Songs of the Summer: 2015 Edition

It’s been a while since I posted, I’ve been taking a break from blogging but I can surely say I am back at writing once a month posts. I still live in England and don’t plan on going back home anytime soon. This is my home now.

Since my last post in January I’ve seen many films and TV shows, listened to some of the new albums and even managed to get some reading done. This post is dedicated to the songs that have been in my head all summer. I don’t particularly like this season (good thing I’m not in Romania because I would be boiling there til October), but I enjoy a good tune that screams “summer is here”. Many of the songs found here don’t really belong to that category, but I like to believe that summer can be felt through different tempos and genres. Here is my list of the songs of this summer:

30. Coffee by Miguel

I’ve always liked Miguel, his previous album being a favorite of mine. I haven’t got a chance to hear his new one, but I heard this terrific single. Much better than the Wale featured version. I guess Coffee is about the intimacy of a relationship told between hypnotic beats and cool grooves. He is one of the better young R&B artists that try to bring something new with each project.

29. Strange by Laura Marling

By far my favorite track from her excellent new album, Short Movie, Laura Marling’s Strange talks about the mixture of feelings she feels for a man. The song is almost spoken word, but not really. It’s insanely catchy for a folk/ singer-songwriter track. What I like most about this song is how it feels that she is in a trance while performing it. That is probably something that applies to all of her music, a sign that she is a great musician that will a have a very long and successful career.

28. In Films by Chromatics

One of the initiators of this new brand of cinematic electropop, Chromatics returned this year with a handful of tracks including In Films. At times it’s such a pop-like sounding track, it’s a shame it’s not on heavy rotation on every commercial radio station. I cannot wait to hear to entire album, titled Dear Tommy, which may come out at any moment. Seems like that is the new way of releasing new music this year and I like it.

27. Sign Of The Times by Cee Lo Green

Earlier this year, Cee Lo Green released a mixtape called TV on the Radio which samples theme songs from classic TV shows. Unfortunately that project turned out to be a leak, not a surprise release, as I wanted to recommend the song Rhythm of Life which samples the Knight Rider theme song, a much more alert track I prefer. But Sign Of The Times is not a bad song at all, quite terrific I might add, a groovy and cool sound inspired by the famous sitcom’s theme song which is pretty groovy and cool sounding itself.

26.  Preacherman by Melody Gardot

I like when an artist shifts, successfully, genres like Melody Gardot did, drifting slightly from her intimate, delicate and heartfelt vocal jazz to something as hard hitting as Preacherman of her new album Currency of Man, a politically themed song about racism and the senseless crimes have been done because of racial hatred which was inspired by the murder of 14 year-old Emmet Till in 1955 and the many similar crimes that have taken place, and sadly, still do. It’s probably the hardest she ever sounded which adds to the important message and makes us listen that we can change as history has continued to show. We have come a long way but there is still a lot of fighting to be done in this case. Honestly I think the whole racism problem is much more complex than we can grasp, mostly a cultural problem, and it will take a long, long time for the change that we want to happen. Great, great song though.

25. Ocean Drive by Duke Dumont

Probably the most summer sounding song from this list, Duke Dumont’s Ocean Drive is a among the popular electronic songs that I actually like from this season. A lot of them sound the same, which isn’t really news. I haven’t experienced it like this, but I think it sounds the best in a convertible with wind blowing on a highway.

24. Sparks by Beach House

Beach House returned this year too, after 2012’s Bloom, a record I enjoyed a lot. I haven’t really followed their career but did listen to some of their old stuff and this sounds like the biggest change in style. Many have compared Sparks to the works of My Bloody Valentine. It’s much more breezy and calming than that band’s work but the influence is very much noticeable. For the early cool summer mornings or for the rarely rainy days of the season.

23. Bad Blood by Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar

I think this may be the most popular song on the list. I didn’t really like this song very much when I first listened to her album but since it played a lot on radio, I warmed up to it. Kendrick Lamar’s verse didn’t hurt either. I think this mostly happened because of it was released as a single the music video, which I’ve seen only once but thought was very good. I guess I like it because it didn’t sound as boring as the first time. Same thing can be said about her new single, Wildest Dreams, a current favorite of mine, which has an amazing music video.

22. Stillbirth by Alice Glass

I find the music of Crystal Castles to be difficult to get into. I find it very cinematic but listen to their music occasionally. Alice Glass, the lead singer, left the band last year and this is her first solo work. Stillbirth sounds like the title of a Crystal Castles song, I feel like their song titles belong to a certain group like they have their own lexical field. It’s a chaotic song, full of big, pulsating beats best experienced with headphones.

