The Search for the Song of the Summer: Everything Ends

by Vijith Assar


Last year’s putative “Song of the Summer” was a national embarrassment; as a result, American songs — and for safe measure, all songs in English — are no longer eligible. The Awl has presented alternatives throughout the summer, which ends today with the vernal equinox.

“심쿵해 (Heart Attack)” by AOA
#12 in Japan

K-pop’s post-Psy moment in the U.S. is pretty much over, but the South Korean music industrial complex is still cranking away; after the expected success in their home market, this girl group also branched out with alternate versions of their latest single translated into Chinese and Japanese.

Attempts at world domination are reliably entertaining, so let’s help them out, shall we? If only because I can’t remember the last time I saw a teen pop group this large in the U.S. — there are eight members, including one drummer who doesn’t participate in the choreography. Here they swap out leads so quickly and stitch together the vocals so tightly that the singers are still all but indistinguishable by the end; it’s a five-minute song, so that’s 37.5 seconds allotted to each member, if we allow no time for breathing. To keep things under control, they’re sometimes split into two color-coded sub-groups, just like the blue and gold teams from the early-nineties X-Men. Note also the additional superhero sound effects as they wind up for the big finale. You’re probably gonna have to just go along with this, because you’re vastly outnumbered and none of them really seem to care what you think.

“Fuori c’è il sole” by Lorenzo Fragola
#7 in Italy

I don’t know about you, but I sure could have used this one a few months ago — it sounds like the kind of summer I wish I’d had: carefree, rejuvenating. Listening to these drums outside seems like a reliable way to correct whatever has veered off course in your life, if only because they’ll make you restless enough to go do something about it.

“Orente” by Adekunle Gold
#2 in Nigeria

Summer is a physical state that arises when the sun and earth are positioned just so, but it’s also a concept that people have collectively come to idealize through centuries of learning how to survive through the winters. By now it means a lot more to us than heat: We are supposed to travel, take vacations, have romantic flings, nap on beaches, gaze at skylines from rooftops while nursing margaritas. So I can’t tell whether it’s the song or the darkening September outside, but there seems to be something regretful and urgent buried here in the guitar line. There’s always next year, until there isn’t.