Music

What is this year's song of the summer? Here are 13 Canadian contenders

Give your playlist a boost with seasonal songs from Carly Rae Jepsen, Kaytranada, Fefe Dobson and more.

Give your playlist a boost with seasonal songs from Carly Rae Jepsen, Kaytranada, Fefe Dobson and more

A graphic consisting of Canadian artists Fefe Dobson, Kaytranada and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Fefe Dobson, Kaytranada and Carly Rae Jepsen all have contenders for song of the summer, according to CBC Music producers. (Graphic by CBC Music)

Defining the song of the summer is always an elusive task. As we start putting together our soundtracks for the upcoming season, we can't help but speculate about what tracks will rise above the fray. Whether it's a song that mimics a balmy beach day or an anthemic tune that has you belting out the lyrics on a late-night bike ride, a song of the summer means different things to different people. 

Only time will tell what track ultimately claims the lauded title, but in the meantime here are 13 Canadian contenders that CBC Music producers feel particularly strong about. 

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


'Attention,' Omah Lay, Justin Bieber

When this song dropped on March 4, the daytime high temperature in Montreal, where I live, was –4 C with a wind chill value of –11 C — admittedly not the worst winter weather, but I was definitely feeling the season's cumulative effect. "Attention" was a balm for my winter-weary soul. Justin Bieber sounds relaxed and right at home as he sings the opening verse and chorus over a seductive Afropop beat and gently murmuring synthesizer. "Should I drink up, smoke up?/ Need some freedom, show me a little attention" — this hook grows on, rather than grabs you, and the song's energy never surges beyond a mellow simmer, perfect for the poolside and rooftop terrace scenarios that make summer so appealing. — Robert Rowat


'Western Wind,' Carly Rae Jepsen

"The violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affects the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuates its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are."

Joan Didion described Southern California's famously turbulent winds in her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem, joining a chorus of great American literaries who have devoted significant page space to musings on the erratic, hot gales. While Canadian pop artist and California transplant Carly Rae Jepsen hasn't addressed the winds until now, she has certainly spent a lot of time on "the edge" of her feelings toward the Golden State — her allegiance vacillating project to project.

With the sparkling, Rostam Batmanglij-produced "Western Winds," Jepsen's first single since 2020 and possibly her most realized yet, she appears to have landed blissfully in acceptance of the variegated, sun-steeped, bizarre anomaly that is California. "Coming in like a western wind, do you feel home from all directions?" is one of the best lyrics of the year so far, and an astute question within an era that has many people reimagining what home can look like. The truth is, in a state connected by frenetic freeways but bordered by vast ocean, forests and desert, just like the western winds, you never really know what you're going to get — but there's a home for everyone in the unknown. — Jess Huddleston


'Fckn in Love,' Fefe Dobson

I missed the Fefe Dobson train when it first passed through in the early 2000s, but I am happy to say this summer bop has me running to catch up. From the first 10 chugging bars into the chorus, "Fckn in Love" is pop-rock perfection that demands to be played loud. In fact, the track is the paradigm of what a song of the summer should be: catchy hooks, irresistible dancing compulsion, direct references to the sun and allusions to the sex we're all hoping to have. Finally, the song possesses the most important element: an anthemic chorus that you'll be singing along with before the song ends, while at the same time adding "Fckn in Love" to the top of your summer jams playlist. — Ben Aylsworth


'All Comes Crashing,' Metric

Metric's "All Comes Crashing," the lead single off their upcoming eighth studio album, Formentera, is a summer banger for all the babes with existential dread. For OG fans of the band, "All Comes Crashing" feels familiar, classic and fresh, giving the perfect mix of dance and doom. The sound brings you back, while the lyrics bring you forward. A true song of its time, and the perfect teaser ahead of Metric's North American tour, this song is one I'll be hitting repeat on all summer. — Ashley Catania


'The Lightning I & II,' Arcade Fire

Songs of the summer are often pop hits that are tailor made for the radio, but my pick this year doesn't necessarily fit that box. Split into two halves and totalling over five minutes, Arcade Fire's "The Lightning I & II" are long and winding, building up to a climactic burst of anthemic rock energy at the end. But where these two tracks do fit is on a festival stage. Imagine the euphoria of shouting along to the song's message of togetherness in a crowd with thousands of other fans on a balmy summer night. Those lucky enough to catch Arcade Fire headlining Montreal's Osheaga Music Festival will find this to be their reality come August; the rest of us will just be left fantasizing about this moment all summer long until the band's autumn tour kicks off. — Melody Lau


'Intimidated,' Kaytranada feat. H.E.R.

Kaytranada is adept at setting a mood. The Montreal producer understands how to fill three minutes and 30 seconds with tension, desire and promise. Every production is teeming with hyper-intense emotion — because music that makes you want to dance has to first make you feel, has to pull at the strings in the very core of your soul and make you come alive. 

