The calendar's got it all wrong: Summer doesn't start in the middle of June. Not Memorial Day weekend or the last day of school either. Summer really starts when all you hear are the same 10 songs on the radio, in the clubs, on the beach, and everywhere else somebody is making your music choices for you. Face it: The summer single is just as much a part of the season as screaming kids, mosquitoes, and sunburns — and often just as irritating.
We recently spent a few days listening to the radio and checking out online playlists to find out which songs you might as well get used to for the next three months. There were some we heard dozens of times that have already peaked and will probably hang around for another few weeks, but they'll likely be forgotten by the time we have the AC blasting — songs like Fun's "We Are Young," Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," and the boy-band hits "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction and the Wanted's "Glad You Came."
The songs below are just getting started, so get used to them. Because every time you lick an ice cream cone or crack open a beer this summer, they'll be there, just like those fat, pale, and shirtless dudes who really shouldn't go out dressed in public like that.
Justin Bieber: "Boyfriend"
The teen idol gets all Justin Timberlake on us with this seriously grown-up jam that wants to do more than just hold your hand.
Forecast: 80 percent chance of bringing sexy back.
B.o.B featuring Taylor Swift: "Both of Us"
The Atlanta rapper dominated airwaves two summers ago with the Hayley Williams-piloted "Airplanes," but this mopey retread never takes off.
Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of seriously mismatched artists.
Flo Rida featuring Sia: "Wild Ones"
You know the club-friendly rapper's style by now: pop hook, bouncy verse, repeat. He gets help this time from an Australian singer pinch-hitting for Rihanna.
Forecast: 90 straight days of the same old thing.
Calvin Harris: "Feel So Close"
The Scottish singer's electro-pop hit is all handclaps and distorted synths streaking across the landscape.
Forecast: Watch out for the golf-ball-sized loops Harris drops throughout the song.
Carly Rae Jepsen: "Call Me Maybe"
The Candian Idol star's U.S. debut got a boost from fan Bieber. Doesn't hurt that it sounds like prime Britney.
Forecast: A toxic amount of overplay is likely.
Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull: "Dance Again"
If any song is going to send us on a Summer of Sam-style killing spree, it will be this dance-floor anthem.
Forecast: 100 percent chance of irritating you.
Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa: "Payphone"
Club beats + AutoTune + weed-loving rapper = 2012's snooziest slice of faceless pop.
Forecast: You might want to bring a jacket. The song's manufactured chill might leave you cold.
Rihanna: "Where Have You Been"
At this point, we'll just assume that Rihanna will keep on churning out summer hits like this until she dies.
Forecast: Balmy with a slight chance of monotony.