Trending: The Quintessential Formula for a Hit Summer Song

For every “Call Me Maybe” or “California Girls”—or “California Gurls” for that matter—there’s a distinct playbook, a formula to follow. Here are the rules for penning your own hit summer song.

Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen knows a few things about hit summer songs. Photo courtesy of Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.com.

Summer is upon us, and while that means temps, blockbuster movies and road trips will soon be on the rise, so will the other seasonal staple: chart-topping summer anthem.

This is the tune that will begin charmingly on your radio before spreading like wildfire into every facet of pop culture for the next four months.

And yet for every “Call Me Maybe” or “California Girls”—or “California Gurls” for that matter—there’s a distinct playbook, a formula to follow. Here are the rules for penning your own hit summer song.
 
1. Love
Nearly every summer song contends with some aspect of love: wanting it, reminiscing about it, losing it. Examples: Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69”.

 
2. Longing
For every summer love song, there’s one where the paramour is in another zip code. There are scores of tunes about not being with the one you love, like a soundtrack of long-distance relationships. Examples: Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness”.

 
3. Travel/Beach/California
The ’60s may have played a role, but you can bet if there is a summer song afoot, going to the beach is going to be part of it. Examples: The entire Beach Boys catalog.

 

4. Pharrell
This guy is the LeBron of summer songs. After churning out “Get Lucky,” “Blurred Lines” and “Happy,” betting on Pharrell to appear in this summer’s hit song is like counting on traffic on the Beltway. –Carten Cordell

(June 2014)

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