Summer Song Week 5: The Summer Stealth Contender

I don’t think it’s going to be long now before somebody just gives the summer song battle to “Despacito.” It’s July. “Despacito” has more momentum than “I’m The One.” (It’s all relative, they’re No. 2 and 3 this week respectively; but “Despacito” is up +1167 spins and “I’m The One” is “only” +488 spins.) And if another song is going to explode into contention, it needs to be in the next few weeks. And today, anyway, the new summer contender pipeline is barely rumbling.

But don’t write off Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.” You don’t hear about it as much, but that song was the most obviously calibrated of the Summer Song of 2017 candidates. It’s also holding at No. 12 (in a tough patch of charts where it’s nevertheless +655 spins, according to Mediabase). “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” certainly has some calculation about it—it’s in the tradition of both “Can’t Feel My Face” and  “Can’t Stop the Feeling”—but it is also uptempo, fun, and sounds like a summer song. You can’t minimize that.

A few weeks ago, a friend messaged about the Summer Song coverage to date, urging me not to write off “I’m The One.” That song, he urged me, was a more broadly appealing, better all-ages record than “Despacito,” which he saw as being buoyed by its success in large markets. He also felt that “I’m The One” would find the momentum to go all summer.

Similarly, I think Mendes will go all summer and, at this rate, probably peak closer to Labor Day than the other two. If it indeed makes it to power, it seems like one of those “Dynamite” type songs that could linger forever. (“Mercy” and “Treat You Better” certainly lingered.) And somehow, it’s the song I’ve noticed most on the radio this week. So “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” is the winner of Summer Song Week 5.

So the count is now:

Week 1 – DJ Khaled, “I’m The One”

Week 2 – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “Despacito”

Week 3 – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “Despacito”

Week 4 – Drake, “Passionfruit” (because I was in a market where it was still very much a summer smash)

Week 5 – Shawn Mendes, “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back”

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Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

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