It all comes down to this. We started with 16 songs of the summer, divided into two categories: fast & happy and slow & sad. From there, we cut down to eight. Then four, and as a result of that semi-final round, we have two minor titleholders: the winners of their respective stylistic categories. The reining fast & happy song of the summer, according to your votes, is Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Given its infectiousness and endurance, this one isn’t much of a surprise, though keep in mind that it beat out other favs like Robin S’s “Show Me Love,” Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” and, most recently, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” (that last battle was split like this: “Call Me Maybe” commanded 488 votes versus 256 for “Summertime”). Impressive!
On the slow & sad side, the Christmas song that was converted into the love theme of Pretty Woman, Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” from 1990 is the champ. It most recently beat Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” squeaking by with 57.48 percent of the votes (388 votes to 287). Truly incredible that a 33-year-old song could pull this off. Let this be a lesson that ageism, while insidious, is not unconquerable.
Now we come to the final round: a face-off between the happy & fast titan, “Call Me Maybe,” and the slow & sad winner, “It Must Have Been Love.” Remember, you’re not just voting for a song; you’re voting for a vibe. Voting ends Tuesday, August 22 at 12 pm. Make good decisions.
The Final Face-Off: Roxette - “It Must Have Been Love” (1990) vs. Carly Rae Jepsen - “Call Me Maybe” (2012)
Audra: I’m just shocked at the staying power of “It Must Have Been Love.”
Rich: I know. I didn’t even want to push for that one when we started compiling the 16 songs that would make this competition. It was on the long list, but I was like, “Oh, it’s probably too old.”
Audra: I was going to say, that’s one of our oldest songs.
Rich: The oldest. We started at 1990 specifically to accommodate. We were going to do a competition of summer songs of the past 30 years, but then to include “It Must Have Been Love,” we said, “Oh, we’ll just do from ‘90 on. I really didn’t think that people still even liked that song. I mean, I hoped they did, but it was kind of a lark to put that in.
Audra: Totally. I feel like the only times I hear that song now are in a dentist’s office waiting room or on soft rock radio stations whenever I’m back in Ohio and in the car with my parents.
Rich: For it to beat out “Rolling in the Deep” was really surprising. That song takes up much more cultural space currently.
Audra: Writ large too. We had some really solid, sad ballads.
Rich: Again, “We Belong Together,” I thought for sure that would be a huge contender. It was out in the first round. That said, I don’t know if “It Must Have Been Love” has a chance against “Call Me Maybe,” a clear frontrunner from Day 1.
Audra: But what’s so funny to me about “Call Me Maybe” is that it’s without a doubt one of Carly Rae Jepsen’s worst songs. It’s not good. And I love her. Everything positive that you could say about that song could also be derogatory. It’s simple, and just really unserious. As a huge fan of hers, I’m annoyed that it seems fewer people give her more thoughtful stuff—especially Emotion or The Loneliest Time—any love. Like there’s no ardent, mainstream passion for any of her other stuff. It’s just “Call Me Maybe.” I feel like she’s one of those people who will get her flowers like 20 years from now when a show like Stranger Things has like, I don’t know, “Psychedelic Switch” in an episode, and younger generations will be like, “Holy shit, who is that?” Like a Kate Bush moment.
Rich: I’m surprised “Call Me Maybe” beat out “Show Me Love” and “Summertime.” “Show Me Love” is one of the most enduring songs on the list, one that gets played and still elicits a huge response in the club.
Audra: No offense to our voters, but I’m thinking, “Who is voting here?” “Summertime” is the most quintessential feel-good summer hit. It’s literally in the title. “WAP” was another shocker. I didn’t think it would stick around until the end, but I also didn’t think it would get eliminated quite so quickly.
Rich: Well, it was up against “Summertime,” which as you pointed out is quintessential. But at the same time, I felt like if anything could beat “Summertime,” it was “WAP.” That’s why I thought it was a good early match.
Audra: It’s also not tied specifically to summer. “WAP” transcends seasons. It’s eternal. Two other surprise knockouts were “Umbrella” and “Crazy in Love.” That neither had enough staying power is insane.
Rich: I did think it was interesting that “Crazy in Love” knocked out “Umbrella” in the first round. I could see why one would pick “Crazy in Love” for summer, but to me, “Umbrella” is the classic. I feel like Beyoncé has like done better songs than “Crazy.”
Audra: And I agree.
Rich: Like 20 of them. And I don’t think Rihanna’s topped “Umbrella” in terms of that kind of pop moment that was just flawless. “Umbrella” is the kind of peak that you want to see from your icons. So now that it’s down to “Call Me Maybe” versus “It Must Have Been Love,” what do you think’s going to win?
Audra: It’s close. It’s closer than I thought it would be. Fifty-seven percent to sixty-five—that’s a difference of 100 votes...Okay, here’s what I want to win: “It Must Have Been Love.”
Rich: Me too.
Audra: What will probably win is “Call Me Maybe.”
Rich: That’s what I would assume.
Audra: But if it’s up to me, I would cast my vote for “It Must Have Been Love.”
Audra: As I said from the outset, I like a ballad in the summertime. The contrarian in me thinks it’s compelling not to make happy, uplifting music in a season when everyone is supposed to be happy and uplifted.
Rich: Yeah, me too. I just like the idea of a 33-year-old song winning, you know?
Audra: And a Christmas song at that!
Rich: It’s about as underdoggy as a No. 1 single can get. But ultimately, I think the game belongs to “Call Me Maybe.”
Audra: If that’s how it’s going to be, fine. But also anyone who votes for that: Please go listen to her other stuff. There are much better Carly Rae Jepsen songs than “Call Me Maybe.” Give that woman her flowers now. That’s my final word on that.