Every year, a song defines June, July, and August--so much so that it brings back memories of the summer it was ubiquitous. As we wait for the summer track of 2013 to claim its crown, here are the tracks the reigned supreme the past five years; they are all worth revisiting during this season of fun and nostalgia, and they all still sound great in the car or on the dance floor.
2012: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
Last summer was all Carly Rae's and her sweet ode to getting a guy's number, "Call Me Maybe," was an instant classic. It has a great hook and the use of electronic strings worms its way into your head. Even if she never has another big hit, "Call Me Maybe" marked her entrance into the pop pantheon.
2011: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele
Heartbreak and anger have rarely been so catchy. It's also hard to remember a time when Adele was not one of the queens of pop, but this is the track that began it all--the lead single for one of the best selling album of the 2010s. Though it's dark for a summer pop song, Adele's take-charge attitude sells the track, perhaps the most classic and timeless entry on this list.
2010: "California Gurls" by Katy Perry (ft Snoop Dogg)
Perry's teaser single for her pop juggernaut, Teenage Dream, helped cement her persona as a mix of cheeky teasing, cotton candy, fun clothes, and throaty vocals. While her first pop album had its strengths, "California Gurls" showed Perry clearly marking out her aesthetic territory--a place that feels entirely her own and not hinged on pop divas past or present. Some pop stars may garner more critical acclaim, but Perry is one of the few true individuals not lost homages to Cher, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, or Madonna.
2009: "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
Rarely have the Black Eyed Peas created as palatable of a party anthem as they did in the 2009. In fact, coupled with "Boom Boom Pow," this song helped the dominate radio that summer. "I Gotta Feeling" works particularly well because the production is not as crowded as Black Eyed Peas tracks tend to be, allowing the single to feel light but dancey.
2008: "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry
I have very distinct memories of listening to this song while laying on my bed in front of a fan during the summer of 2008. "I Kissed a Girl" is the first song that began Perry's ascent into fame. Though the track feels less quintessential in light of her most recent work (particularly the wonderful "Teenage Dream"), this single is a catchy 80s throwback--dirty synths and all--and foreshadowed Perry's potential.