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Changing habits make it tough to identify top summer songs

Friday - 8/1/2014, 10:51am  ET

WASHINGTON -- Summer is heating up and so is the music industry as several artists vie for the coveted "song of the summer" title.

This year, a handful of songs are topping the charts for radio play, online streaming and downloads including "Am I Wrong," by Nico & Vinz, "Rude" by MAGIC! and "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, according to FiveThirtyEightLife.

The winner so far is "Fancy," with "Rude" closing in as it continues to burn up the charts.

For a song to be "the song of the summer," it needs to dominate radio plays, online streams and downloads. So far, Azalea's song is ranking the best in those categories, according to FiveThirtyEightLife.

It's getting more difficult to define the "song of the summer" because there is a shift in the way people listen to music: onlin; through apps; and on the radio. The most interesting part is that the charts for all of them don't agree, FiveThirtyEightLife notes.

For example, the top three radio play songs include "Am I Wrong," "Rude," and "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith, respectively.

On Spotify streaming, the top songs are "Rude," "Fancy" and "Stay With Me."

Nielsen download numbers tell a different story with "Rude," "Dirt" by Florida George Line and "Stay With Me" at the top of the list.

Billboard does its own list of top summer songs based on data from radio, streaming and sales. The Billboard list puts "Fancy," "Problem" by Ariana Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea and "Rude" in the top three spots, respectively.

Radio may be the most valuable market to top, Gary Trust, Billboard's associate director of charts/radio, told FiveThirtyEightLife.

"While sales may come and go, while streaming may come and go for radio, once it finds a hit, it will play it quite a bit because it knows people like it," he said.

No matter which song classifies as the top summer jam, there's no doubting why people love it, says Tim Herbster, Clear Channel's vice president of special programming projects.

"It represents your entire summer the same way your class song represented your senior year in school. Memories become attached to the song that last forever," he said to FiveThirtyEightLife.

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