By Joal Ryan
If you had an app that could produce the perfect summer pop hit by the perfect summer pop artist, you'd come up with something fun and young, like "Call Me Maybe" and Carly Rae Jepsen.
But you might be surprised how often you got something fun and kinda old (by judgmental pop standards), like "Blurred Lines" and Robin Thicke.
At 36, Thicke is the oldest artist to rule Billboard's Songs of the Summer chart since, well, LMFAO's then-35-year-old Redfoo reigned two years ago with "Party Rock Anthem."
No, summertime music is not and never has been just for kids.
Says Billboard's Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts, "A summer hit can be anything."
And by anyone.
In the last 25 years, roughly one-third of the beach-season's top hit-makers have been north of 30. The oldsters range from youngsters, such as the 31-year-old Bryan Adams scoring in 1991 with the soundtrack ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," to the non-spring chickens of Los del Rio, who proved spry enough (with the help of a remix) for 1996--and nearly every wedding party held thereafter--with "Macarena."
The other hot summer acts of a certain age: Steve Winwood, who was 40 when he told you to "Roll With It" in 1988; UB40, which had a 34-year-old lead singer when the band dominated in 1993 with "Can't Help Falling in Love"; Mariah Carey, who at 35 scored the second summer-reigning hit of her career with 2005's "We Belong Together"; and, the Black Eyed Peas, fronted in the "I Gotta Feeling" summer of 2009 by the 34-year-old will.i.am and the 34-year-old Fergie.
If there's a common denominator to this group, besides relatively yellowed birth certificates, it's that the songs move--well, most of them do--and moving is a prime prerequisite of the summer hit.
"These songs tend to be dance songs, or encourage people to get together or have a good time," Caulfield says.
These songs like Thicke's playful, Prince-vibing "Blurred Lines" (also, true, called "kind of rapey" the Daily Beast).
What with all the Jimmy Fallon covers and "kind of rapey" controversy, who's got time to discuss that Thicke is just two years younger now than his classic-sitcom father, Alan Thicke, was when "Growing Pains" debuted?
"I don't think most people know how old he is," Caulfield says. "...This is his first No. 1 album and No. 1 single...I think in general a lot of people are discovering Robin Thicke for the first time through 'Blurred Lines.'
Summer hits--fun, young (sometimes) and educational, too.