For many, this summer is going to look a lot different than the last. While typical social activities are only slowly beginning to make their return, the vibes of summers long past are already back. Here are some of The Daily Californian’s picks of tunes perfect for summertime, all in one playlist. These are songs, new and old, aimed to conjure up the mood for the season of sun — where the days are long and the weather’s fine — no matter how you choose to spend yours this year.
A needle finds its groove and a joyful choir begins to sing — it’s the perfect intro for English DJ Jamie xx’s hit single to usher in total dancehall euphoria. Featured guests Young Thug and Popcaan are the definition of a good time as they float atop the bounce of the wavy instrumental, arriving with an overflowing wealth of optimism and carefree energy. No matter the hour, “Good Times” absolutely shines, a reminder of the limitless opportunities that come with a brighter state of mind.
While pop songwriter Lekman hails from Sweden, where the summers are mild and brief, his lush Afro-Caribbean banger “What’s That Perfume That You Wear” vividly dreams up the season at its hottest. There’s no mention of weather to be found on the upbeat track; Lekman’s world is constructed by lyrically tapping into olfactory senses, smoothly intertwining the thrill of summer with the throes of heartbreak and lost love. It’s dance-till-you-drop romanticism at its finest.
With the rip-roaring track “In The Sun” off of their 1976 debut, Debbie Harry and company race toward the water, laying out the blueprint for acts such as Cults, Best Coast and countless others in the process. It’s not the most immediate choice for those looking for their surf-rock fix, but it’s a highly concentrated, immensely satisfying cut from a genre of music tailor-made for the beach.
On “Nobody’s Baby,” Philadelphia band Sheer Mag comes through with a modern-day, ’70s-inspired, bulletproof rocker oozing with desire. Molten ACDC-esque guitar lines along with vocalist Christina Halliday’s jagged, electrifying voice jump-start and empower what could’ve been an otherwise ordinary song about longing. It’s fierce, no-nonsense rock ’n’ roll that feels raw and unsanitized, a rebellious jam for the car that could perfectly sit alongside powerful songs from artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B on hot girl summer playlists everywhere.
Chicago indie rock band Whitney embodies the sound of summer; no summer mix is complete without one of its breezy California AM rock delights. “No Matter Where We Go” is perhaps its most timeless, full of heart, soul and radiant sunshine.
Everybody loves a good campfire song. Chicago artist Fortune’s “Shirtless,” a highlight off of last year’s Stock Child Wonder, is a great choice for your next singalong staple. Glowing acoustic guitar and a simple drumbeat form the foundation of Fortune’s starry-eyed melody and juvenile exuberance, capturing the hearts and ears of people everywhere. Songs with this much youthful energy truly make the case for summer as a season for the young.
No summer is complete without a little shoegaze. With its 1991 genre-defining masterpiece Loveless, the Irish band My Bloody Valentine tapped into the stuff of dreams, its reverb-heavy sound able to capture the unexplainable feeling of pure elation. On “Sometimes,” there are vague impressions of love and wonder; still, the feeling of yearning rising from the song’s wall of noise is crystal clear and irresistible; it pulls at you like no other.
Experimental pop group Animal Collective’s ode to the season is a surreal fantasy full of giddy, spritely energy. Winsome and urgent, the distorted electro-pop romp envisions a summer of pools for beds, fiery walls, glowing bodies and vibrant, swirling colors as it marches on with pomp and a lively pulse. It’s pure jubilation, the sonic equivalent of The Beach Boys taking a psychedelic trip through wonderland.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise: Daft Punk’s globe-conquering “Get Lucky” is the quintessential summer song. It’s one of those pop songs to end all pop songs: the rare event where simple pleasures from all contributors — Nile Rogers’ ridiculously catchy guitar riff, Pharrell Williams’ hook for the ages and the group’s signature vocoder-laden production touches — elevate one other and coalesce into something infinitely replayable, so easy to get lost in and entirely transcendent. Whether this song was stuck in your head in 2013 or remains in the back of your head for all time, you are not alone. “Get Lucky” is the go-to song to make summer feel truly endless.
Vincent Tran is the deputy arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].