What will be this year's "Blurred Lines" or "Call Me Maybe"—the most inescapable song of the summer? Australian rapper Izzy Azalea has two prime contenders: her own smash "Fancy" and Ariana Grande's "Problem," on which she is featured. The 23-year old newcomer may very well wind up with two of the top five songs of the summer. She would be the first female solo artist to accomplish that feat.
Katy Perry, who had the top song of the summer for both 2008 ("I Kissed A Girl") and 2010 ("California Gurls") is back in the running with her new song, "Birthday." Snoop Dogg, who was featured on "California Gurls," is the hunt with another song on which he is featured, Jason Derulo's "Wiggle."
Here are 20 leading candidates to become this year's song of the summer. (I omitted songs that have already been riding the chart for more than 12 weeks.) At the end of each entry, I show where the song ranks this week.
20. "Beachin'" by Jake Owen. This mellow country shuffle is an ode to beaches, margaritas and summer romance. Jimmy Buffett, see what you started? The lyric includes a passing nod to "Don't Worry Be Happy" (though the vibe of the song is closer to another hit from the Cocktail soundtrack, "Kokomo"). The song jumps from #55 to #44 in its eighth week.
19. "Chandelier" by Sia. This dramatic power ballad takes its title from a vivid lyric line: "I'm going to swing from the chandelier." This is the Australian singer's first Hot 100 hit as a lead artist. In 2012, she was featured on a pair of top 10 hits: David Guetta's "Titanium" and Flo Rida's "Wild Ones." The song jumps from #75 to #62 in its second week.
18. "Headlights" by Eminem featuring Nate Ruess. Eminem revisits the topic of his troubled relationship with his mother, which was the theme of his 2002 hit "Cleanin' Out My Closet." Ruess (of the pop trio fun.) hits just the right tone of resignation and acceptance on the line "I guess we are who we are." The song re-enters the chart at #45.
17. "Come With Me Now" by KONGOS. This quirky alternative rock song was first released in 2011 and is just now breaking big. The song opens with an accordion solo, an unusual touch in a rock song. KONGOS is a band of four brothers from South Africa. The song jumps from #62 to #54 in its seventh week.
16. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith. Smith's falsetto vocal gives this tender ballad a lot of heart. The backing choir gives it a gospel-ish quality. The 22-year old Englishman is featured on two songs that are already in the top 40: Naughty Boy's "La La La" and Disclosure's "Latch." "Stay With Me" leaps from #69 to #49 in its sixth week.
15. "Love Runs Out" by OneRepublic. The pop group follows its #2 smash "Counting Stars" with another catchy, radio-ready song. The song has the pulse of Adele's 2012 hit "Rumour Has It," which group leader Ryan Tedder produced and co-wrote. The song re-enters the chart at #69.
14. "Come Get It Bae" by Pharrell. Pharrell's funky follow-up to "Happy" features an uncredited back-up vocal by Miley Cyrus. Both artists were represented among the top five songs of the summer for 2013. Pharrell was featured on both Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." Cyrus scored with her comeback smash, "We Can't Stop." The song drops from #82 off the chart in its second week. (That happens until songs get established at radio).
13. "A Sky Full Of Stars" by Coldplay. Avicii co-produced this song, giving it a trendy electronic/dance sound. (Scan the YouTube comments: Some long-time Coldplay fans would like Chris Martin to "consciously uncouple" from Avicii.) The band's "Viva La Vida" was the #5 song of the summer for 2008. This song vaults from #43 to #10 in its third week.
12. "She Looks So Perfect" by 5 Seconds Of Summer. The Aussie foursome looks like a boy band but sounds like a power-pop combo. This song gives a nice plug to the American Apparel clothing brand. (After this, the guys should get free underwear for life.) The group's new (and even hotter) single, "Don't Stop," is the top new entry on this week's Hot 100 at #47. This song moves up from #37 to #32 in its seventh week.
