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DFW.com's Songs of Summer 2012

Posted 9:41am on Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012

They are the tunes you cannot escape -- no matter how hard you try -- at backyard barbecues, pool parties or family gatherings in the park.

They are the Songs of Summer.

Every year around this time, DFW.com determines the S.O.S, using its decidedly unscientific methods -- we take a long hard look at the Billboard Hot 100 and give the pop-rock stations a thorough once-over. We even surf the music-video channels, though most aren't showing actual music videos.

Through all that, we narrow our list down to the five songs that just won't leave us alone this summer -- the earworms of the warmer months.

You can thank us later for getting them lodged firmly in your head.

If by some chance you haven't heard one or more of these cuts, check out the Spotify playlist below, featuring 2012's songs of summer.

Carly Rae Jepsen, 'Call Me Maybe'

Give in to this 26-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, whose hit single, culled from her EP Curiosity, is naggingly memorable. (You'll be humming the chorus before you know it.) A featherweight ode to rolling the dice on love and slipping your number to the hottie in front of you, Call Me Maybe is ideal for blasting out of the sunroof on your way to the pool, singing along as though there's not a thing in the world to worry about.

Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa, 'Payphone'

Maroon 5's glossy Payphone, apart from paying tribute to a rapidly irrelevant technology, finds frontman Adam Levine once more lamenting the end of a relationship, but not before he fights tooth and nail to save it. A few clever turns of phrase elevate the clichés ("Even the sun sets in paradise") and helps mitigate Wiz Khalifa's truly head-scratching cameo (although the dude's goofy giggle before he begins rapping is endearing). Mainstream pop isn't always evil, as this zero-calorie indulgence proves.

Nicki Minaj, 'Starships'

Perhaps best known as the song that lit the fuse on a feud with popular, influential New York radio station Hot 97, this breezy, club-ready confection from one of the most gifted rappers in the game catapulted Minaj into the stratosphere. The chorus repeats so many times, it'll be tattooed on your cerebral cortex, but Starships features a beat you can't ignore and a video full of Minaj romping on a beach in a barely-there bikini. What more do you need in the summertime?

Katy Perry, 'Part of Me'

A perennial fixture on the Songs of Summer list, the newly unmarried Ms. Perry puts her perkiness on the shelf here and lashes out in a defiant broadside -- "You chewed me up and spit me out like I was poison in your mouth," she hisses. But even as she lifts herself up from the wreckage, Perry's song of self-empowerment is downright catchy. Why not sample a little as you work on your tan or mow the yard?

Justin Bieber, 'Boyfriend'

As much as it pains me to admit it, the Biebs' first concerted attempt at sounding like an adult isn't bad. A lot of that has to do with the Justin Timberlake-via-the Neptunes production he's working with (this track was produced by Mike Posner and Mason Levy), more so than the utterly inane lyrics ("I could be your Buzz Lightyear/Fly across the globe") and doofy insistence on whispering "swag" at every possible moment. Still, style counts for a lot in pop music these days, and Boyfriend has style to burn.

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