This year brings a mix of hip-hop and alt-pop options that could potentially dominate the season. Contenders include big names like Selena Gomez, DJ Khaled and Shawn Mendes, with Justin Bieber popping up twice as a featured artist. Meanwhile, lesser-known artists like Starley and Kyle face off against a former One Direction member. And don’t sleep on Major Lazer or Future.
It’s a safe bet that you’ve already heard the hit that will rule the summer season. While it’s possible for a late-breaking jam to find its way to the front of the pack, the song of the summer has historically been around for at least a few weeks before it floats to the top. (In 2016, it was Drake’s “One Dance,” which came out in April. The year before that, OMI’s “Cheerleader” took the crown, a 2012 release with a 2014 remix.)
Here are the contenders for 2017’s song of the summer, for which TIME considered chart analysis, Spotify predictions and our all-important gut feelings.
Write to Raisa Bruner at email@example.com.
"Despacito (Remix)," Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
“Despacito” was already a global hit before Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi decided to add Justin Bieber to the fold — and asked him to sing in Spanish. The result is a remix that has vaulted to the front of summer playlists, layering its deeply danceable and inescapable Latin groove with the tried-and-true punch of a Bieber verse.
"I'm the One," DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
In “I’m the One,” DJ Khaled decided to host a happy-go-lucky pool party with his good friends Chance the Rapper, Quavo, Lil Wayne and… Justin Bieber. This is pure summer fare: all celebration and good vibes. The hottest names in rap (and pop) at the moment each get a chance to do their thing over a viscous beat, and the result is a song that oozes low-key pep.
"Bad Liar," Selena Gomez
"It Ain't Me," Kygo feat. Selena Gomez
“It Ain’t Me” has been out since February, but the down-tempo electro track from hit-making producer Kygo finds a soaring key that keeps it handily in contention. Gomez’s vocals are creatively chopped and layered to give it a pensive tone. Is this exactly what you want to jam out to on summer car rides? Yes, yes it is.
"There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back," Shawn Mendes
Canada’s other teen pop star export Shawn Mendes lets loose on “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” a rock-pop hybrid that dropped in April. It’s the kind of song with wide audience and genre appeal, thanks to the smart use of both electric guitar and a tropical house beat, both well-suited for warmer weather repeat playing.
"Strip That Down," Liam Payne feat. Quavo
Following hot on the heels of releases from his other One Direction bandmates, Liam Payne is marking out his own lane with this hip-hop debut. “Strip That Down” rolls off the back of a familiar (and undeniably catchy) beat, and gets an assist from of-the-moment rapper Quavo, but it’s Payne’s ear for melody — and the party-ready lyrics — that give this one its ultimate boost.
"iSpy," Kyle feat. Lil Yachty
California rapper Kyle sounds like he’s living his best life on “iSpy,” and it’s hard not to get into the groove alongside him. The infectiously upbeat track never takes itself too seriously, instead letting Kyle and his featured artist Lil Yachty get playful with both their lyrics and the fruity, unhurried beat.
"Call on Me (Ryan Riback Remix)," Starley
Like OMI’s “Cheerleader” before it, sometimes a good song just needs a solid remix to launch it into the stratosphere of streaming hits. “Call On Me” is exactly that kind of tune: its initial iteration was undeniably catchy, and the remixed version is unstoppable, which keeps Starley’s strong vocals and layers in an uplifting electronic punch. It’s an underdog in the song of the summer race, but a viable one.
"Know No Better," Major Lazer feat. Travis Scott, Camila Cabello and Quavo
Major Lazer — the DJ collective of Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Jillionaire — are masters of the summer smash. (Think: “Lean On,” “Cold Water.”) So their latest EP is stacked with island- and Latin-influenced records meant to soundtrack block parties and fill the floors at dance clubs. “Know No Better” pulls on the collective star power of guest artists Camila Cabello, Travis Scott and Quavo to amp up the track even further.
"Mask Off," Future
The song has already launched a viral social media challenge, and if the charts are any indication, it looks like “Mask Off” is sticking around for the summer. Future’s flute-heavy, minimalist tune is an immediate crowd-pleaser with the low-key energy that summer requires. It’s also a breath of fresh air — and about-face — from the tropical and electronic sounds that are so prevalent across pop. That difference might give it an extra boost.