STORY BY MORGAN MURASKI
Whether it was during lake lounging, the work grind or a road trip to nowhere, students everywhere were plugged into their favorite music this summer.
Well-known music publication Billboard.com states that there were two songs that battled for the top spot throughout most of the season: Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” and OMI’s “Cheerleader.” According to the site, both are undeniable successes, the former playing on the feeling of nostalgia and the latter on the carefree vibe that is commonly associated with summer.
But what truly makes something a “song of the summer?”
Drake University sophomore Parker Klyn said that there is a distinct pattern that has emerged over the last several years that characterizes mass music culture in the summer.
“Over the last three years, since about 2012 or so, every top song has been upbeat, off kilter and just a little bit different than the usual,” Klyn said.
Klyn, who hosts his own radio show on 94.1 The Dog and writes a music blog, has done his fair share of research that reaches back decades. He has identified a few trends in summer song selection that seem to defy the other changes that have occurred in mainstream culture. Referencing the 80s hit “Walking on Sunshine” and more, Klyn said that the songs we choose as our summer anthems haven’t really changed all that much.
“For a long time, we’ve gravitated toward upbeat summer music,” Klyn said. “The song can’t take itself too seriously, and is normally associated with fun.”
Drake Health Center Counselor Melissa Nord delivered her psychologically based opinion on what has created the unbreakable streak of fun summer music.
“Music is a way for us to connect with and release unconscious feelings,” Nord said. “It taps into both our personality and brain organization and therefore directly affects our mood.”
Nord said that, given this kind of logic, it makes sense that upbeat and easy listening songs are what people crave when the sun shines.
Associate Music Professor Sarah Plum also identified a characteristic of summer music, saying that it lacks lyrics and musicality that would turn off large populations of listeners.
“People pick music that reflects them,” Plum said. “What they do, who they hang with, what kind of clothes they wear. It divides people into categories.”
Plum said that the songs that avoid falling into those dividing ruts are those that we find the most attractive.
As important as musical analysis is, all three referenced the need for personal expression in music taste, emphasizing personality over society.
“Your song of summer is what fits with your own, personal definition of what summer is,” Klyn said. “You can make cookie cutter pop and maybe break the top 10 on Billboard, but we like our music to be relatable and changing, not static.”