It’s a very special week of meditating on the songs of summer, while each of our editors pick one of their favorite sunshine-dominating radio tracks and predict whether it will do for 2013 what Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” did for 2012. (My personal song of the summer was obviously Mariah Carey‘s “Triumphant (Get ‘Em),” but I know I’m alone in that.) This year? My pick for single of the season is Avril Lavigne‘s “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” which has a YOLO-rific forever-young message that’s sweetly and wistfully nostalgic and the catchiest chorus in a minute. So, to address the titular question, will it be the song of the summer?
No. Probably not. But it should be.
Here’s why: When I first heard “Here’s To Never Growing Up” (a stream of it a few weeks before it was officially released), I was pretty convinced it was going to be my summer anthem, for reasons that I already outlined in a lot of detail. For kids, of course, summer is the time when school’s out and you get to, y’know, not grow up; for adults who are tethered to their jobs, it isn’t quite as liberating, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had — but the best summer songs always feel youthful, always evoke memories of wild summers past and bygone joys. Even though they sound completely different, “Here’s To Never Growing Up” has the same kind of emotional texture as Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream” (one of my all-time favorite summer songs), since it’s all about hanging onto an adolescence that’s already gone. Subject-wise, Avril’s single is as summery as they come.
Then there’s the track itself: It’s karaoke candy, with a soaring singalong hook that’s tailor-made for blasting in a car, driving too fast on a warm summer night. Penned by Avril herself with David Hodges, Jacob Kasher and Avril’s fiancé Chad Kroeger (collective ugh) with Martin Johnson, who produced the song, it has a pop-rock edge that eschews the four-on-the-floor dance sound that’s dominating on mainstream radio — it’s a different kind of summer single. Johnson, who rose to prominence as the lead singer of alt-pop band Boys Like Girls, has since distinguished himself as the producer to beat for emotionally charged wistful anthems (see Taylor Swift‘s “If This Was A Movie” and Mike Posner‘s “The Way It Used To Be” for more on that). But regardless of the pedigree, it’s a song only Avril could release: No other artist can get away with being that bratty and still remain so irresistibly likable.
That said: The odds aren’t great for the track, which has been out for a few months and has yet to ascend beyond #30 on the Hot 100, although it reached #19 on the pop charts. (And hey — it went to #1 in Vietnam and the Philippines!) She hasn’t had a Top 10 single since 2007, when “Girlfriend” went to #1, and six years is a long time to wait for a major comeback — but if anyone can pull it off, surely it’s Avril, right? She’s so scrappy! As ever, I’ll be rooting for the underdog — and in a fairer world, Avril’s track would be the one to rule the charts all summer long.