It's August, which means pop prognosticators have been obsessing for months over a crucial question: What is the Song of the Summer of 2015?
Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea's "Pretty Girls," perhaps? Sorry, that one flopped. Maroon 5's desperate "Summer's Gonna Hurt"? Nope, another dud. Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money"? Turns out vengeful violence isn't the escapism pop fans are looking for.
However, the 25-song summer playlist that follows - you can find a streaming Spotify version at philly.com/inthemix - does contain a clutch of hits that made it to the upper reaches of the Billboard charts.
If one track were to be crowned, it would have to be OMI's "Cheerleader," an out-of-left-field worldwide reggae pop smash from an artist who will surprise even more if he turns out to be more than a one-hit wonder.
More impressive success has come to Fetty Wap - the New Jersey rapper whose name, as one wag pointed out, sounds like a Star Wars character - along with two songs in the Top 10. Big hits are included, from predictable sources such as Made in America headliner the Weeknd and viral sensation Silento.
But this mix isn't a nonstop barrage of bangers. People get serious in the summer, too. Witness Canadian teen Alessia Cara's alienated "Here" - and the blend that moves among genres with fresh faces such as Hop Along and Vince Staples, as well as craggy goblins such as Keith Richards. Here's the music:
1. "Go," The Chemical Brothers with Q-Tip. The party gets started with these British electronica mainstays, with a stuttering beat tailor-made for the A Tribe Called Quest rapper.
2. "Lean On," Major Lazer & DJ Snake (featuring MO). Bouncy global hit by formerly Philadelphian producer Diplo with Frenchman DJ Snake and Danish singer MO. An EDM track that is also an actual song.
3. "Trap Queen," Fetty Wap. With this still-going-strong ode to a woman he trusts to cook his drugs, plus the hit "My Way" (not a Frank Sinatra cover), the Paterson, N.J., rapper born Willie Maxwell rules the season.
4. "Cheerleader," OMI. Jamaican singer Omar Pasley's gender politics are archaic. "She is always in my corner / Right there when I want her," he sings, referencing his "magic wand." It was originally released in 2012, but a remix by Felix Jaehn became a Euro smash, and it has been No. 1 for three weeks. Not brilliant, but ubiquitous.
5. "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party," Courtney Barnett. Aussie rocker Barnett expresses a mature perspective on this track from Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. "I wanna go out but I wanna stay home," she chants, diffidently. I know the feeling.
6. "Here," Alessia Cara. This 18-year-old Canadian songwriter is quite sure of herself in this impressive debut she calls "a song for all the antisocial, awkward, miserable partygoers of the world." Extra credit for sampling Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap II."
7. "Green & Gold," Lianne La Havas. The British jazz-folk-soul singer takes a moody look in the mirror on her second album, Blood, which makes it clear why Stevie Wonder and Prince are fans.
8. "Pretty Pimpin," Kurt Vile. Hirsute Philadelphia rocker also searches for the self in this enticing Neil Young-ish single from believe i'm goin' down. . ., due Sept. 25.
9. "what's normal anyway," Miguel. "I wanna feel like I belong," sings the Los Angeles genre-blender, pondering the cost of making art that expresses true individuality.
10. "L$D," A$AP Rocky. Pretty-face New York rapper implores the object of his affection to join him in "this hippie life" on this trippy slow-burner.
11. "Fatal Flaw," Titus Andronicus. Patrick Stickles raucously flaunts imperfections on the North Jersey-born band's new 29-song rock opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy.
12. "Horseshoe Crabs," Hop Along. A song named after the Jersey Shore's most beloved arthropods. What could be more summery? A standout on the Frances Quinlan-led Philly band's Painted Shut.
13. "Fan the Flames," Sheer Mag. Thin Lizzy-worthy 1970s rock riffage from fivesome fronted by Christina Halladay. Sorry, it's not on Spotify: Go to sheermag.bandcamp.com instead. On my Spotify playlist, I've given the spot to another Philly band: Waxahatchee's boppy "La Loose."
14. "R.I.C.O.," Meek Mill, featuring Drake. Before the Philly rapper accused his guest of not writing his own raps, this was but a highlight of Dreams Worth More Than Money. Now the song - in which the rappers fantasize about being indicted, like Rep. Chaka Fattah, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - has ignited the hip-hop beef of the summer.
15. "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd. Intense emotionalism from Made in America headliner Abel Tesfaye - though it's tough to take seriously after seeing Tom Cruise lip-sync to it on The Tonight Show.
16. "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," Silento. Viral video turned nonsensical pop hit from the 17-year-old Atlanta rapper. Do the Stanky Leg!
17. "Norf Norf," Vince Staples. The Long Beach, Calif., rapper impresses with a song with a funny title about the serious topic of tension between police and the black community.
18. "Alright," Kendrick Lamar. A statement of African American pride from Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. If you're making your own playlist on Apple Music, you can add "Bad Blood," the not-on-Spotify Taylor Swift anthem that features Lamar.
19. "Feelin' Ok," Best Coast. Lamar says his people are going to be all right, and fellow Southern Californian Bethany Cosentino is feeling pretty good, herself, on this surfside love song from California Nights.
20. "Random Name Generator," Wilco. Chugging rocker from Star Wars, the surprise album these dad-rock heroes made available free at wilcoworld.net last month.
21. "Trouble," Keith Richards. Bluesy riffage in the wheelhouse of the undying Rolling Stones guitarist, whose solo album, Crosseyed Heart, is due Sept. 18.
22. "24 Frames," Jason Isbell. The finely wrought Something More Than Free by the Alabama songwriter tops the Billboard country, folk, indie, and rock charts. This slide-guitar-stung track is an excellent intro.
23. "Silent Movies," Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear. Toe-tapper from Kansas City son-and-mother folk duo's Skeleton Crew, this puts Madisen Ward's baritone to winning use.
24. "Let It Happen," Tame Impala. This Zen disco track from Australian auteur Kevin Parker delivers a don't-sweat-the-details message from the new post-psychedelic Currents.
25. "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free," Nina Simone. This is the summer of Simone, thanks to the doc What Happened, Miss Simone?, as well as racial tension that has made the late pianist's music resonate. This definitive version of the spiritual standard closes the film, its accompanying tribute album, and this playlist.