11. "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore. This exuberant pop song sets the perfect mood for a summer song. Last week, it became Paramore's first top 10 hit. Lead singer Hayley Williams reached #2 four years ago as a featured artist on B.o.B's "Airplanes." (It was the #3 song of the summer for 2010.) This song drops from #10 to #12 in its 12th week (but keeps its bullet).
10. "Latch" by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith. This summer jam sounds like something Earth, Wind & Fire might have recorded in the late '70s or early '80s. The sexy video tells us this is 2014. Disclosure is a brother duo from England. This song was first released in 2012. It drops from #34 to #36 in its ninth week (but keeps its bullet).
9. "Rude" by MAGIC! This charming, reggae-shaded song depicts a man seeking the approval of the father of the woman he plans to marry. The plaintive lyric at the heart of the song: "Why you gotta be so rude/Don't you know I'm human too?" This is the Canadian band's first hit. The song leaps from #39 to #28 in its fourth week.
8. "Birthday" by Katy Perry. This vibrant confection is laced with good-natured double-entendres. The eight-minute video gives Perry a chance to play five different characters. Perry had at least one song among the top 10 songs of the summer for five straight years from 2008 through 2012, but she somehow fell short last year. The song jumps from #25 to #23 in its sixth week.
7. "Sing" by Ed Sheeran. This bright and upbeat pop track is a welcome change of pace for Sheeran, following a pair of ballad hits. The Englishman co-wrote the song with the red-hot Pharrell Williams. Pharrell also produced the track, which bears more than a passing resemblance to his work with Justin Timberlake. Sheeran's new "One" is the second highest new entry this week at #87. "Sing" dips from #15 to #16 in its sixth week (but keeps it bullet).
6. "Not A Bad Thing" by Justin Timberlake. This amiable pop ballad is Timberlake's biggest hit since "Mirrors," which was the #7 song of the summer last year. Timberlake has a second song in this week's top 10: "Love Never Felt So Good," a from-the-grave collabo with Michael Jackson, which jumps from #22 to #9 in its third week. (But will it have staying power or is inherently a radio novelty?) "Not A Bad Thing" holds at #8 in its 12th week.
5. "Wiggle" by Jason Derulo featuring Snoop Dogg. This ode to a woman's derriere lacks the wit and sociological insight of Sir Mix-A-Lot's similarly-focused "Baby Got Back," the song of the summer for 1992. But Derulo is hot: His previous single, "Talk Dirty," reached #3. And Snoop has been a good luck charm on summer hits by Dr. Dre, the Pussycat Dolls and Katy Perry. The song jumps from #24 to #20 in its third week.
4. "Summer" by Calvin Harris. The Scottish electronic/dance music star wrote and produced this song and also sings it. This will be the second song titled "Summer" to reach the top 10. War scored in 1976 with a mellow ballad with the same title. Harris also wrote and produced a summer song for his girlfriend, British singer Rita Ora. That song, "I Will Never Let You Down," has yet to chart. "Summer" jumps from #14 to #11 in its ninth week.
3. "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz. This catchy song, which was first released more than a year ago, has an appealing African vibe and smooth vocal harmonies. This is an international hit for the Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz—Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery. The song moves up from #18 to #17 in its fifth week.
2. "Problem" by Ariana Grande featuring Izzy Azalea. This stylish smash features lively saxophone accents, a featured rap by Azalea and uncredited vocal lines by Big Sean. The lyric borrows the title phrase from Jay Z's 2004 classic "99 Problems." The song jumps from #4 to #3 in its third week.
1. "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX. This song has a similar sensibility to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," which was the #2 song of the summer for 2005. The video to this smash borrows the day-glo look of the 1995 movie "Clueless." The song jumps from #3 to #2 in its 11th week.
Billboard has gone back to 1985 and ranked the songs of the summer based on each song's performance on the Hot 100 between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I took a look at the #1 songs for each summer in a recent pair of Chart Watch Extras. If you missed them, here are links to Part 1 (1985 through 1999) and Part 2 (2000 through 2013.)