Spotify has crowned Drake’s “In My Feelings” “song of the summer.”
The streaming service’s criterion is narrow. It simply goes to the song that was streamed the most between June 1 and Aug. 20. Drake’s Drakeiest song, which begins with his Drakeiest line (“Kiki, do you love me?”), racked up 393 million streams in that short 81-day span.
He had some help. 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.” 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 emo-romantic lyrics and 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. (The man was OK. He even appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”)
But does the song deserve the title? Here are some other contenders.
Childish Gambino, “This Is America”
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.
The Carters, “Apes**t”
Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s surprise record flew mostly under the radar, likely because it was released exclusively on Tidal, Jay-Z’s streaming service, which has only about 3 million active users to Spotify’s 70 million. YouTube is more populist, so the couple used it to drop a Ricky Saiz-directed video for “Apes**t,” which finds the couple gallivanting through the Louvre with a few dancers in nude bodysuits. The song has more than 108 million views. “In My Feelings” boasts about 7 million fewer.
The young rapper was fatally shot on June 18. His songs captured the attentions of millions when they were still free files on SoundCloud. Before he died, several of his songs and both of his albums had climbed up the charts. “Sad!” became the first posthumous No. 1 hit for a lead soloist since Notorious BIG’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. It’s a haunting, sorrowful ballad with lines such as “Suicide if you ever try to let go/I’m sad and low, yeah.”
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”
The rapper’s one of the sharpest in the game, which he (again) proved this year with an incredible album and scathing diss track. 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. Pop songs don’t tend to double as investigative journalism, but Pusha T’s did just that.