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What will 2016's song of the summer be?

Editorial Staff

It's officially summer, which also means it's time to attempt to predict the official song of the summer, which is not really an actual thing but it's fun to think it is. The SOTS is the song that will, ideally, soundtrack all of your beautiful stereotypical summer activities and Instagram videos, and you'll hear it everywhere you go, overflowing from patios and the passing cars as the temperature rises.

Below, CBC Music picked 20 songs we think have a good chance of earning the completely made up but no less important title of 2016's Song of the Summer.

'Boyfriend,' Tegan and Sara

This is the ultimate pop Trojan horse: a fun, seemingly frivolous, super amped-up, dance floor-ready, mainstream jam that’s notheteronormative in any way, shape or form. It’s thoroughly modern and packs way more musical muscle than most people realize on first listen, and it presents a love triangle rarely (if ever) seen in the pop landscape. Plus, did I mention it’s super fun? Listen to it a few times and it will live on repeat in your heart and head for the next two months. — Andrea Warner 

'Love as a Weapon,' Little Scream

"Push your man to the side/ fall down to the floor./ You pick yourself back up again/ and you walk right through the door." Little Scream's falsetto couples a rebound plan with dance instructions, and there's no better sway-along single for a midsummer night's unrelenting heat. "Love as a Weapon" could easily fit into a St. Vincent record, and that is never not a compliment. — Holly Gordon

'Miracle,' The Darcys

The new single from the Darcys — the first since their excellent but criminally underrated 2013 album Warring — sounds like sitting on a patio late into the summer evening. It’s musically complex, which is what the Darcys do best, but it’s been brightened with enough electronic drum fills and effects to take it out of the art rock realm and straight to that mystical place where the smoothness of synth-pop meets the undeniable groove of electro-funk. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin


'That Justin Timberlake Song'

You’re probably trying to think of the name of this song right now but it doesn’t matter. Your children love this song. Your co-workers probably like this song. One of your relatives definitely bought this track on iTunes. Enough people have liked this song to make it a hit on the Billboard charts. This is Justin Timberlake after all; why would you hate a song by Justin Timberlake? So just give in and admit defeat as the sounds of this joyous Gap commercial of a song washes over you like a blinding ray of sunshine. You can’t stop the feeling. — Melody Lau

'Wild Things,' Alessia Cara

"We have no apologies for being/ find me where the wild things are." This single, off Alessia Cara's debut album on Def Jam, didn't hit as big as her breakout hit, "Here," but its drum beats and rallying calls make it a clear choice for song of the summer. An anthem for the rabble-rousers, another middle finger to all the conformers in the crowd. What better way to do summer than by doing you? — HG

'This is What you Came For,' Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

"You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh," are the lyrics you'll be singing over and again once you listen to "This is What you Came For." Undeniably a hit, the catchy house-influenced track features Rihanna's iconic voice, which gives it that special factor. In collaboration with Calvin Harris, this is the third time the duo have paired up, following their international hit records "We Found Love" and "Where Have you Been." Third time's a charm. Does their new song live up to the hype? I think so. — Kiah Welsh

'Dukes,' Repartee

Dramatic pauses, a giant chorus, and a great melody, “Dukes” is the sing-along, hook-happy song that’s instantly familiar yet totally exhilarating in its bright flashes of brilliance. Also, it’s a total feminist summer jam, a dance party thriving with thought-provoking lyrics like: "They tell us when we're little/ it's better to be quiet and to not cause trouble/ sit pretty, keep everybody happy/ and don't speak up, you don't wanna be bossy." – AW

'Cake by the Ocean,' DNCE

“Cake by the Ocean” came out last October but has somehow maintained its position on the charts throughout 2016 proving people really like sweet treats, bodies of water and/or hilariously bad analogies for sex. But, regardless of its ridiculous lines like, “Funfetti, I’m ready/I need it every night,” that bass line has become an instant earworm and it’s easy to understand why people would play it on a loop all summer. — ML

'All the Way Up,' Fat Joe and Remy Ma feat. French Montana

The reedy horn sample from producers Cool and Dre fuelling this banger indicates Fat Joe still has an ear for underground beats when he wants to. It’s a great foundation for Remy Ma to reassert herself on, to give us “Lean Back” flashbacks. Even French Montana’s marble-mouthed chorus refrain can’t ruin this. — DFC

Editor's note: strong language warning.

