Can you believe that it's almost September? Neither can we, but that doesn't change the fact that summer is coming to a rapid close. In honor of the season that usually passes us by far too quickly, we've compiled a list of our 20 favorite songs from this summer and put them in a playlist for your listening pleasure. Join us as we reminisce about some of the most exciting few months of music in recent memory.
Daft Punk "Get Lucky"
If you had to pick one song that arguably defined the summer of 2013, it would be "Get Lucky." Characterized by a simple four-chord progression and funky disco guitar, this song helped Daft Punk become one of the most talked about artists of the year. Also featuring the silky smooth vocals of Pharrell Williams, "Get Lucky" fuses the old school of analog with the new school of electronic dance music to push the boundaries of a genre that is quickly becoming oversaturated. While the song was released in April, it created almost unequivocal anticipation for their album, Random Access Memories
, rivaled only by the hype that surrounded Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail
Hanson "Get the Girl Back"
Hanson has been a consistently growing act since their smash hit "MMMBop" took off in 1997. Sixteen years later, the boys have developed an incredibly mature sound that manifests itself in "Get the Girl Back." We were lucky enough to have them perform an acoustic version
of the song live on our West Village rooftop, but the fully produced song featured on their new album, Anthem
, is certainly worthy of high praise. Its catchy hook and horn lines make it the perfect song to blast over the radio with your windows down proving it to be an ideal addition to our songs of the summer.
Robin Thicke "Blurred Lines"
This song stirred up a mountain of controversy, and it wasn't limited to people who thought the music video was misogynistic and objectified women. It's simple, yet infectious beat primarily consisting of cowbell and a funky bass line also drew ire from Marvin Gaye's estate for being eerily similar to his classic song "Got To Give It Up." However, that didn't stop it from remaining atop the Billboard 100 charts for double-digit weeks and capturing the hearts of rambunctious dudes everywhere. The track also featured a verse from T.I. and production from Pharrell Williams, who has been absolutely everywhere this summer.
Justin Timberlake "Tunnel Vision"
Okay, so this song didn't technically come out this summer, but the music video
certainly did. Shortly after Robin Thicke released the video for "Blurred Lines," JT and friends followed suit with the tantalizing visuals for "Tunnel Vision." The song itself is classic Timberlake, depicting lyrically the ever so relatable situation a man finds himself in when he can't take his eyes or mind off of a beautiful girl. The video brings the song to life featuring naked models, similarly to the video for "Blurred Lines," however, JT's video was generally received as being more tasteful.
Big Sean "Fire"
Arguably the hottest track off of Hall of Fame
, "Fire" is as good of a summer jam as any. The choral echoes - "fire, fire, fire" - paired with Sean's smooth flow and introspective lyrics make this song both fun to listen and sing along to. However, its release wasn't without controversy, as the music video featured a sexed up Miley Cyrus strutting around in stilettos much to the dismay of many of her fans. But compared to her performance at the VMAs, this was about as classy as it gets. If one thing is for certain after this summer, Big Sean and his team have a firm grasp on how to get people's attention.
J. Cole "Crooked Smile"
The summer of 2013 was a big season for hip-hop, with three major albums from Kanye, Mac Miller and J. Cole being release on the same day, followed by Jay Z and the epic verse from Kendrick (not to mention Big Sean's Hall of Fame
). While the abundance of music left fans clamoring over whose album was better, you have to give it to Cole for putting together a record that rivaled Yeezus
as the best hip-hop album of the summer. "Crooked Smile," the second single from Born Sinner
, which featured a comeback performance from TLC, is characterized by smooth string lines and a hook that brings us back to the days when "Waterfalls" was wreaking havoc on the Billboard charts. The North Carolina native goes in on the verses too, making this song best suited to represent Born Sinner
on our list.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Despair"
Opening with an a cappella from Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Despair" starts as a chilling introspection into the idea of self-sorrow. As the rhythm section joins in, the timbre of the song lightens up, while its message remains the same. As it concludes, the band infuses life over the chant of "Your sun is my sun, my sun is your sun," which is set to a sunrise at the top of the Empire State Building in the music video
. While it takes a solid six minutes to develop, "Despair" takes us on a journey from dark to light and is a great song from a band that knows how to craft relatable and reflective music.
Foals - "Late Night"
This song is probably one of the deepest on our list. It chronicles an inner struggle for the narrator, delving into the deep seeded problems in his relationship with his mother. The music itself is solemn, but hypnotic and driving, flowing through the ethereal vocals of Yannis Philippakis. Overall, an incredible piece of art that is only rivaled by the exceptional music video
from director Nabil. We were fortunate to catch up
with the band before they took the stage at Coachella, and the performance does not disappoint.
Mac Miller "Red Dot Music"
Watching Movies With The Sound Off
was a much needed step forward for Mac Miller. The album showcased his maturation as an artist, and while it was devoid of many of the themes and sounds that we've come to associate with the Pittsburgh rapper, it showcased musical growth and maturity from the guy who had been rapping about sizzurp since his debut LP. "Red Dot Music," which features Action Bronson, is a standout track on the album chronicling Mac's struggle with addiction and providing listeners with a relaxed vibe that's a little different from that of the rappers he's competing with. The track is laid back, dragging slightly behind the beat, and Mac's deep, scratchy vocals round out a sound that is almost hypnotic.
Kanye West - "Guilt Trip"
Kanye West's Yeezus
has been claimed as groundbreaking by many music fans, as the album pushed the boundaries of hip-hop beyond standard production techniques. Its incorporation of electronic-based, futuristic sounds makes it a foray into uncharted territory that reflects on Kanye as a pioneer of new musical directions. Perhaps the best example of this occurs on the track "Guilt Trip," which sounds like it could be from the year 2042. While his lyrics aren't his most creative, the unique production style is crisp and can be rivaled by almost no one. Think what you will of Kanye and his antics, but his music tells us that he's on a level that few can compete with.
