What Song Ruled Your Summer ’16?
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Ah, the song of the summer. Wherever you turn, you can never escape it. Its soundwaves vibrate through the mirage beyond, and still makes you dance through the suffering heat. From enduring classics like Nelly’s “Hot In Herre,” to regrettable gimmicks such as “The Macarena,” being labeled the song of the summer is a prestigious honor. So we gathered together a few Mustang Messenger staffers to pitch their pick for this year’s song of the summer.
Ben Noble, Editor-In-Chief
Travis Scott, Young Thug (JEFFERY), & Quavo-“Pick Up the Phone”
There is a new unspoken rule when it comes to crowning the song of the summer: chart placements do not matter. In the era of the viral hit, Billboard is irrelevant in capturing what is actually popular anymore. If we trusted in Billboard, then “Fancy” would have won over “Lifestyle” or “Hot N*gga.” If radio spins were still the deciding vote, then “Cheerleader” would wear the crown in lieu of the likes of “Can’t Feel My Face” or “Trap Queen.” Instead of conventional means, I have my own test for song of the summer. Sit in your driveway at about midnight on the weekend and hear what songs pour out of stereos as cars speed by, giving you a snapshot into what makes up the soundtrack of youthful abandon and questionable decision making. By doing this test and my own experience, the song of the summer for 2016 without a doubt is “Pick Up the Phone.”
“Pick Up the Phone” is a song destined to be a hit from its opening seconds. A vaguely tropical synth ascends while panning from side to side in the mix along with playful 808s, giving the impression of Ibiza vibes meets Mike Dean’s vision for modern trap. When blended together the result is a sunny banger that still manages to cling to its ethereal state, with snare rolls trailing off into dimensions not quite comprehended by man while still being felt in essence. Here, Scott plays a rake masquerading as the pathetic lothario, begging the object of his affections to just simply pick up the phone and acknowledge him. Young Thug (or JEFFERY if you buy into the Prince-esque name change campaign) is all manic energy, promising to “lean like my muhf***in granny did,” among the kind of off the wall free associative raps that would make Dedication 2-era Weezy jealous. Quavo drops by to drop title-baiting Brian McKnight references and drop fantastic braggadocio as per usual. The real moment the track coalesces is Thug’s addition to the dueling hook, where he coos “Never will I cheat on you, never will I commit treasons,” finding a pocket in the beat no one else but he could. Intangible moments like these are what make the difference between simply good songs and great ones, the moments where you feel taken by the music and can’t tune it out no matter how hard you try. And for those very intangible moments, “Pick Up the Phone” is the undisputed song of the summer.
Archelle Thelemaque, Managing Editor
Chance the Rapper, 2 Chainz, & Lil Wayne-“No Problem”
“You don’t want zero problems, big fella!”
That simple declaration begins as the war cry for Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem,” arguably the best offering on his uneven third mixtape Coloring Book. Kicking off 2016 with a promise on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” to make his next project “so free and the bars so hard there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet,” and “No Problem” certainly followed through. Presenting the Saturday night party before Chance takes the listener to church come Sunday morning, Bennett enlists the Collegrove duo of 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne to make an anti-label anthem for the ages. Finally embracing auto-tune, Chance excitedly forewarns “If one more label try to stop me, there’s gonna be some dread headed n*ggas in your lobby!” In a hip hop climate where major labels are beginning to be seen as more of a dead man walking than stalwart necessary evil, Chance is here to invoke Khaled and put the hinges in the label’s hands, and then taking the screws to fasten their coffin shut. Combine this with 2 Chainz-isms like “Maybach look like it came out the back of IKEA” and Petey Pablo references. Add in a serviceable Lil Wayne verse, how can you go wrong? Put on “No Problem” at the cookout and even your grandma will be hitting Hillary Clinton-level dabs between fixing plates.
Justice Theodros, Reporter
The Chainsmokers & Halsey-“Closer”
As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, summer comes to a close. Alas, we are left with the daunting annual question; what is this year’s song of the summer?
Making their name with the cloying middle school dance jam meets EDC debauchery of “#SELFIE,” The Chainsmokers were largely thought to be written off. However, they have been on the rise for the past year as they climbed their way up the charts with “Roses”. Halsey made a commercial presence for herself with last year’s Badlands, making anthems for the Prop 215 generation with mass marketed Ready To Die posters. This summer both reclaimed their spot with their conjoined summer jam, “Closer”. Keeping in tune with the modern pop element of dance electric influence it gives off the perfect vibe to listeners. Their denial of ageing and love for youth portrayed through the lyrics is addictive. Whether you first heard it with your best friend’s convertible top down while you blasted the radio or on the edge of the ocean with your Spotify playlist set on shuffle you couldn’t help the feeling that rushed over as you heard the opening cords. Despite my resistance to try and remain off brand and original I still managed to fall victim to the mainstream song and reluctantly saved it to my 2,000 song Spotify playlist. I may have closed my eyes in denial as I turned shuffle off and switched the song to repeat but like every summer, pop songs were inevitable and I don’t regret a thing. Maintaining the characteristics of a usual summer hit, “Closer” is overplayed, way too addictive, and already going out of style, but it somehow continues to conquer the charts and I think I’m okay with it.
Karah Nance, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Phantogram-“You Don’t Get Me High Anymore”
The summer of 2016 has come to a close, and with it we’re forced to say goodbye to a stupefying soundtrack that constantly remained on repeat. Iconic releases laced the short two month break, from Fitz and The Tantrum’s self-titled album to Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face LP. Mainstream pop hits dominated the radio waves, but the real magic was made in Phantogram’s “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” The musical duo got their start in 2009 with debut album Bloody Palms, and have remained a fairly underground alternative pair since then. Sarah Barthel, who serves as the vocals for Phantogram, argues that the song isn’t actually insinuating any drug use, but simply explains that nothing seems to be as fun as it once was. Barthel also pleads for listeners not to seek any definite message within the track, but to find your own meaning between the lyrics. However you read into the song, it doesn’t hurt to get a few of your odd friends together and add the track to your Impromptu Dance Party playlist. It’s okay, we know you have one.