top of page

How a Summer Anthem Catches Heat

Updated: Jun 5


Will a Tyla tune rule the summer?

It’s gonna be a hot summer. We tapped a panel of music experts to discuss which song(s) will sizzle from June to August.

UpRising: Why are summer anthems so culturally significant? Irie (Miami Heat DJ):

In the summer, you get to do things you couldn't do any other time of year—especially depending on where you live. Vacations, get-togethers, barbecues, hanging out with friends, road tripping. You look forward to summer, but then it's also like, “Yo, what are we banging?” Summer is a very special time for music. There’s always at least one song that emerges as that summer anthem. 

Bryan Michael-Cox (Songwriter/Producer/Senior Vice President of A&R at LVRN): Everybody feels uplifted. It's warm in most places. Kids are out of school, so they're defining their summertime moments. I could think of certain summers and songs that were so popular. Amerie’s “Why Don't We Fall in Love” sounded like the summer. It defined summer 2002.

Sowmya Krishnamurthy (Music Journalist/Author of Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion): A summer anthem has to encapsulate the best parts of summertime: going out to parties, being in the club, driving with the windows down, walking through the city. You might be wearing a sundress or shorts. It's all about that feeling, that aesthetic, that spirit of the summer. Summer is this very finite time. For three months, emotions are heightened, relationships are more passionate and interesting. People want to feel good. A song of the summer has to make you feel something.

In recent years, the title of “song of the summer” has felt less unanimous. Is that still a thing, or just something that people want to be a thing? 

Bryan Michael-Cox: I think a lot of that has to do with streaming services and people being able to pick their particular song of the summer versus back in the day [when] the [record] label would be like, "This is going to be the song of the summer," and that's how they laid out the marketing plan. Some songs stuck; some didn’t. Now it doesn't really work like that. People can make their own playlist. They can curate their own thing.

Sowmya Krishnamurthy: What used to be the song of the summer is now a soundtrack to the summer, and that's just reflective of the way we consume music. Before streaming, there would be one record that would just push through. If it was a hip-hop song, it would crossover into pop. There was usually a big-budget music video. Anytime you turned on the radio, it seemed to be playing, no matter what station. It was inescapable. [Now], if you talk to five different people, they will each give you a different song of the summer based upon their preferences. The idea of the song of the summer as this monolith can still exist, but the power dynamic is in the hands of fans now more than ever. In many ways, fans get to decide what the song of the summer is—if there even is one.

B. Cox, you’re responsible for several summer anthems over the years. Is it a deliberate choice to create a song to occupy that summer playlist space?

Bryan Michael-Cox: It's 50/50, man. A lot of times it just happens. [Jagged Edge’s] “Where the Party At” was extremely deliberate. We knew Jagged needed something upbeat. Something powerful. Something that pops. A song for outside. Me and Jermaine [Dupri] made the track. The first version of “Where the Party At” was a sample of “New York, New York” by Tha Dogg Pound and featured Dogg Pound; I produced it. Jermaine [thought] it was too slow, a little too gangsta. But the new track fit perfectly. Sometimes it works out that way. Sometimes it's a pure accident. You never know.

What songs do you believe will rule summer 2024?

Irie: No. 1 would be Shaboozy’s "A Bar Song (Tipsy)". It covers all summer celebratory [moments]. What makes it even more incredible is you have an African-American artist performing a song that is country [but] based on a previous hip-hop hit. Because of the nature of the record, I've now seen how it impacts and crosses over—the only other record I've seen do this is [Lil Nas X’s] “Old Town Road.” Beyoncé's country project is amazing, but they're not bumping it in the club. I can't [DJ] anything without somebody asking me for “A Bar Song.” Festivals, hip-hop clubs, EDM clubs; it's everywhere and still on the rise. I firmly believe that is the No. 1 candidate for song of the summer.

Bryan Michael-Cox: “Not Like Us” is definitely going to ride through the summer. Every time I play that song in any city, all of a sudden everybody thinks they're from the West Coast. People start C-walking. That shit is the craziest shit I've ever seen. It's something in that song that makes people go completely ballistic. There's so many quotables. As a DJ, I could cut the music and the crowd would [rap] along. That's a thing people need to be deliberate about when making a summer anthem. 

Irie: That's an unlikely one because it's not a celebratory song. It's not a song that makes you say, “Hold your glasses up. Cheers to life!” That's not really the theme of the song. People are singing it word-for-word. It was refreshing because it was a sound that—even for Mustard—was different. A West Coast banger has been missing for a bit. And it's come at the right time. It might not get the same level of commercial success as “A Bar Song,” but this thing's going to have dance floors moving the whole summer.

Sowmya Krishnamurthy: Tommy Richman's “Million Dollar Baby” is a great example of a song that really found its legs on TikTok. Very catchy. It's got that good feeling. I can see it starting to circulate more; expect to see it in TV shows, films, or commercials. Tommy is a burgeoning artist, so there’s an opportunity for a big remix. Fans want to feel like they had something to do with amplifying an artist or song versus the music business telling them to listen to it. I think he's being heralded as the people's champ, so I could see this song having a lot of traction this summer. 

Bryan Michael-Cox: Lucky Daye’s “HERicane” is one of those sleepers that's going to go. Tyla had “Water” last year; “Art” could absolutely be in that same category of what's going to blow. Gunna’s “One of Wun” is gonna go crazy. This new BossMan Dlow record “Talk My Shit” is gonna be something for the summer.  I'm curious to hear what Drake is cooking up. This summer's going to be jam-packed.

Bryan Michael-Cox has collaborated with artists like Usher, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Muni Long, and Aaliyah. He’s currently working with singer Jack Freeman, whose single “Undress” is getting a Jagged Edge-featured remix on June 14.

Irie’s 18th annual fundraiser, Irie Weekend, will take place in Miami from October 10-12, in support of underserved young people.

Sowmya Krishnamurthy’s book, Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion, is now available for purchase.


The UpRising newsletter is a mixtape for your mind filled with information that's intellectual and irreverent—no skips. Whether it's film, music, art, food or the culture full stop, UpRising will serve as the starting point to your deep dives.


Subsribe (newsletter)
bottom of page