Now, I know summer might be ending, but hear me out: Ariana Grande and Social House just released a new single, “Boyfriend,” and it deserves the title of song of the summer. Ever since its release, it has been blasting out of my speakers nonstop. It’s sultry, danceable and fun; pretty much everything that makes a song seasonal-bop-worthy. So please, just clear “Señorita” and “Old Town Road” out of your heads, and give me a minute to convince you that “Boyfriend” is, indeed, the song of the summer.
“Boyfriend” is a part of Social House’s debut EP, “Everything Changed,” which was released only a few days ago. For those unfamiliar with Social House, the duo consists of Michael “Mikey” Foster and Charles “Scootie” Anderson. Both have been close with Grande for a while, and even worked on her latest album, “thank u, next,” as producers and songwriters. Credited with crafting the bulk of her hit “7 rings,” the two skyrocketed into the public eye after its hit release in January, even garnering buzz about possible Grammy nominations.
After their success together, Grande invited Social House to open for her Sweetener World Tour (along with former Fifth Harmony member, Normani), and the three have been inseparable ever since. It came as no surprise, then, that they were named as collaborators on Grande’s summer single, which she had been teasing for months.
LOVE YOU!! 💛💙🖤❤️ https://t.co/uAzxmrbZPe
— Social House (@SocialHouseTC) August 9, 2019
Released in conjunction with an iconic music video, “Boyfriend” tells a classic story: You don’t really want to be with someone, but you definitely don’t want them to be with someone else either. The video is very tongue-in-cheek; Grande and Foster see each other flirt with other people, and then imagine themselves attacking said stranger in a jealous rage. And they go pretty far with it. Grande shoots a girl’s hand with cupid’s arrow and Foster rips a dude’s heart out of his chest, all while Anderson looks on with horror and confusion.
It ends with Grande and Foster sneaking off to a bathroom (that gets totally obliterated) to make out, making “Boyfriend” one of Grande’s steamiest videos yet. If that doesn’t scream summer fling (and, subsequently, song of the summer), I don’t know what does.
What really makes “Boyfriend” special is its songwriting and production. It is unique in a way that marks an end to the “thank u, next” era. While the artist’s fourth studio album, “Sweetener,” could be seen as a new direction for Grande — one that leans more toward R&B, like she had always discussed wanting to do — “thank u, next” seemed to back off from the momentum Grande had gained toward more soulful music. It was as if she was playing it safe, and returning to her roots: pop, with a little bit of trap. These were the roots that made her earlier songs hits. (And I’m not complaining about it, just stating the facts.)
With “Boyfriend,” Grande fuses her two sounds together. It has that classic pop drive that “thank u, next” gave us in abundance (thanks, in part, to Social House’s contributions to both), but it also has that smooth, almost lo-fi R&B feel delivered on “Sweetener.” Then you add Social House’s rap verses and boom! The result is the perfect blending of genres into one rule-breaking, spell-binding bop. Fans of both “Sweetener” and “thank u, next” can rejoice. How much more could you ask for in a song of the summer?
The only issue is that “Boyfriend” was released a little too late to be in the running for song of the summer. The coveted title is usually awarded (both in the mind of the general public and by a few actual award shows) to songs that come out at the beginning of the summer; they chart super well and end up on every pool party playlist for the next three months or so. Last year, it was “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin. In 2016, it was “Closer” by Halsey and The Chainsmokers. It’s those songs that play everywhere and end up driving you slightly insane, and by the end of the summer, you want to rip your hair out.
“Boyfriend” was an August release and just debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 this week (at No. 8, much lower than a usual song of the summer). Though Grande started teasing it almost immediately after unleashing “thank u, next” upon the world (can she take a break?), it took a long time to actually come out. Suddenly, the summer single we were all expecting ended up as more of a … back-to-school single? Somehow, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Because of this, “Boyfriend” stands little to no chance of rising any higher on the charts, being named song of the summer or, really, even going down in history as a highlight on Grande’s discography. It’s a fantastic song, but in the music industry, timing is everything, and even a gigantic artist like Grande, who recently showed the world that you can break the traditional pop album cycle and be successful, is not completely immune.
There will always be more singles and there will always be more summers, but this time around we will just have to be content handing over the title of song of the summer to Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, or Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. Those are very strange words to write (Billy Ray Cyrus? In 2019?), but they are still well-deserved, and I congratulate them.
However, to me, “Boyfriend” is this year’s song of the summer. It’s catchy, it’s breezy and it’s quite honestly iconic. (Now leave me alone while I eat a tub of ice cream, cry and write yet another article about my undying love for Ariana Grande.)