It certainly doesn’t seem like it, but here we are at the end of the year. And somehow, over the smell of construction and lacking food options on campus, we can smell summer just around the corner. This will be the one. The summer of hope and love and job opportunities and cruising around the city/suburb with the windows down and hands hanging out. But, let’s be honest. It’s not summer without a playlist to accompany those long drives and bonfire-filled nights. So, in the style of our inspiration, role model and past Recess Music Editor, MC Bousquette, we are going to present you with a playlist to help your summer along.
Sid: “Hold No Guns” by Death Cab for Cutie
This song off of Death Cab's latest is quiet, sparse and beautiful. After the energetic, thick sound from much of the rest of the album, this is the perfect track to take a breather. In fact, the first few minutes of summer feel just like this song: a breath of fresh air before the deluge of work, activities and social events.
Drew: “Ice Cream Cake,” by Red Velvet
I’ve been getting a lot more into K-Pop recently, and this single from the relatively new group Red Velvet shows why it should be so much more of a thing stateside than it is. As with a ton of K-Pop songs, “Ice Cream Cake” sounds like five different songs at once—schoolyard chanting here, dubstep breakdowns there—but it coheres into a perfect sugar rush of the song. The harmonies here are about as on point as you’ll find these days, and overall it’s a great earworm of a song.
Drew: “Just a Picture,” by Kyle feat. Kehlani
"Just a Picture” is a strange fusion of B.o.B.-style rapping, Ronson-lite funk, and Mario Kart synths that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for weeks. Kyle is pretty inessential, but Kehlani steals the show with her sweet cooing. The new Jason DeRulo song, “Want You to Want Me,” is blowing up the charts right now, but this is the R&B-funk hybrid that deserves to be blasting on every radio station this summer.
Sid: “The Wolves and the Ravens” by Rogue Valley
I may be partial to this one as Rogue Valley hails from my beautiful home state of Minnesota. The band created four albums, one for each season, and this song is from their "winter" album. Despite this, nothing reminds me of quiet summer drives or sitting with friends by the lake more than this reflective, acoustic song.
Drew: “Vena Cava,” by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
“Vena Cava,” the opening track on singer-songwriter Aly Spaltro’s new album “After,” is a lot more contemplative and low-key than most of these other songs, but I tend to gravitate towards more cerebral, down-tempo artists during the summer like Fiona Apple and FKA twigs. “Vena Cava” hooks me with its acoustic verses and searing lyrics, but it has a mosh pit of a chorus that really cements it as an essential song. Spaltro’s performance is anything but breezy, yet it deserves to be played no matter the season.
Sid: “Can’t Deny My Love” by Brandon Flowers
My, oh my, I love Brandon Flowers. Somehow, Flowers manages to take the best parts of The Killers’ sound and infuse his own, gospel-filled sound into it on this upbeat, anthemic single.
Drew: “SuperLove,” by Charli XCX
“SuperLove” is the oldest track I picked, but its breezy disco sounds timeless. Charli XCX can do no wrong in my book, and this song is arguably her best—certainly her catchiest in a long string of catchiness. It’s got this 80’s mall aesthetic that I respond very well to (see also “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen, which was this close to making this list) and I find myself humming this at all times of the day.
Sid: “Fred Astaire” by San Cisco
I’m not from California, but this song is what I imagine the so-called best coast feels like. Fun, upbeat and extraordinarily danceable, this is a song to jam out to on the beach or shout out the windows on empty highways. At one point, someone pointed out to me that the message of this song is actually rather sad. And maybe that's the beauty of it. Even when it is sad, it still manages to sound pretty darn happy.
Drew: “Trap Queen,” by Fetty Wap
At the risk of hyperbole, “Trap Queen” is the greatest song in the English language, a masterpiece on the same level as Sandburg and Woolf. I’ve loved the work coming from artists like Young Thug and Future the past several years, and Fetty Wap uses AutoTune to contort his voice into even odder sounds than his predecessors—all in service of a delightful, gender-positive ditty! The part of the chorus when he wails “YAAAAAAA” is the best thing ever.
Sid: “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson
Summer isn’t all sunshine, all the time. But, despite the lyrics, this certainly isn't a rainy-day song either. This quintessential Jack Johnson song is perfect for cuddling up with loved ones and enjoying the absence of homework. And, hey, if that's what my summer looks like, I won't be too upset.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.