For how overwhelming the anticipation was for all of June's album drops—most recently, Drake dropped his 90-minute-instagram-caption-double-album Scorpion, Beyonce and Jay-Z unveiled a surprise collab album and Father John Misty let his hair down, all while Kanye pumped out 100-ish glamp-rap albums from Montana—the results were...a little underwhelming, honestly.
But if you think that means this year's Song of Summer outlook is bleak, you haven't been casting a wide enough net. Cardi B may have as tight a lock on '18 right now as she did in '17, but there are some real contenders. The pinnacle of warm-weather music is out there; it's just a matter of finding it.
These are the current best bets to go down in history as the Song of Summer '18:
Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, "I Like It"
If we're keeping it close to home, and of a kin to "Despacito," this year's natural heir apparent would be Cardi B’s "I Like It." It follows a similar equation to the Despacito remix, with Cardi B in the Bieber role as the notable-english-language-pop-star and Bad Bunny and J Balvin carrying the mostly Spanish-language Boogaloo-Trapeton jam. (At least we have 2018 to thank for that new genre.)
Drake, “In My Feelings”
In an era of hellbent, millennial-seized content, the biggest and brightest songs of summer—the ones that latch on the hardest—can often stem from the virality of a #challenge. In 2016, Rae Sremmurd saddled “Black Beatles” to the #MannequinChallenge rocket ship and saw it soar straight to #1 on The Hot 100. It remains the most fun I’ve ever had watching Hillary and Bill Clinton do absolutely nothing.
This summer, Drake’s “In My Feelings” saw a challenge take off of its own thanks to some help from NFL star and Drizzy Man-Ting, Odell Beckham Jr., who hopped out of a moving vehicle to go La La Land on the track. It is approximately 1,000,000 times less fun than any previous internet challenge, yet the song currently garners almost 1,000,000 more daily streams than its closest competitor because of it. You can bank on Drake stans hollering “Kiki, do you love me?” for the entire rest of your summer.
Aya Nakamura, "Djadja"
Of course, if you're the sort of foreign-language SOS purist who doesn't want to understand nary a syllable in your summer hit, you'd do well to have eye toward France. Once there, we (oui, oui) would direct you to the delightfully spiteful track “Djadja” even though their current Billboard #1 is "Bella Ciao," a confounding opera-like sing-off between a handful of famous (presumably?) pop singers that is so French we need to just skip it entirely to get to what is most definitely a summer banger we can all get behind.
Ella Mai, "Boo'd Up"
A good measuring stick for any decent song of summer is if said song sounds like something Brandy, Monica, Ciara, and Destiny’s Child may have collaborated on circa 2005. English singer/songwriter Ella Mai hits this mark splendidly.
DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo, "No Brainer"
The collective gang behind last year’s chart honcho “I’m The One" is back for another heaping plate of radio royalty, this time with “No Brainer.” The dance-inducing track, while decidedly worse, follows a similar summer-forward formula to its predecessor, with Bieber carrying the hook as his equally famous peers file in their foot-tapping one-liners (you may know DJ Khaled’s by now).
Is it a perfect song? No. Has Bieber cut his hair once since last year’s video shoot? Probably not. Will we groove to it all summer long? That’s what we call a no brainer.