10 Songs for Summer 2017

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10 songs for summer 2017

We’re a couple weeks deep into summer, and we’re definitely feeling the heat. Plenty of other publications have already made their predictions about what the song of the summer will be, and time will tell what it turns out to be. But that’s not why we’re here. No, we’re simply sharing our own personal picks for songs that’ll be on repeat for us throughout the next three months. We’re not in the business of reading the industry tea leaves; we’re just here for the jams. So, now that we’re hiding out in air-conditioned rooms, we’re sharing our 10 essential tracks for summer spins, playlist included. Our 10 songs for summer 2017 won’t keep you busy all summer, but our guess is you’ll keep coming back to these over and over again.

Kendrick Lamar new album DAMN.Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
from DAMN. (Top Dawg/Interscope/Aftermath)

Let’s just get this out of the way: If your summer doesn’t involve all or most of DAMN. in a major way, you’re probably doing it wrong. So picking a particular song is perhaps an erroneous exercise. But while we’re here: Yeah, “DNA.” It’s the first proper slapper on the album (of what’s, let’s be honest, an all-slapper tracklist) and it’s mostly a showcase for Kendrick to simply sound as badass as humanly possible without ever taking a moment his breath. The beats bang, but they’re simply a backdrop for Lamar’s Olympic-level lyricism, a veritable Ironman challenge in spitting fire: “I got, I got, I got, I got/Realness, I kill shit, ’cause it’s in my DNA.” He’s not wrong. – JT

LCD Soundsystem new songs Call the PoliceLCD Soundsystem – “Call the Police”

As the double A Side “Call the Police / American Dream” marked the official return of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy and company faced quite a bit of mixed reactions between fans and critics alike. With vague politicized dialogue, the 2017 return seemed a bit arbitrary, and at times even a bit unnecessary. But, as “Call the Police” keeps finding a way to squirm into my head—along with that throbbing bassline—the catchiness is undeniable. Sprawling and anthemic, “Call the Police” feels like an immediate hit from LCD, but more importantly a track that keeps them as relevant as they should be – TM

best albums of May Perfume GeniusPerfume Genius – “Slip Away”
from No Shape (Matador)

In 2010, when Mike Hadreas released his stripped-down debut album of mostly piano-driven ballads, Perfume Genius seemed an unlikely candidate for Song of the Summer. Not that “Mr. Peterson” wasn’t mixtape worthy, but it was no “Slip Away.” “Slip Away” is bigger. It’s more expansive and sounds—gasp!—expensive. It’s produced to be heard on car stereos, and the moment that eruption happens after the first chorus it ascends into pop euphoria. And like many of the best summer jams, it’s a life-affirming love song with an us-against-the-world attitude. “Ooh love, they’ll never break the shape we take,” sings Hadreas in one of his most intoxicatingly executed yet oddly catchy choruses, showing how much more intricate his songwriting’s become while showcasing pop song mastery in the process. Maybe this isn’t the most obvious candidate for mainstream summer song of 2017, but I know I’ll have it on repeat until the mercury drops. And then perhaps quite a bit longer. – JT

songs for summer 2017 young thugYoung Thug – “Feel It”
from Beautiful Thugger Girls (Atlantic)

I am sure Young Thug would concur that when you live in the ATL summers are to be endured rather than enjoyed. This summer is so fucking hot that when it’s not raining you have stay in the safety of air conditioning, unless you’re part reptile. When you do venture outside you wear as little as possible, making this an appropriate anthem to swiping right in this climate. The drugged lethargy of the lean-inspired beats and the Auto-Tuned croon proves to be the perfect sound and what elevates this track above the others from his Beautiful Thugger Girls album. Remember, “if that’s your man you better hold him down” when it gets this hot. – WL

Sheer Mag debut album Need to Feel Your LoveSheer Mag – “Need to Feel Your Love”
from Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns RC)

