The race for 'Song of the Summer' has begun

Pop’s best vie for summer crown.

This season looks to be a doozy of a dash with most of the major names already eating dust from plucky, poppy up-and-comers – sorry, Katy Perry, but Iggy Azalea’s going to burst your big Birthday balloons.

Yes, superstar Usher is a leading contender, but beyond that, the field surprises with the absence of Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams and obvious past champs.

Good Kisser, Usher

JT, Mars and Robin Thicke conquered last summer by dipping their toes in retro soul. Usher cannonballs throwback cool with cowbell, claps, snaps and a falsetto straight outta Prince’s Sign O’ The Times.

Shot at the title: 1 in 5.

Fancy, Iggy Azalea featuring Charlie XCX

Supermodel looks paired with super swagger and beats modeled after Eminem and Gwen Stefani. And, ooh, that hook from English singer Charlie XCX is killer. 

Already a hit, the Aussie’s anthem will ratchet further up the charts in June.

Shot at the title: 1 in 5

Ain’t It Fun, Paramore

After Paramore’s bumpy road (two founding members left in a huff — or were they booted? — in 2010), the band finally finds a new and better sound. 

Hayley Williams adds sarcastic spunk to her teeny-bopper emo act on this still-sweet-as-candy retro rock tune. Dig that gospel breakdown!

Shot at the title: 1 in 7

Summer, Calvin Harris

What do Scots know about driving a Cabriolet to the Cape with the top down so the world can hear your summer pop crushes? Apparently, plenty. The dance producer’s tune sounds like every Avicii hit, but every Avicii hit is huge. 

Bonus points: The bravado to call your summer song Summer.

Shot at the title: 1 in 10

Am I Wrong, Nico & Vinz

Can the biggest song in Norway (already triple platinum) become the biggest song in the United States? The children of African immigrants, the duo finds a smooth, sweet and smart blend of old world music and Scandinavia’s electronic dance jams. 

Wait, does that sound like Ace Of Base meets Paul Simon? Because it’s more like Daft Punk meets The Police.

Shot at the title: 1 in 12

Beachin’, Jake Owen

Corona! Dayton! Sunshine! Tan lines! Koozie! It’s beach blanket bingo with country’s latest Jimmy Buffett-meets-Kid Rock flip-flopper. Yup, it’s been out six months, but Beachin’ is heating up like a cheeseburger on Buffett’s grill.

Shot at the title: 1 in 15

Star2’s pick 

Problem, Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea 

From honking saxophone to Big Sean’s whispered chorus, Problem is as infectious as it gets. Grande’s upper vocal is impressive; couple that with Azalea’s machine gun rapping skills, and this song is bound to get everyone on the dance floor. Gordon Kho

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