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10 Songs of the Summer That Never Were

How we prefer to remember our lazy days.

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    As a kid, I don’t remember hearing the phrase “song of the summer,” but it must come with a certain maturity, the need to define a season by a musical moment to make the inevitable nostalgia that much easier. And, as each of us has our own preferred palette of musical colors, this seasonal signifier will have a large degree of subjectivity. That said, there are also pop smash mega-hits, songs that become ubiquitous in a way that, in retrospect, made them the capital S “Song of the Summer” in an overarching sort of way.

    There’s some potential crossover there, too, songs that by any sort of justice would’ve wound up qualifying for that crossover status but never got there, that just missed that echelon for some reason. Using Billboard‘s analysis of their own charts (in which they broke down chart position exclusively over the summer months) as a comparison point, we’ve listed some songs that by all rights could’ve (or perhaps should’ve) been the Song of the Summer.

    Of course, there are tons of options for each and every year, so add yours in the comment section below!

    –Adam Kivel
    Managing Editior

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    1991

    Billboard’s Song of the Summer: “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams

    Our Song of the Summer: “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.

    In one sense, R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” would seem the more obvious choice for topping the summer’s charts. It’s just so gosh darn happy! (Or at least it would seem to be at first listen, but more on that later.) And Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” just reeks of sincerity — and while we weren’t quite at Daria levels of cynicism, the world at large was starting to see the effects of the Simpsons and Seinfeld. But then Adams’ ballad landed on the soundtrack to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and a Costner film will get you to buy anything. But, looking back, Stipe’s almost mindlessly positive lyrics (zonked out on anti-depressants, perhaps, evidenced by the lines “Put it in your hands/ Take it, take it”), that memorable jangle, the handclaps, the assist from the B-52s’ Kate Pierson — it all adds up to the perfect sunny summer jam, delightfully breezy for those pre-jaded Quinn types and an ironic twist on top for those of us more of the elder Morgendorffer persuasion. –Adam Kivel

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