13 September 2020

Summer Jam 2020 Conclusion! The End of All Things

 We've done it, people! It's been a long, long, very long, horrible summer but we got some pretty kickass fresh summer jams to jam out our freshness to! Yipayy! As September rears its head, the leaves fall, pumpkins bloom, and the coronavirus ravages schools and colleges across the country it's time to tally up the hot jams of the season!

Let us begin by recounting past Summer Royalty. We've been at this for a while, but here is the indelible list of past winners:

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
2017: "Despacito" by Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi ft. Justin Bieber
2018: "Never Be the Same" by Camila Cabello
2019: "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

This is such a weird list. "Blurred Lines" is a rough stain that we'll have forever. "Shut Up and Dance" and "Can't Stop the Feeling" are notorious week entries, as is "Never Be the Same." This is all based on my own math. Maybe I should rethink my system of assigning arbitrary points to whatever random assortment of songs I heard each week. Eight points for #1, one point for #8.

NEVER!

Before we dive into our official Top Eight for the Summer, let's check out the runners up. We tracked 56 total songs this season, one less than last year. The following songs all either appeared for three weeks on the list or were ranked high enough to do some damage:

"F2020" by Avenue Beat
"The Box" by Roddy Ricch
"Roses" by Saint JHN
"RITMO" by Black Eyed Peas
"Don't Start Now" by Dua Lipa
"Intentions" by Bieber ft. Quavo
"Savage" by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyonce
"Rain on Me" by GaGa ft. Ariana
"Supalonely" by BENEE ft. Gus Dapperton
"death bed" by Powfu

Are you READY?! Let's start with number eight:

#8: "Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa


Weeks on List: 4 (6/9 - 6/23, 7/21)
Peak Position: #1 on 6/16
Average Points Per Week: 6.25

This is a track that looking back I really thought had appeared more but only cracked our Top Eight four times. Mid-to-late June was a big time for this track, getting all the way up to #1 before falling off completely only to briefly re-surface in late July. It was a song always on the periphery, though and became the anthem for a great breakout summer for Dua Lipa. "Don't Start Now" may be her bigger track, and it tracked earlier this summer, but ultimately the timing just didn't work out. Dua dropped a few other songs but they all tended to cannibalize each other instead of pouring all Summer Jam effort into "Break My Heart." Still, I love this song, it has such a good rhythm and flow and I can listen to it over and over again. I feel like it should be higher, but it never did quite catch on much beyond radio play.

#7: "Toosie Slide" by Drake


Weeks on List: 5 (5/12-5/19, 6/23, 7/21, 9/8)
Peak Position: #1 on 6/23 and 7/21
Average Points Per Week: 5.40

Here is a track the opposite of "Break My Heart" - I thought this would not be as ubiquitous as it ended up being. It was one of only two songs that appeared on both the first and last countdown of the Season (the other one won Summer), and found a way to worm itself into four out of the five months of Summer. It flirted with the list quite a bit and gets this spot largely due to securing the number one spot both in June and July, although it was largely absent outside of those moments. Still, it's easy listening and always seemed to be knocking on the Summer Jam door. As far as Drake songs go, it's fine. He always seems to have a Summer Presence, but not that high. It earns its marks on longevity for sure.

#6: "WAP" by Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion


Weeks on List: 5 (8/11 - 9/8)
Peak Position: #1 on 8/18, 9/1 - 9/8
Average Points Per Week: 6.40

Ohhh...."WAP." It doesn't quite feel like a Song of Summer since it dropped so late, but it earns a spot through its potency and if we had a few more weeks it may have made a legit run at the whole enterprise. It debuted as the Hot Jam of the Week on 8/11 and was number one a week later. It collected the #1 spot for three of the last four weeks of the season. Its 6.40 points per week average is the highest of any track we cataloged and most of that is low due to its Hot Jam status during its first week. There were only three songs that debuted as Hot Jams that tracked later and the next highest any of those got was "Roses" at #3. It's also a fantastic, life-affirming, zeitgeist defining tune that's also completely inappropriate and bonkers. In short, a perfect Cardi B song that's able to push standards and expectations of female sexuality in all the ways that 2020 needs right now. I obviously love this and the remixes have been amazing, which you've seen us post all summer here. #6 seems too low, but again, this track just ran out of time. It's also a victory lap for Megan Thee Stallion, who completely legitimized herself during a breakout summer.

#5: "Say So" by Doja Cat


Weeks on List: 7 (5/12 - 5/19, 6/9 - 6/16, 7/14 - 7/21, 8/11)
Peak Position: #1 on 5/21
Average Points Per Week: 5.14

"Say So" made its buck by a strong debut, taking the number one spot during our very first week, and then fading, but never really into total irrelevancy. At 5.14 it has the lowest point per week average of any song in the Top Eight, but survived through an improbable seven weeks, including two-week appearances in every summer month besides August, where it only appeared once, and September. We've loved Doja Cat for a while and this was also a great breakout summer for her. There's beginning to be a trend - this year, despite the chaos, was full of great breakouts for many artists. It helps that "Say So" had perfect timing, unlike a "WAP" and was able to ride that May success. It's such a funky track, with a perfect throwback loop and a showcase for the wide range of singing and rapping talents possessed by Doja Cat. I dig it, I can still listen to it, and it's a worthy entry here.

