Shut the door. Have a seat. It's September. With Labor Day having all but arrived and the calendar turned away from August, summertime is officially over. (Pause here for head shaking and teeth gnashing.) To celebrate this totally crappy turn of events, yours truly will be using the next few blog posts to fondly remember the summer of 2011.
First up, the music!
The biggest problem with pop music this summer was that there was no clear cut Song of the Summer. While 2010 had "California Gurls" and 2009 had "I Gotta Feeling," 2011 had... well, not much. Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" was great, but it felt like the fourth single from an album that gets released in January. (Her new single, "You and I," came out too late for summer consideration, but will likely kill during the next few months.) Ke$ha's "Blow" never reached ubiquity, despite being comically dirty and catchy; same with Rihanna's "S&M." The wonderful Adele had "Rolling in the Deep" on the top of the charts all summer, but — even accepting its awesomeness — would anyone want to roll down the street, windows open, blasting "Rolling in the Deep" for all the world to hear? Summer is supposed to be fun, not sorta depressing and vengeful. Late comers like "Stereo Hearts" and "Love on Top" (Beyonce 4eva!) are fantastic songs, but are reaching their peak now, when summer is in the books.
So! Not a stacked field. Because of that, two ditties ended up taking the proverbial summer pie (key lime, hopefully): LMAFO's absurd and stupid "Party Rock Anthem" and Katy Perry's absurd and stupid "Last Friday Night (TGIF)."
As you can see from the video, this song is all kinds of bad; rarely has a one-hit wonder seemed so, so obvious. "Party Rock Anthem" will be played at Bar Mitzvahs twenty years from now, but that's probably about as much cultural permanence it will enjoy. Real talk: it wasn't until the last few weeks that I reluctantly succumbed to its charms ("charms") — following endless radio play on Z100 and 92.3 NOW, "Party Rock Anthem" deserves status as co-Song of the Summer, even if it isn't particularly good. This one is more memorable for its utter genericness, its Jock Jams appeal and that "every day I'm shuffling" part (which is ridiculous to the point of genius), than for any sort of awesome dominance. Top-40 radio, welcome to parity.
By all metrics, "Last Friday Night" is superior to "Party Rock Anthem." It's bad, too (in its own special Kitty Purry way), but this song is so catchy that resistance is indeed futile. Unfortunately, "Last Friday Night" wasn't a chart monster in the way that "California Gurls" was as a chart MONSTER, and when looking for the Song of the Summer, chart dominance counts for something; "LFN" (we're tight, so I can call it that) is a better song than "California Gurls" — and did hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 — but perhaps some KP fatigue has finally arrived. Either that, or the fact that "Last Friday Night' is the fortieth single from Teenage Dream, has some underwhelmed. Regardless, for me, this was summer's best — something which the multiple hundred plays "Last Friday Night" has gotten on my Spotify account can attest. Let's chant "T.G.I.F." together in celebration. (Just me?)
Christopher Rosen blogs at 42 Inch Television.