21. Occupied by The Radio Dept.

I first heard The Radio Dept. on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. I found their music awoke nostalgic feelings in me, but it also brought calm and comfort. Best listened to when in rains. This song sounds a lot more different than what I expected from them. It’s an electronic, epic track, over 7 minutes long. It doesn’t make calm me or make me think of the past, but it’s a small departure I enjoy a lot.

20. In For The Kill by Shamir

Shamir dominated my music playlists this summer. He released in May his debut album, Ratchet, a fun, funky set of songs. But the most specific thing about him is his unusual voice. He has been compared to Sylvester and Michael Jackson. In For The Kill is one of the songs I enjoyed the most from this album.

19. Them Changes by Thundercat ft. Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington

I am a big fan of Flying Lotus and Thundercat’s brand of hybrid jazz and hip of hop. It sounds even futuristic at times. I don’t know what I can say more about this song. I’ll let the music speak for itself here.

18. Same To You by Melody Gardot

A funky track about someone who basically ruined, probably by cheating or being distant, and ran away from a good relationship. She usually sang about this kind of relationships in a hurt manner, but here she is confident and adopts a you-don’t-know-what-you-lost attitude.

17. Dreams by Beck

Another song destined for the radio and the charts made by a music expert that sadly wasn’t as appreciated as it should have been. I don’t remember Beck having any kind of songs that are so accessible to mass audiences. This is proof that he can master any genre.

16. Yoga by Janelle Monae & Jidenna

I’ve noticed this summer many artists strayed from their roots and experimented with different sounds. Janelle Monae is one of them as she changed lanes with her new song, Yoga, a more commercial sounding song than her usual brand of narrative-influenced music, for which she has been accused of selling out. I admit I felt a bit like that when I first heard this song but I came to the conclusion that artists should evolve and am sure that once she returns to her Archandroid storyline she will be recognizable again.

15. Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett came to the music scene this year with her debut album, amusingly titled Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. I was very impressed with it and among the tracks I listened to this summer is Avant Gardener that makes me think is about dull days as well as depression. Expertly used in the season 2 finale of Bojack Horseman.

14. I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around by Chromatics

Chromatics are getting better and better, aren’t they? I absolutely love their style. I honestly don’t know what to say more about them that can show how much I like their music. I can’t wait for Dear Tommy.

13. Cause I’m A Man by Tame Impala

I like that Tame Impala became one of those bands that have reached a phase where they can do no wrong, kind of like Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. This song is beautifully groovy and best listened to at a high volume. I think the message is about how we, men, do some mistakes just because it’s in our nature. The music video is really strange but I feel that it gets its points across in an original way.

12. Pedestrian At Best by Courtney Barnett

I don’t really know what this song is really about but I just like her songwriting style, at times direct, at times absurdly funny. Even the title is funny. Plus, it’s a fun, hard rock kind of song I like. I guess it’s about commercialism or depression, again. I see a pattern here.

11. Loud Places by Jamie xx ft. Romy

Speaking about songs destined for partying, this one feels like it’s made for a different section of a party. Either the early stages, capturing the anticipation of the fun and connections you make at such a gathering or the early morning when the sun rises and you feel happy to be young and have your whole life ahead of you. Either way it’s a terrific song that it’s a must at every party.

10. Evil Eyes by Roisin Murphy

Roisin Murphy returned this year too with a terrific new album, Hairless Toys, no idea what the title means. Evil Eyes doesn’t seem like your usual summer song which I believe is about a housewife slowly losing her mind in suburban neighborhood as shown in the music video. I like this mix of disco instrumental and dark messages. Not the typical combo for a summer song, not that it was intended to be one, or a dance song, and that makes it special in my eyes. The music video pays homage to Bergman’s Persona, directed by Murphy herself and is one of the best of the year.

9. On The Regular by Shamir

The most catchy and fun song on this list. It feels like he introduces himself to the world. It’s mostly about what people think of me and telling them to not provoke him. Definitely a party song. Reminds me of Disclosure. He should do a song with them.

8. Delilah by Florence + The Machine

I found the new Florence + The Machine album to be slightly disappointing as it’s hard to top the grand success that was their debut, Lungs. I think I like this song more because it reminds of their first record even though their sound hasn’t changed much over the years. In terms of production, lyrics and vocal performance, it feels like it’s a complete song, whatever that means. That’s what I like about Delilah. Ship To Wreck was pretty good too.

7. Don’t Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes

Another band I’m glad came back is Alabama Shakes. I really enjoyed their first album and like the lead singer’s voice. She just pours her soul on stage. They actually came to Birmingham in May but I couldn’t attend their concert. Maybe if I keep living in the UK I’ll be able to see them because there is no way they will come to Romania.