Sara Bareilles "Brave"
With the release of her new album, The Blessed Unrest
, Sara Bareilles has begun to cement herself as one of the best female artists out there. We featured her live concert
at the McKittrick Hotel earlier this summer, and her performance of "Brave" wowed us to say the least. The recorded version is a hard hitting pop song that features driving percussion and piano parts, which, when paired with her booming vocals, make for one of the best sing-along songs of the summer. You could take our word for it, but Sara's music generally tends to speak for itself.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Let's Get High"
Right off the bat, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros'
"Let's Get High" invokes memories of old school 60s rock and roll while still maintaining a new and unique sound. Featuring grimy bass lines and piano comping, this song is as dynamic as it gets, with a chorus that sounds like it's being sung from the top of a mountain. It's message is clear, as the wide range of sounds used to craft "Let's Get High" encourage listening in an altered state of mind somewhere serene with nothing to worry about at all.
The Civil Wars "I Had Me a Girl"
Beginning with a Black Keys-esque riff, The Civil Wars' "I Had Me a Girl" brings a twangy, rock and roll vibe mixed with blues and driving, percussive acoustic guitar. The song gets incredibly intense at points, while also featuring an effective use of layering to bring out the emotion riddled throughout. Chilling sections featuring just vocals paired with cacophonous choruses that relay high levels of energy and passion make this song a must-listen.
Phoenix "Trying to Be Cool"
The French wonder-band gives us another silky track characterized by the vocals of Thomas Mars
over catchy synth and guitar lines. What really makes this song pop, however, is its chorus. As soon as it hits, the energy of the song shifts from a constant rhythm-driven sound, to a groovy, melodic breeze that gives you an urge to move along to the beat. "Trying to Be Cool" is the ideal jam for the summertime as it's a refreshing breath of fresh air on a hot, sunny day.
The Orwells - "Who Needs You"
While The Orwells
might not make everyone's list, these soon-to-be-legal rockers from Elmhurst, Illinois bring a sound that's reminiscent of early 90s grunge matched with the popular indie-rock vibes of today. "Who Needs You" is a catchy, high-energy romp that takes us back to a time when simple, hard rocking bands were all the rage. Featuring a melodic, walk-down guitar riff paired with the growling vocals of Mario Cuomo, this song makes you want to get up and run around without a care in the world.
Vampire Weekend "Diane Young"
"Diane Young" is a Vampire Weekend classic. Successfully capturing the sound of driving drums and bass coupled with melodic, but intense vocals, this song is catchy without being over the top. Defined by its dynamic arrangement and use of enigmatic vocal filters, "Diane Young" is one of the most memorable songs of the summer. If that doesn't quite do it for you, the music video
even features a guy smoking weed out of a saxophone.
The National - "Don't Swallow the Cap"
The National made waves this spring with the release of their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me
, but "Don't Swallow the Cap" helped give it the staying power to resonate long into the summer. The song's mellow feel, driven by a constant percussive beat, gives it a vibe that serves as a perfect release after a long day of work or play. Crack open a cold one, find your favorite balcony chair and throw on "Don't Swallow the Cap" by The National for an ideal summer night.
Disclosure - "F For You"
has been taking the electronic scene by a storm this summer and the track "F For You" serves as a fantastic representation of the music that has been driving people crazy. With a chant-driven verse and spacious electronic interludes, Disclosure captures your attention and doesn't let go of it until they want to. The trance-like beats infect the soul and you can't help but bob your head to the beat in unfaltering approval.
City and Colour "The Hurry And The Harm"
Comprised of spacious acoustic guitar and beautifully performed vocals, the title track from City and Colour's
latest album is a relaxing song perfect for a reflective moment after a long day in the summer sun. While there is little dynamic contrast, the soaring vocal harmonies take your mind to a place where it cannot be disturbed. Ending with a fleeting guitar solo over the final chorus, "The Hurry And The Harm" gives you a weightless feeling for the entire four minutes and twenty-two seconds of its duration.
Franz Ferdinand "Fresh Strawberries"
While many people gravitated toward "Right Action" as the standout track on Franz Ferdinand's new album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
, that honor should be bestowed upon the song "Fresh Strawberries." The band took a huge risk by seemingly taking major influence from The Beatles in its crafting, but that risk paid off as "Fresh Strawberries" is one of the few songs I've ever heard that captures the essence of Paul, John, George, and Ringo. The beautiful vocal arrangement in the chorus really pays homage to rock and roll of years past and helps to solidify this song as one of the best of the summer.
Big Sean "Control"
And you thought we left it out, didn't you? Unfortunately because the sample didn't clear, we couldn't throw the track on our playlist (just as Sean couldn't throw it on Hall of Fame
), but the song is so iconic that it deserved a write-up anyways. When Big Sean released this track, it sent the hip-hop world into an uncontrollable frenzy. While the song also featured a choice verse from Jay Electronica in addition to Sean's, 100 percent of the infamy generated can be attributed to a rapper by the name of Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick sought to stir the scene up by calling out everybody including both of the other dudes on the track. The now legendary verse spurred numerous comebacks from some solid, and some not so solid rappers, but those who truly understood what Kendrick was doing let the track run its course and reflected on the fact that it generated a new, much needed energy for hip-hop music. Big Sean's thoughts on the track captured its reach perfectly: "It's a Big Sean song, that's what everyone knows...that shit was what it was, I ain't gonna change it...that shit is the most exciting rap song in years."