The Song of the Summer has been in a state of flux, with some declaring it is a dead and antiquated concept due to the growth of technology, streaming services and 24-hour non-stop music production, releases and consumption. However, I think perhaps the Song of the Summer has evolved to become the Earworm of the Summer. Earworms are memorable, catchy and damn near impossible to get out of one’s head, making them memorable, even if only for a short while. Better yet, multiple memorable earworms can exist at once, still keeping the doors open for the music industry to profit off of musical product. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the perfect candidate - “Kissing Strangers” by DNCE, featuring bad-ass bitch Nicki Minaj.
I never got into the Jonas Brothers, but even I could tell Nick Jonas was the actual talented one of the bunch, so I have to give props to Joe Jonas for refusing to let go of fame and continuing to make music. It was a much smarter move than the third Jonas, who did that reality TV show with his wife hoping to become the next Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. Joe formed the dance-rock bank DNCE in 2015 and through sheer luck and sacrifice to the musical voodoo gods, landed a hit with the non-sensical 2015 Earworm of the Summer, “Cake by the Ocean.”
“Kissing Strangers” is automatically better than “Cake” because it actually makes lyrical sense, and a little bit of Nicki goes a long way, even if her verse is pretty meh in comparison to the rest of her extensive discography. I will admit the song didn’t impress me the first time I listened to it, but after the second and third time, I felt my ears go “Oh? Ohhhhhhhhhh I like this!” and my brain go “Dammit, I’m screwed.” It’s going to be stuck in your head, burrowing in your ear as you’re walking to work, gasping on the treadmill, trying to fall asleep, and it’s not going away until you find another teeth-grinding earworm to replace it. That’s the mark of good, crafty, and manipulative music production. Its smooth 1970s funk-like production, ripped off of the vastly superior Mark Bronson/Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk,” goes down easy like White Russians while getting you out of your chair to bop along to the beat.
The simple, yet effective, subject matter of the song is another reason why it could become a particularly sticky summer earworm. It revels in the frustration, crappiness and stress of dating apps faced by, but not limited to, Millennials. EVERYONE can relate — dating apps are the WORST, especially for those who actually want to date rather than solely hook up. You scroll and swipe and Super Like through the masses, trying to weed out the crazies and douches and then when you do meet someone, nine times out of ten they are a disappointment in real life. And it’s worse for women, because we have to put up with nonexistent grammar, unsolicited dickpics, and straight up charming NICE TITTS WANA FUKK? ;) messages. All the while we users stumble around in the dark, wondering what’s wrong with us because everyone knows someone who found their one true love on Tinder or Bumble or Happn or Raya or whatever damn latest dating app that came out five seconds ago. Eventually you reach a nadir of “fuck it, I’m going to enjoy myself.” And well, it is summer, the season of love and summer romance — might as let go and enjoy kissing strangers….