Singer Rihanna arrives for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (CFDA) at Lincoln Center in New York June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT FASHION)

For pop music enthusiasts, the annual argument over the song of the summer isn’t just a bunch of hot air. It’s a debate about how we experience music as a collective public during a season when music returns to its original audio format: the air.

Read my essay on why I think this summertime spat is so valuable. Then listen to David Malitz and I pontificate on a few of this year’s song of the summer contenders in our podcast below.