Summertime Sadness: The 10 Best Songs Radio Ignored
The best part of summer might just be the Song Of The Summer — the one that you play so much in the July sunshine that you never want to hear it again by September. This year’s biggest summer song was inarguably Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” but the Canadian singer was far from the only artist to produce a tune that screamed blissful, school’s-out celebration. In fact, there were many other contenders that deserved major airplay in recent months and, for whatever reason, didn’t get it.
Given that — and the fact that it’s now officially fall — we’ve rounded up the summer singles that had the most hit potential and failed to deliver on that initial promise. These songs may not have sold a million copies, but they’ll still be the ones that evoke the fondest memories of the warmest months of 2012 as the autumn chill begins to set in.
10. “The World Is Ours,” Catcall
With one of the catchiest ’60s-referencing hooks of the year and ultra-visible placement on MTV promos that ran all summer long, we pegged Australian singer-songwriter Catcall as having major hit potential with “The World Is Ours.” Alas, viewers must have been too distracted by the Teen Wolf heartthrobs’ torsos to pay attention to the fuzzy pop brilliance serving as the soundtrack.
9. “National Anthem,” Lana Del Rey
After the runaway success of “Video Games,” it seemed reasonable than Lana Del Rey would turn out another smash by summer’s end — like “National Anthem,” with its brilliant “eed, white and blue’s in the sky/Summer’s in the air and baby heaven’s in your eyes” riff. But even overseas, where Del Rey tops the charts, the song was largely ignored. Maybe next Fourth of July, Lana.
8. “Runaways,” The Killers
Few songs swelled with summery promise as much as The Killers’ first single from their new album Battle Born. But the band’s Springsteen-esque synthpop, somewhere between the nostalgic Americana of The Gaslight Anthem and the sparkly pop of Keane, was lost on listeners who are still awaiting for them to turn out another “Mr. Brightside.”
7. “Lolita,” The Veronicas
The Veronicas carved out enough of a stateside niche with their last album to think that a big, radio-friendly single like “Lolita” would take off. Sadly, it barely made a dent in their native Australia, let alone in the United States. Dubsteppy production, a huge hook and an appropriately grimy sound couldn’t make it a hit, even if it deserved to be one.
6. “Bam Bam,” Ester Dean
Ester Dean is one of the top hitmakers in the business — the genius songwriter behind Rihanna and Nicki Minaj’s smashes, with a raspy voice that sounds like a mix between those two superstars. But her promo single “Bam Bam,” despite sounding tailor-made for radio with a never-get-this-one-out-of-your-head earworm and likably scabrous lyrics, never took off.
5. “Let’s Have A Kiki,” Scissor Sisters
If you walked into any club in Hell’s Kitchen or Fire Island this summer, it was hard to miss Scissor Sisters’ ubiquitous “Let’s Have A Kiki” — so much so that the previously unknown term “kiki” became fully integrated into the gay vernacular. A novelty hit about having a night in with your BFFs with a brilliant ’90s house beat, “Let’s Have A Kiki” topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart but, unfortunately, never picked up on radio. Guess America wasn’t ready for their kiki.
4. “Demonstrate,” JoJo
This one probably never had a shot, since JoJo’s label Blackground may have never serviced the single to radio or sent it to iTunes. Even so, the song is so good, we say YouTube streams alone should have buoyed it to an R&B #1. A sultry beat courtesy of Drake’s go-to producer Noah “40” Shehib made it the summer’s sexiest way to wind down.
3. “Settle Down,” No Doubt
No Doubt’s much-ballyhooed comeback single “Settle Down” did a little too much settling: rather than giving the band a Rock Steady-level hit, it just kinda plateaued, peaking at a ho-hum #34 on the Hot 100. It’s a shame, given that the song was a modern and thoroughly charming extension of the sound their fans love and expect. In the end, there was no doubt that the public didn’t get it.
2. “I Love It,” Icona Pop
Swedish pop duo Icona Pop appeared to be tapped for breakout success with “I Love It,” a thrilling surge of IDGAF recklessness, which everyone — even indie bible Pitchfork.com — declared the Song Of The Summer. Alt enough to make the hipsters dance and mainstream enough to sound at home on radio, the failure to launch of “I Love It” will be forever baffling.
1. “One Thing,” One Direction
1D’s “One Thing” was surely a surefire smash: the same formula as their mega-hit “What Makes You Beautiful” with an even catchier, “I Want It That Way”-evoking chorus? However, whereas “Beautiful” peaked at #4, “One Thing” — arguably the superior cut — only ascended to the lackluster chart position of #39 on the Hot 100. Luckily, with their new single “Live While We’re Young,” the lads should more than make up for it.