Music

What is this year's song of the summer? Here are 11 Canadian contenders

Sunny songs to add to your playlist, including Justin Bieber, Kallitechnis, Tobi and more.

Sunny songs to add to your playlist, including Justin Bieber, Kallitechnis, Tobi and more

Who will have this year's song of the summer? From left: Kallitechnis, Justin Bieber, Sylo Nozra. (Kallitechnis/Facebook, Justin Bieber/YouTube, Sylo Nozra/Instagram; graphic by CBC)

It's that time of year again: the battle for song of the summer. 

As the world gradually starts returning to some semblance of normalcy — while many Canadian music festivals have opted to postpone for one more year, events south of the border in the U.S. are quickly taking shape — the soundtrack to our reunions will be crucial. What song will you play when you get to see and hug your friends and family for the first time? What will be the song that we'll all turn to when we're gathered at backyard barbecues, the beach or at the park?

Every year, a song becomes the anthem of the summer. In years past, Carly Rae Jepsen, Shawn Mendes and Drake have all come out victorious with smash hits. Who will it be this year?

Below, find our picks for this year's top Canadian contenders. 

Which Canadian song is your song of the summer? Let us know at @CBCMusic.


'Peaches,' Justin Bieber feat. Daniel Caesar, Giveon

The Canadian contenders for this year's song of the summer divide neatly into two camps: "Peaches" and all the rest. It really is in a class by itself. Named for the season's juiciest fruit and performed by a trio of equally juicy vocalists, "Peaches" perfectly soundtracks any summer activity that could benefit from a leisurely bounce, a nearly aggressively catchy chorus and rapturous, quasi-intoxicated lyrics. "Your kisses taste the sweetest with mine/ and I'll be right here with you 'til end of time," sings Giveon during his verse — the kind of lofty sentiment that warm weather and a few gin-and-juices bring readily to the surface. A bonus: if you tire of the original version (you won't), there's a marvelous remix featuring Usher, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. — Robert Rowat


'You,' Regard, Troye Sivan, Tate McRae 

Summer's rising temperatures can mess with our heads sometimes. It can put us in a daze and ramp up feverish thoughts. That's what makes Regard, Troye Sivan and Tate McRae's collaboration, "You," the perfect song for the season. A hazy synth-pop anthem, "You" basks in its obsession, with its singers badly hung up over relationships that didn't work out. "When I try to fall back, I fall back to you/ when I talk to my friends, I talk about you," Sivan and McRae unabashedly admit over a bouncing beat. Is it unhealthy to think about a breakup this much? Probably. But the sun is out, the weather is nice — may as well indulge a little, right? — Melody Lau 

 

'Don't Touch,' Tobi

"My song of the summer? 'Don't Touch!'" Tobi answered cheekily in the 2021 Junos media room. And can you blame him? His new track, produced by BadBadNotGood and fellow recent Juno winner Kaytranada, has the bounce of summer and a sweet promise of sweaty dance nights just on the tip of its tongue. Tobi's flawless rapping keeps everything moving until his singing slides in on the bridge, with a promise that he's not just here for fun and games: "For the minds who don't ever sleep/ I hope that tonight you get better dreams./ One time for the ones who are scared to love/ I hope one day you surrender all." "Don't Touch" is a song-of-the-summer contender with a beating, hopeful heart. — Holly Gordon


'California,' Blair Lee feat. Sylo Nozra

"California" makes me think of all the road trips I've ever been on. The subtle guitar riffs and drum beats play nicely with Blair Lee and Sylo Nozra's vocals, invoking this sense of nostalgia and adventure. The hypnotic chorus is so good when it repeats, it feels like a never-ending day in the warm sun. Lee is an up-and-coming musician from Toronto who caught CBC Music's attention earlier this year with her single "Lucifer," and on this song, she collaborates with Nozra, who's been blowing up on the Canadian R&B music scene. These are two artists you need to be paying attention to. — Myles Chiu 


