12 Songs You’ll Probably Hear A Lot This Summer
by Samuel Tolzmann on June 15, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized
Fun Song That Everyone Knows is a prestigious title to hold, and with the right combination of tunesmithery, marketing, and a well-timed release date, a pop artist can land his/her/their song in the extremely fortunate position of holding that title in the summer, which is of course the time of year when being the Fun Song That Everyone Knows is a surefire route to crossover success and year-end countdowns in the short-term, and nostalgic playlists in the long-term. Inevitably, of all the anthems churned out by urban warehouse scenesters, white-bread indie rockers, and Top 40 svengalis, only a few can claim ubiquity. Now, perhaps the summer’s best tune has yet to drop — “Countdown” came out on June 24, 2011, and I know you won’t forget that date because “Video Games” appeared online five days later — but summer has officially begun. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already spent a week in a tiny, freezing office staring at a garden gnome (don’t ask), and a summer jam or several to liven up the atmosphere would be useful. And so: here are my nominations for Summer Anthem 2012 (in reverse order for maximum suspense, of course!). Some have been out and about on the blogosphere for quite a while, but you can expect their rotation to spike in the coming months. Don’t be the last to hear ’em!
12. Tanlines, “Green Grass”
“Brothers” having been exhausted, I think it’s safe to say folks will turn to this (or, really, any other) song by the Afropop-leaning synth duo for their low-key, midtempo, sunny electropop fix.
11. Goldroom, “Fifteen (featuring Chela)”
Nostalgia is the third millennium emotion of choice when the sun comes out, as we learned only too well circa 2009 when chillwave became a thing and then wouldn’t stop being a thing and everyone used too much reverb and every time we heard some dumb new sample-based song by some dumb new band with lyrics reminiscing about how good things were in the old days, we could only wholeheartedly agree, but not in the way the band meant…. But anyway, chillwave is not really a thing anymore, which makes it okay for people to start making wistful midtempo electronica about feeling nostalgic again, right? Well, maybe. I’ll certainly give a free pass to “Fifteen,” ’cause I can’t think of any other song from 2012, Beach House included, that’s quite captured the ache of rose-tinted memory quite like this one.
10. Azealia Banks, “Jumanji”
She caused a sensation late last year with her ferocious banger “212” (which you can also expect to hear a lot of this summer, and probably also forever), and the 21-year-old New York rapper’s latest, produced by Hudson Mowhawke, is another vulgar, hilarious, mildly frightening, and singular hit-to-be.
9. M.I.A., “Bad Girls”
Yeah, it came out a few months ago, but summer is obviously the season when this song’s badass hook (“My chain hits my chest when I’m bangin on the dashboard…when I’m bangin on the radio”) is going to make it blow way up. Also, the music video. Dang.
8. Baauer, “Harlem Shake”
If your summer plans involve a lot of very dark, very sweaty, very intense dance parties, chances are they’re also going to involve a lot of the completely bonkers “Harlem Shake.” Which is pretty much all there is to say.
7. Jai Paul, “Jasmine”
Jai Paul takes like two years to write a song, but the wait is worthwhile, because they’re pretty perfect songs (see also: “BTSTU”). “Jasmine” dropped a couple of months ago, but I can only envision its funky guitar, rushing synthesizers, and dark post-dubstep vibe sounding better than ever on hot, sticky summer nights.
6. Hot Chip, “Let Me Be Him”
The nearly eight-minute climax of Hot Chip’s new album In Our Heads is hardly tedious. It’s a lovely paean to creativity and happiness that ranks among one of the best songs yet by a band whose songs are generally impeccable. Beginning as a smooth electropop groove and swelling into a lush, subtle dancefloor confection before drifting into a downtempo reverie, it combines the best of all possible Hot Chip worlds.
5. Flo Rida, “Wild Ones (featuring Sia)”
I’m still pretty unsure how I feel about hearing sultry Australian singer-songwriter Sia coo things like “tame me now,” “saddle me up,” and “break me in,” and by “unsure how I feel” I really mean “revolted,” but I am 100% certain how I feel about every other aspect of this track, which is very, very positively.
4. Passion Pit, “I’ll Be Alright”
“Can you remember ever having any fun? ‘Cause when it’s all said and done, I always believed we were, but now I’m not so sure.” That’s the opening line of Passion Pit’s wonderful new single. The lyrics are pretty bleak — gin, pills, delusions, disillusionment, breakups, and disorder galore — but the title says it all: this is a euphoric feel-good song, sublimating all that bad stuff into ecstatic delirium.
3. Usher, “Scream”
2. Icona Pop, “I Love It”
It’s sassy, sublime, and Swedish, and if you’re thinking Robyn, you’re behind the times, my friend. Penned by heavily mascara’d UK synthpop diva Charli XCX, “I Love It” is the kind of giddy, catchy, dancefloor-ready number that miraculously unites strangers with dumb, appealing lyrics that are instantly memorable (and memorize-able!). If this song doesn’t make you want to drive fast with the windows down, screaming “You’re from the ’70s, but I’m a ’90s bitch!” then nothing will (actually though…). You’ll love it.
1. Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built”
I fully expect this song to fill the role that WU LYF’s “We Bros” did so excellently in 2011. That is: it’s a loud, masculine, fist-pumping, skyscraping, and life-affirming piece of rock music with emotional gravity that’ll ensure it staying power long past September. It’d be easy to call it cheesy – with its scruffy, keg-standing, open-flannel aesthetic and teenaged sense of infinity and invincibility — if it wasn’t so damn sincere. While ‘The House That Heaven Built” has a lot of singalong-ready “oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!”s peppered throughout, its success derives from the way it gloriously celebrates the experiences that are common to us all, even though those experience aren’t necessarily the kind we remember with fondness (or even want to remember at all). “You’re not mine to die for anymore, so I must live!” proclaims Brian King, triumphant not out of naivete but because he has to be. But from there this already gigantic song just gets louder and bigger and better, even though Japandroids are just two guys who, what’s more, don’t overdub their tracks. No, this band crescendos the old-fashioned way: with passion. From the enormous, furious, joyous chorus: “When they love you — and they will — tell ’em all they’ll love in my shadow! And if they try to slow you down, tell ’em all to go to hell!” Bring it on, Summer 2012. Bring it on.
Honorable mention to “Rack City” by Tyga, which I can only hope never falls out of fashion, because what will I do when I go out and can’t scream along to things like “got your grandma on my dick”?! Meanwhile, for other opinions on the matter, check out NPR and Stereogum‘s respective lists. Stereogum foolishly tries to limit itself to “indie” songs (get with the zeitgeist, dudes), and the NPR staff somehow forget about Japandroids entirely AND have apparently not listened to any Usher songs besides “Climax” — whatever.
Disagree? Wondering where your own favorite 85-and-sunny track is? Leave a comment! Unless it’s about “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Do not leave a comment telling me to put “Somebody That I Used To Know” on this list. Just don’t.