Summer 2012 was the season in which the perfectly constructed pop song struck back. Carly Rae Jepsen, fun., Gotye, and Ellie Goulding all climbed the US pop charts for the first time with brilliantly written songs.
Carly Rae Jepsen's breakthrough single was slowly building momentum until a home made video by Justin Bieber and friends became a tipping point for the song. It began charging up the charts and ultimately became the longest reigning #1 hit of 2012 so far spending nine weeks at the top. With a huge number of cover versions, including one by Sesame Street's Cookie Monster, the song has become an instant classic and Carly Rae Jepsen is now a household name.
Maroon 5 spent the summer of 2012 as the eternal bridesmaid. "Payphone" spent its first 15 weeks on the pop singles chart at either #2 or #3 but never hit the top. Spare your tears for the group however. "Payphone" is a huge multi-platinum success to follow up the group's biggest single of the their career, "Moves Like Jagger." Maroon 5 can make a strong argument that they are the world's biggest pop band of the moment.
Before "Call Me Maybe" came along, Australia's Gotye held the title for the longest reigning #1 hit of the year. "Somebody That I Used To Know" tumbled from the top of the chart after 8 weeks as summer opened, but the song never dropped out of the top 10 for the entire season. The song has to be considered a major contender for next winter's Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
How do you follow up a massive hit as big as "We Found Love?" You go right back to the well with the same producer, Scotland's Calvin Harris, and create another bracing dance floor smash that sounds perfect on summer pop radio. It is hard to imagine summer pop without Rihanna, and "Where Have You Been" fits nicely among her best hits.
This is the fifth summer in a row that Katy Perry has had at least one of the top 10 pop hits of the summer. "Wide Awake" is one of the two new singles included on her expanded re-release of the Teenage Dream album. It is Katy Perry's most recent recordings, and it is one of her best. The song is memorable and emotionally involving with an immaculate production.
The slow chart climber of the year award goes to Ellie Goulding. Her breakthrough hit "Lights" peaked at #2 by the end of the summer, and it took over seven months on the chart to get there. The timing seems perfect for the release of Ellie Goulding's second album Halcyon this fall.
fun. has shaken up both the alternative and rock songs charts with this debut hit and the follow up "Some Nights." No artist has had such immediate early success on the alternative chart since legends Green Day and Alanis Morissette. It may have taken a Super Bowl commercial and Glee's endorsement to get pop radio to take notice, but fun. have embraced the momentum and run with it on their own.
It is hard to tell if the success of One Direction is really heralding a new era of the boy band or they are simply a stand out pop group on their own. However you see it, the fact is this group of young men has electrified their tween audience creating momentum that just might allow them to stick around the pop stratosphere for awhile.