5 Underappreciated Songs of the Summer
Every year around the summertime, a song is released that becomes the anthem of vacations, nights out and romances all over the country. And that song we collectively deem the Song of the Summer. For example, in 2014, it was undoubtedly "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX, and in 2017 it was "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber. Last year, we technically didn’t have a definitive song, but I think it’s safe to say it was “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin. But this year, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint what it was.
There have been attempts such as Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” - which I talked about in one of my latest articles - and “Summer Days” by Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump. Both of which came and went quickly (On a side note: I personally felt that “Summer Days” was underrated.) And there have been hits that have taken place during the summer like “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber and “Señorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. But both songs in my opinion are too hollow and lifeless to be the song that makes you want to jump in a pool or fall in love with someone for three months.
So I had to look much deeper into my Spotify suggestions to find songs released this year that really make me feel like it’s summer. So I hope you’ll indulge me in appreciating - in no particular order - 5 songs that inspire me to have fun the rest of the summer.
“Juice” by Lizzo
I realize that “Juice” has been talked about quite a bit this summer and even made it onto the Billboard Hot 100. But I do feel it has been overshadowed by the other Lizzo hit of this year, “Truth Hurts.” I surprisingly first heard about Lizzo on the Laura Miller show “Talking in Circles.” I remember her discussing her fear of needles and how overcoming it helped her to experience the wonders of acupuncture. I found her super enjoyable to listen to and looked into her music. I then discovered “Good and Hell,” a total bop that I rocked out to last year.
So when her songs “Truth Hurts” got incredibly popular, I was very happy for her. “Truth Hurts” is a really amusing middle-finger song with relatable and to many, empowering lyrics. But much like a banger like “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande was overshadowed by songs like “Breathin’” and “Thank U Next,” I feel that “Juice” would have gotten more play and attention, had it been promoted at a different time than “Truth Hurts.” But for me, “Juice” was the one that made me want to get up and dance. With its disco sound and influence stemming from Cece Penison’s “Finally,” it feels like a song that would get people in a good mood and even fill a dance floor. Sing it in your car, your shower, at the club, it all works. Lizzo is definitely someone to watch. With her new mainstream fame, it’s possible she could be writing the Song of the Summer 2020 as we speak.
“SWEET sPOT” Kim Petras
For the longest time, my friends have been telling me to listen to Kim Petras. And I kept putting it off because for a couple of years there, I was getting sick of pop music in general. Everything sounded like the same mid-tempo boring EDM song that sells well on the radio. And with some of her biggest hits featuring Cheat Codes - the one responsible for the Demi Lovato song “No Promises” - I was a bit worried. It’s not that I think “No Promises” is a terrible song, - far from it - but it sounded like every other song on the radio. But since my friends Andi and Nick were the ones suggesting Petras to me, and they have incredible taste in pop music, I finally sat down and listened to her body of work. And she’s a fantastic pop star.
Every song - much like other musicians I love like Allie X - has a clear meaning behind it and stays focused, yet fun and energetic. I love “Fear of Falling,” and was dancing around the Everlane fitting room to “Heart to Break” just yesterday. And now I’ve fallen in love with some songs off her new album “Clarity.” “Sweet Spot” is a funky pop song that sounds like it belongs on Daft Punk’s “Discovery” album. It has a lot of techno influence and contains a lot of wonderful opportunities for dance breaks. And while she definitely falls under the umbrella of this EDM pop craze, her songs are never generic or fluffy. They all sound inspired and carefully crafted. And I really hope that she can make her way firmly onto the American Top 40 list in the years to come, because I think she could truly light a much needed fire under our current crop of “hits.”
“Happy Not Knowing” Carly Rae Jepsen
Once again, Carly Rae Jepsen and her music are once again getting snubbed by the mainstream for no good reason. Jepsen consistently puts out danceable, energetic and meaningful pop music and keeps getting passed up for mediocre chart toppers. I will never understand who has it in for her in the industry. But her cult following will always appreciate what she has to offer. Her new album “Dedicated” has a lot of great tunes, but the one that stands out to me the most is “Happy Not Knowing.” It’s about the very relatable - and not often discussed in music - feeling of not wanting to know if someone you have feelings for feels the same way because you know the relationship would be more trouble than it’s worth. The concept is clear and concise throughout the whole song. And despite its depressing meaning, the song is fun and something you can put on repeat during a long drive.
“Number One Fan” by MUNA
If you’ve heard the first few seconds of this song only, you may have cringed and decided not to give it a second glance. What’s there to like about lyrics like “So I heard the bad news. Nobody likes me and I’m gonna die alone?” But a deeper listen will reveal a really gorgeous chorus and a positive message that we all need to collectively stop putting ourselves down and start being our own number one fan. This electronic pop trio has impressed me pretty much every time they have been suggested to me on YouTube. They have a unique indie feel, but create fun pop music that always has a positive message to it. You can truly picture little kids posing in the mirror to this song, teenagers singing this song into their hairbrush or 20-somethings throwing their hands in the air to it at a club. It gives this collective feeling of positivity I hope to keep getting out of them as they keep putting out bop after bop.
“Doin’ Time” by Lana Del Rey
It wouldn’t be summertime if we didn’t mention Lana Del Rey. Ironically enough, her somber 2012 song “Summertime Sadness” made a comeback this year thanks to all the lovers who got their hearts broken earlier in the season than usual. And keeping in theme with a somber summer, she released a great cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time,” a song that embodies the summer heat and angst, describing the feeling of being imprisoned as a metaphor for being cheated on repeatedly. And Lana sells it with her unique vocal take and instrumentals on the song, breathing what I felt was new life and energy into it, while still conveying the devastating message. My boyfriend Steven even pointed out that she didn’t even genderswap the lyrics or switch out the names listed in the song for ones more relevant to her. It was a truly respectful and tasteful cover that I think deserves more attention. From her flower crowns, to her romanticism of LA and Florida’s hot weather, to her jean shorts and influence on music festival culture, Lana Del Rey has convinced me that she is truly the current musical queen of summer.
What songs of the summer do you feel were snubbed this year? And are there any top 40s hits you think actually deserve the title for 2019? I’d love to hear. Until we meet again.