20 Years of Heated Hits: The Biggest Songs of the Summer Since 1999

Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” is leading the pact as its currently the biggest song of 2019. It’s also certified Diamond with 10 million pure sales, and the fifth-longest-running number one song ever in music history. Photo credit: Youtube

It’s no question that the summertime is the elite season for new music releases and an opportunity for artists to switch up their style. 

Vacation time, the occasional late night rendezvous, music festivals, and workout plans are a few activities we commit to during the warm days stretched from late June to September. However, and more importantly, it’s the tracks that accompany your ‘Hot Girl (or Boy) Summer’ or peaceful meditations by the beach. 

To backtrack within our recent generations, we’ve known artist like Drake, Cardi B, Katy Perry, or the Migos to bring us the catchy, chart-topping hits synchronized with the heat. It’s becoming even more important to secure that “Song of the Summer” within the new millennium, as it was to hold the most consecutive weeks at #1 back in the 90s. 

Therefore, we’ve decided to pull back from 20 years ago, up until our current talent running the industry for the summer songs that ruled each year and its impact moving forward.

1999

Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” & Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”

 

 

It’s the battle of the bands. Two of the most successful groups of the 21st century make it almost impossible to just choose one hit between the separate unions, so why not make it a fair share. Destiny’s Child had women putting their foot down, and recognizing their worth against men who have nothing to offer in The Writing’s on the Walls no.1 single “Bills, Bills, Bills.” The Backstreet Boys took a different approach, zeroing in on a strained relationship, with lyrics that are stated to have no real meaning according to member Kevin Richardson himself. However, the summer smash hit went on to go no.1 in over 25 countries, so it must’ve worked for some million or so listeners.

2000

Eminem “The Real Slim Shady”

 

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? One of Hip-Hop’s greatest gifts, Eminem, released this comical tune from his third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which would eventually become the lead single. Accompanied by an as humorous and animated music video to match, the song touched on Eminem deciphering between himself and alter ego Slim Shady, who he tries to escape from with exploring the not so serious side of who he truly is. “The Real Slim Shady” is catchy and remains current as its relevance succeeds just the title of a summer song.

2001

Destiny’s Child “Bootylicious”

 

Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this? Beyoncé can you handle this? I think we could all handle this summer song and beyond the season. Destiny’s Child are no strangers to producing some of the most memorable songs in music history, and we’re certain that every 2001 function had this blaring from the speakers as everyone shook what they mama gave em’ on the dancefloor. The color-coded music video has inspired other video visuals, Halloween costumes, and summer crop tops and flare pants to this day. This summer anthem of confidence and feeling beautiful in the skin you’re in title, even scored a spot in the Oxford English Dictionary. That’s what we like to call iconic.

2002

Nelly “Hot in Herre”

 

Nelly pulled from the sound of the 70s to create this literally hot record that has obviously aged like fine wine. Produced by the Neptunes, and from the 2002 album Nellyville, it’s almost impossible to not know this Grammy award-winning record word-for-word, reciting lines such as “I am getting so hot, I’m gonna take my clothes off” or  “I think my but getting big.” This was Nelly’s first song to go number one on the charts, and rightfully so as it would go on to be used in films and referenced greatly within pop culture.

2003

Beyoncé ft. JAY-Z “Crazy in Love”

 

A song that needs no introduction. A hit that sticks like grits. This was when Beyoncé asked us, “You ready?” and from that point on would hold the music industry firmly on her back. At the age of 21, and releasing her first mainstream solo single (replacing “Naughty GIrl”) to the world, the singer’s stamina, diamond encrusted tank with the matching shirt, Spring 2003 Versace dress, and a synchronized “Uh oh” dance solidified Beyonce’s spot as a force to be reckoned with. Accompanied by rap mogul and now husband of 11 years, Jay-Z, who effortlessly rode the beat, the single spent three weeks at no.1 on the Billboard Hot 100, earned two Grammys, and was named “Song of the Century” by Rolling Stone.

2004

Terror Squad ft. Fat Joe & Remy Ma “Lean Back”

 

If you were in your feelings this summer, you may have been invested in having Usher’s “Burn” or “Confessions Part II” on repeat. Meanwhile, the Bronx was getting their buggy on to its home group, Terror Squad’s “Lean Back.” Fat Joe and Remy Ma are the dynamic duo in this grimy Hip-Hop joint, which invented a dance we’re still rocking our shoulders to today.

