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Do you love me?
By Travis M. Andrews September 07, 2018
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Lend ye ears! Spotify hath made a proclamation, and it is thus: Drake has hereby been duly crowned, as his song In My Feelings hath been adorned with that sought-after but elusive “song of the summer” title.
 
Such an absurdly arbitrary designation surely deserves the Queen’s English, until you take a closer look. The streaming service’s criterion for awarding the superlative is astoundingly narrow. It simply goes to the song that was streamed the most between June 1 and Aug.20. Drake’s Drake-iest song, which begins with his Drake-iest line (“Kiki, do you love me?”), racked up 393 million streams in that short 81-day span — so it got the label.
There are several factors that likely contributed to those streams that have nothing to do with the quality of In My Feelings. Nicki Minaj pointed as much out in her epic rant following the slightly disappointing performance of her album Queen, when she tweeted that “Spotify put Drake’s face on every playlist.”
 
She’s not wrong. In a first for Spotify, Drake’s music was so heavily promoted on the streaming service that, as Billboard noted: “His image was even used on playlists that did not feature his music — ‘Best of British,’ ‘Massive Dance Hits’ and ‘Happy Pop Hits’ among them.” The promotion proved a double-edged sword. He shattered streaming records with his album Scorpion, but Spotify was reportedly inundated with angry Drake-disliking patrons demanding refunds.
 
But what made this song, in particular, so popular? Its aforementioned Drake-iness — from its emo-romantic lyrics to its New Orleans bounce-inspired beat — certainly wormed its way into a few ears. But it truly took off when the chorus was transformed into a popular meme. Comedian Shiggy posted a video of himself dancing to the song, inspiring a viral dance challenge that overtook social media and (somehow) led to a Florida man being hit by a car.

So, sure, there’s certainly a convincing argument for the coronation of In My Feelings. But aside from being popular, what does the song mean, particularly in the politically fraught climate of 2018? And does it need to mean anything?
If its cultural impact amounts to nothing more than even more people making fun of the already constantly mocked Drake and a guy getting slammed by a vehicle, does it deserve the title? Particularly in a year that saw women — particularly women of colour — breaking barrier after barrier? Or a year that brought the music video back as a biting cultural criticism? Or one that saw the musical convergence of pop’s biggest stars?
Here are some other contenders that fit that mould.

Childish Gambino, This Is America
If we’re taking more than popularity into account, then Childish Gambino has a strong case for song of the summer. Just as the weather was growing balmy in May, the song arrived in a memorable Saturday Night Live performance and a more memorable music video on YouTube, which was immediately dissected.
 
The song was scathing enough, referencing police brutality and high-end brands with equal ease. But the Hiro Murai-directed video was a work of eviscerating art, packed with so many references to America’s everyday racism that a few views are required to notice them all.
 
Years ago, the idea of a song known for its video earning the crown might have seemed absurd, but those old rules were tossed out the window when Beyoncé released a visual album in 2016. Now, the video can be part and parcel of the song, and it’s certainly part of what made Childish Gambino’s record so important.

XXXTentacion, SAD!
The young rapper was monumentally famous when he was fatally shot on June 18. His songs — like his turbulent life — captured the attention of millions when they were still free files on SoundCloud. Before he died, several of his songs and both of his albums had already climbed up the charts.
 
SAD! became the first posthumous No 1 hit for a lead soloist since Notorious B.I.G.’s Mo Money Mo Problems in 1997. Within days of XXXTentacion’s death, the song skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard 100, from No 52 to No 1.

Cardi B, I Like It
Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy album, featuring smash hit Bodak Yellow, was released in April as an explosion. The Recording Industry Association of America certified the record gold within a day. But it was with her 2018 hit I Like It that Cardi broke a glass ceiling and became the first female rapper with two Billboard Hot 100 No 1s, and a song that’s still spinning long into the summer.

Pusha T, The Story of Adidon
If Drake’s going to win this thing, it’s vital to bring up Pusha T. The rapper’s one of the sharpest in the game, which he (again) proved this year with an incredible album and the most scathing diss track written since Nas’s Ether. While feuding with Drake, Pusha T dropped a song in which he (seemingly correctly) points out that Drake has a secret son he barely visits. And, on YouTube, in lieu of a video, there was simply a static (real) photo of Drake in blackface. Woof.
 
Was it the most popular track? Not really. But it exposed what was likely one of the biggest skeletons in Drake’s considerable closet. That’s an astonishing feat. Pop songs don’t tend to double as investigative journalism, but Pusha T’s done just that.
The Independent

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