Top 5 songs of the summer that never were

Ryan Reichard, Staff Reporter

The summer of 2019 has been rather mundane compared to other summers in terms of seasonal hits. “Old Town Road” by Lil’ Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus has sat comfortably at the top of the billboard charts for the entirety of the summer with most songs stalling out behind it. Not even tailor-made summer songs from famous artists (“Senorita” by Shawn Mendez and Camelia Cabello, “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, and “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift) could unseat the behemoth from the top position. However, this caused many songs that deserved to be summer anthems to go unnoticed. These are the songs that never were in the summer of 2019.


1 – “All the Time” – Zara Larson 

At this point, Swedish singer Zara Larson remains one of the most criminally underrated and innovative pop acts of the last decade. Larson’s discography is filled with songs that are pop music at its finest. “All the Time” is one such example.

The song has all the makings of a summer hit, from the distorted voice in the opening that resembles being at a fair, to the glittery synthesizers, to the snaps that echo in the background. Each element is exquisitely balanced against the others, so one does not dominate the song above the others. Add in lyrics about love and you have a recipe for a summer smash. 


2 – “Motivation” – Normani 

The most recent release to make this list, Normani’s lead-off single from her debut album has all the makings of a classic summer hit. After releasing high profile collaborations with Khalid and Sam Smith, Normani delivers a throwback modern jam. Incorporating elements from early 2000’s music such as a heavy backbeat and horns that can easily be compared to those in Beyoncé’s 2003 hit “Crazy in Love.” “Motivation” is an upbeat hookup jam with lush harmonies that provide promise with Normani’s solo career going forward. What keeps this song from becoming a summer jam is its late release; however, we still got it and it was worth the wait. 


3 – “How Do You Sleep?” – Sam Smith 

After a string of collaborations, soulful-pop star Sam Smith returned with his first solo single and the lead single from his upcoming album. The song is rooted in twinkling keys, a ticking trap beat, a clap-based production and fuzzy synths that maintain maximum dancing potential. Smith’s transition from somber vocal performances to more lighthearted vocal performances allow “How Do You Sleep?” to become more airy and not as bogged down by the sad lyrics. “How Do You Sleep?” is darker than the other summer songs on this list; however, Sam Smith’s welcome transition into dance-pop allows the song to be danceable enough to fill the most lively of parties.


4 – “Ritual” – Rita Ora, Tiesto and Jonas Blue

Pop savant Rita Ora teams up with EDM superstars Tiesto and Jonas Blue for a summer anthem. Ora follows in the same vein of fellow pop star Zara Larson in terms of creating pop music at its finest, and “Ritual” is one such example of this. Grounded in heavy, pounding synths, balanced by an enthusiastic piano and a distorted guitar. The production is perfectly paired with Ora’s emotive vocal delivery. “Ritual” has all the makings of a song to blare with the top down or the windows open. 


5 – “Never Really Over” – Katy Perry 

It’s been years since Katy Perry has been able to dominate the summer with her infectious pop sensibility. Part of this can be attributed to the disaster that was the “Witness” album, which nearly obliterated the career she had established up to that point. Since then, it appears that Perry has regrouped and begun to find her footing again in the music industry. “Never Really Over” is a prime example of this. The song, which was produced by EDM star Zedd, is chock-full of elements of a summer hit. From the ticking clocks, to the snare drums and the electronic, stuttering synths, “Never Really Over” was set to permeate the pop radio airwaves this summer. The production allows Perry’s voice to maintain a degree heartbreaking emotion behind it as it soars to new heights in the final minutes of the song. “Never Really Over” sees a more mature side to Perry’s songwriting as well as it focuses on Perry chasing down ghosts and open doors while hoping that it is never over. While it failed to live up to the success of Perry’s most successful singles, “Never Really Over” stands among the singer’s best.