There is No Song of the Summer
In a beautiful yet simultaneously disheartening essay, Washington Post's Pop Music Critic Chris Richards pens a convincing argument that the "song of the summer" is missing. The "song of the summer" is a necessity, Richards contends, and the lack-thereof is an unfortunate sign of the times. He might very well be right, but as Richards says regarding nominations for the "song of the summer" - it's the one time of year when we can all "agree to disagree." Just don't confuse YOUR song of the summer with THE song of the summer, Richards warns.This article originally appeared on The Washington Post
If you weren’t tipped off by the bullets, the bombs, the lethal mosquitoes, the sand fires, the heat dome, the glacial melt, the leaks, the hacks or the demagogue growling for law and order, here’s a hint that our summer has gone wrong: There’s an exclamation point at the end of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Are you feeling what I’m feeling? JT is dancing in the sky, our republic is in a free fall, and the bonus punctuation makes it feel like the season’s brightest pop song is being shouted at us from another world. It’s funny when a hit so omnipresent feels so far away, but it’s also depressing. Not hatred-terror-murder-pandemic depressing, but still — we’re living through one of the ugliest summers in modern memory and it isn’t trivial to talk about what it sounds like.
It has to sound like something. We don’t suspend our romance with pop music in times of crisis because pop music won’t let us. Unlike movies, TV shows or books, songs can enter our lives against our volition and with incredible ease. It happens most frequently in the summer, when we’re outdoors, exposing ourselves to unsolicited melodies at the park, on the beach, in the streets. We tend to equate summertime with frivolity — summer reads, summer love — but pop matters most in the warm weeks, when a song can blast across the commons, altering the public aura, bending our communal temperament. Music finds us. It’s the truest texture of our times.
And this summer, we’re being reminded how powerfully the very idea of “us” is reinforced through the news cycle and the Hot 100. Humming together in secret symmetry, bad news and good pop help to feed our endless appetite for worry and escape, the yin and yang of American life. Once July rolls around and the heat starts to spike, we reach for our most reliable escape hatch: “the song of the summer,” that magical mega-hit capable of changing the nation’s psychic temperature...