#4: "cardigan" by Taylor Swift


Weeks on List: 7 (7/28 - 9/8)
Peak Position: #1 on 8/11 and 8/25
Average Points Per Week: 5.57

I was really surprised "cardigan" rose this high, but like "WAP" it dropped at a time where we didn't really have a clear favourite and was able to dominate, remaining a constant presence for the final seven weeks of summer, including four at either the #1 or #2 spot. Its duel with "WAP" reminded me of Summer 2011 watching Adele and LMFAO go at it. I've been at this too long. Ultimately its two week head start gave it the edge, although it doesn't quite feel like a summer song in the same way that we didn't get it in the heart of summer. We have had late-breaking tracks before - "I Gotta Feeling" is the most classic example. Taylor Swift came in and dropped this as such a surprise and the whole album is spectacular despite being a significant departure from the direction she had been heading in. There always seems to be Tay Sway drama, but I think she's crazily underrated as a pure artist.

#3: "Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles


Weeks on List: 10 (5/26 - 6/2, 6/16, 6/30 - 7/14, 7/28 - 8/4, 8/18-8/25)
Peak Position: #1 on 7/14 and 8/4
Average Points Per Week: 6.20

So here we have a song that finally benefits by good timing. The Top Three this year were all ridiculously close, with five total points separating them. It's pandemonium! "Watermelon Sugar" feels like a throwback male pop song, too and I was continuously surprised that it found a place in a season where there was no other real song like it making waves. It's the only song here that is obliquely summer, though, and we've craved an Ode to Watermelon for a long time. It managed to track in all of the core summer months, from Late May with regularly consistent appearances through late August. It was only absent four times in the 14 weeks from its debut to last appearance, with no consecutive weeks absent. Its #1 spots were in the heart of summer, and seven out of its ten appearances were in the Top Three, never falling lower than fourth. It's a surprisingly strong case for Harry Styles, who really doesn't otherwise seem like an artist of the moment. Yes, that is because he's the only white male in the Top 8 and one of four total we're mentioning in this article.

#2: "Rockstar" by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch


Weeks on List: 12 (6/2 - 8/11, 9/8)
Peak Position: #1 on 6/30
Average Points Per Week: 5.50

Listen, I can't BELIEVE that "Rockstar" didn't win this summer. It ended up in second place by a single point, in what will surely go down as one of the closest finishes in Summer Jam History. This is such a song of our times, though, and we ought to remember it as the song that most fits Summer 2020. It wasn't until very late in the season, though, did I realize that "Rockstar" was a continual presence this summer, but hardly had any marks in the #1 position. It remained on the List for 11 consecutive weeks in the pure heart of summer, which is where it tallied most of its points. Eight of those eleven appearances were in the Top Three, and it really felt like it was a shoe-in after a while. Its had three other entries in the Bottom Three, though. Just one more and it would have been champion. We shouldn't feel bad, but I did really want it to win. It had more weeks on the list than any other song we tracked. It's also a really fantastic song with furious vocals and such a soft mandolin that just feels so 2020. I'll miss it. Add DaBaby to the list of artists with incredible breakout summers.

#1: "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd


Weeks on List: 11 (5/12, 5/26 - 6/9, 6/23 - 7/7, 7/21, 8/4, 8/25, 9/8)
Peak Position: #1 (5/26 - 6/9)
Average Points Per Week: 6.09

Here we are, folks. Your Summer King - The Weeknd! I can't believe this dude pulled it off. He crafted a song that sounds like all his other songs but also incredibly unique. An 80s synth throwback that is also very modern. I know we were cheering for "Rockstar" and "WAP" but to get real, this had the appeal to be more of an ubiquitous song that everyone could love and it just dominated. This was especially true early in the summer when there was really no obvious choice and "Blinding Lights" pounced on the Number One spot for three consecutive weeks, more than any other jam besides "WAP" (which didn't do it consecutively).

It also has the distinction alongside "Toosie Slide" of appearing in both the first and last weeks of Summer, as well as every month this summer, which is a distinction shared by no one. It was definitely front-loaded unlike "Rockstar" and "Watermelon Sugar" which were spread out perfectly, but it made enough waves to keep coming back again and again to earn spots in August, and finally again over Labour Day Weekend, which clinched it.

Its only entry outside the Top Four for a week was on 7/21, which is actually a very special week. It featured the most Top 8 Jams of any week this summer - "Say So," "Blinding Lights," "Rockstar," "Break My Heart," and "Toosie Slide," thus making it the most Summer Jam-y week of all the Summer Jams.

Next year...

It's always a weird feeling when Summer Jams end. We have a seven-month break from paying attention to popular music. I have long debated whether or not to continue this tradition. It's nice to have a regular column here and probably the only regular column we have left. After "Old Town Road" what's the point anymore though?

This year marked the 10th Anniversary of us doing this each and every week, each and every summer. And that was actually just based on math, this is technically number 11. Last year we said we'd retire after year 10. I don't know at this point. We'll see if I get the itch again. Like obsessively keeping track of all movies and TV watched, it's tough to put down once I've started. Come back to me in late April. Goodnight, folks!

Congrats to The Weeknd - Uncut Gems (2019) was just the beginning!

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