More than Magic: Behind Our 2018 Songs of Summer Predictions

If you’re looking to get a head start on the songs that will rock this summer’s hazy airwaves, there’s no need to consult a crystal ball. We used our own tarot cards, palm lines, constellations, and tea leaves to divine the season’s standouts.

Okay, not quite—but we do have a solid track record of predicting the most listened-to songs of summer, calling out hits like Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber, and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” remix, Drake’s “One Dance” and Calvin Harris’ “Summer”—all songs that have dominated summer streaming.

Magic aside, creating this list of summer crowd-pleasers is no easy task—we’re pulling a very select number of songs from thousands of options. There are plenty of factors to consider across a range of musical categories, so we consult Spotify’s own genre experts. Those genre experts span pop, hip-hop, latin, country, rock, and electronica, and they’re behind some of your favorite playlists, from RapCaviar and Hot Country to Today’s Top Hits. As music experts, they shine a light on exactly what’s trending.

Overall, predicting the Songs of Summer is a full a team effort. We look for:

  • Songs on an upward trajectory: Recent hits played more and more with no sign of slowing down are likely to carry that momentum into the summer.
  • Songs with strong engagement in key Spotify playlists: How well a song is doing in influential playlists (are listeners saving it and not skipping it?) gives us a good indication of hit potential.
  • Songs with strong chart performance: We can see how a track is performing in relation to all others through our charts – if it rises to the top, it will rise with the summer heat.
  • Songs with momentum driving them: If an artist is getting ready to tour, drop a new album, or if the song is highly anticipated, it’s more likely to command playlists.
  • Songs generating buzz: Is it making headlines for being the first of its kind, particularly relevant, or created by an up-and-coming artist? (Think Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.”) Those factors will probably continue to drive its success.
  • Songs that just sound like summer: Is it beach, poolside, or backyard-party-worthy? We know ‘em when we hear ‘em.
  • Songs that our gut tells us to go for: We go with our instincts. Some songs just have that inexplicable summer magic.

Historically, songs that end up being summer hits fall into a few of these categories. Last year, “Despacito – Remix” was the undisputed song of the summer, with more than 786 million streams during the summer months. According to Shanon Cook, Trends Expert at Spotify, “Despacito” was a rare find.

“‘Despacito’ was such an interesting song-of-the-summer story. Not only did the track have a summery – and saucy – reggaeton vibe, but it sustained itself as one of Spotify’s top-streamed global songs for about 10 weeks. And because it originated as a latin music track, ‘Despacito’ brought with it this wonderful cross-cultural narrative that got everyone talking.”

With these considerations in mind, we’ve conjured up this year’s song of the summer predictions, one of which we think will most likely be crowned The One when we reflect back in August (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

See for yourself:

According to Cook, this summer’s leading contenders fit easily into the top hits criteria, from Calvin Harris to Camila Cabello.

“Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’ screams summer jam, and it’s hard to overlook Calvin Harris’ ‘One Kiss’ as the dance-pop track that will be ubiquitous from now until August. Both are doing really well on our global chart at the moment. The brand new Camila Cabello-Pharrell Williams collaboration ‘Sangria Wine’ could really take off, and no doubt Drake will be soundtracking our summers with ‘Nice for What’ or a new release in the coming weeks.”

So get out your flip-flops, put on those sunglasses, and start summer early with our 2018 Songs of Summer playlist.