13 Summer Jams for 2016

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Beyonce Sorry Summer Jams 2016

It’s only the first week of summer, and at least where Treble HQ is concerned, it’s already hot as fuck. So we’re doing what only seems natural when the sun comes bearing down through our windows: We find ourselves some suitably hot songs to fill up a playlist for the next three months. As a substitute for our regular weekly top 10, individual Treble writers were surveyed about their personal summer jams for 2016. We can officially go ahead and say Chance the Rapper’s “All Night” is the summer jam, since it was first on a lot of our lists, as well as some other Chance tracks. Oddly enough, there were a handful of Radiohead songs too, despite their new album being kind of sad. We’ve also got some political electronic pop, dreamy punk, jangly pop, fiery R&B, stadium emo and several guest appearances from Run the Jewels (RTJ3 should be showing up any moment, right??). Because our resident hip-hop columnist Jackie Im has a doctorate in summer jams, she even provided a few bonus tracks. Listen to our Summer Jams 2016 playlist and let it carry you through the season.

summer jams 2016 Chance the RapperChance the Rapper – “All Night
from Coloring Book (Self-released)

If you’re pop music fan you often sing along with conviction to things you’re unlikely to do. For instance, several times, since I was 10 years old, when License to Ill came out, I’ve screamed, “You’ve got to fight for your right to party!” But never in my life have I thought that anyone’s right to party has ever been infringed upon. So, I’m not showing up at that demonstration. There’s a profoundly sappy Jayhawks song I like called “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.” But I can’t make anyone love me. No, love, insofar as I understand it, is in part a mixture of sexual chemistry and timing. That’s what people say, right? “It just sort of happened, I don’t know?” There’s no making. But the song’s catchy chorus, “I’m going to make you love me and we’re going to stay together for a million years!” has been rendered off-key a million times in my car alone. Which brings me to my current favorite song, the two minute and and 20 second dance jam “All Night,” by Chance the Rapper, from his superb Coloring Book album. The hook repeats the line, “I’ve been drinking all night, I’ve been drinking all night.” I’m not drinking all night, are you crazy? Throughout the night, with all the stuff I have do in the morning, no way. Oh, but singing along to it is such a refreshing lie on a summer night. – Stephen Chupaska

Anohni HopelessnessANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me
from Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian)

“Drone Bomb Me” is almost the anti-summer jam. It altogether lacks the first-world escapism and sexual innuendo so typical of the seasonal song. Of course, the tinsel textures can be misconstrued as pop-music, and ANOHNI’s voice is exquisitely soulful, but the lyrics are far too confrontational to elicit radio play. The summer jam is traditionally something lighthearted and bouncy. And yet, in this age of our terror-obsessed infotainment, aren’t we tired of all the mindless fluff? Perhaps we should nominate a summer jam that is heavily politicized and violently suggestive. Sure, you’re not likely to belt out the verse “Explode my crystal guts” while drinking beer in your backyard. And “Drone Bomb Me” will sound rather silly when it’s blasted from the subwoofers of a Ferrari. But maybe if there was more consciousness in our pop music, all of this would seem more natural. – Kyle Carney

Radiohead A Moon Shaped PoolRadiohead – “Daydreaming
from A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

Heat gives way to a kind of sickness, slow and heaving, like fractured scattered land floating on a sea of psychic oil. Sweet and sticky summer days must by their nature contain equally fevered summer nights, after all, and the slow­motion nocturnalist dreamscapes of “Daydreaming,” the second single from Radiohead’s A Moon­ Shaped Pool, is a masterful surveying of the contours and peaks of those spaces. As absorbing as a brief return to the avant-­gardeism of Kid A with a somber piano figure as the small ship on a great sea of black ice. – Langdon Hickman

summer jams 2016 BeyonceBeyoncé – “Sorry
from Lemonade (Columbia)

