Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (2024)

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By Scottie Andrew, CNN

5 minute read

Published 8:00 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2024

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (1)

Kendrick Lamar, Tinashe, Billie Eilish and Sabrina Carpenter have all released certified bangers this year. Could one of their tracks become the song of summer 2024?


You know a song of the summer when you hear it.

It’s the song that drags you off the sidelines and onto the dancefloor. A song that sounds best when it’s being sung by the people you love, cups in hand, in sticky heat. It worms its way into your brain and stays there, and, even years later, takes you right back to the summer you first heard it.

Songs of the summer, at their best, are sonic representations of the hottest months of the year, says Mike Errico, a songwriter and instructor at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

“They’re upbeat, extroverted, bright and fun, with a big, repeatable chorus that even the most musically challenged can join in on,” Errico tells CNN. “Being danceable is a big plus, because it can work on the beach in the day, or in the clubs at night.”

Interestingly, most of these songs were released weeks or months before the first day of summer. And more than a few of them received a major boost from TikTok, where their catchiest 15 to 30 seconds have found a massive (and influential) audience.

It was easier even a decade ago to settle on the song of the summer. “Blurred Lines” was inescapable in 2013; so was “Call Me Maybe” the year before. But there are fewer and fewer breakouts like those as monoculture shrinks —now, TikTok is perhaps the most influential decider of a song’s success, and with its ever-quickening trend cycle, it’s easy for songs even by major artists to get lost in the shuffle.

And yet, some bangers have broken through. The contenders for this year’s song of the summer are soaring up Billboard’s Hot 100, soundtracking videos online and inspiring us to work up a sweat offline. Now that summer has officially started, sample these musical confections and decide for yourself —what’s destined to become the song of summer 2024?

‘Espresso,’ Sabrina Carpenter

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (2)

Sabrina Carpenter has the world singing "that's that me, espresso" with her recent coffee-themed hit.

Carpenter’s cotton candy-light single sounds like a summer fling feels: Fairly brief, nothing deep and just plain fun. That most of the lyrics are sugary nonsense —“I know I Mountain Dew it for ya” and “My ‘give-a-f**ks’ are on vacation,” for two —only adds to its frothy charm. It all works, though, because Carpenter’s in on the joke, wryly playing the part of a resistant love interest who’s putting up with a man’s attention if only because it boosts her own ego. “Isn’t that sweet? I guess so!”

‘Lunch,’ Billie Eilish

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (3)

On Billie Eilish's playful "Lunch," the Grammy regular spills about a sexy situationship with a girl who just might be "the one."

Lunch, Billie Eilish

Credit: Darkroom/Interscope Records

This culinary-themed cut from the young Grammy winner’s latest album is propulsive, buoyant and slyly sexual —certainly the closest to summer that Eilish’s sound has ever come. She’s downright giddy with lust on “Lunch,” a track that flirts between heavy bass and feathery piano as though it’s riding the peaks and valleys of passion. It’s a song that feels destined to end in a mosh pit, bodies jumping and writhing to Eilish’s version of lovestruck pop.

‘Nasty,’ Tinashe

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (4)

Tinashe's "Nasty" asks the listener whether they can "match (her) freak." So far, Tinashe is still searching.

Nasty, Tinashe

Credit: Tinashe Music Inc., under exclusive license to Nice Life Recording Company

Finally, after years of grinding out reliably dancey R&B anthems, Tinashe’s viral moment has arrived —with a major assist from a British TikTok dancer. Crafty TikTok-ers layered Tinashe’s new single on top of a video of a dancer named Nate thrusting and grinding in a soca dance class.

Even without the meme treatment, though, Tinashe’s latest seems made for shaking it in the summer —Janet Jackson proved as much when she blended the new “Nasty” with her own track of the same name at a recent live show. Over a clean, sophisticated beat, Tinashe matter-of-factly asserts her badness. And its suggestive, quotable refrain is born to endure beyond TikTok: “Is somebody gonna match my freak?”

