"Cruise," Florida Georgia Line, featuring Nelly
Nelly's summer anthem credentials were solidified all the way back in 2002 with "Hot in Herre." His unexpected remix of Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" lowers the cartoon-country level and adds a sharper beat, auto-tune, and a verse of his own. Somebody needs to drive us to the beach immediately.
"Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke, featuring Pharrell and T.I.
The Michael Jackson sample, that funky-funky beat, the soulful vocals of Robin Thicke, the unabashed cool of Pharrell and the swag of T.I. — all rolled up and rounded off with some saucy, saucy lyrics. If this ain't comin' out the speakers at your summer party, you're doing it wrong.
"Get Lucky," Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell
Pharrell again! He's too good at this! "Get Lucky" has a super-sweet-'70s vibe, is extraordinarily repetitive, and implores you to stay up 'til dawn because you're getting your sexy on. What about that doesn't scream "summer?"
"Bugatti," Ace Hood, featuring Future and Rick Ross
This song is so absurd, so overblown, so ridiculously money-hungry, and so serious about itself, that it instantly becomes hilarious. Consequently, it's enormously fun to listen to. The song may be impossible to hear without laughing at, but that phat beat is hard not to dance to at the same time.
"I Love It," Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
We know this hypercolor dance-pop riot has been around for months already, but "I Love It" is going to soundtrack summers for many years to come — and rightfully so. Even on the 100th listen, you still want to jump up and down like a 3-year-old high on birthday cake.
"Q.U.E.E.N," Janelle Monae, featuring Erykah Badu
Here, Ms. Monae and Madam Badu are breaking the rules, dancing alone late at night, and gettin' down. Monae's rap at the end is incendiary — and yeah, the booty don't lie. Go ahead and put some sass in your summer.
"Ashtrays and Heartbreaks," Snoop Lion, featuring Miley Cyrus
This is the guilty pleasure of the season. Miley and Snoop offer up a laid-back, weed-smoke-infused reggae base, with an oddly compelling chorus, providing us with a perfect beach bonfire soundtrack. Surprising.
"Can't Hold Us," Macklemore, featuring Ray Dalton
Truly, 2013 belongs to Macklemore. "Thrift Shop" would've soundtracked the summer if it hadn't dominated so hard at the start of the year. Thankfully, in its place, we've got another slice of insanely catchy, super-fast rap glory, with an earworm of a chorus. Brilliant.
"Differentology," Bunji Garlin, featuring Nigel Rojas
A distinctly ragga soca flavor, with dance undertones, a late-'80s-style piano refrain, Spanish guitar interludes, and a beat that just won't quit — Bunji Garlin is an artist from Trinidad and Tobago and "Differentology" has sunshine practically infused in it.
"#Beautiful," Mariah Carey, featuring Miguel
Sure, it's almost a ballad, but it's also got a great Motown-girl-group beat. Additionally, Miguel's low-key style helps to tone down Carey's vocal acrobatics and turns this into a perfect summer smooch song.