Is it possible to list a whole album as a summer jam? If so, I humbly nominate all of Lemonade, an album I have listened to incessantly since I breathlessly watched the visual album on someone else’s HBO Go account (thx!). From the darkly sexy “6 Inch” (which miraculously made me tolerate the presence of The Weeknd, only Bey can do such magic), the roguishly bubbly “Hold Up,” and the devastating “Daddy Lessons,” Lemonade has so many highlights that I hemmed and hawed trying to narrow it down to just one track to highlight. I chose “Sorry” not because of the now infamous “Becky with the good hair” remark, but a combination of the satisfying clapback of a break-up song and the indelible image of Serena Williams in her beautiful glory. Like much of Lemonade, “Sorry” is defiant, bold, and wholly unapologetic (“middle fingers up” anyone?) in a way that is empowering. – Jackie Im

White Lung ParadiseWhite Lung – “Below
from Paradise (Domino)

When I first wrote about “Below,” I noted that it sounded to me like it could be the bands’ “Maps,” i.e. the pop song that takes an already great punk band up to a broader level of success. That hasn’t happened yet, at least not on that scale. I’m still holding out hope that terrestrial radio program directors will figure out that this song is alt-pop gold—or maybe I’m not (I’m still not ready to go back to Tame Impala after “Elephant” stomped all over playlists). But the appeal of “Below,” ubiquitous or not, is an easy one to hear: Dreamy and gorgeous swirls of guitar backed by a beefy rhythm section and Mish Barber-Way’s fire-throated cries of “I want to take it all down!” It’s tender and tenacious, brash and beautiful, destined to soundtrack late nights of tenuous romances and setting fireworks off in vacant fields—not my own experiences, but I’ll happily daydream them away while I’m complaining about how goddamn hot it is. I don’t really care if radio takes the hint, but I’ll be returning to this one as long as the mercury rises, and likely well beyond its inevitable drop. – Jeff Terich

DJ Shadow new albumDJ Shadow – “Nobody Speak” (feat. Run the Jewels)
from The Mountain Will Fall (Mass Appeal)

“Nobody Speak” announced the return of DJ Shadow via the dopest pentatonics since “Rumble.” Coupled with Run the Jewels trading ironic verses of violence and mischief, e.g. Killer Mike as Santa taking pictures with a cuckold’s kids, it’s like a Devil’s Dictionary of hip-hop braggadocio that keeps Shadow on his fingertips. But the gags are protestations. Copping the refrain from Yellowman’s anti-military-and-its-legions “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt,” El-P’s “Nobody speak, nobody get choked,” sardonically presented as a “good joke,” accentuates their mockery of systematic real-life violence. Spite the culture with this song and pump this shit for a better future. – Bryce Jones

summer jams 2016 Brand NewBrand New – “I Am A Nightmare
(Procrastinate! Music Traitors)

Brand New’s latest song is the catchiest tune the emo stalwarts have written since “Seventy Times 7.” It’s far from happy—measuring adoration by how unworthy you are of someone’s goodness—but nor is it the pitch-black moodiness of most Brand New music released after Deja Entendu. “Blessed be the lost at sea,” frontman Jesse Lacey sings, like a rallying cry to let those who feel alone know that they aren’t, as Vincent Accardi’s guitar and Brian Lane’s relentless drums cut a path through the darkness. “I Am A Nightmare” is the perfect summer jam for the angsty kids who grew up and still haven’t figured all their shit out but are finally trying.- Liam Green

summer jams 2016 miike snowMiike Snow – “Heart Is Full (Remix)” (feat. Run the Jewels)
from iii (Atlantic)

The Swedes have a concept called “Lagom” which translates to “just enough” or comfortable moderation. In other words, refrain from excessive indulgence in all parts of your life. Sweden’s very own Miike Snow has typically manifested this ideology, with their friendly pop ballads, but their latest effort, iii has heard the trio plunge into more hormonally boisterous territory. Perhaps most indicative of this shift is the Run the Jewels-assisted “Heart is Full” where Killer Mike and El-P satiate, as they sound off on their fondness for threesomes and strippers and all of it over a sample-heavy beat that would fill RZA’s heart. – Paul Glanting

summer jams 2016 WhitneyWhitney – “No Matter Where We Go
from Light Upon the Lake (Secretly Canadian)