‘Good Luck, Babe!’ Chappell Roan

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (5)

Chappell Roan has taken "Good Luck, Babe!" on tour around the US, turning her shows into singalongs.

Good Luck, Babe!, Chappell Roan

Credit: Amusem*nt Records; ℗ KRA International Inc., under exclusive license to Island Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Where previous entries on this list were more ambivalent on the subject of love, Roan’s anthem is this summer’s bleeding heart. “Good Luck, Babe!” boasts the musical theatrics of Kate Bush, ‘80s synths straight out of Cyndi Lauper’s catalog and a queer point of view all Roan’s own.

In its most thrilling moment, Roan fantasizes the woman she loves waking up in the future next to a man she loathes: “You know I hate to say, but, I told you so,” she sings, suddenly breaking into a high belt. If summer is about taking it easy, Roan didn’t get the memo: She’s doing vocal gymnastics here. (And at Roan’s increasingly popular live shows, thousands of people are belting along with her.)

‘Million Dollar Baby,’ Tommy Richman

As an artist, Tommy Richman is still somewhat of a mystery. But his TikTok-approved single "Million Dollar Baby" is an undeniable hit.

Million Dollar Baby, Tommy Richman

Credit: ISO Supremacy, under exclusive license to PULSE Records. Distributed by Concord

This ubiquitous TikTok banger became a hit seemingly overnight. But it’s a smash from the first listen, with its arresting falsetto chorus, trap-funk undercurrent and vague but relatable lyrics about making it.

The song itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps, for Richman: Before it went stratospheric on TikTok (there are at least five million videos set to a clip of the song) and streaming platforms, he was virtually unknown. Here, he borrows sounds from more established artists like Sampha and Brockhampton, building a track that evokes sweaty, striving summer nights.

‘Not Like Us,’ Kendrick Lamar

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (7)

The preeminent rapper of his generation, Kendrick Lamar is still dominating the conversation, most recently with a series of increasingly lethal diss tracks aimed at Drake.

Not Like Us, Kendrick Lamar

Credit: Kendrick Lamar, under exclusive license to Interscope Records

Here’s a song of the summer that breaks all the rules. At 4:33, it’s the longest song in the bunch by a minute. “Not Like Us” doesn’t really have a chorus, and the closest thing to it — Lamar chanting the title — only appears two minutes into the song. It’s got three verses that, typical of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lamar, are stuffed with verbose slant rhymes. And yet, the latest of Lamar’s diss tracks against Drake, himself a longtime song of the summer contributor, has turned into a bonafide hit (albeit a wordy one).

With its surgical disassembly of the man behind “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling,” “Not Like Us” forces listeners to pay close attention throughout its runtime. Even without a hook, it’s a song that’s meant to be rapped along to with a crowd — maybe that’s why Lamar performed it five times at his Juneteenth show in LA. His audience knew every word.

‘A Bar Song (Tipsy),’ Shaboozey

Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (8)

Shaboozey mashes up pop-country with the 2004 club classic "Tipsy" on his mournful yet singable hit, "A Bar Song (Tipsy)."

A Bar Song (Tipsy), Shaboozey

Credit: American Dogwood/EMPIRE

Fresh off a recent feature on Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter,” Shaboozey’s summer hit is a countryfied take on J-Kwon’s immortal club hit “Tipsy.” But unlike J-Kwon’s celebration of the club circa 2004, Shaboozey is decidedly glummer on his post-workday drinking binge. “Everybody at the bar gettin’ tipsy,” he laments.

Still, lyrics about dragging your increasingly drunk self from bar to bar in a desperate attempt to shed the stress of your 9-to-5 are not unrelatable. It might not be as feather-light as “Espresso” or danceable as “Nasty,” but “A Bar Song” has an easy-to-sing hook that’s destined to play at closing time at a Nashville honky tonk.

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Meet the songs vying to be 2024’s summer anthem. Which one’s your favorite? | CNN (2024)


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