Time to cue up your songs of sum­mer

Here’s how to cre­ate the best sum­mer mu­sic playlist

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - DAN DELUCA

On Spo­tify re­cently, it seemed as if the stream­ing ser­vice had given it­self over en­tirely to pre­sent­ing the mu­sic of a sin­gle artist.

That would be Drake, whose dou­ble al­bum “Scor­pion” was re­leased on June 30.

Ev­ery­where you looked, there was his hand­some mug, the cover im­age of ev­ery sin­gle playlist on the world’s most pop­u­lar stream­ing ser­vice.

That went for even the ones his songs weren’t fea­tured on, such as “Best of Bri­tish,” or “Happy Pop Hits.” The pro­mo­tion was a silly goof that on­line rage-a-holics are com­par­ing to U2’s “Songs of In­no­cence” be­ing in­serted into all the world’s iTunes mu­sic fold­ers in 2014 be­cause, well, be­cause peo­ple love to com­plain.

But the all-Drake all-the-time stunt un­der­scores a tru­ism: “Scor­pion” is the un­avoid­able event re­lease of the sum­mer. The Toronto rap­per’s al­bum is un­even but still packed with hits. “Scor­pion” has smashed stream­ing records left and right, gar­ner­ing more that 435 mil­lion plays on Spo­tify, Ap­ple Mu­sic, and other stream­ing ser­vices in its first three days of re­lease. That is more than the pre­vi­ous record holder, Post-Malone’s “Beer­bongs & Bent­leys,” ac­cu­mu­lated in a week.

Drake is in­cluded on the 24song sum­mer playlist as­sem­bled here.

But there’s more than Drizzy hap­pen­ing this sum­mer: The tunes as­sem­bled in­clude big pop hits in con­tention for that win­ner-take-all Song of the Sum­mer con­test that me­dia out­lets ob­sess over, but also breezy and brood­ing songs with a mul­ti­plic­ity of moods — be­cause while hot and sticky sea­sonal pop songs are of­ten joy­ful, they’re not al­ways enough to chase away the sum­mer­time blues.

“I Like It,” Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin

If a sin­gle song of the sum­mer had to be named, I’d go with this one, the sec­ond Bill­board chart top­per for the Bronx-born rap­per who dom­i­nated 2017 with “Bo­dak Yel­low.” This col­lab­o­ra­tion with two reg­gae­ton em­cees ef­fort­lessly blends trap mu­sic beats with salsa. It’s fur­ther ev­i­dence of the in­domitable spirit of the rap­per born Bel­calis Al­man­zar.

“Make Me Feel,” Janelle Monae

The cur­rent sin­gle from the At­lanta R&B-pop-funk syn­the­sist’s ter­rific new al­bum “Dirty Com­puter” is “I Like That.” “Make Me Feel,” how­ever, is the su­pe­rior sum­mer­time jam, a cel­e­bra­tion of sex­u­al­ity that takes point­ers from Prince’s “Kiss.”

“Apes**t,” The Carters

Bey­oncé says the bad word on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions in this hard­bang­ing cel­e­bra­tion of high­pow­ered en­ter­tain­ment cou­ple bliss on “Ev­ery­thing Is Love,” which fea­tures art his­tory lessons aplenty in its video filmed at Paris’ Lou­vre mu­seum.

“Short Court Style,” Natalie Prass

Rich­mond, Va., indie singer Prass’ im­pres­sive sec­ond al­bum is a de­lec­ta­ble slice of bub­ble gum flavoured throw­back 1970s pop­funk.

“Boo’d Up,” Ella Mai

Sum­mer­time is the love song time. Bri­tish singer Ella Mai first put out this cel­e­bra­tion of go­ing steady early last year, but it’s a suc­cess story that gath­ered stream and pop ra­dio ex­po­sure into 2018.

“Slow Burn,” Kacey Mus­graves

While still iden­ti­fy­ing her­self as coun­try singer, Kacey Mus­graves has redi­rected her mu­sic in a ‘70s soft-rock di­rec­tion, a smart strat­egy since coun­try ra­dio is too con­ser­va­tive to play her any­way. This su­perbly crafted tune stays on per­ma­nent sim­mer.

“Babe,” Su­gar­land feat. Tay­lor Swift

Wy­omiss­ing, Pa.’s own megas­tar Swift now rules a pure pop uni­verse. She’s smartly kept her fin­ger in the coun­try pie by con­tin­u­ing to write hit songs for coun­try pop acts such as reunited duo Su­gar­land.

“Let’s Take a Va­ca­tion,” Joshua Hed­ley

The Nashville crooner puts a warm-weather spin on Merle Hag­gard’s “If We Make It Through De­cem­ber,” on this cut from “Mr. Juke­box,” as he tries to con­vince his sig­nif­i­cant other that a sum­mer time get­away will put some zip back in their fail­ing re­la­tion­ship.

“Pretty Horses,” Dwight Yoakam

This is the best of two new lone­some and blue songs that the un­com­monly de­pend­able vet­eran song­writer re­cently de­buted on his ex­cel­lent new Sir­ius XM chan­nel Dwight Yoakam & the Bak­ers­field Beat.

