Five International Contenders for the Song of Summer 2018

The Search for the Song of Summer Has Gone Global

By Najib Benouar ·

For how overwhelming the anticipation was for all of the June album drops—most recently, Drake dropped his 90-minute-instagram-caption-double-album Scorpion, Bey and Jay unveiled a surprise collab album and Father John Misty let his hair down, all while Kanye pumped out like 100-ish glamp-rap albums from Montana—the results were, on the whole, underwhelming.  

Coming into June it seemed inevitable that the SONG OF SUMMER would have materialized from such an outpouring of marquee content and we'd have pick of litter come July, but here we are on the wrong side of Independence Day without more than a couple songs to show for our summer party playlist. (For the record, that's "Apeshit" and "Nice For What." Sorry, Yeezy's output hasn't exactly been "feel good" as of late.)

But if you think that means this year's SOS outlook is bleak, that just mean you haven't been casting a wide enough net. If Despacito’s massive summer takeover just one year ago taught us anything—sadly, not Spanish, though—it’s that the the SOS can transcend genre, international borders and language barriers. So we went to the international charts to find out what's stirring the rest of the world's tropical drink umbrellas. 

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 formula as the Despacito remix, with Cardi B in the Beiber 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.) 

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 fucking French we need to just skip it entirely to get to what is most definitely a summer banger we can all get behind.

Naturally, any summer-schlock-loving-invisible-horse-riding-Gangnam-Style-ing human being would never be so foolish as to count out K-Pop. And the K-Pop-Rap super-group BTS (whose rabid fanbase nearly started dozens of earthquakes at the Billboard Awards every time their name was uttered or displayed) is here to deliver. They just dropped the song "Fake Love," which goes in and out of English during the chorus and sometimes sounds like "freaky love." Which only makes it even better. 

Disclaimer: this one might be a case of cherry-picking, since "Boo’d Up" is entirely in English and sounds like the song of summer that Brandy/Monica/SWV/Desitiny’s Child/3LW never made, but Ella Mai is British, so we are still officially treading in international waters here.

To continue within this caveat, there’s "One Kiss" from Calvin Harris (Scottish) and Dua Lipa (British). Solid '90s Euro-house vibes for the What You Think Your Pool Party Looks Like half of the meme photo. 

*Yes, technically Drake is Canadian—therefore eligible for this list—and "Nice For What" is about as sure a lock for SOS as LeBron signing with the Lakers, but where’s the fun in that? 

Najib Benouar

Najib Benouar has been known on occasion to write about menswear, ice cream scoops and all other manner of gentlemanly pursuit.

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