"Intimidated" is one of the latest in a long list of songs by Kaytranada that are imbued with that certain magic. Although released in the cold of November, it hints at a summer fling. The immediacy, the endless possibility, the fact that time could run out when September rolls around — it's all there in American R&B singer H.E.R.'s lyrics: "Let's make the most of this before it's over." Her shimmering vocals meld with the ebbs and flows of Kaytranada's syncopated soul, funky bass and signature kick drums. The airier parts of the track are perfectly suited for lazy days spent under blue skies and then the groove kicks in and you're transported straight to a sweaty dance floor (potentially with the person you've been fantasizing about). "Don't overthink when you could be lovin' me," H.E.R. sings in the chorus. The line carries the sentiment that summer is fleeting, and a time when people may want to act on their impulses and intuition. "Intimidated" is all the permission you need. — Kelsey Adams


'Astum,' Zoon feat. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Anishinaabe musician Daniel Monkman, a.k.a. Zoon, creates dreamy, soothing soundscapes that are melodically bright and windswept. His new single, "Astum," featuring artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, is a must-listen for when your toes are firmly planted in the sun-kissed sand. Simpson, a Mississauga Nishnaabeg musician and author, has a voice that swirls together perfectly with Monkman's sombre sonic aesthetic. "Astum," from Zoon's upcoming EP Big Pharma, is set for release on June 21, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day. Expect an excellent bevy of heavyweight collaborators featuring Cadence Weapon, Michael Peter Olsen, Sunsetter and Jasmine Trails. — Krzysztof Pospieszynski


'Mirror,' Russell Louder

With "Mirror," Montreal's Russell Louder has just delivered a perfect summer dance-floor track. And while I'm unlikely to find myself on a Montreal dance floor anytime in the near future, that's perfectly OK; this has such a wildly satisfying blend of hypnotic beats and sweeping vocals that I don't need the wild lights or the super bass-heavy sound system of a club in order to lose myself in it. Clocking in at a paltry three minutes, "Mirror" moves forward quickly, consistently layering in new elements all while allowing Louder's vocals to radiate throughout. This dedication to ensuring Louder's voice is at the forefront of the music, not hidden behind a wall of overblown production, is what makes "Mirror" so very satisfying. I'll just dance in my kitchen. — Mark Macarthur


'Gossip,' Lisa LeBlanc

There is no better guitar-bass combo this year than on Lisa LeBlanc's disco-inspired banger "Gossip." That first riff will whip your head around, and every call-and-response between electric guitar and bass will have you dancing until LeBlanc sings "Gossip!" one final time. It's a standout single from the Acadian artist's recent and fourth album, Chiac Disco, and LeBlanc made a cheeky video to match: with cardboard sets and kids as adult customers, LeBlanc plays a server at Tim Hortons hungry for the hot goss. A saxophone solo and some horn flourishes really fill out the groove, making this song impossible to skip for a song-of-the-summer playlist. — Holly Gordon


'Like That,' Kalisway

Admittedly, "Like That" is a slow burn — it took me awhile to get into it but after hearing it on the highway, with the windows down, I couldn't stop myself from singing along the whole ride. Toronto R&B singer Kalisway incorporates funk with modern music, creating an amazing and infectiously grooving tune from start to finish. You can't help but bob and sing along to the earworm of a chorus — in the car, or however you happen to be moving. — James Tulloch


'Take Better Care of Your Woman,' Lydia Hol

My summer vibes? Sultry, soulful, "see ya!" And it's all thanks to Lydia Hol's golden breeze of a buh-bye, "Take Better Care of Your Woman." "Baby, how can you talk to your love that way/ and really expect her to stay," Hol sings, her voice meshing beautifully with backing vocalists Dawn Pemberton and Dani Fuentes. "Oh baby, how can you talk to your love that way/ and really think it's OK." The wave of horns and retro-soul feel of the song are the perfect complement for the song's deeper reading. In 2022, "take better care of your woman" feels like a general warning to a world that's rife with gendered violence, legal threats to bodily autonomy, transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny. But tuck all of that into a sweet, sunny, kiss-off of a song? Empowerment really is the perfect soundtrack to every summer. — Andrea Warner


'Don't Trip,' Aquakultre 

This vibey single is about reassuring your loved ones that the love you have for them is for real, that your trust in one another is so strong you don't have to worry about anything. It's a song about family, loyalty, community and the things that truly matter, from the Halifax singer's forthcoming album of the same name. Personally, it reminds me of Sunday dinner with my wife and kids, Friday night barbecues with my originals, and swimming and street ball on Saturday afternoons. — Jasen Laborde


'Sheets of Grey,' Ducks Ltd

Not all summer days can be sunny, right? Sheets of Grey is a fine example of what has become Ducks Ltd.'s specialty: jangling, sun-soaked arrangements juxtaposed with dreary, melancholic words. And boy, are these lyrics dark. The band sings: "Clearly worthless, a sense of purpose would keep the fear at bay." But this song is a reminder that some of our strongest summer memories are made when we're seeking a sense of purpose. Isn't it the grey that makes those brilliant days in the sunlight all the more meaningful? — Nathan Gill

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