If you’re in search of a carefree, vintage rock groove to soundtrack your summer days on the open road, look no further than “No Matter Where We Go,” the third single from Whitney’s Light Upon the Lake. Former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julian Ehrlich’s falsetto sets a picaresque scene of windows-down car rides, significant other sitting passenger side—a sun-drenched ode to the possibilities of young love that’s as simple as it is sincere. Let the breeze pass through your fingers as Ehrlich sings “I wanna take you out/I wanna drive around” and try not to feel some sort of warmth inside. – Andy Barton

Radiohead A Moon Shaped PoolRadiohead – “Ful Stop
from A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

Summer night drives have the ability to turn a simple mode of transportation into your very own vehicle of catharsis. With the windows down, stereo cranked, and the dash as your drumkit, nothing quite tops the climactic intensity of Radiohead’s “Ful Stop.” An overarching bassline thrums throughout the depths of the track, constructing an ominous foreshadowing of the sonic release occurring at its halfway point. The song assembles itself upon the droning snarl until it’s delicate deconstruction at the cue of Thom Yorke’s unearthly falsetto. Colin Greenwood’s ability to propel “Ful Stop” is suggestive of his effect on In Rainbows’ “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” only this time the remainder of the band’s weight rests completely on the bassist’s shoulders. – Patrick Pilch

summer jams 2016 Chance the RapperChance the Rapper – “Finish Line/Drown
from Coloring Book (Self-released)

Chance The Rapper’s universally praised Coloring Book might as well have been declared the soundtrack of the summer when it dropped in May with early standouts “No Problem” and “All Night” but the mixtape is punctuated by penultimate jam “Finish Line / Drown.” Chance takes a humble final lap backed by a bridge of “do-do-do’s” and a handful of features, including returning collaborator Noname who delivers the sonic equivalent of a rooftop breeze before the song takes its equal parts funky and cathartic end. It’s as much a summer jam as a moment of triumph, an everything’s-gonna-be-alright—we made it to summer so let’s celebrate—jam. – Matt Perloff

Bonus tracks:

summer jams 2016 DrakeDrake ft. Wizkid & Kyla – “One Dance
from VIEWS (Cash Money/OVO/Young Money)

Despite my lukewarm feelings toward VIEWS as a whole, I have to admit that there are standout tracks littered throughout the uneven album. The best songs on VIEWS reflect Drake’s increasing embrace of dancehall and Afrobeat: “Too Good” featuring Rihanna and “With You” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR being two prime examples. My favorite track similarly mines Afrobeat and dancehall and finds Drake collaborating with Nigerian singer Wizkid and sampling UK funky song “Do You Mind” with vocals by Kyla. The blur and mesh of styles produces a track that is blissfully resonate and slyly flirtatious. Propelled by an insistent piano riff, “One Dance” bubbles with sexy energy. There’s a seductive play with Kyla’s and Drake’s vocals, as Wizkid’s voice echoes throughout, paired with a beat that implores bodies to move. – Jackie Im

Rihanna ANTIRihanna – “Needed Me
from ANTI (Roc Nation)

I love ANTI. My affection for Rihanna’s eighth album was unexpected. I didn’t think that I would find it so resonant and so repeatedly rewarding. I liked Rihanna plenty prior to this, but I never made it past a few singles. ANTI is a different beast, more personal and more cohesive than her past efforts. I was torn between this track, the DJ Mustard helmed slow burn, and “Consideration,” a fantastic duet with SZA, but the simmering sensual “Needed Me” won out. Markedly different from DJ Mustard’s most well-known tracks, “Needed Me” takes things slow allowing Rihanna’s confidence and defiance take center stage. The track mines anti-colonialism (“didn’t they tell you that I was a savage / fuck ya white horse and ya carriage”), self-empowerment (“baby, don’t get it twisted”), and a delicious reversal of gender roles (further exemplified with the Harmony Korine directed video). It contains so many elements of what I love about Rihanna distilled into a track that is sexy as fuck. – Jackie Im

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