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Single Phile

single-phile: The Hits and Trends of Summer 2011

by Rachel Devitt

single-phile: The Hits and Trends of Summer 2011

About this playlist

Ah, summer. The season of beaches, bikinis and banging summer singles. A few weeks back, we gifted you with our massive mega-mix of past and present summer jams. But on this edition of single-phile, we take a look at the latest and greatest songs of this summer, and the seasonal trends that followed.

Sure, summer's got some perennial themes: hot girls, sweaty dancefloors, boozing and cruising. But each year also has its own particular pet topics. Sometimes the boys are pimpin', sometimes the girls are kissing girls, and sometimes it's all puppy love and new romance. This summer, the love songs are angsty and sensitive, with everyone from Travie McCoy to Lil Wayne waxing plaintive, poetic and, at times, even a little pathetic. Click through to find out more about this season's biggest trends, and listen to summer's hottest new singles!

Trend 1: Country Boys (and Girls) on the Pop Charts

Despite the music industry's oft-stringent genre boundaries, the pop world usually has a few country interlopers hanging around. But this summer, the charts are positively awash in good old boys and girls. Part of the trend has to do with country stars wisely homing in on summery themes, which know no boundaries, be they genre-based or geographical: pretty girls, dancing, summer nights, parties, the open road, tequila. And then there's Jason Aldean, whose hip-hop-infused, Ludacris-laden " Dirt Road Anthem" is hopping genre boundaries like they're picket fences. Plus, Americans love to get in touch with their rural roots over the summer particularly around the 4th of July, and even if we've never set foot on an actual dirt road.

Listen: Jason Aldean, "Dirt Road Anthem." Luke Bryan, " Country Girl (Shake It for Me)." Blake Shelton, " Honey Bee." The Band Perry, " If I Die Young" and " You Lie." Chris Young, " Tomorrow." Kenny Chesney, " You and Tequila." Eric Church, " Homeboy." Even Seether is referencing the trend (albeit with a darker, rocking edge) with " Country Song."

Trend 2: Sunny Sounds and Uplifting Messages

No better time than summer to start thinking positively, right? The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the beach is banging and life is good. And so Selena Gomez has swooped in to remind us how beautiful we are, Shania Twain's staging a comeback with a poppy pep talk, and Diego Torres, Ivete Sangalo and Choc Quib Town buoyantly remind us about the diverse riches that have been " Creo en America."

Examples: Selena Gomez and the Scene, " Who Says." Shania Twain, " Today Is Your Day." Diego Torres, Ivete Sangalo and Choc Quib Town, "Creo en America."

Trend Three: Dark Horses

Along with the country kids, a host of other surprising names have enjoyed some serious summer-pop success. You've got Cleveland (!) emcee YC working his way up from no-name status to ringtone notoriety to a blazing hot single that earned him a record deal. You've got underground Swedish electro-pop sensation Teddybears roping in big names like Cee-Lo and the B-52s. You've got a gospel singer ( Kirk Franklin) infiltrating the secular pop world. And then, of course, there's Adele, who has rocketed to the top with a single (or two) that doesn't sound like anything else anyone is doing.

Sub-Trend: Finally Hitting It Big?

This summer has also seen several talented stars who've never quite achieved their potential find success like never before. Nicki Minaj is enjoying one of her biggest singles yet. Kelly Rowland may finally have her day in the sun (and out from under Beyoncé's shadow). And even Nicole Scherzinger may finally deliver on that post- Pussycat solo career.

Listen: Nicki Minaj, " Super Bass." Kelly Rowland, " Motivation." Nicole Scherzinger, " Right There." Adele, " Rolling in the Deep." YC, " Racks." Teddybears, " Cho Cha." Kirk Franklin, " I Smile."

Trend Four: Dancefloor Debauchery

Well, this one's a pretty common summer theme: it is the season of barely dressed sweatiness, after all. But songs about losing yourself to the beat; getting into the groove; and wild, wasted, wonderful nights (and early mornings) at the club are especially prominent in this year's dance-happy pop scene.

Listen: Dev, " Fireball." Jennifer Lopez, " On the Floor." LMFAO, " Party Rock Anthem." Afrojack, " Take Over Control." Britney Spears, " Till the World Ends." Enrique Iglesias, " Dirty Dancer." Like, every single Pitbull and Ke$ha song.

Trend Five: Sweet-Talking Boys (and Girls) of Summer

Like we said above, sometimes summer sets the boys on the prowl. But many male artists seem to be taking up a different tack this summer, whether they're penning a "Love Letter" or looking for a main squeeze among all the "Pretty Girls." Romance is in the air, apparently, and while a few girls have taken a break from steaming up the dancefloor long enough to do some sweet-talking, it seems to be the boys who have it the worst.

Sub-Trend: Brokenhearted Boys

What is up with all the sensitive boys getting their hearts stomped on this summer? Coldplay are crying and Mike Posner is bitter, though neither of those are super-unusual examples. But even tween lothario Joe Jonas and the Gym Class Heroes are plaintive and pathos-ridden! Come on, ladies. Give 'em a break!

Listen: Coldplay, " Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall." Maroon 5, " Never Gonna Leave This Bed." Gym Class Heroes, " Stereo Hearts." Shwayze, " Love Letter." Iyaz, " Pretty Girls." Lil Wayne, " How to Love." Rihanna, " California King Bed."