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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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No Male Doctors For Women Patients — Iran Doubles Down On Gender Segregation

Recovering from the shock of Iran's 2022 mass protests, the clerical regime has vigorously resumed its campaign to enforce Islamic hijab rules. But it is also pushing for gender segregation in big buildings like hospitals.

A veiled women walks by a red wall painted with dark blue bats in the center

A woman in a black chador walks past a mural painting along the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran

Rouzbeh Fouladi / ZUMA

Iran's deputy-chief prosecutor, Ghulam Abbas Turki, has instructed the country's health ministry to prevent male physicians from treating female patients, saying this is a violation of morals and the law.

Turki wrote in a letter published on Sept. 14 that men working in a technical and non-technical capacity in "certain clinics" were creating "problems and difficulties for respectable ladies and their families" and even causing them "emotional and psychological problems."

Article 290 of the country's criminal code is designed to address this, he wrote. A shortage of women's clinics like birthing centers, especially in provincial districts, is forcing women into hospitals with male staff, Turki wrote — therefore, the ministry must reorganize to ensure it had the necessary female staff, from specialists to GPs, technicians, anaesthetists and nurses, across the country.

Gender segregation was on the Islamic Republic's agenda almost as soon as it took power early in 1979, and it has since sought to implement it where it could. Most recently, following mass rioting in 2022 that was in part a revolt against the Iranian regime's forceful moralizing, the state has resumed efforts to enforce its hijab or public modesty and dress norms.

Last month, Armita Geravand, an Iranian teenage girl died after reports that she was accosted by officials on Tehran's Metro while not wearing a headscarf. Geravand's death comes after her being in a coma for weeks in Tehran and after the one-year anniversary of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini which sparked nationwide protests at the time.

Beyond the hijab crackdown, the regime is also now taking a step further with gender segregation.This was evident in a flurry of communiqués and instructions issued in past months to public bodies, including hospitals. More importantly, the parliamentary legal affairs committee has approved a 70-article Hijab and Modesty Bill (Layehe-ye hejab va efaf) the judiciary proposed to parliament in the spring of 2023.

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