(Photo: Matt Sayles, Invision, via AP)
Blurred Lines,' 'Get Lucky,' 'Cruise' and 'Can't Hold Us' all have their followings.
Music may be more fractured than ever, but some songs play everywhere during the summer - poolside, online, in the clubs, at parties and on the radio, in multiple formats. "The summer song seems to be one of those final shared experiences," says Sean Ross, author of the Ross on Radio industry newsletter. "It's one of those times people think about the music they're hearing." For USA TODAY,Brian Mansfield breaks down the numbers of four top contenders and picks a winner in the competition for the song of summer.
Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
YouTube: 70.6 million views, plus 500,000 for the unrated Vevo version
Nielsen SoundScan: 1.3 million downloads *
Twitter: 204,000 mentions **
Shazam: 4.9 million tags ***
Airplay: 54,000 spins ****
Thicke's crossover smash has far outsold the other singles since Memorial Day and hasn't yet peaked at radio. "Blurred Lines is one of those infectious grooves that always work better in the summertime," says Will Mills, vice president of music and content at Shazam, an app that "tags" a song every time you hold up a smartphone to figure out what you're listening to. "A resurgent Pharrell Williams has concocted a fantastic production that does so much with so little and is soaked in summertime sauciness. Add a killer hook, plus a notorious video, and it equals summer smash."
Get Lucky, Daft Punk featuring Pharrell and Nile Rodgers
YouTube: 73.8 million views
Nielsen SoundScan: 770,000 downloads
Twitter: 261,000 mentions
Shazam: 2.9 million tags
Airplay: 80,000 spins
French duo Daft Punk built its following outside radio, but this disco-era throwback made for irresistible programming. "The anticipation for Daft Punk was so big because they haven't put out anything in a long time," says Michael Martin, vice president of top 40 programming for CBS Radio. "It debuted at many different genres. Here in San Francisco, I'm playing it on my top 40, I'm playing it on my hot AC, and I'm playing it on my alternative station."
Cruise, Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly
YouTube: 29 million views, plus 9.6 million for the video with Nelly
Nielsen SoundScan: 870,000 combined downloads for the original and the remix
Twitter: 152,000 mentions
Shazam: 614,000 tags
Airplay: 154,000 spins
Cruise topped the country chart in 2012, then rapper Nelly remixed it and gave it new life. "It's an example of how anything that is not obviously a superstar record often needs some sort of pre-sell, whether it's a YouTube phenomenon or being played for a year at another format," Ross says. Cruise also benefited from the burgeoning young country audience. "Twelve- to 24-year-olds knew about this record whether they listened to country radio or not."
Can't Hold Us, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
YouTube: 72.8 million views
Nielsen SoundScan: 645,000 downloads
Twitter: 119,000 mentions
Shazam: 1.8 million tags
Airplay: 220,000 spins
Can't Hold Us peaked on radio just after Memorial Day, so it was already a familiar song but still has a huge presence. "Can't Hold Us has the Party Rock Anthem, give-me-everything, party-out-of-bounds aspect to it, which was not only an obligatory part of summer songs a few years ago, but a big part of hit records all year long," Ross says. "In that regard, it's also geared thematically to summer parties."
* SoundScan downloads, May 26-June 23
** Twitter mentions, May 27-June 26
*** Shazam tags, May 27-June 27
**** Via Mediabase, year to date