'One Dance,' Drake

The unofficial soundtrack to summer in Toronto, based on the fact that if you’ve walked along Queen Street at any point since the warm weather arrived, you will have heard Drake’s afrobeat and dancehall-infused sunny blast of a single from his recent album Views. It’s also Drake’s first solo single to hit number 1 on the charts, where it’s been planted for five straight weeks and counting. — JKG

Listen on Apple Music

'Work,' Rihanna feat. Drake

If you've recently found yourself at a fête, this song is sure to have you buss a whine. Sampled from Richie Stephens and Mikey 2000's "Sail Away," the track's smooth and tropical vibe hits all the right notes. Rihanna’s "Work" also broke Michael Jackson's Billboard Hot 100 record, surpassing the King of Pop for the third-most number 1 songs of all time. — KW

'Lite Spots,' Kaytranada

Digging in the crates to marry Brazilian singer Gal Costa’s “Pontos De Luz” to one of his undeniable instrumental concoctions, Kaytranada presents irreversible proof of his impregnability right now.99.9% is one of the albums of the years so far and when the beat drops on this track you know why. — DFC

'Kiss it Better,' Rihanna, Kaytranada remix

Kaytranada took Rihanna’s down-tempo ballad and gave it the dance remix we didn’t know it needed. It’s proven to be one of the most popular songs to cover from her Anti- album, with everyone fromFather John Misty to Miguel tackling it — but no one has done it justice as well as Montreal producer Kaytranada. — JKG

Listen on Apple Music

'Good as Hell,' Lizzo

An anthem should be freeing. It should make you feel your fiercest, fullest, most powerful self. But it’s all too rare that an anthem — an honest-to-goodness, hands-in-the-air, strut-on-with-your-fine-self anthem — is also a bangin’ party-starter. Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” is hype music as manifesto and it’s not just a summer jam, it’s also one of the most exciting songs of 2016. — AW 

'No Problem,' Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper’s defiant, anti-label anthem contains everything you want in a song of the summer: buoyant production complete with sped-up Kanye-sque chipmunk soul, one of the catchiest choruses of 2016 — “You don’t want no problem, want no problem with me.” — verses that can be captured in 140 characters or less, and guest features from heavyweights 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. Bring on the Grammy. — JKG

Editor's note: strong language warning.

'Neon Experience,' Júníus Meyvant

Iceland-based artist Júníus Meyvant released this R&B track in April but it’s all summer when you press play. Turn this song on when you have friends over on the back patio, celebrating the beautiful evening weather and thank me later when everyone asks you who’s playing.— MF

‘Never Forget You,’ Zara Larsson feat. MNEK

This song is almost nine months old but it finally picked up heat when the weather got nicer and was recently the number one dance song in the United States. A high energy pop song that’s bound to get stuck in your head, and if it doesn’t, not to worry, your Top 40 station will play it over and over again for you. – MF

'Panda,' Desiigner

If you’ve ever caught yourself mumbling “panda, panda, panda” under your breath for no reason, you can blame Brooklyn’s Desiigner, the first rapper from New York to top the Hot 100 since Jay Z’s "Empire State of Mind" back in 2009. Aggressive, really catchy for about 50 seconds (just long enough for Kanye West to sample it on "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2") and painfully simple, you can’t forget it if you try. — JKG

Editor's note: strong language warning.

'Work from Home,' Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign

If the idea of having “cake by the ocean” seems like too much of a hassle to you, may we suggest working from home instead? In another summer jam about sex, Fifth Harmony offers up one of its best songs yet, a plea for a lover to stay at home where they’ll “make it feel like a vacay, turn the bed into an ocean.” It’s a finger-snapping, hand-clapping hit that will make you want to do nothing but stay at home and dance to this on repeat. — ML

'Tearing Me Up,' Bob Moses

What was a slow start for this track quickly turned to be in the running for song of the summer once Ellen Degeneres heard it on the radio and promptly requested the Cancon duo perform on her show. Since then, they’ve played Coachella, Glastonbury and are set to play Austin City Limits later this year. Don’t miss this groove heavy track that’s bound to make your playlist this summer. – MF

'Sorry,' Beyonce 

Summer is the time to be unapologetic, to put those middle fingers up and just live your best life. Follow Beyoncé’s lead on “Sorry” and let it be the song to guide you through the next few months. — ML

'Be Alright,' Ariana Grande

Dance floor. Driver's seat. Last five minutes of a spin class, near-barfing. Wherever you need it, Ariana Grande's got a perfectly upbeat, finger-snapping track for you with "Be Alright." It was a tough choice — singles "Into You" and "Dangerous Woman" are close contenders from Grande this summer —  but this one is a pure pop delight. — HG

'Stadium Pow Wow,' A Tribe Called Red

The new song from the Ottawa DJ trio sounds built specifically to fill a stadium full of athletes and sweaty, over-hyped fans (you listening, Olympics?). Taking vocalizations from First Nations powwow group Black Bear and mixing it with testosterone-fuelled synths and a beat that anyone who's ever been to a baseball game will recognize, it’s bold, aggressive and perfectly suited to those summer days where you’re seeking an adrenaline rush more  than a cool drink in the shade. — JKG