Doja Cat and SZA’s song “Kiss Me More” has been one of 2021’s most inescapable tracks.

Jamal Peters/Courtesy of the artist


hide caption

toggle caption

Jamal Peters/Courtesy of the artist


Doja Cat and SZA’s song “Kiss Me More” has been one of 2021’s most inescapable tracks.

Jamal Peters/Courtesy of the artist

“Song of the Summer” may be an unofficial title — it’s not as if there’s a governing board somewhere that makes a formal determination — but when you think of summers past, you know one when you hear it. It’s the song you couldn’t escape; the song that poured out of every open window and loudspeaker for months on end.

It’s easy to assess Songs of the Summer when the summers in question are long past: Even 2020, for all its lockdown-adjacent loneliness, had anthems like “WAP” and “Dynamite” and “Blinding Lights.” But in the moment, while the summer is underway, it can be hard to separate dominant songs from the din.

So we asked some NPR Music contributors to name their picks for 2021’s Song of the Summer. From the ubiquitous pop of Olivia Rodrigo to some surprises you’ll never see coming, listen to their picks.

NPR Music contributors in this episode: Anamaria Sayre, Sidney Madden, Tom Huizenga, Alex Ramos, Ann Powers, Anastasia Tsioulcas, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis, Nate Chinen, Lyndsey McKenna.

The audio was produced by Mike Katzif and edited by Jessica Reedy.