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How TikTok And Spotify Have Killed The "Song Of The Summer"

Consumer habits have changed, and with it the music industry – gone are the days when one hit song would define the sound of an entire summer. But why have we abandoned this iconic practice, and what has the race turned into in our modern day?

Photograph of a woman dancing the Macarena with a group of party-goers in Acapulco, Mexico.

March 9, 2003, Acapulco, Mexico; Party-goers dance the 'Macarena' in a group

Keith Dannemiller/ZUMA
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — More than 20 years have passed since Sonia and Selena released their hit song Yo Quiero Bailar, a tune that was destined to return in 2021 to top the Spanish charts once more. Despite its two decades of life, the hit came back to bars and clubs all over the country simply because the iconic "cuando llega el calor" (when the heat comes in) lyrics capture something in the season's spirit.

King África and "La Bomba" are also part of Spain's summery melodic history, just like other songs such as Las Ketchup's "Aserejé," Chayanne's "Torero," or Los del Río's "Macarena."

For decades, we have known exactly which song was the reigning chart-topper for the months of July and August, an unequivocal (and inescapable) cultural phenomenon. But this year, like the past couple of years, something has changed. Pedro del Corral, a music journalist, explains the phenomenon of the Song of the Summer, as we know it, is dead.

"It won't matter if it's the most popular singers contending," he said. "They still won't ever attain such a coveted title."

New sounds and moves

There are several reasons we can point to explain this decline. One of the main factors is that artists are seeking original-sounding production that allows them to stand out from the rest, distancing themselves from overly familiar formulas that often supply us with the big summer hit. "In other words, they no longer use catchy melodies and simplistic choruses."

Rather than being tailored for people to dance together, they're designed to go viral on TikTok.

Del Corral also explains that popular dances associated with songs have persisted, but evolved. Now, rather than being tailored for people to dance together, "they are designed to go viral on TikTok, instead of holding true to the charm they've been traditionally associated with."

The journalist emphasizes that it's also important to consider that the industry has changed, and until the emergence of Spotify, summer and Christmas were seen as big sales periods: "To boost the modest year-round sales, record labels would bet on a song to try and get a big hit that would get them featured in the Caribe Mix compilation and mentioned in Super Pop magazine.This was the quickest way to sell thousands of records and, of course, participate in events sponsored by local towns."

Photograph of \u200bAlan Duffy performing live as King Africa in Puerto del Rosario

Alan Duffy performing live as King Africa in Puerto del Rosario

Oscar Benito Fraile/Wikimedia

Spoiled for choice

The critic also points out that television played a significant role in the success of past hits: appearing on shows like "Noche de Fiesta" (Party Night) guaranteed you a massive audience that is nearly impossible to find nowadays.

"It guaranteed an intergenerational impact that the more individualistic and fragmented internet of today will hardly achieve," he explains. "The new technologies have not only changed the way music is consumed but also how it's presented to the world. That's why now, artists take great care in the material they release: it's their strongest card to reach the widest audience possible."

The Song of the Summer is a phenomenon we leave behind as a consequence of the evolving times. Del Corral concludes: "In the past, popular culture primarily consumed what appeared on radio and television, so choice was limited. Now we have access to the entire spectrum provided by streaming platforms. So when choice is infinite, we no longer act as a heterogeneous mass that can exclusively identify one song."

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Flexing Against Sexism: Meet The Women Bodybuilders Of Nepal

Women bodybuilders are rare in a society that prefers them thin, soft — and fully clothed. But with sports, gold-medal winners like Rajani Shrestha are helping inspire change.

Photograoph of four female bodybuilders holding their country's flags on stage.

Judges and attendees observe the 55th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship in Kathmandu

Yam Kumari Kandel/GPJ NEPAL
Yam Kumari Kandel

KATHMANDU — Rajani Shrestha exercises at a gym near Baneshwor Height, a neighborhood in Kathmandu, as she prepares for a major bodybuilding championship. As the 42-year-old lifts around 50 kilograms (110 pounds) in a deadlift, her veiny arms and neck muscles bulge out. A woman with “muscles like a man,” she says, is a very rare sight here.

The men bodybuilders in the club stare at her. “I don’t care what anyone says or does. I must win the competition anyway,” Shrestha says. As the day progresses, she is the only one left in the club. For Shrestha, there is no time to waste. On this August weekday, it’s only a month to go till the 55th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship.

In 2019, Shrestha won silver medals at the 12th South Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship, held in Kathmandu, and the 53rd Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship, in Batam, Indonesia. The National Sports Council also recognized her for excellence.

Shrestha does not fit the normative definition of an ideal woman in Nepal. In a society where a thin body is considered beautiful, women bodybuilders with brawny bodies are labeled “men” and are often the target of ridicule and derision.

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