'YSB,' Nimkish

A song of the summer doesn't usually get as deep as Nimkish's "YSB," but that's the genius of the track: the kick-it-glide-chill-and-repeat beat sounds carefree and breezy until you listen a little closer. "Young, sick, broke, I need healin'/ I got issues stacked to the ceiling," Nimkish sings, a brilliant line that's highly relatable but also deeply rooted in her experience as an Indigiqueer woman. "This song is about feeling like you can't get ahead, and specific issues that we as Indigenous women work through on a daily basis," Nimkish said in a press release. "Our generation has been left to deal with trauma and we are continually fighting for equity. It can feel exhausting to constantly try to be truly heard." — Andrea Warner


'What's it Gonna Be,' COTIS

Let's hear it for the underdog. You might be asking, "How on Earth can an artist with a handful of releases compete with 'Peaches'?" But I'm here to tell you that I've had this song looped on repeat far more frequently than Mr. Hailey Baldwin's. Rising Victoria pop force COTIS achieves effortless cool with "What's it Gonna Be," a scorching summer jam that cuts through the thick, sticky heat with a punchy beat and echoey riffs that scream out for a rolled-down window. A few seconds of COTIS's raspy, stream-of-consciousness warble and I guarantee you'll have this one locked and loaded for your next summer adventure. — Jess Huddleston


'Getaway,' Vincint feat. Tegan and Sara

"Peaches" may whet an appetite, but in summer — especially this summer — we need to quench our thirst.  And "Getaway" by Vincint, featuring Tegan and Sara, is going to be the soundtrack to get at it. "Getaway" celebrates the things so many have missed out on this past year: escaping the day-to-day, physical contact and, of course, new love.  Vincint's song structure for "Getaway" follows the arc of said new love, starting quietly, breathy and yearning, but then builds to fall end over end into a chorus of celebration — as if the song itself is exploding with the same feeling. It's hard not to get swept away by that raw emotion paired with lyrics tapping into the experience: "I know that you know me/ it's there when you hold me/ What a great escape." Remember that feeling, people? It's coming this summer to a heart near you! Make sure you don't miss it. — Ben Aylsworth


'Vision's,' Absolutely Free

When you discover a band, and they're everything you didn't know you were looking for — that is my kind of summer vibe. Filling that space this summer is Absolutely Free, a Toronto-based band made up of Mike Claxton, Matt King and Moshe Rozenberg, who used to make music together under the name DD/MM/YYYY. Their new music is a sonic delight of fast drums, scratchy guitars and glorious analogue synths. A masala of '60s psych rock and '80s electro pop, "Vision's" is quite the departure from the bandmates' previous musical offerings. What could go wrong? Nothing, Absolutely Nothing. — Krzysztof Pospieszyński


'Wake up, get Down,' Cupidon, Kallitechnis, Ric Wilson

Wake up, get down — really, life doesn't need to be more complicated than that when summer holidays hit. For this ode to the dance floor, Kallitechnis is backed by German duo Cupidon, which brings its chill-hop skills to the table, providing a throbbing beat and brilliant touches of vintage organ and punchy brass. Then, after hilariously clearing his throat, Ric Wilson launches into a crisply delivered rap verse that touches on discrimination ("I was born in the '90s/ but racist-ass views from the '60s try to bite me") before commenting on the danceable beat that enfolds him: "Are you stiff as a mannequin? You either join the wave or just damage it." — RR


'Zero Love,' Belly feat. Moneybagg 

Belly, a.k.a. Ahmad Balshe, drops the heat on this hip-hop summer jam. Leaning into his Palestinian-Arab heritage, the rapper seamlessly weaves in distorted Arabic vocal samples with hip-hop production. Set in the desert, the video features a line of dabke dancers (traditional Levantine folk dance) bound to get you amped up for the summer — or serve as the soundtrack to your next dabke TikTok dance challenge. — Vivian Tabar


'Love Potion,' Ralph 

If Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia was the soundtrack to your 2020, then let me introduce you to this year's irresistible disco jam: Ralph's "Love Potion." Featuring an addictive bass line, grooving rhythm guitar and a euphoric chorus, it's a vibrant dance number about a literal elixir the pop singer formulates to remind her partner just how sweet and loving she is. Whether you believe in magic concoctions or not, you can't deny that this track is a musical brew that will quench your thirst this summer. — ML

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