Lines are blurred between summer hits and pop disaster

Technology means never having to hear “Call Me Maybe.”

I think I have already written about how I was tricked into listening to this saccharine earworm of doom when a friend queued it up in his iPod so when the car started the chorus would go full blast into my unprotected ears. That’s some Guantanamo Bay-level torture stuff.

But I had done such a good job avoiding something I knew I would both hate and never be able to get out of my head. Whenever some insipid pop song emerges that everyone can’t stop talking about and at the same time can’t stop trying to scour from their brains, I immediately go into my pop-culture fallout shelter. No random scanning of the radio waves. No aimless flipping through channels. No clicking on unfamiliar YouTube videos or links. Total NORAD lockdown.

Things like satellite radio and DVR mean you never have to see or hear something you don’t want to. This applies to irritating commercials, shows and music. If I stay in the safe zones of nostalgic ’80s and ’90s music and comedy stations, I’ll be OK.

Thusly, I have no idea what a “My Humps” is. For all I know, it could be a “Sesame Street” song about camels who feel really good about themselves. And I’ve only read about Miley Cyrus’ chipmunk yodel on gossip blogs.

This year, I’m torn on whether to give in to the current hot hit of the summer. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke doesn’t seem to be created in some Disney laboratory where they grow pop stars in test tubes. I hear from dependable sources that it is actually quite enjoyable. Facebook friend consensus calls it a genuinely good song.

That’s the problem with filters. If you work to keep all the Ke$has and Backstreet Boys at bay, you may not let the pop culture surprises in. Last summer brought both “Call Me Maybe” and the more tolerable “We Are Young.” For every “MMMbop” and “Macarena” there’s a delightful hit from Mariah Carey, who seems to show up every summer.

Some Googling shows that the same summer that brought us “Achy Breaky Heart” (another Cyrus) also brought the prom-dance classic “End of the Road” and the always fun “Baby Got Back.” Imagine if you had Billy Ray Cyrus-blocking powers in the summer of 1992; you would never have known that life is a highway, and you wanna ride it all night long.

I saw an article today analyzing the importance of the hit song of the summer, both in terms of the pop culture canon and making money for record execs. To be sure, many summer hits are one-offs that should be cast into the briny deep, but once in awhile you get that tune that defines a certain time and place for you, like an episode of “The Wonder Years” or something.

I’ll give this “Blurred Lines” a day in court. But my Katy Perry alarm is going back on right after.

What are your favorite summer hits, from the ’60s to now? Share it with me at, or comment on this story at