“Pet Ceme­tery,” Tierra Whack

A love song to her lost dog, this is one of the stand­out cuts on the North Philly rap­per’s won­drous 15-songs-in-15-min­utes al­bum “Whack World.’

“Sum­mer Games,” Drake

“Sum­mer just started and we’re al­ready done,” the Canadian rhymer, in sad and sen­si­tive mode, raps on the 1980s syn­th­driven sum­mer bum­mer, sound­ing dis­ap­pointed. It’s one of many “Scor­pion” cuts, along with “Af­ter Dark” and “Nice For What” that would have made wor­thy ad­di­tion to this list.

“No Tears Left to Cry,” Ari­ana Grande

The oc­tave-leap­ing singer has a new al­bum called “Sweet­ener” due next month, and a frisky new sin­gle called “Bed” with Nicki Mi­naj. This, though, is the sad song with a sweet melody whose mourn­ful tone feels like a re­sponse to the ter­ror at­tack that killed 22 at a Grande show in Eng­land last year.

“Lu­cid Dreams,” Juice Wrld

Drake isn’t the only rap­per who’s pour­ing his feel­ings out this sum­mer. Juice Wrld is the sub­ur­ban Chicago teen born Jared Hig­gins who spe­cial­izes in feel­ing sorry for him­self in song, thank­fully with a mod­icum of self-aware­ness. “I take pre­scrip­tions to make me feel A-OK,” he rap-sings. “I know it’s all in my head.”

“Heat Wave,” Snail Mail

Bal­ti­more teenager Lind­sey Jor­dan ex­plores her feel­ings with scalpel-sharp acu­ity and song­writ­ing smarts on her de­but, “Lush,” and this will men­tally cool you down if you watch its ice hockey video.

“Name­less, Face­less,” Court­ney Bar­nett

The Aus­tralian rock song­writer who is so good at pre­cisely — and drolly — de­tail­ing thoughts of alien­ation and de­tach­ment on her new “Tell Me How You Re­ally Feel.” Put down of the sum­mer: “I could eat a bowl of al­pha­bet soup and spit out bet­ter words than you.”

“If You Know You Know,” Pusha-T

There’s no self-pity on this hard-hit­ting high­light from “Day­tona,” the Kanye West­pro­duced re­turn to form by the rap­per who made his name with the street­wise Vir­ginia hip-hop duo Clipse.

“Stay Woke,” Meek Mill feat. Miguel

The ap­pro­pri­ately se­ri­ous-in­tone first song by the Philadel­phia rap­per since his re­lease from prison in April. He spits with au­thor­ity, and takes Grand­mas­ter Flash’s clas­sic “The Mes­sage” as a start­ing point.

“This Is Amer­ica,” Child­ish Gam­bino

The song of the sum­mer that speaks the most in­tensely to a bit­terly di­vided na­tion in 2018 from Re­nais­sance man Don­ald Glover.

“The Mid­dle,” Zedd, Maren Mor­ris, Grey

A col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Rus­sian-Ger­man DJ-pro­ducer, a Nashville coun­try pop singer, and an L.A. EDM act is just the sort of Franken­steinian cre­ation that con­tem­po­rary pop megahits are made of. And this one is hard to re­sist.

“One Kiss,” Calvin Har­ris feat. Dua Lipa

This sum­mer’s soar­ing fire­work cel­e­bra­tion-ready dance track from Scot­tish DJ and Tay­lor Swift-ex Har­ris. This time with English song­writer and vo­cal­ist han­dling the vo­cal du­ties in a tes­ti­mony about how a sin­gle peck on the lips can spell tran­scen­dence.

“A Song for Those Who Miss You All the Time,” Thin Lips

Speak­ing of Lips, this song by the Philly band fronted by Chrissy Tashjian is by no means a happy one, but its gnarly gui­tar riff and catchy hook does de­liver plenty of cathar­sis. “Cho­sen Fam­ily” is out July 27.

“Hey! Lit­tle Child,” Low Cut Con­nie

A rib­ald stomp from the rau­cous throw­back Philly rocker’s “Dirty Pic­tures (part 2)”, cov­er­ing Big Star’s Alex Chilton, who in­cluded it on his 1979 solo al­bum “Like Flies On Sher­bert.”

“I’m Your Man,” Spir­i­tu­al­ized

One man band Ja­son Pierce — a.k.a. J. Space­man — is re­turn­ing with “And Noth­ing Hurt,” his first al­bum of new mu­sic since 2012 on Sept. 7. This and a sec­ond song, “A Per­fect Mir­a­cle,” are marked by swelling or­ches­tra­tion and divine sum­mer­time sad­ness sen­ti­ment.

“Sum­mer’s End,” John Prine

Be­fore you know it, it’ll be gone. This high­light from the 71-year-old Prine’s su­perb bet­terthan-it-has-any-right-to-be “The Tree of For­give­ness” is as beau­ti­ful and bit­ter­sweet as a late Au­gust sun­set.

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