Speaking of the music, I feel like this album is harder than the first one. Don’t Wanna Fight is evidence of that. I feel like they should work more on their lyrics as, at times, I find them too simple. But, overall, this song is terrific. Would love to see it played live.

6. No Sleeep by Janet Jackson

Who would’ve thought that after all this time we would be getting new music from Janet Jackson. She has been laying low and let those who she influenced occupy the soft-voiced R&B scene. Now I feel like it’s the other way, as she is obviously going for this new wave of electronic R&B which works so well with her voice. This song is just terrific from start to finish, that is if you listen to the original version and not the one with J. Cole. Welcome back, Janet!

5. King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar

That bassline is phenomenal. It’s the first thing I liked about this song, but being a Kendrick Lamar song there is more to it than that. I haven’t listened to his album yet, feel like I need to make time to really get into it to appreciate it rather than just blindly follow the praise. I’m sure it’s amazing though.

4. Call It Off by Shamir

A big sound destined for parties that is oddly about a dying relationship. From the way he sings it sounds like it was the other party’s fault. Anyway, I love this song. Amazing pop song.

3. Gimme All Your Love by Alabama Shakes

It was love at first listen with this song. This is real music. From the lead’s vocals to the amazing instrumental, I think this song live would be a life-changing experience. I freaking love, love it. You should too. Also, this song is worth mentioning.

2. Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd

The only contender for song of the summer that got heavy airplay and I actually liked. The Weeknd took a tumble with his previous album, Kiss Land, which was fine, but not as good as his trilogy of albums with which he entered the music scene. Can’t Feel My Face is about being attracted to someone you know will hurt you. I didn’t expect the sudden change of direction in the song and I love it for that.  There were so many horrible songs these past few months that were forced upon us like See You Again and Cheerleader. I’m glad he came back with such a good song and that everybody seems to like it.

1. Let It Happen by Tame Impala

And now, the crowning musical achievement of 2015 comes from Tame Impala. Let It Happen is an epic explosion of sound, such an incredible piece of music. I never thought that an 8 minute song could go by so fast. You just get lost in it. Will probably become song of the year for me.

 

What did you think of my selection? What were your favorites this summer?

Feel free to share your favorites!

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4 comments

  1. I’m enjoying new Beach House and Tame Impala. Laura Marling’s Strange I love too, lyrics and melody feel timeless, I agree it’s catchy(which folk music often isn’t)
    Dear Tommy Chromatics tracks actually underwhelmed me a bit. Think I prefer their work on the Lost River soundtrack.
    Will keep an eye out for Cee Lo Green’s Rhythm of Life. Love The Radio Dept, didn’t know they had a new EP out! Thanks for sharing. I may do a top 10 The Radio Dept. list on my blog.
    Didn’t like the rockier production style on Courtney Barnett’s new album, I prefer Avant Gardener and what she did on her Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas (2013)
    Evil Eyes by Roisin Murphy is a really good track/video, which you recommended me a while ago.
    Besides Beach H and Tame Impala, think my pop song of the summer would be off Carly Rae Jepsen’s album, maybe “Run Away With Me” or the fun Tom Hanks cameo in “I Really Like You”. They are so upbeat and happy.

    Lots of good stuff here! Nice to see you’ve returned to writing again. Hope things are going ok with your studies in the UK and you are making new friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so behind on new music. Both Tame Impala and Beach House albums I missed. Glad we agree on Laura Marling’s song.
      I still haven’t checked out the soundtrack of Lost River separately. I saw the film and didn’t like it. I feel like the experience of watching the film kept me from enjoying the soundtrack. I should check it and will at some point.
      I will check your list of the top 10 Radio Dept. songs. So far I like their work and autumn, the season that goes best with their music, is just about to start.
      Haven’t listened to Courtney Barnett’s EP. Maybe I should since you liked it and we have similar taste. Avant Gardener was really good. Liked the lyrics the most.
      I have heard a lot of praise for Carly Rae Jepsen’s album. I will listen to it. I have listened to both tracks which are played on radio here in the UK. I found Run Away WIth Me to be a fun song, but was bothered by the repetitive chorus of I Really Like You. But I guess their positive nature is something to be appreciated.

      Thank you. I hope to keep on writing as I like blogging and it’s certainly a productive activity. Actually I haven’t come to the UK for studies, but for a job. I’ve just changed one from Birmingham to one in London. So, I’ll see how that turns out. Thanks for commenting and sorry for the late reply.

      Liked by 1 person

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