Sheer Mag feels, just a couple short years into their career, as perfect a complement to the summer heat as an ice cold Tecate with a wedge of lime. That’s in large part because their big-riff rock ‘n’ roll seems to recall summer days of a romanticized era when rock ‘n’ roll was still young, still fresh, still fun. In other words: It’s easy to imagine hearing their anthems blare out of a Trans Am or a custom van. “Need to Feel Your Love” is a little different, a little funkier, a little more laid back and breezy. It’s also a breakup song, which makes it a sneaky one. The track just grooves with such carefree abandon that it’s hard to imagine it being anything but pure summer fun. And yet, there’s that streak of melancholy: “Thinking ’bout the times that we had/The good times and the bad.” Sometimes what the summer needs is a little bittersweetness. – JT

Shabazz Palaces new album QuazarzShabazz Palaces – “Shine a Light”
from Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star (Sub Pop)

Shabazz Palaces’ Palaceer Lazaro, aka Ishmael Butler, isn’t a stranger to a summer jam. His group Digable Planets released the classic “Rebirth of Slick” in 1993, and that track was everywhere (and deservedly so). Shabazz Palaces is much weirder, more abstract even, but that doesn’t mean those hook-centric instincts have waned. “Shine A Light” is one of the most immedidate tracks among the batch released on their two companion Quazarz albums this summer, and it’s a feelgood banger. String-laden samples, a laid-back R&B strut, some tasteful use of Auto-Tune: It’s all the makings of a perfect summer-drive song, even if put together in a strange way. Maybe this is the Song of Summer on Mars or something, but it’s still the jam. – JT

songs for summer 2017 Denzel CurryDenzel Curry – “Zeltron 6 Billion” (feat. Lil Ugly Mane)
(Loma Vista)

Drake’s tropical-rap Margaritaville jams are to be expected this summer; it’s perfectly understandable, even justified. But hardcore heads in need of something that just straight-up bangs should find the anthem they’re looking for in “Zeltron 6 Billion,” a hard-hitting boombox detonator from Florida emcee Denzel Curry that’s just this side of industrial rap. Yet while it’s certainly dark and a little abrasive, “Zeltron” recalls a golden age of ’90s bone-chillers from GZA, Nas and Mobb Deep (R.I.P. Prodigy) that feels unusually fresh. Some of it is surrealist nonsense, some of it is good old-fashioned boasting (“You could be a statue and still not be as hard as me”) but it all just hits like a concrete block. If that’s not the kind of summer jam you’re looking for, try listening with the top down. See what happens. – JT

Vince Staples Big Fish Theory reviewVince Staples – “Big Fish”
from Big Fish Theory (Def Jam)

Vince Staples always seemed at best aloof and at worst resentful of the idea about his music being intended to appeal to old-school heads. It does, but that’s more a happy by-product than a direct intention. Big Fish Theory could change all that, however, as Staples worked with producers such as Sophie, Flume and Jimmy Edgar, who fused his darkly vivid narratives with house, techno, grime and other electronic elements, pushing aside the old-school boom bap that his past tracks evoked. “Big Fish” is far from the weirdest of the bunch, but Christian Rich’s production feels futuristic and club-friendly all the same. With the repeated hook, “I was up all night ballin’/Counting up hundreds by the thousand,” “Big Fish” is engineered to be a hit—the kind of jam worth cycling on repeat. – JT

Kevin Morby City Music reviewKevin Morby – “City Music”
from City Music (Dead Oceans)

Kevin Morby’s last album, Singing Saw, was more of an autumn album, its woodsy and atmospheric indie folk best experienced with a chill in the air. Its follow-up and companion album City Music feels more like summer, however, if only because its imagery of city lights and catchy rock ‘n’ roll melodies evokes a certain sticky, humid environment. “City Music,” the song, feels like a summer night in the city, after the sun’s gone down but the heat still lingers. Morby’s gorgeous licks of guitar, nodding to both Television and The Velvet Underground, feel like a refreshing trickle of cool amid the steamy streets. It’s a romantic ode to the sounds of a city—New York City in particular—and it’s best experienced with the lights low and the windows open. – JT

songs for summer 2017 Carly RaeCarly Rae Jepsen – “Cut to the Feeling”

There was a short period earlier this year when it seemed like we were going to have to get through summer without any new tracks from Carly Rae Jepsen. Thank goodness that’s over. – JT

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