Hear 15 Of NPR Music's Songs Of The Summer 2017 We still don't know what the song of this summer might be, but we've picked out a few new songs to soundtrack road trips, cookouts and sultry nights.
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NPR Music's Songs Of The Summer 2017

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NPR Music's Songs Of The Summer 2017

NPR Music's Songs Of The Summer 2017

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SURF CITY")

JAN AND DEAN: (Singing) Surf city, here we come...

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That was the song of the summer way back in 1963.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And this was the song of the summer of 1979.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GIRLS")

DONNA SUMMER: (Singing) Bad girls...

KELLY: Love me some Donna Summer. OK, fast forward now, 2002.

INSKEEP: Do we have to?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOT IN HERRE")

NELLY: (Singing) Oh, it's getting hot in here. So hot...

INSKEEP: All right, every summer has at least one song that burrows into your mind and never really lets go.

KELLY: Which brings us to this - what's going to be the song of the summer 2017? We asked a few of our favorite music obsessives to weigh in.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Hi, I'm Felix Contreras. I'm the host of Alt.Latino. And I want to talk about one of the songs of summer, "Despacito."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

LUIS FONSI: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: This song is special for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is that it will bring attention, I think, to Luis Fonsi to an audience that has not exactly been aware of him in the past. Luis Fonsi is from Puerto Rico and is a very, very popular singer. And Daddy Yankee, who is a rapper and reggaeton artist - and they're coming together on this sort of crossover hit that draws elements from reggaeton but also features Luis Fonsi's very, very seductive voice, I guess you could say.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

FONSI: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Now, the original version of this song was already popular on Spanish-language radio. And this one is notable because it's a remix with Justin Bieber. And he has recorded a part in the song where he learned the lyric phonetically to mix in with the parts that are already there with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

JUSTIN BIEBER: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: This is one of those once-in-a-decade things. Los Lobos had "La Bamba," a No. 1 hit, in the '80s. There was the infamous "Macarena" in the 1990s. And this is another example of a Spanish-language song becoming No. 1 on the pop charts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

FONSI: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: I can guarantee you after hearing it this morning you're going to be humming it to yourself all day long, even if you've never heard it before. It's a blessing and a curse in a way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

DADDY YANKEE AND FONSI: (Singing in Spanish).

TALIA SCHLANGER, BYLINE: This song sort of commands the enjoyment of summer almost in an instructional sort of way. Like, 10 seconds in there's this sound that's, like, buried under the guitar that sounds like you've just taken a sip of the greatest margarita in the entire world. Hey, I'm Talia Schlanger. I host the World Cafe. And my song of summer choice is "J-Boy" by the band Phoenix.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "J-BOY")

PHOENIX: (Singing) Something in the middle of the side of the store got your attention. You would ask for more. I was excited to be part of your world, to belong, to be lost, to be mostly the two of us.

SCHLANGER: Phoenix is a band that's based in Paris, but they've sung in English since the very beginning of their careers. And they've talked before about how that gives them access to this sort of second language charm. The appeal, I guess, of not singing in your native tongue and having things be a little bit more poetic. "J-Boy" is the title of the song. And it stands for just because of you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "J-BOY")

PHOENIX: (Singing) Just because of you these things I have to go through...

SCHLANGER: And the album and this song are full of that, like, feeling of fresh, young love that is also so evocative of warm weather and summer. And the guys came into World Cafe, and we talked about that young love feel on this album. And I asked them how they managed to summon it because these were all guys who are in long-term relationships, who have got kids. And the lead singer, Thomas, looked at me straight in the eye and said, I believe that love is always fresh. And maybe it's because he's French, but I really believe him when he says it. And that is summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHOENIX SONG, "J-BOY")

RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: My name is Rodney Carmichael. I am a hip-hop reporter here at NPR. And my choice for song of the summer is by Gucci Mane featuring Chris Brown. And the name of the song is "Tone It Down."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONE IT DOWN")

CHRIS BROWN: (Singing) Tell me who gon' (ph) ball like this.

GUCCI MANE: (Rapping) Huh, pull up, fros up, with the door up, chopper in the club. I don't care who show up. Watch looking like a glow up when I throw up. East side, Bouldercrest Road where I growed up.

CARMICHAEL: Gucci Mane is Atlanta's trap god, so to speak. Trap is a subgenre of hip-hop that he has pretty much owned for the better part of a decade. He got out of prison, he talked about how prison really helped him because it gave him a chance to clean up. And he's been on a pretty successful tear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONE IT DOWN (FEAT. CHRIS BROWN)")

BROWN: (Singing) VVS the wrist.

CARMICHAEL: Gucci Mane and Chris Brown together - I mean, both of their careers to some extent have suffered from self-sabotage. But both have battled back to get back some of that squandered promise that they showed early on as artists. For that reason, I think, it's a pretty unique pairing to have both of them side by side.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONE IT DOWN (FEAT. CHRIS BROWN)")

BROWN: (Singing) Tell me who gon' ball like this.

GUCCI MANE: (Rapping) Gucci Mane and CB, jewelry looking 3-D, trying to be like me, ain’t easy. [Expletive] hate me, women want to date me...

CARMICHAEL: Earlier this year we had a lot of hip-hop songs that had this pop-friendly flute sound. And Gucci really attempts to capitalize on this flute craze. It sounds like top-down summer trap music (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONE IT DOWN (FEAT. CHRIS BROWN)")

BROWN: (Singing) Tell me who gon' ball like this. Yeah, four, four, dripping, I be on a hundreds rolls.

GWEN THOMPKINS, BYLINE: I'm Gwen Thompkins, host of the public radio program Music Inside Out in New Orleans. And the song "Here Come The Girls" is having a very good summer in our city.

(SOUNDBITE OF TROMBONE SHORTY SONG, "HERE COME THE GIRLS")

THOMPKINS: The version that we're listening to is by Trombone Shorty, who is a local hero here. And he heads a band called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. And they decided to record this song which is an old song, actually, by Allen Toussaint, who was the great sort of impresario down here in New Orleans. Trombone Shorty, you know, people around the country might know him by a television show that he appeared in, which was HBO's "Treme."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HERE COME THE GIRLS")

TROMBONE SHORTY: (Singing) You're looking so good it's a doggone shame that you all couldn't be mine. You're looking so pretty it's a doggone pity. Oh, you're looking so fine.

THOMPKINS: Let's face it - I mean, it's a song about a leering guy who loves to look at women. And he wants all of them, every last one of them. But what's interesting about the song is that it's been appropriated to some degree by women who love the chorus.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HERE COME THE GIRLS")

TROMBONE SHORTY: (Singing) Here come the girls, girls, girls, girls. Here come the girls, girls, girls.

THOMPKINS: It just is a booty-shaking anthem-to-be in New Orleans.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HERE COME THE GIRLS")

TROMBONE SHORTY: (Singing) Oh, water...

KELLY: All right, there you have it, four contenders for 2017's song of the summer.

INSKEEP: Just four. So if you're busy screaming at the radio right now, what about DJ Khaled, how could you not play Bruno Mars or Ed Sheeran...

KELLY: I'm going to throw in Lorde there, or Selena Gomez. Maybe put a...

INSKEEP: Well, there we go. Why not?

KELLY: ...Few women on the table.

INSKEEP: Let us have it. We're @MorningEdition on Twitter.

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