Songs of the Summer
June 10, 2017
The phrase is sprinkled across radio stations and music podcasts, the infamous competition to be “the song of the summer.” It’s a contest with no winner, but yet it’s queried for an entire season. It tries to accomplish an impossible feat, but can one song truly encompass the entire summer for everyone? The answer is obviously no. Not everyone has the same music tastes, and even if they did, not everyone has the same summer experience. One may be filled with fast beats and electronic jams that are ready to get up and go, ready to face the world. Others are more melancholy, a slow ode to unaccomplished hopes and wasted days. This post is dedicated to the current contenders but also the the ones of the past. Some years there are definite winners, and some years it’s more ambiguous. Nonetheless, these so-called songs of the summer are the ones that capture fleeting moments and emotions, ones that can’t be captured any other way.
Here are some of my personal candidates for song of the summer, but—who knows?—maybe the song I’m looking for doesn’t even exist yet. Luckily, there is plenty of time to decide.
“call the police” – LCD Soundsystem
Coming back after a long hiatus, LCD Soundsystem has delivered their best with two new tracks off of their upcoming album. The more upbeat of the two, “call the police” is a seven-minute journey of electronic and acoustic harmony. They also had a pretty great Saturday Night Live performance complete with weird dancing, which I sadly cannot find online.
“In Cold Blood” – alt-J
This is a song that truly begs to be your summer anthem, especially since it says the word “summer” so many times. Filled with horns and binary code, this odd but sing-along worthy song is a great contender for a summer filled with mayhem and madness.
“How to Boil an Egg” – Courtney Barnett
With her signature witty lyrics, Courtney Barnett’s one-off single is not only musically meritable, but it also includes her own artwork as the cover. While this song doesn’t actually entail a recipe for egg-boiling, it does discuss waiting for monotony to end, which is a hallmark of many summer experiences.
“1234” – Kevin Morby
Dedicated to the artist’s childhood punk heroes, The Ramones, this song is a homage to their fast jangly guitars that got even faster and janglier when they were performing live. The fun and upbeat tune of the song contrasts with its bleak lyrics.
“Lift” – Radiohead
“Lift” has actually been around for more than twenty years, and is finally going to be released now as a part of a reissue of Radiohead’s classic album, OK Computer. According to the band, it was initially cut because is was so enjoyable to audiences, that it could have possibly rendered them into a one-hit wonder. Luckily, they seem to have come to their senses and are allowing “Lift” to have time to shine. 1996 wasn’t its year, but maybe 2017 will be.
“Creature Comfort” – Arcade Fire
Like “Lift”, this song technically isn’t out yet either, but it will be later this summer. Arcade Fire performed it at the Primavera music festival in Barcelona, and the live version is available to listen to on YouTube. The album’s single, “Everything Now”, is available, but I find that “Creature Comfort” piques my interest a bit more.
“It Gets More Blue” – Girlpool
Girlpool has switched their lineup a bit on their most recent album, adding drums to their signature bass and guitar combo. Despite this, the band is able to retain their charm with dissonant harmonies and dreamy themes of friendship.
Bonus: “Your Best American Girl” – Mitski
This was last year’s song of the summer for me. The soft beginning contrasts with blaring guitar solos, while at the same time discussing cultural pressures. While it may not be a song to blast through the car stereo, it truly evokes long summer days filled with heat and lethargy.
Listen to the playlist here:
Update (6/23/17): “Creature Comfort” and “Lift” are now available to listen to on Spotify.