It takes a hitmaker to know one — so who better than our panel of pop experts to predict which tracks will meet the hot 100 mercury this coming season?

By EW Staff
July 05, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nicki Minaj ”Starships”

”The way she approached rapping on this was really creative, and the way she styles on it is just flavorful. It has that global-anthem vibe.” Common (Rapper-Actor)

”I enjoyed the song, but to me it was more of a kickboxing class, angry-at-your-ex-boyfriend kind of thing. It’s almost a little too frantic to be a summer jam. Still, I give her props for being completely out there and not being afraid to do what she wants to do. It’s inspiring.” Ingrid Michaelson (Smart Songstress)

”I love this song. The first time I heard it, it kind of rattled my brain because of the odd arrangement. But now I turn it up. It’s my favorite Nicki song so far.” Ryan Tedder (Top 40 Maestro)

She’s really evolved. And she’s become so well-known vocally that she can afford to do different characters and voices in her songs and people still know that it’s her.” Jessie J (Pop Vixen)

fun. ”Some Nights”

”I love how he goes, ”I found a martyr in my bed.” The way he approaches the vocal track, the style of it, is really unique and clever. The song reminds me of something you might hear when you go to the theater — maybe The Lion King. And I like that.” Common

”Their songs are so anthemic, and they have this undercurrent of joy and empowerment. I just love harmonies. I’m a total geek.” Michaelson

”This track makes you think, and that’s what makes a great pop song — amazing melodies teamed with lyrics that have actual substance. Bring on more music from them!” Jessie J

Flo Rida ”Whistle”

”Any human being can remember a whistle melody, and this one’s easy — even though I’m not the best whistler. You know you’ll hear it in the Miami clubs.” Common

”I don’t think Flo Rida is actually talking about whistling here — it’s not exactly shrouded in mystery. But a well-placed whistle is always good.” Michaelson

”This is not my favorite song, honestly. I loved his last two singles; ”Whistle” not so much. It’s kinda cheesy.” Tedder

”I’m definitely a massive fan of the melody. I found myself humming along to this even though I’ve only heard it a few times.” Jessie J

One Direction ”One Thing”

”This reminds me of Backstreet Boys’ ”I Want It That Way.” It’s like the exact same song. This is totally this generation’s New Kids on the Block or Backstreet. Tons of tween-aged girls are going to have confusing feelings in their underparts about these guys.” Michaelson

”I know the youth of America will be eating this up this summer. I’m gonna get my 1D poster before the price goes up.” Tedder

”No one can deny that they’re the new boy band for this generation. And I really like that each of them get to show off what they can do vocally on this one.” Jessie J

Usher ”Scream”

”This made me think about how Michael Jackson could sing over any type of music and still bring soul to it. I think that’s what Usher’s done here. He’s bringing the sexiness to it for the ladies, too; he wanna make ’em scream.” Common

”The ”Ooh, baby baby/Ooh, baby baby,” that’s so catchy. I was like, ”Okay, that’s it, that’s the part that’s going to be stuck in my head forever.” He’s not trying to fool anyone. He’s saying, ”I’m a good lover, so get ready, girl, because it’s happening to you.” Michaelson

”I am a massive fan of [producer] Max Martin. If he wrote it, I probably like it — as is the case with this song. Time will tell if it grows on me like [Usher’s 2010 smash] ”DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.”” Tedder

Dierks Bentley ”5-1-5-0”

”This is some lighthearted fun. I like that he’s like, ”Look, girl, I like you so much that this is what I want,” even though he doesn’t even know her that well. I understand that!” Common

”It’s just a no-frills, windows-down, hot-summer-night type of song. You want to listen to it while you drive down a dirt road trying to run away from the police.” Michaelson

”This song had me from the first three seconds. The guitar lick is my favorite part of it — that and the line about Ozzy Osbourne. [”It’s like I got a first-class seat up on Ozzy’s train/It’s driving me insane.”] Only in country!” Tedder

”I really like the tone of this guy’s voice, and this track is a real marriage between country and pop music, which is great.” Jessie J

Wiz Khalifa ”Work Hard, Play Hard”

”I really enjoy this. Wiz brings a certain vibe — it’s free in a way that can appeal to rock kids, but it’s still hip-hop. He says some cool and clever stuff here.” Common

”I love the track, but I don’t love the song nearly as much. The track has swagger, but the lyrics just aren’t my bag.” Tedder

”I heard this song in L.A. before it got released, and the chorus is really catchy. Wiz has definitely got his own flow.” Jessie J

Rita Ora ”How We Do (Party)”

”People love songs about how hard they are going to party. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You know women are going to put this on while they’re getting ready to go out and talking about how much they’re going to drink. That’s what summer needs: more drunk girls!” Michaelson

”It’s kinda catchy, and it’s well written. But it’s just not really my personal taste.” Tedder

”She definitely can show off so many different sides of her vocals, from ”R.I.P.” to [No. 1 U.K. hit] ”Hot Right Now” to this. It’s really showing the versatility of her voice, and I like the verses.” Jessie J

Grouplove ”Tongue Tied”

”This is just a fun party song. It reminds me of being young, being reckless. It might come on the radio, you know, and you’d feel all right. Everything would feel pretty good.” Common

”This is a total summer-fun song. It reminds me of high school parties during summer vacation.” Michaelson