“I think my personality is a little more coy rather than aggressive when it comes to love,” says Jepsen. “There are often times when you meet somebody, and there’s some chemistry, but you let it lie. . . . It’s scary to approach somebody.”
THE PARTY GIRL:
Rita Ora, “How We Do (Party)”
This 21-year-old British singer topped the U.K. charts in May with a vinegar-doused track called “R.I.P.,” but her entry to the summer jam sweepstakes is all sugar and caffeine. And a little liquor, too.
“When the sun sets baby, on the avenue / I get that drunk sex feeling, yeah, when I’m with you,” Ora sings on “How We Do (Party),” her first U.S. single. After the boozy refrain, she cribs a profane hook from a Notorious B.I.G. song whose title we can’t print here.
Funny how it all sounds so innocent. As an acoustic guitar strums inoffensively in the background, Ora sings about warding off her hangover by falling in love with the guy passed out on the floor. It’s sweetly disorienting — like a Ke$ha lyric trapped in a Miley Cyrus melody.
Jay-Z is into it. The hip-hop superstar signed Ora to his Roc Nation imprint back in 2009 and booked her to perform alongside Pearl Jam, Skrillex, Janelle Monae and others at “Made in America,” the marvelously motley music festival he’s hosting in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. By then it should be clear if “How We Do (Party)” has graduated to Song of The Summer status.
THE INESCAPABLE BOY BANDS:
The Wanted, “Glad You Came,” One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful”
Last summer, two British-Irish boy bands each released pop singles that made them seem as different as two British-Irish boy bands could be. A year later, across the Atlantic, those tunes have a lot in common. They’re impossible to avoid.
The Wanted, five singers assembled in 2009 after a mass audition, carry themselves more like a young man band than a boy band, thanks to “Glad You Came.” The song’s club-friendly beat helped it peak at No. 3 on Billboard, and its smart, understated melodies made these guys seem like they aspire to be more than just adorable.
One Direction, on the other hand, epitomizes adorable. Since finishing third on “X-Factor,” (England’s version of “American Idol”), the shaggy quintet has become ubiquitous, too. They turned down an invitation to perform at the White House Easter Egg Roll and accepted an invitation to sing on “Saturday Night Live,” where their performance of “What Makes You Beautiful” had all the charisma of a herd of deer in headlights. But the song itself remains an unimpeachable puppy love carpet bombing.
Icona Pop, “I Love It”
This vivacious Stockholm duo is currently living out of suitcases in London where the gigs have been steady and the crowds have been eager to shout along to “I Love It,” the most exhilarating 2 1
2 minutes of pop music released this year.
“I put your [things] into a bag and kicked it down the stairs,” the pair sing-shouts. “I crashed my car into the bridge! I don’t care! I love it!”
Drum machines thundering, synthesizers pealing, the song brilliantly distills the nihilistic ecstasy of a post-breakup freakout. “It’s about that point when you think, ‘It’s good for me to move on and I’m pretty awesome,’” says Caroline Hjelt, 24. She and Aino Jawo, 25, say they’re glad their empowerment anthem is making ripples on the American bandwidth. In their eyes, there’s never been a better time to be a wannabe pop star. “Now, it seems like everything is pop,” says Jawo. “We can mix all of these genres together and call it pop. I think that’s wonderful.”
They hope to join a lineage of Swedes dedicated to the craft — from Abba, to Roxette, to Ace of Base, to Robyn. “In Sweden, pop music is very respected,” says Hjelt. “Everyone listens to it, from my little sister to my grandma. It’s a very big part of Swedish culture.”
But that doesn’t mean the duo isn’t dreaming beyond Stockholm, the blogosphere and the summer of 2012.
Says Jawo: “We want to be the new Prince!”
Summer Songs, 2002-2011: Check our Chris Richards’ list of the best summer jams of the last decade, or listen to his Spotify playlist, above. Spotify is free, and you can sign up through Facebook. Some songs may contain inappropriate language.