Song of summer the year you graduated from high school

From doo-wop to disco and rock to rap, you can learn a great deal about the history of music from the songs of summer from the last 63 years. Throughout the decades, pop music has evolved through different genres, stars have risen and fallen, and new technology has led to radically different-sounding hits. Many songs of the summer share similar sounds, though: bright lyrical content, upbeat tempos, and warm instrumentals.

Of course, there's no national body that crowns the song of the summer. Stacker based this roundup on Billboard’s analysis of past years’ charts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Awarding 100 points to a song that charted at #1 for a week, and one point to a song that charted at #100, Billboard generated the following songs of the summer and their runners-up.

The list begins with one of three non-English entries and the most classical-inspired piece on the list and moves from there to rock ‘n' roll, Motown, classic rock, and folk-rock, all before hitting the ‘80s. As synths began to replace screeching electric guitars, pop stars like Madonna and Mariah Carey rose to prominence. The era of electropop had begun.

Then, in the mid-’90s, a shift began—the effects of which are still manipulating the charts to this day. Hip-hop had arrived in the nationwide consciousness, bringing new techniques like sampling and rapping to pop music. There isn't a more jarring transition on this list than going straight from Bryan Adams to Sir Mix-A-Lot. Though more traditional pop songs have found their way to the summer charts, the hip-hop takeover is still underway with the supremacy of artists like Drake, Lil Nas X, and DaBaby, who have topped the list in 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively.

Perhaps the next wave to take over the charts will come from another underground movement, and displace hip-hop the same way it displaced traditional pop itself. Maybe the future of music lies not in strict genres, but a blend of many elements. In any case, read on to remember which song was blasting out of car windows the year you finished high school, and don't forget to check out our curated playlist of all the winners.

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