Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Taio Cruz may have beat fans into submission last summer with their monster radio hits “Teenage Dream,” “Alejandro,” and “Dynamite” – arguably three of the most over-played tracks of the season. But with Summer 2011 just kicking off, a new crew of artists are vying for Most Inescapable Song. Who better to predict what will reign this year than the pros who work at radio? SPIN caught up with some of the nation’s top programming directors and asked them to weigh in with their picks.
Tinie Tempah “Written in the Stars”
The British MC’s anthem (featuring Eric Turner delivering the track’s indelible hook) has been hovering in the Top 20 for the last month, peaking at No. 12. Says Bruce Warren of WXPN in Philadelphia: “It’s got all the signs of a summer home run. Like B.O.B, Tinie’s got some very slick mainstream moves and the right amount of oh-oh-ohs that sneak in the second chorus. Plus, there’s an uplifting universal message. And just enough of a guitar solo to appease the rockers, but it won’t turn off the Top 40 hip-hop crowd.”
Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
On this synth-y, psychedelic confection, the Los Angeles upstarts pick up where MGMT left off with “Kids.” “Programmers love this song: “We call this a secret weapon,” says Leslie Fram of New York’s 101.9 RXP. “The phones ring off the hook with requests when we play it and it’s getting a big buzz on all our social sites.”
Beastie Boys, “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win (feat. Santigold)”
One highlight from the New Yawkers’ comeback album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is this breezy, reggaed-out collab with Santigold. “It’s genre-bending goodness from the Lords of Fu,” says KCRW’s Chris Douridas. “Watch out for body slamming remixes to amp this one up mid-summer.”
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It”
The lead track from her smash album 21 was released late last year, but that doesn’t mean the British singer’s piano-powered ode to heartbreak can’t dominate this season, too. “It’s just all over the place right now, and is showing no signs of wear,” says Warren. Douridas, meanwhile, is banking on thudding, percussive burner “Rumor Has It” to blow up the airwaves. “It’s the best song yet from 21,” he says.
Death Cab for Cutie, “You Are a Tourist”
The Washington rockers’ seventh album Codes and Keys is their brightest, most uplifting collection of songs yet, particularly their lead single “You Are a Tourist.” “It’s four minutes of radiant positivity in an often dark and chaotic world,” says KCRW’s Jason Bentley. “Pure bliss for summer.”
Raphael Saadiq, “Radio”
The lead single from the ex-Tony! Toni! Tone singer is a wistful throwback to the Eisenhower era, with jangly R&B guitar riffs, hard-charging backbeat, and Saadiq making his best Little Richard moves. “He’s no stranger to success with his ’90s work in Tony! and a batch of Grammy nominations for his last solo album, The Way I See It,” says KCRW’s Eric J. Lawrence. “But his latest album, Stone Rollin’, is building the kind of momentum that will make “Radio,” a song tailor-made for broadcast, a summertime smash.”
The Cars, “Blue Tip”
Ric Ocasek and Co. ruled radio in the late-’70s and early-’80s with classics like “Just What I Needed” and “Shake It Up.” Lawrence thinks the New Wave vets deserve to dominate the dial with “Blue Tip,” from their new LP Move Like This. “If there were any justice in the world, they’d hit the same heights with their galloping track ‘Blue Tip,'” he says.
Young Knives, “Love My Name”
These U.K. indie-rockers are the dark horse contender for song of the summer, according to Lawrence. “‘Love My Name’ is my sleeper pick,” he says. “The song’s got sharp, cheeky riffs and glossy production, which seem the right combination to be pulsing from earbuds everywhere this season.”
LMFAO, “Party Rock Anthem”
Pop’s purveyors of Jersey Shore-ready electro-pop broke through with 2009’s “Shots” and they’re not changing course on this lead single from their second album Sorry for Party Rocking. “Our audience has reacted to it instantly and it’s one of our most requested songs,” says Sharon Dastur, programming director at Z100 in New York. “It’s pure summer, and is sure to be played at every beach party this season.” John Ivey, programming director at KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, agrees: “It’s a windows down, radio-on-full-blast kind of song. That’s what LMFAO are known for and they deliver again.”
DJ Khaled, “I’m On One (feat. Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross)”
Producer Khaled knows how to craft smashes for radio: He’s a DJ for WEDR in Miami, where this collaboration with heavy-hitters Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross is getting huge response in the clubs and on the airwaves. “It was the biggest record there over Memorial Day and we’ve already had up to 70 spins a week on it,” says Geespin, Assistant Program Director at Power 105 in New York. “It feels like a Drake record – he’s all over the hook – and this is more melodic than Khaled’s clubby stuff. I can imagine us not only playing this regularly through the summer, but all the way up through November.”