The conceit of The Summer Song has changed drastically in the past decade. It used to be fairly easy to determine which record was the season's most significant: whichever song got the most airplay. Now, with music being consumed in so many different ways, impressions are scattered, and our playlists are better off because of it.
This summer, there were good tunes everywhere you turned. After steadily raising his profile, 2 Chainz became a full-blown mainstream star. Kanye West got back to making solo songs, and still managed to kill a few guest verses in the process. Drake and Rick Ross maintained their status as hip-hop elite, and guys like Future and Juicy J experienced previously unexpected breakthroughs.
Rap certainly dominated the past few months, but there was great music from other genres, too. Three sisters from L.A. teamed up to form the most exciting indie band of the year, and no matter who you are, no one could escape that Carly Rae Jepsen song.
It's only mid-August, but for all intents and purposes, summer is over. You're already making Labor Day plans and there's a slim chance that any songs will come out in the next few weeks that trump the significance of the pack we've selected as this summer's greatest. The days are about to get shorter, and yes, it's depressing, but there isn't a better way to remember the past three months than with music. These are The 25 Best Songs of Summer 2012.