2005

Mariah Carey “We Belong Together”

So far we’ve been rocking to a Hip-Hop and pop beat, but it’s time we slow it down a bit for the chart-topping, pen game queen herself, Ms.Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together.” From The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey’s highly anticipated 2005 comeback, this second single spent 14 weeks at #1 and was further proof that Mariah Carey is top three and she’s not three vocalists of all time. Yes, it may have been more slow and sweet than the expected song of the summer, but it’s Mariah Carey, inventor of hits no matter the season.

2006

Cassie “Me & U”

 

Cassie currently is set to become a married woman and mommy-to-be, but over 10 years ago she gave us the R&B gem “Me & U.” As Cassie’s introduction to the music industry, signed by Bad Boy Records, the pretty and petite new singer had all eyes on her from the simplicity of accompanying music video, and smooth and seductive choreography. The song has been sampled by a handful of artists and producers, and can be categorized in the collection of blueprints for electric dance R&B.

2007

Rihanna ft. JAY-Z “Umbrella”

 

BadGalRiri is and will always be a pop sensation who can deliver hits in her sleep. Although the businesswoman is currently building her empire, and fans are patiently (on the edge) waiting for new music, it’s the old records that keep the Fenty Beauty CEO on top. “Umbrella” is supported by a list of awards including a Grammy and two MTV Music Video Awards.

2008

Katy Perry “I Kissed A Girl”

 

Katy Perry is known for stepping outside the box and creating a lane of her own. From visuals to album rollouts, and touring, Perry emphasizes the theme of creativity and color to glorify her music. “I Kissed A Girl” describes experimenting and being comfortable in doing so, liking what you like and not caring about the thoughts of others; which actually describes the mood of summer perfectly. Whether Perry kissed a girl or not, audiences latched to the record as it sold over 4.7 million digital copies in the U.S. alone, and spent seven consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

2009

Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow”

 

Whether we want to admit it or not, the Black Eyed Peas birthed modern day EDM and did it justice. “Boom Boom Pow” was just a taste of what this legendary quad was capable of, and the beginning of their transition from rap to electro. The beat is contagious and dance break down is hard to resist, so it was best to have water on the sidelines because you were sure to break a sweat

2010

Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg “California Gurls”

 

Music is one thing that single-handedly brings people together, with the simple objective of making others feel good. That’s exactly what Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg did with “California Girls” from Perry’s incredibly successful third studio album, Teenage Dream. Perry stated the song was a response to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” that was strictly for those from New York. The vibrant, Candyland in paradise themed music video just added on more reasons to get into this catchy tune representing the girls of the golden state. The singer had the summer on lock anyway, being the first female to birth five number one singles from one album, a milestone lead by King of Pop, Micheal Jackson. “California Girls” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, spending six consecutive weeks at the top.

2011

LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock  “Party Rock Anthem”

 

Redfoo and Skyblu, better known as LMFAO, are pros at mastering the production of electronic dance tracks destined to get listeners into a nonstop groove. The duo took shuffling to a whole another level, adding an uptempo beat mixed with bubblegum rap lyrics that became more than just a party rock anthem, but one that would shake up the summer. The single was also the group’s first number one song on the charts, becoming the third best-selling digital song in U.S. history, and the music video gaining over one billion views on Youtube.

2012

G.O.O.D. Music “Mercy”

 

A Cruel Summer it was when this all-star track dropped, featuring G.O.O.D Music label founder Kanye West, partnered with Pusha T, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean. What makes this triple platinum-certified record fire, is the fact that each rapper held their own, incorporating different flows and unique wordplay into each of their verses. “Mercy’ also scored two Grammy nominations including Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

2013

Robin Thicke, T.I., Pharrell- “Blurred Lines” 

 

Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell teamed up for this questionably controversial song that created the conversation of the promotion of rape culture, non-consensual sexual activity, and sexism. Pharrell, who served as producer to the best selling song of 2013, denied the song’s meaning being about sex, and more so rejection. Universities across the country took into their own hands to ban the record for its objectifying and misogynistic lyrics. We’re allowed to enjoy music, but we also have the power to question the message so that it’s rightfully enjoyable for every audience. 

