As April was doing its best summer impression the past few days, I found myself harkening back to the summer months of yesteryear. Both Sam and I have spent many a summer attending and then working at a camp in Maine. Among my memories of camp are the smell of dew-laden baseball fields, the taste of mediocre macaroni and cheese (which Sam has accurately pointed out should be a side dish, not a main course) and, yes, the sound of overplayed radio songs.
There is one radio station in the surrounding area of camp that plays top 40 music. One. So if you want current music, you're stuck. Compare that to New York City, where we have Z100, Hot 97, Power 105, the new 92.3 station and several others. More to the point, nobody listens to the radio in NYC unless you listen in the shower (as I do). You listen to songs you download on your computer or on your iPod...or on your iPad (FYI: a review of the iPad will come in a post next week). At camp, you frequently have to drive vans on long trips and are essentially forced to choose between listening to this one current music station or neo-conservative Maine talk radio (the latter often wins out for at least part of the trips).
The current music station markets itself as playing top 40 music but what it really means is that it plays the same top song 40 times an hour. Last year, the song of choice was LoveGame by Lady Gaga. In 2006, it was Ridin' Dirty by Chamillionaire. In 1999, it was All Star by Smash Mouth. And in 1997, it was MmmBop by Hanson. The Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer can be of any number of genres as long as it meets a few criteria:
1. It has to have a catchy chorus. An absolute must.
2. It has to have a pace that allows 8 year old boys to sing the song, if not fully appreciate the lyrics. This song wouldn't be the Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer. Neither would this.
3. It has to start getting popular in New York in April/May, which gives the song a few months to make its way up to Maine. That means we are now entering peak Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer prediction time (I have my own prediction for this summer coming, just wait).
4. It can't be timeless. There is no Overplayed Radio song of the Summer that I have ever heard that I would want to listen to a year or two later, unless I wanted to bring up memories of camp vans. These songs are designed to be played out. They're like the tamogatchi craze -- you think they're the best until they die. Then you get a new one.
5. It has to have its own video on YouTube. Every song that has ever become the Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer has had its own music video.
So without further ado, I offer my prediction for Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer. My friend Brad, who is something of a pop rock junkie, told me about this song a few weeks ago. It hasn't hit the NYC radio waves yet but it's an even money bet that it will in the next few weeks. It meets all the aforementioned criteria. Critics will say the song is too slow to take the title of Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer, but I tell these critics to look no further than 2007's champion, a similarly-paced song from the same band. Besides, if you have a better prediction, pass it along as either a comment on this post or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I probably won't agree with you, but I'll hear you out.
Ladies and gentlemen, the early frontrunner for 2010 Overplayed Radio Song of the Summer:
Life After You by Daughtry