The Song of the Summer sweepstakes can be a drearily totalitarian affair — who’s to say your dog days weren’t defined by, for instance, that new Christopher Owens song? — but those who link the annual honorific to commercial success just got another likely contender. Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande and Jessie J have put their voices and somebody’s hands together for the clapping-filled “Bang Bang,” which also boasts a big collaboration behind the scenes: Swedish pop maestro Max Martin, along with co-producers Savan Kotecha and Ilya, who worked worked together on Grande’s “Problem” (Martin and Kotecha played roles in Grande’s “Break Free,” too).
With punchy retro-soul horns and near-constant putting together of palms, this one doesn’t stray far from other recent radio dominators such as Pharrell’s “Happy” — Al Shipley came up with the term “clapper” for these types of listener-applauding songs more than two years ago, and it’s still useful — but it’s hard to turn away from the expertly choreographed collision of personalities here. Jessie J and Grande might flaunt their powerful vibratos a bit too much, evoking the “Lady Marmalade” remake, but Nicki Minaj is in “full throttle,” “queen Nicki dominant” mode despite her recent meme misadventures. “Bang bang, there goes your heart … you need a bad girl to blow your mind,” booms the chorus, and it’s easy to imagine this ringing out of cars and bars well into American football season. (In the meantime, though, let’s also hear it for Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap,” a Song of Summer dark horse that doesn’t pile on handclaps.)
Listen below. “Bang Bang” is set for both the U.K. singer’s upcoming album and the deluxe edition of Grande’s forthcoming My Everything.