2014

 Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX “Fancy”

 

Girl power reigned supreme on this anthem spewing confidence and luxury. Australian and the UK joined forces, as Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX channeled 1995 teen romance, Clueless. From Azalea’s debut studio album, New Classic, “Fancy” intertwined the genres of Hip-Hop and pop, thanks to both artist different style, but ultimately centers itself into a bop made for dancing and feeling yourself. “Fancy” rose to success in the summer of 2014, topping year-end lists and securing that “Song of the Summer” title across multiple platforms.

2015

Omi “Cheerleader” (Felix Jaehn Remix)

 

Originally released in 2012 by Jamaican Soul artist, Omi, but revamped into a bigger hit in 2014 by producer, Felix Jaehn, “Cheerleader” is hands down one of the best songs meant for showing appreciation. Omi uses the lyrics to shed light on his lover, who he views as a cheerleader for how supportive and accepting she is of him. This global smash hit, mixed of tropical island vibes and brass and percussion, shot to the top of the charts because of its feel-good nature and positive message.

2016

Drake ft. Kyla & Wizkid “One Dance”

We’ve gotten used to Drake switching up his style, whether it be through his music or in his ever-changing accents. However, his dancehall “chune” “One Dance,” with Kyla and Wizkid, was not only the most streamed song of 2016, but it takes the #2 spot of the most streamed song in streaming history behind Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” Afrobeat, funk, pop, and R&B, all came together to create this slow-grind record guaranteed to get you that one dance.

2017

Cardi B “Bodak Yellow”

 

There are so many memorable lines and bars to use as Instagram captions from this song, it’s almost impossible for us to choose our favorite. Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” set pretty at #1 for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and she became the second female rapper to do that for a solo track after Lauryn Hill. This was part of the beginning for the Bronx rapper’s “Binderella Story,” being since the release of this hot summer single it’s only been up for Cardi B; hit after hit.

2018

Drake “In My Feelings”

 

Keke, do you love me? Are you riding? Well despite what Keke thought, whoever the mystery woman was, we were definitely in love and riding for Drake’s “In My Feelings.” The song spewed a viral phenomenon, calling itself the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, which was started by Instagram comedian, Shiggy (@theshiggyshow on Instagram). Participants would follow the instructed dance moves of the comedian’s original, reaching multiple celebrity faces jamming to the New Orleans’ bounce inspired tune, including Will Smith, Odell Beckham Jr., Ciara and Russel Wilson, Lala Anthony, Kevin Hart, and more.

2019, Predictions and Early Bids

 

The roster of runner ups for this year’s song of the summer is brewing, and we’re not even a month into the season yet. With new music dropping every Friday from artists scraped across every genre, it’s ultimately a waiting game to see who drops the next hit. For now, the recent union of rising newcomer, Lil Nas X, and country music veteran, Billy Ray Cyrus breaking barriers with the’ “Old Town Road” remix that’s become the fifth-longest-running no.1 ever, is still leading the pact for the biggest song of 2019. Challenge culture continued with Beyonce’s rendition to Maze and Frankie Beverly’s classic, “Before I Let Go,” a bonus track released from the queen’s Homecoming: The Live Album. Breakout Houston hot girl and rapper, Megan thee Stallion’s Fever, birthed fire tracks such as “Cash Sh*t” featuring Lil Baby, single ‘” Realer.” and “Simon Says” featuring and produced by Juicy J just to name a few. Other contenders like the new face of women empowerment and loving our whole selves Lizzo, the reunited Jonas Brothers, and Tyler the Creator also may come out as champ. 

Diamond Jones

Jr. Editor Lifestlye/Entertainment Department

Diamond Jones, 21, is a St.Louis native, born on the west side of Detroit. She is currently a junior, studying Journalism, with a minor in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her writing reaches to audiences everywhere, directing it toward the empowerement and excellence of black people and their accomplishments. She has written for The Daily Egyptian, LoveThisTrackTV, Georgia State’s The Signal and the National Association of Black Journalists, which she is a dedicated member of. She hopes to continue to inspire those through her words and make those who feel underrepresented, see their light.