“I love that song. It’s like the hit of the summer. When they play that jam, I’m jamming.”

Those are the words of tennis icon Serena Williams, speaking during a panel at Essence Festival this past weekend. She was talking about Kendrick Lamar’s Drake diss “Not Like Us,” but Williams’ crowning of the tune begs the question: What is the “Song Of The Summer” for 2024?

It’s an unofficial distinction (well, Billboard has an official chart for it now) that annually carries some cultural weight. It’s also just a fun thing to think and debate about midway through the year. Technically, we’re only just at the start of summer, as the season officially runs from June 20 to September 22. There’s still so much summer left, so instead of handing out the title now, let’s look at the leading candidates at the moment, making the case for (and against) some of the most obvious contenders.

Kendrick Lamar — “Not Like Us”

The argument for: “Not Like Us” has everybody talking, so much so that Serena Williams is publicly discussing it. Rick Ross got punched (allegedly) over it. The song has reached “referenced in local weather reports” status. Plain and simple, it’s a mainstream hit.

The argument against: The song came on so strong in early May that it’s safe to wonder if it has already peaked. (The song’s recent well-received video demonstrates the track’s staying power, though.) Also, given that the whole thing is a Drake diss, it’s just not very nice! (Some of the following arguments against other songs may be equally flimsy. These are all beloved hits, after all.)

Post Malone and Morgan Wallen — “I Had Some Help”

The argument for: The longest-running No. 1 song on the Hot 100 of the year so far? It’s “I Had Some Help.” Pair that with the fact that this Malone and Wallen collab is currently the most visible crossover hit in the ongoing country music wave and it has a strong case.

The argument against: The main opposing force here is whether the song has enough juice on its own beyond the headline-making collaboration. Wallen and Post are two of music’s biggest stars and that certainly has helped the song’s trajectory. It’s hard to say if that will be enough to carry the tune through the hot months to come.

Shaboozey — “A Bar Song (Tipsy)”

The argument for: There’s something about country music that’s routinely perfect for summer, and just like Malone and Wallen’s single, “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” is landing at just the right time. It has had a gradual climb up the Hot 100 and as of yesterday, it’s his first-ever No. 1 single.

The argument against: The biggest reason to say “no” to this one has nothing to do with the song itself, but its competition. “A Bar Song” is fantastic, but it’s just going up against some heavy hitters that have demonstrated bigger and more sustained success. But, maybe its newfound No. 1 status is the start of a run of its own.

Tommy Richman — “Million Dollar Baby”

The argument for: If you’ve been online, you’ve heard “Million Dollar Baby”: In June, the song broke the record for the most weeks at No. 1 on the TikTok Billboard Top 50 chart. There’s no debating whether people are into this one.

The argument against: “Million Dollar Baby,” with its April release date, is older than the aforementioned songs. Given that viral hits like this often have relatively short shelf lives, this one very well could be a relic of viral history soon, well before summer is up.

Tinashe — “Nasty”

The argument for: Tinashe got to flex on her former label a bit with this one: The song is originally from April, but it started going viral on TikTok in June. Consequently, it has become her biggest solo hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The argument against: “Nasty” is really more of a viral hit than it is a chart hit so far: Despite its ubiquity online, it has yet to crack the top 40 on the Hot 100. “Nasty” could use some more reach before it truly enters the conversation.

Billie Eilish — “Birds Of A Feather”

The argument for: Billie is one of music’s favorite personalities, and she’s done it all by doing her own thing. She doesn’t chase radio-friendly hits, but that doesn’t mean she’s incapable of them. “Birds Of A Feather” is an example, a bit of romantic pop fun, and the people love when Billie gets a win.

The argument against: It’s still hard to tell the sort of staying power this one will have. It was only just released as a single last week, so at this point, predicting whether this will end up being the summer’s defining song would be a bold call.

Chappell Roan — “Good Luck, Babe!”

The argument for: Roan has been one of the year’s biggest breakout stars so far, so much so that it’s been challenging for her to handle. Leading the way is “Good Luck, Babe!,” which has swelled into her most significant hit to date.

The argument against: Chappell isn’t the most obvious of hit-makers. Sure, the song rules, but we’ve already seen one Kate Bush song top the charts this decade, it’s hard to imagine it happening again. So, who knows how much time this one has left in the summer sun. (It did just hit the Hot 100 top 10 for the first time yesterday, though.)

Sabrina Carpenter — “Espresso”

The argument for: Of course we had to mention “Espresso.” Carpenter was an emerging star before the caffeinated single, but the song absolutely took off and established Carpenter as a no-qualifier-necessary, S-T-A-R star. There’s also the fact that “Espresso” basically sounds like it was made to a summer smash, with its warm vibes and radio-friendly hook. Carpenter’s personality also just makes her a fun person to root for and listen to, which certainly works in favor of “Espresso.”

The argument against: Carpenter has moved onto pushing a new hit, “Please Please Please.” “Espresso” is still doing just about as well as the fresher single, though: “Please Please Please” had more Spotify streams in the US last week, but “Espresso” was No. 1 on the same chart globally. Ultimately, of all the songs on this list, “Espresso” may have the least working against it for “Song Of The Summer” consideration.

Posted in: Pop
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