Which 2014 Song of the Summer Contender Will You Remember for Years to Come? — LISTEN

We start thinking about it every year as early as March: What song will eventually be crowned the "Song of the Summer"? Sometimes, it seems like we're downright obsessed with naming the Song of the Summer — but why? After all, I've never heard of anyone talking about the "Song of the Fall" or the "Song of the Winter." What is it about declaring a definitive Song of the Summer that's so darn appealing to us?

In a new interview with FiveThirtyEight's Walt Hickey, Tim Herbster, Vice President of Special Programming Projects at radio broadcasting company Clear Channel, shed some light on our cultural fascination with the Song of the Summer:

I think we’re obsessed with the song of the summer in particular because it leads us to a moment in time. It represents your entire summer the same way your class song represented your senior year in school. Memories become attached to the song that last forever.

I think Herbster is right. Music is so closely tied to memories, even just hearing the opening bars of a song can trigger a rush of emotion that instantly transports us back to a specific moment in time. We remember where we were, who we were with, and most importantly, how we felt. In the United States, summertime is often thought of as a time of fun and relaxation — a time to hangout with family and friends, enjoying life and making memories. I think that it's our love for the season in general that drives our need to find a Song of the Summer — an anthem that can help us remember all of the good times that summer can bring.

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According to FiveThirtyEight's Hickey, Billboard has created a special chart that lists the top 10 Songs in contention for the title of Song of the Summer using a combination of radio, streaming, and sales data. The chart's a great starting point, but I'm not so sure that it can measure a song's potential to create lasting memories...and that's kind of what the Song of the Summer is all about! So, let's take a look at Billboard's Song of the Summer chart and discuss each song's memory-making potential on a scale of 1 to 10. You know, just for fun.

Which songs do you think you'll remember for years and years to come?

10. Pharrell Williams — "Happy"

iamOTHER on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 4

Why?: Although Pharrell Williams' "Happy" certainly made me feel pretty awesome at first, the song's total and complete radio domination became almost unbearable fast. Pretty soon, hardly anybody was feeling happy about "Happy." Unfortunately, that fatigue may be the song's lasting legacy, though I suppose it still has the potential to make you reminisce about the good times: backyard barbecues, swimming pools, late nights with friends, etc.

9. Calvin Harris — "Summer"

CalvinHarrisVEVO on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 8

Why?: People are bound to connect to any song about summer lovin', but Calvin Harris' "Summer" does an especially good job of describing a "summer fling." Summer romances burn bright with intense emotion, but often fizzle out as the season begins to change (or so music, television, and movies would have you believe). I wouldn't be surprised if this song ends up triggering some vivid relationship memories for a lot of people.

8. DJ Snake & Lil Jon — "Turn Down For What"

DJSnakeVEVO on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 7

Why?: In a relatively short amount of time, the phrase, "Turn down for what?" has made its way into our collective cultural lexicon. Whether you rocked out to the song while you were getting ready to go out or busted a move to it on a crowded dance floor, DJ Snake & Lil Jon's "Turn Down For What" has some serious memory-making potential when it comes to summertime partying.

7. Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dogg — "Wiggle"

Jason Derulo on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 3

Why?: I don't know that Jason Derulo's collaboration with Snoop Dogg, "Wiggle," has enough emotional weight to it in order to really help people create memories. It's kind of just a throwaway dance track about shaking your butt. Still, there will certainly be those who remember losing their minds to this song in the club.

6. John Legend — "All of Me"

johnlegendVEVO on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 8

Why?: In the aforementioned FiveThirtyEight interview, Gary Trust, Billboard's Associate Director of Charts/Radio, noted that Songs of the Summer tend to be upbeat and "danceable." Generally speaking, I think he's right, but I also think that people can become really attached to sensitive love ballads, as well (especially ones as catchy as John Legend's "All of Me"). I bet if you took a poll of couples who started dating this summer, a number of them would cite "All of Me" as their official "song." There are lots of memories to be made with this one.

5. Sam Smith — "Stay With Me"

SamSmithWorldVEVO on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 9

Why?: True, Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" is neither upbeat nor danceable, but it's super emotional. Additionally, don't you know what happens after all of those spicy summer flings come to an end? Spicy summer breakups! We frequently look to music as a source of comfort in times of pain — I think it helps to know that someone out there has felt the same way as us at some point. "Stay With Me" is going to resonate with a lot of people who are missing their former baes.

4. Nico & Vinz — "Am I Wrong"

Nico & Vinz on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 5

Why?: I love Nico & Vinz's "Am I Wrong," and it's super catchy, but it lacks the powerful emotional oomph of other tracks on the chart like "All of Me" and "Stay With Me." Is it possible to create some great memories to this song while sipping drinks with friends on an outdoor patio somewhere? Absolutely. Will you remember "Am I Wrong" 20 years from now? I'm not exactly sure.

3. Magic! — "Rude"

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Memory-Making Potential: 4

Why?: I've just got a feeling in my bones that the fellas of Magic! are going to go down in history as one-hit wonders, and their breakthrough hit, "Rude," will largely be forgotten in a couple of years. I can't explain it, it's just a feeling that I have. Besides, lyrics like, "Why you gotta be so rude?/ Don't you know I'm human, too?" recall the kind of pathetic advice you might've received in elementary school about dealing with bullies. That is to say, they are rather limp and ineffective.

2. Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea — "Problem"

ArianaGrandeVevo on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 10

Why?: Ariana Grande's "Problem" combines the "get your ass on the dance floor!!!" attitude of "Wiggle" with the emotional punch of "Stay With Me," creating the perfect Song of the Summer. You just KNOW that a ton of people across the country are groovin' to this song during their morning commutes, cursing the name of an ex who has done them wrong.

1. Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX — "Fancy"

iggyazaleamusicVEVO on YouTube

Memory-Making Potential: 9

Why?: Just like "Turn Down For What," "Fancy" has made the line, "I'm so fancy..." happen in a MAJOR way. You hear people singing the song in line at the grocery store, and you've probably even quoted it a few times during casual conversation. I think "Fancy" lacks the emotional appeal of "Problem," which prevents it from earning a perfect 10, but it's been so pervasive this summer, I think you'd be hard pressed to not make at least a couple of memories that have this song as the soundtrack.

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