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil' Wayne, Quavo
"High" by Sir Sly
"Genghis Khan" by Miike Snow
"Attention" by Charlie Puth
"Swish Swish" by Katy Perry

Tier 2: Solid Songs that Came Close to Being Ubiquitous

This next batch of eight all made great cases for Second Team All-Summer Jam. Do not doubt their power, for they are treacherous.

"Woman" by Ke$ha ft. The Dap-Kings Horns
"iSpy" by KYLE ft. Lil' Yachty
"That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars
"Something Just Like This" by Coldplay and Chainsmokers
"Wild Thoughts" by DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna, Bryson Tiller
"Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles
"Slow Hands" by Niall Horan
"Now or Never" by Halsey


Here we go, folks. This is the cream of the crop. They're so good they even each get an embedded video. Let's run through the final countdown until Avengers: Infinity War (2018) comes out:

#8: "Feels" by Calvin Harris ft. Katy Perry, Pharrell, and Big Sean

Weeks on Jam List: 5
Peak: #2 on 08/28/17

I really liked "Feels", way more than anything Katy did on her own this summer, which always seemed like a lot. It had such a nice summer-y beat, and although it didn't reach the Summer Heights both Katy and Pharrell have been in the past, it had a solid late-season upsurge despite dropping way back in mid-July. It was such pure pop collabo, not really trying to hard to do anything it couldn't reach. Again, the exact opposite from most of Katy's Summer 2017 - surprisingly off-brand, but in the best way. Everyone filled their role and did a great job.

#7: "Stay" by Alessia Cara, Zedd

Weeks on Jam List: 5
Peak: #3 on 07/31 and 08/14/07

This was kind of an old one (dropping in April), that stayed (heh-hoo!) around for most of Summer, never doing crazily good, but always kind of there in the background. It's a perfectly fine song, even if that "Rum in Cola" line is the only one I tend to clue in every time it comes on. The instrumental is a little bit too busy and overreaches Alessia's fantastic vocals quite a bit, but this kind of pop drop is hardly concerned with something so incidental. On its own merits it does fine, and that's where it lies.

#6: "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran

Weeks on Jam List: 4
Peak: #1 from 07/10 - 07/24/17

Somehow "Shape of You" only made the Jam List four times this Summer, but it feels like it was around way more, doesn't it? I think it just missed the cut in favor of more interesting tracks quite a few times, but it did score three straight weeks at #1, the only track to do so. The only other song that came close was "Despacito", which had three weeks at #1, but not consecutively. Ed Sheeran had a weird summer and is almost certainly a weird lazy eyed ginger pussy but somehow masculine sex symbol? I don't know. The song's okay, I really thought it was Timberlake. It's also been around forever I guess, but really peaked in July, which gives it is Summer Jam boost.

#5: "It Ain't Me" by Kygo, Selena Gomez

Weeks on Jam List: 5
Peak: #1 on 06/12 and 07/03/17

Selena had a maybe great summer? At least early on she seemed pretty unstoppable betweent his and "Bad Liar" but the latter certainly petered out. "It Ain't Me" seemed to always blend together with "Stay" and "Issues" and will surely be remembered in that glob. This is kind of a nice triumphant break-up song, though, a sweet and bitter elegy to being too fucked up to drive drunk and face the terrible morning to come. The beat is whack of course, and it sounds like more of a 2017 song than anything else here, but proved some whiskey neat staying power.

#4: "Bad Liar" by Selena Gomez

Weeks on Jam List: 5
Peak: #1 on 06/19/17

Speaking of Selena... This was a total early summer jam that seemed pretty powerful, but didn't even make it through July. Still, its early potency was enough for it to survive here. You can see we're averaging about five weeks each, although from here on out, you need at least one #1 spot to surive. I wonder if this great jam's precipitous downfall had anything to do with the bizarre Selena-only gym teacher / dad-fucking video that defies all kind of logic and really shows how much Gomez looks like a pre-teen still at age 24. I really do like this song, though, which is a great showcase for her voice and really smooth and sexy, like most of what she's done lately. Gomez is totally an underrated artist, although that also probably has everything to do with the artist in the #2 spot, who wrote "Bad Liar" with resident weirdo but pop savant Justin Tranter.

#3: "Body Like a Back Road" by Sam Hunt

Weeks on Jam List: 8
Peak: #1 on 07/31/17

I had no idea "Body Like a Back Road" had made such an inways until I was tallying everything up. It wounded up on an astounding eight countdowns, beginning in Week 3 and ending on Week 17. That's an appearance in all five official months of summer. It started off consistent, and actually had five weeks off before finishing on five out of the final seven Jam Lists. There's a lot of power in a crossover country hit and one of the four official Country Songs I can stand to listen to. I don't think Sam has really gotten much credit for this, and it may be more radio play than digital, but considering a primarily country and pseudo-pop audience, that fits his wheelhouse pretty well.

#2: "Issues" by Julia Michaels

Weeks on Jam List: 8
Peak: #2 on 07/03 and 07/17/17

Alright, fine, so I lied. "Issues" was somehow never a #1 song, which wasn't necessarily the reason why Julia Michaels isn't Queen of Summer, but she assuredly needed a little more consistency down the stretch. She started off excellent, and despite dropping on Week 2, was the only song that week to maintain a presence up through Week 13 with only four breaks in the middle. She peaked in July, and really represented the perfect meat of Summer. At any rate, Julia Michaels is one of the most brilliant minds in pop today, and it's great to hear her behind a microphone after writing a slew of excellent contemporary hits. I did like "Uh-Huh" a bit better, but it never had the traction. I think that she could have stood a chance if "Issues" had dropped a little later, but this is a great outing for someone who could be around for quite some time.

#1: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber

Weeks on Jam List: 9
Peak: #1 on 06/26, 08/14, 08/21/17

I remember this song being around in mid-June, hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and being pretty dismissive. "Populist skewed crap" I said - not a true jam! Oh how I was wrong! Already an international hit, Bieber hopped on and lent his voice to the Fonsi / Daddy Yankee jam and pushed it into the stratosphere domestically. This is the first Summer Jam Remix King and yet is a legit great jam. It's a sexy as hell Latin-infused Caribbean opus - perfect for a Summer Thrill. How did we never have a song like this reach the highest heights of Summer before? I feel as if my soul is at rest. "Issues" made a nice run, but as soon as we got into August and "Despacito" showed no signs of slowing down, I knew it was the unequivocal champion. More weeks than any other song on the Jam list, even though it didn't really get started until the end of June. Its first run was four weeks in a row where it debuted at #1. Its second run to end out the year saw five weeks where it never sank lower than third, and that was only as Summer bowed out in favor of "Look What You Made Me Do" which will almost assuredly take over Autumn. Bieber finally has a Summer Jam. Where you at, GaGa!?

As always, folks, it's been a long and awesome journey this summer. We'll be back with this crap again starting the Monday after the first full week after the first weekend in May. I suppose that is a little ridiculous, but that's how we've always reckoned Summer to begin, for the record. That'd be May 14th, 2018. As in most years we'll take a little break as we cease to care about September's pop cultural crap, but we'll definitely have an upcoming IT (2017) post up here soon. Stay golden, Jam Lovers!

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