What Kept 2014's Would-Be Songs of Summer from Immortality?

The contest wraps up this week, and to no one's surprise, "Fancy" won. But why could none of its competitors gain any traction?

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Labor Day marks the end of the pop cultural summer – autumn doesn't officially start until Sept. 22, but the entertainment world pays that no mind – and thus, we must crown a Song of Summer. To absolutely no one's surprise, that song is Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX's "Fancy."

It was always going to be "Fancy." On Billboard's Songs of the Summer chart, "Fancy" took the number-one spot every single week. No matter how much the Internet bitched and moaned, "Fancy" was a monolith. It went virtually uncontested all summer long. It is, undoubtedly and inarguably, our Song of Summer 2014.

But we come neither to bury nor praise "Fancy." We begrudgingly tip our cap to its success, but it remains as uninteresting a story as ever. Instead, we wonder: What happened to all the other pop songs this summer? With a frontrunner that seemed to enthuse so few people, why was it so difficult to get any challengers mobilized? Let's examine 20 of the most intriguing Song of Summer failures and determine their causes of death.

“Rude,” MAGIC!

Short answer: It's terrible divisive.
Long answer: An ideal Song of Summer unites people, it doesn't push them apart. "Rude" just couldn't get people to come to a consensus. Also, it was probably a bit too awful laid-back for a season that usually favors high-energy tracks.

“Problem,” Ariana Grande f/ Iggy Azalea

Short answer: Iggy out-Iggy'd herself.
Long answer: Both artists' attentions seemed divided this summer. Ariana Grande of the Boca Raton Missileboob Grandes had no less than three singles (including "Break Free" and another song on this list) this summer. Azalea already had a hit, so she didn't need to push this one too hard. When it was clear it just wasn't going to break the ironclad "Fancy" hold at the top of the chart, the two moved on.

"Stay With Me,” Sam Smith

Short answer: Adele already had a Song of Summer three years ago.
Long answer: You can marvel at Smith's voice, but it's not like you want to jam with him. Plus, it's a pretty slow song. (Note, though, that Smith's weird comments about gay culture likely had nothing to do with this.)

"Am I Wrong,” Nico & Vinz

Short answer: They got MAGIC!'d.
Long answer: Props to the Norwegian duo for coming up with a really different sound for summer. Unfortunately, MAGIC! kind of cornered the market on unusual new acts breaking out this summer. Nico & Vinz got lost in the shuffle.

“Summer,” Calvin Harris

Short answer: No one wants their Song of Summer to be that on-the-nose.
Long answer: The short answer works here, too. This was a pretty brazen attempt to claim the title early, but the audience rejected it.

“Happy,” Pharrell

Short answer: Peaked way too early.
Long answer: The best moment for "Happy" was the Oscars, and it's been all downhill since then. We hit peak Go Away "Happy" this summer, so it never really stood a chance.

"Turn Down for What,” DJ Snake & Lil Jon

Short answer: It's called "Song of Summer," not "Random Noises of Summer."
Long answer: A melody is always helpful when you're mounting a guerilla Song of Summer campaign! This one was destined to get old quite quickly, and lo and behold, it did.

"Bang Bang,” Jessie J and Ariana Grande f/ Nicki Minaj

Short answer: These women haven't spoken more than four words to one another.
Long answer: "Bang Bang" feels like a random blip in pop culture we'll wonder about later on. How did those three women come together to create that weird and wonderful song? Put it this way: Remember when Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and P!nk all sang "We Will Rock You" together? Yeah. It's like that.

"My Song 5 (Remix),” Haim f/ A$AP Ferg

Short answer: We can't have nice things.
Long answer: Though the song's been out for a while, the video came out late, and it is a song that rests on its video for mass appeal. It's kind of a weird song, a different vibe for Haim, and A$AP Ferg couldn't really expand their audience much. But it's the best song on this list and we all failed, just to be clear.

“Shower,” Becky G

Short answer: Pop culture writers don't determine Songs of Summer.
Long answer: This is one of the best songs on this list, but it came along a little late and never really broke out among the non-Twitterati. It must also be noted that Becky's clearly getting a bit of help in the Auto-Tune department.

“Kanye,” The Chainsmokers f/ Siren

Short answer: Backlash to "#SELFIE."
Long answer: It probably just came out too late. The video just came out yesterday, for example. But oh my god, can you imagine if we had a Song of Summer called "Kanye" before Kanye himself had one?

“She Looks So Perfect,” 5 Seconds of Summer

Short answer: It may have actually been a parody.
Long answer: 5 Seconds of Summer seem like good guys, but god love 'em, they don't know what they're doing. Given a performance slot on the VMAs, they did a slow, sad song instead of this. What the hell, guys? In better promotional hands, "She Looks So Perfect," above all the other songs on this list, probably had the best shot of beating "Fancy."

“Superbad,” Jesse McCartney

Short answer: Culture is done with Jesse McCartney.
Long answer: There are two ways to have a Song of Summer: Craft a song that's so undeniable it has to be a hit, or be an artist in the middle of a major Moment. (Iggy Azalea is currently enjoying the latter.) Unfortunately, though this song is super catchy, neither of those criteria is really fulfilled by "Superbad."

“Really Don’t Care,” Demi Lovato f/ Cher Lloyd

Short answer: She's cursed.
Long answer: Actually, that might be true. She's now released three truly catchy, fun songs, and none of them have turned into monster hits. One, 2012's "Give Your Heart a Break," even competed in that year's Song of Summer contest (but lost to "Call Me Maybe," the steamroller of all Songs of Summer). What's it going to take for Lovato to truly break out?

“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Short answer: PROBLEMATIC!
Long answer: A Song of Summer title for your first single is tough – though not unheard of, of course. Carly Rae Jepsen showed us that. But in order to pull that off, your song needs to be a phenomenon. "Bass" was a bit too divisive to pull everyone together.

“Boom Clap,” Charli XCX

Short answer: Who?
Long answer: We could be headed for a major Charli XCX moment, considering she provided the hooks for not one but two massive hits. But something about her isn't resonating with the public at large so far. If she can't win Song of Summer on a hit hipsters love and tweens all enjoyed in The Fault in Our Stars, she may not be up to the task.

“Birthday,” Katy Perry

Short answer: If Katy Perry releases a summer song, and no one's there to care, does it make a sound?
Long answer: This was just a whiff on Perry's part. New song "This Is How We Do" could have had a strong shot at the title, but she bet on this wet noodle of a song. It was also released a little early, but then again, so was "Fancy." If the song resonates, it'll stick around. This one fell on deaf ears.

“Sing,” Ed Sheeran

Short answer: He's the one that Taylor Swift likes, right?
Long answer: It seems as though Sheeran's popularity might be even more niche than we previously expected. Based purely on observations, the English import seems to be very popular with Taylor Swift fans and tweens. That's a powerful base, of course, but not Song of Summer-powerful.

“Classic,” MTKO

Short answer: They also got MAGIC!'d.
Long answer: They seem kind of square, no? Not that squares can't have Songs of Summer, but just that this song's success in the current pop climate was always a bit of a question mark.

"Shake It Off," Taylor Swift

Short answer: What are you talking about? That's the video for the only "Shake It Off" that matters.
Long answer: It just came out too late to get any sort of traction. Plus, ruling summer was never her intention. Yes, there's no need to cry for Tay; she's going to rule the fall. That is, until Adele emerges.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.