Song of the Summer (So Far)

With the summer reaching the halfway point, it’s time we took a look at some of the best seasonal jams and eventually decide whose sonic cuisine reigns supreme. Things could very well change by September, but let’s take a look at the candidates so far.

Kenny Chesney –– “Out Last Night”

The obvious frontrunner. New York Magazine’s Vulture blog even gave it some love in their contest to find 2009’s official summer anthem. This one just works on so many levels. It’s about celebrating diversity. It’s about getting drunk and having sweet, sweet delusions of grandeur (“I was a doctor, a lawyer, a senator’s son/Brad Pitt’s brother and a man on the run”). It’s about Jager-fueled karaoke performances with heart behind them. But most of all, it’s about having fun with strangers who become your friends and not giving a good goddamn, because Kenny Chesney says so, and that’s just why it’s a perfect summer tune. We may be in a recession, but that doesn’t mean there has to be a fun shortage.

Dierks Bentley –– “Sideways”

This song topped this week’s Billboard “Hot Country Songs” list, the same list which revealed to me that Darius “Hootie” Rucker has a solo country album out. Nevertheless, this song is so hot right now –– a great crowd echo on the chorus and just the right amount of innuendo for a cheeky summer single. And the video, featuring a neon club setting and lots of slinky girls popping and locking, is surprisingly sexy for country, no?

Gloriana –– “Wild At Heart”

OK, so this song has technically been around in some way, shape or form since March, but it didn’t start getting love until the weather got warmer and iTunes made it a free download. The band, a fresh-faced quartet from Albany in the vein of Little Big Town, will be helping pack stadiums as a warm-up act for Rascal Flatts’s summer tour and filling the space with big, soulful harmonies. “Wild At Heart” is about being young, silly and in love and, since we’ve all been there, it’s a perfectly likeable summer song for driving around with Sonic cups and your sweetie riding shotgun.

Brad Paisley –– “Water”

Paisley’s latest album, American Saturday Night, is full of great summer beer-and-BBQ jams, including the title track (also about celebrating diversity––nice job on this, country music industry). But “Water” is the breezy beach tune, which gets points as with the Gloriana track because it’s actually about summer, and in particular the quintessentially country summer––ice-cold beers, rope swings, janky inflatable pools, all with the perfect amount of slide in the background.

Wilco –– “You Never Know”

The second single off Wilco (The Album) is our candidate from the alt-country department. This is the band at their poppiest, their most accessible and almost Tom Petty-esque, but no one’s complaining. From the bangin’ bar piano to Nels Cline’s interstellar guitar fuzz and the warm, almost Beach Boys-style harmonies, everything about “You Never Know” will grow on you like crabgrass on an unkempt lawn.

Keith Urban –– “Kiss A Girl”

Not an entirely new jam this summer, as with the Gloriana tune, but Keith’s little ditty just won’t go away. Its ubiquitousness alone gives it a spot on our list of candidates (and we like any chance to use the word “ubiquitousness”).

Toby Keith –– “American Ride”

This is the one the dude-bros will be driving around at 2 a.m. blasting through their pickups’ already-blown speakers. It’s a muscular, overly patriotic, typical Toby Keith jam, this summer’s power play for sure. We defy you not to pump your fist on the chorus and hit the gas on the part where Toby growls “Look Ma! No hands!’ And the line about getting your rocks off to “Desperate Housewives” made us chuckle a little bit.

Granted, there’s a chance we left something out. Take our poll to name your favorite, or leave a comment here with your nominations for the Country Jam of the Summer.


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