The final snow of the season is hopefully behind us. Grass is filling back in, great green patches on our lawns.
Spring is coming, and before we know it the music world will be embroiled in the perennial debate over which pop song will become the pop song, a.k.a. the song of the summer.
Every year, a single song is picked to be the song of the summer. Usually the champion is crowned for two reasons: it's played everywhere, and it just feels like summer. The song of the summer makes people feel good, and even if it's a bit tiresome to discuss at this point in music history, it's still a fun conversation about the songs we love and those we hate (ahem, "Blurred Lines").
But it's unbelievably unfair that we give summer so much attention when there are three whole other seasons just sitting there. Summer's enemy winter doesn't get its own song. Instead, of arguing about the song of the winter, we spend the season lying in our beds eating stale Thin Mints and cowering in the grip of terrible cold.
The time has come for this to change. Winter ended last week, even if Boston is still getting snow, and we now have complete chart data for the season.
That's right. It's time to name the SONG OF THE WINTER for 2015.
Our song of the winter must rule the charts
The song of the summer in 2014 was the completely ubiquitous "Fancy," Iggy Azalea's duet with Charli XCX. Billboard tracked the Hot 100 charts for 14 weeks beginning on June 7 and ending just after Labor Day last year. By holding the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for seven of those 14 weeks, "Fancy" blew away its competition. Magic's "Rude," the runner-up, never stood a chance.
According to Farmer's Almanac, the first day of this year's winter was December 21, 2014, and the last day was March 19, 2015. Thus, for this experiment we looked at the Billboard Hot 100 charts from December 20 through March 21.
Only seven songs made it into the top three slots during this 14-week period. They are:
- Taylor Swift's "Blank Space"
- Meghan Trainor's "All About that Bass"
- Hozier's "Take Me To Church"
- Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," featuring Bruno Mars
- Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud"
- Maroon 5's "Sugar"
- Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do"
Of those seven songs, only two spent any time in the top spot: "Blank Space" and "Uptown Funk"
Based on only this qualification... "Uptown Funk" crushes the competition, surprising precisely no one who listened to the radio at any point these last few months. The swinging hit spent nine weeks in the No. 1 slot and 13 total weeks in the top three. "Blank Space" spent only four weeks at No. 1 and seven total weeks in the top three. Swift dominated early winter, but fell off after the new year. Meanwhile, "Uptown Funk" continues to hold the top spot through the week of April 4.
The song of the winter must feel like winter
Ah, but isn't it a little weird to call a dance-happy song like "Uptown Funk" the song of the winter? If the song of the winter makes you dance too much, won't you slip on ice and fall? Probably!
Summer songs are notorious earworms. Everything about summer is exhausting. Every single day is the same — hot, sweaty, full of sun — so we're happy to take our summer songs as repetitive as a July full of 100-degree days. We want them to be as annoying and catchy as buzzing mosquitoes and itchy sunburns.
That's what made songs like 2012's "Call Me Maybe," 2013's "Blurred Lines," and "Fancy" such perfect songs of the summer. They were catchy and fun, but after 100 listens they became so annoyingly repetitive that we couldn't help but hate them.
To be fair, no song can be coined song of the summer, regardless of how summery it feels, if it doesn't chart in the top three. Thus, when determining the song of the winter, we must return to the list of seven songs from above.
Let's start by throwing out songs that spent three weeks or less in the top three: "All About that Bass," "Sugar," and "Love Me Like You Do." None of these songs is particularly wintry, anyway.
Finally, then, we come to the real question. What does winter sound like? Winter is a downbeat, difficult time, filled with emotion and sadness. The days are shorter and darker. Frost covers everything. It, too, is repetitive, but in a worn-out kind of way, not a grating, catchy way.
"Blank Space" can be thrown out immediately. Though it has its dark edges, it's far too upbeat and passionate for song of the winter. We'll also cross out "Uptown Funk." If any song feels like the warm sun, it's this one. And that's certainly not how winter feels.
That leaves us with just "Thinking Out Loud" and "Take Me to Church."
Based on only this qualification... "Take Me to Church" wins by a hair. "Thinking Out Loud" has the slow, melodic quality that seems like a sonic snowfall, but it's also just a little too happy. "Take Me to Church" is sad, yes, but it's also got that brilliantly dark chorus filled with enough ominous backing vocals to make you feel cold and frustrated at all the snow that isn't melting away.
The song of the winter is...
Who are we kidding? Chart dominance is chart dominance. When people think of the winter of 2015, they're going to hear Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars in their heads. No amount of feeling like winter is going to usurp nine weeks at number one.
Hats off to "Uptown Funk."
Girls, hit your hallelujah!