Every Song That Tried & Failed To Become The "Song Of The Summer"

Photo: Stefan Hoederath/Redferns.
Save your moody ballads for December, because between June and September, fun pop songs reign supreme. And why not? Even if you're still working in a cubicle as the temperature creeps up, the right song can make it feel like you're sunbathing on the beach.
That is, perhaps, why the term "song of the summer" has become a bonafide thing. Every summer needs a soundtrack. While not every tune that rises above the other Top 40 tracks has beachy vibes (or the season in the title, à la Demi Lovato's "Cool For The Summer") these songs are pure pop escapism. The stars who release these tunes tend to embody the resort vacay version of themselves — if only for three whole minutes.
Advertisement
So many pop acts attempt to release one track that will dominate radio play in the summer. While many artists have succeeded (some more than once), certain songs didn't quite hit the mark. Whether the songs were unfairly underplayed, or tried a little too hard to push the "we're on an island!" vibes, here are tracks that tried, but ultimately failed, to become a song of the summer.
1 of 11
"Feels," Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean (2017)

This tune, dropped in mid-June, featured the most island-tastic music video one could possibly make. Like, we're talking Pharrell in a Hawaiian shirt, and Big Sean surrounded by parrots. It's not a bad song, per se, but it's a little slow and not particularly danceable. It would, however, be perfect to add to a luau-themed birthday party playlist. It peaked at number 20 0n the Billboard Hot 100.
2 of 11
"Cut To The Feeling," Carly Rae Jepsen (2017)

I can't even tell you how badly it hurts me that this incredible pop song is not committed to everyone's memory à la "Call Me Maybe." Released in 2017 and pegged to the animated ballerina film Leap!, Jepsen's damn-near-perfect song was quickly forgotten by everyone not a Carly Slay Jepsen loyalist or watching those promos for Siesta Key. (It only hit number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is a crime.)
Advertisement
3 of 11
"M.I.L.F.$," Fergie (2016)

Do I believe that Fergie deserves her time in the pop sun again? Absolutely! Unfortunately, this song, a well-earned ode to boss moms out there, didn't help her regain "Fergalicious" success in the pop sphere. Released in July of 2016, the song failed to make a splash, even with Kim Kardashian West, Chrissy Teigen, and a slew of very famous mommas in the music video. It peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4 of 11
"Bitch I'm Madonna," Madonna (2015)

If you're going to have a song with the title "Bitch I'm Madonna," you better make sure it's a serious bop. It was...less than a bop. Despite a star-studded music video (Nicki Minaj! Miley Cyrus!), this June 2015 release was largely ignored and/or reviled, despite Madonna's confident proclamation. (It was, however, Madonna's first song in three years to enter the Billboard Top 100 where it peaked at 84.)
5 of 11
"Stars Are Blind," Paris Hilton (2006)

This track is the sound equivalent of sipping a piña colada in Bora Bora and deserves to be played all summer, forever. Ultimately, it peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 100 charts.
6 of 11
"Hello Kitty," Avril Lavigne (2014)

An allegedly culturally-insensitive music video and a cloying chorus made this song less-than-beloved. It peaked at number 75 on the charts.
7 of 11
"Pills & Automobiles," Chris Brown (2017)

Despite the fact that this song has a music video that literally takes place at a waterpark (Splash Kingdom in Redlands, California!) it wasn't exactly a summer playlist favorite. It peaked at 46 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Advertisement
8 of 11
"Make Me," Britney Spears feat. G-Eazy (2017)

Maybe this song was just too slow and sultry for the summer. Despite its July release, and the fact that it was the lead single on Spears' 2016 album Glory, it simply never quite hit. It peaked at 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
9 of 11
"Unfaithful," Rihanna (2006)

This track, off of Rihanna's second studio album A Girl Like Me, was released in May of 2006, and it. Is. A. Bummer. While this track isn't bad, per se (it shows off RiRi's vocal range), it failed to reach song of the summer status on tone alone. Though it did reach a respectable number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. This might not be the RiRi song you want to add to your summer playlist.
10 of 11
"Call It Whatever," Bella Thorne (2014)

Long before she released her 2018 version of "Bitch I'm Madonna," the former Disney Channel star released this extra high-energy pop tune. It didn't quite hit (it never cracked the Billboard Hot 100), and unlike stars such as Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus, Thorne took a break from pursuing music to focus on acting pursuits like Famous In Love.
11 of 11
"How We Do (Party)," Rita Ora (2012)

Rita Ora is sort of an amorphous celebrity. She's everywhere, but what does she do? Well, in my humble opinion, what she's really good at is creating party tracks like this one... even if the rest of the world hasn't quite picked up on that yet. (Maybe "Girls," a song no one seems to know is an Ora track, can change all that?) This 2012 pop song just reached number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100, but don't worry, Ora — *I* still add it to my summer road trip playlists.
Advertisement

More from Music

Watch

R29 Original Series