2014 Contenders for Song of the Summer :: Under the Radar

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Jun 27, 2014

Editor's note: This is part two of a two part feature of the songs of the summer. Here, we explore songs that you won't hear on top 40 radio. You can read part one here.

It's that time of the year again. Now that the Grammys, Oscars and Tonys are over and RuPaul has crowned the next drag superstar, one of the biggest annual fights in pop culture is about to commence: The Battle for the Song of the Summer.

Last year saw Daft Punk's transcendent "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's catchy but insensitive ode to date rape, "Blurred Lines," both featuring and produced by Pharrell Williams, go head-to-head in an epic smoldering showdown. In 2012, there was a clear-cut winner: "Call Me Maybe" by Canadian sweetheart Carly Rae Jepsen, and in 2011 the goofy "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO took the world by storm.

By now, some of the likely contenders for Summer Jam 2014 have already worn their welcome, like the annoyingly catchy "Happy" by Pharrell. Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" and DJ Snake and Lil John's "Turn Down For What" will definitely get more play this summer. However, after spending several weeks on the Hot 100, DJs will soon pull back on their play and let the better songs shine this summer.

There are a few tracks readying to be the song to soundtrack your summer. But instead of simply listing the 10 most exciting jams, the songs here are broken up into two categories-songs that you're almost guaranteed to hear this summer, and ones you're going to want to put on your radar now.

Whether they'll be heard by millions or played by thousands on SoundCloud, all 10 tracks provide the perfect soundtrack for sunny days at the beach, breezy late-night drives, carefree pool parties and steamy club adventures.

Below are our under the radar songs:

Duke Dumont - "I Got U" featuring Jax Jones

You’re going to want a pina colada for this one. Within the first 20 seconds, U.K. producer Duke Dumont’s "I Got U" transports you to a tropical vacation. Steel drums glisten, beats thump, a child’s laugh is on a distant loop. With the help of fellow producer Jax Jones, Dumont mixes splashes of Whitney Houston’s "My Love is Your Love" with handclaps and airy synths that are so elegant that you can feel the warm Caribbean sun kiss the back of your neck. The deep house song was released in the dead cold month of January, but it’s perfect to guide your mental retreat, whether the temperature outside is below zero or above 80.

Doss - "The Way I Feel"

"The Way I Feel" is the debut single by the mysterious electro-pop artist Doss. The ethereal jam channels rave culture, booms with jungle beats and chugs along with drum ’n’ bass, conjuring up early ’90s club-bangers. But "The Way I Feel" isn’t as straightforward as you’d think - it carries a heavy dance beat while feeling weightless, and Doss’ airy vocals blend into the mix like whispers from a dream. "The Way I Feel" pulsates like the best trance song but gains its footing in the accessible pop-like structure, capturing a melody you’ll have on repeat this summer.

Todd Terje - "Delorean Dynamite"

Any cut from Norwegian DJ and producer Todd Terje’s debut album "It’s Album Time" could be a breakout summer song. But none of the tracks shimmer like the Balearic techno thrasher "Delorean Dynamite." Terje’s jet-set-outer-space-bachelor-pad-blissed-out jam takes one part "Miami Vice" theme, a dash of Italo disco, but mixes things up with deep brooding synths. "Delorean Dynamite" never lets go of its high energy, shuffling an array of funky bass riffs with glistening disco-ready sound effects that blast off into the stratosphere at 124 BPM. It’s as though the perfect summer cocktail was transformed into a seven-minute song.

MNEK - "Every Little Word"

MNEK, the moniker for artist Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike, is a super young (19) Grammy-nominated British producer who cut his teeth working with big acts like Kylie Minogue and U.K. girl groups the Saturdays and Little Mix. He’s now branching off on his own with "Every Little Word," a super-infections R&B banger. The neon-funk track has everything from handclaps, glowing samples and a xylophone. But MNEK’s soulful vocals steal the show; he is in total command throughout the cut, even when his voice is robotized through a vocoder.

Vic Mensa - "Down on My Luck"

Vic Mensa is relatively new on the hip-hop scene, but after being named as one of 12 artists in this year’s XXL freshman class, the Chicago rapper is aiming for a pop radio takeover. His single "Down on My Luck" is a quick-shooting critique on superficial Hollywood culture and the music business. The track’s house beats are a gateway for Mensa to sing about rolling one up, long drives and girl problems. Mensa’s flow is brilliant as he winks at Pharrell’s band N.E.R.D.’s drug-fueled single "Everyone Nose." Mensa is a rising star and though "Down on My Luck" may be a downtrodden cut, the singer comes off as confident and proud of the ultra-slick track where he bounces from verse to verse with agility.


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