song of summer

Jason Derulo and Sage the Gemini Duke It Out for Song of Summer (and Jordin Sparks’s Heart)

This should be fun. Photo: Getty Images

After kicking her ex Jason Derulo to the curb and stepping her selfie game up, Jordin Sparks has a new man. His (stage) name is Sage the Gemini, and even if you think you don’t know him, you most likely do: He had a hit with 2013’s club banger “Gas Pedal” (yep, the one about grinding against a wall) and is featured on Flo Rida’s “G.D.F.R.,” which has been steadily climbing the charts for weeks. Now that his relationship with Sparks is Instagram official, he coincidentally has a new single out called “Good Thing,” featuring none other than Nick Jonas (who has apparently replaced Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke as hip-hop’s go-to white boy R&B crooner). It’s a slow-burning scorcher accompanied by a tropical-themed video, debuted today, perfectly timed for Memorial Day Weekend — better known as the unofficial start of the Song of Summer race.

But what’s Jason Derulo up to, you ask? Naturally, he also has new music coming out. “Want to Want Me,” the lead single from his upcoming fourth album, is currently sitting comfortably at No 6. on Billboard’s Hot 100. (Sage’s “Good Thing” has yet to chart, while “G.D.F.R.” is at No. 10.) And now he’s entered another song into the field, releasing “Broke,” featuring Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban, this week. Yes, Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban. But given Derulo is the kind of unpredictable pop star whose career jump-started with an Imogen Heap sample, of all things, we know he can pretty much pull off anything. The single works by replicating the same kind of country-minded pop as recent hits like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and Pitbull’s “Timber” — with a pinch of trap.

Aside from both having dated Jordin Sparks at one period in their lives, Jason Derulo and Sage the Gemini also share a common musical thread. Like Akon,, and Flo Rida before them, they each reappropriate pop music in ways that make rap (or a version of R&B, depending whom you ask) sound just safe enough for and accessible to the vanilla suburbs, a demographic historically essential to claiming that coveted Song of Summer title. Surprisingly, Sage may have the upper hand in this fight. On top of “Good Thing,” he’s also pushing another song, “Guantanamera,” featuring Trey Songz, which will likely appeal to black radio stations (an audience that doesn’t usually take Derulo seriously), setting him up for ideal chart positions in two major markets. So which of Jordin’s men will get bragging rights? Let the games begin!

Song of Summer: Jason Derulo vs. Sage the Gemini