When you’re making a bid for song of the summer this deep into the season, you can’t afford to be coy.
With the release of “Replay” earlier this week, Zendaya—a 16-year-old who has worked in the trenches at the Disney Channel and Dancing With the Stars, where she finished second this past season—has created a seamlessly self-promoting ode to putting a good song on repeat: She kicks the chorus off by singing, “I wanna put this song on replay/I can listen to it all day.”
But because every song that’s about a song is actually about infatuation, she has to tweak the lyrical conceit, making it, “I can listen to you all day…I’m so lost in your sound.” And it only works, of course, because the (non-metaphorical sound) of the song is so great, with breathy vocals and a slow-bubbling groove building to a chorus you only need to hear shouted once to make it seem like you’ve known it forever.
If something else seems vaguely familiar about Zendaya, it may be that she’s the second contestant to emerge in the Song of the Summer races, apparently fully-formed, from teen-TV land. Ariana Grande, the Nickelodeon star who just turned 20 last month, broke into the top 10 with “The Way,” a flirty single that borrows a hook from Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player” and features a verse from Mac Miller.
If Grande—a talented singer with Broadway credits—is filling in on the charts for Mariah Carey (whose sound hers has been compared to endlessly), then Zendaya’s holding edgy R&B down for Rihanna. And yes, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus should probably watch their backs.
More importantly, though, a hit-about-a-hit-about-a-boy by a fresh face with a fondness for adventurous beats is exactly the shot in the arm summer music needs. It’s garnered the requisite nearly-million YouTube views in its first few days of release. Watch it here:
I hope to see it fulfill its destiny by Labor Day, but I want to know what you think, readers — is this a potential second-half-of-summer smash? And if it’s not, what’s your pick?