The Best of the Worst of the Songs of Summer
Everyone talks about the Popcorn Movie– we want to talk about the Pop Candy. That sweet, sugary, uplifting, fun, throw every gimmick at it song of the summer. They’re great. They’re awful. And you sing them in the shower. And in the elevator. And while you’re on hold. And on the train. Even if you hate pop music, you find yourself at least whistling it once. Every summer has at least one. Here are eight.
1. MMM Bop – Hanson
It’s spring of 1997, and trio of brothers are singing about life’s important relationships. It’s light, it’s fun, it has whimsy and a touch of truth. It may have only ranked No. 2 that summer, but we’re putting it on our list anyway cause we’re still singing this one.
“Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It’s a secret no one knows”
* * *
2. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
It’s too soon to reflect. We’re right in the middle of the “Call Me Maybe” madness. The song has been parodied by the Cookie Monster, lip synced by the Harvard baseball team, the Miami Dolphin cheerleaders and . . . U.S. Marines in Afghanistan!? It has been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the last five weeks and because of the odd fascination with the song that has led to things like Jimmy Fallon covering it with Rae Jepsen and a 45-million-hit YouTube clip of it with Justin Bieber, “Call Me Maybe” won’t leave the pop consciousness anytime soon.
“I threw a wish in the well
Don’t ask me, I’ll never tell
I looked to you as it fell
And now you’re in my way”
* * *
3. On Our Own – Bobby Brown (for the movie Ghostbusters II)
Billboard lists this song at No. 6 on the summer chart of 1989. The travesty here is that this is the same man who led New Edition with “Cool It Now.” If you were 13 years old at a pool party that summer you happily rapped along with Bobby to these lyrics:
“So they packed up their group, got a grip, came equipped
Grabbed their proton packs off their back and they split
Found about Vigo, the master of evil
Try to battle my boys? That’s not legal”
* * *
4. Summer Girls – LFO
In the summer of 1999, LFO peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with this song and its plethora of non-sequitur 1980s and ’90 references. Here are a few samples of the prose that propelled this one.
“Fell deep in love, but now we ain’t speakin
Michael J. Fox was Alex P. Keaton
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch
* * *
5. Rhythm of the Night – DeBarge
The video’s choreographed parking lot group dances give flash mobs inspiration whether they know it or not. Debarge, a sibling R&B group, packs into a convertible with frontman El rocking the vocals from the center of the front bucket seat. The lyrics themselves – written by Song Writers Hall of Fame member Diane Warren – are all about escaping the stress of life. Remember, you can “Forget about the worries on your mind, you can leave them all behind. To the beat of the rhythm of the night, dance until the morning light.”
The song spent 35 weeks on the Billboard charts peaking at No. 19 during the first week of 1985.
* * *
6. Graduation (Friends Forever) – Vitamin C
This song is more bad than good, and the lyrics capture that whole teenage milestone thing– just right for a graduation timed release. The lyrics from Colleen Fitzpatrick a.k.a. Vitamin C and Josh Deutsch must have been written with a Gilmore Girls musical montage in mind.
“And if you got something that you need to say
You better say it right now ’cause you don’t have another day
Cause we’re moving on and we can’t slow down
These memories are playing like a film without sound”
The song spent nearly 40 week on the Billboard charts and reached No. 12 on the Pop Songs list.
* * *
7. Make Me Lose Control – Eric Carmen
This song ranks as the No. 8 summer tune of 1988, according to Billboard. Backed by castanets and finger snapping in parts, Carmen and his backup singers go back and forth describing the passionate heat of the moment. And if the class is Emphatic 101, Carmen gets an A+ here. About a minute later, it is time to shut down all the music, gather around the mic with the studio band and go a capella with the finger snaps. Classic summer fun.
* * *
8. Livin’ La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin
This is an undeniable – and in the summer of 1999 unavoidable – hit. While Billboard lists it as the No. 9 summer song, it reached No. 1 status on five different charts. You don’t need us to tell you the song lacks depth. Horns, light lyrics, fast pace. You know you miss it.