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belly and conrad playing basketball on the boardwalk in the summer i turned pretty season 2
belly and conrad playing basketball on the boardwalk in the summer i turned pretty season 2
Erika Doss/Prime Video

The Perfect Summer Soundtrack That’ll Turn Your Summer Into a Movie

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

With less than one month left in the spring semester, it feels like summer is approaching much sooner than expected! Whether you have trips planned, internships, jobs, or are just staying home, you never know what’s in store for this break between school and reality! 

Summer-centric dramas or summer-themed seasons within shows have recently gained more popularity with releases like The Summer I Turned Pretty, Outer Banks, Stranger Things, and Cruel Summer. The second season of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, releasing this year, has even been announced as Pretty Little Liars: Summer School! I’ve also had a recent rewatch of Camp Rock that made me realize the movies and shows we grew up on detailed a drama-filled love fest of a summer. Each contained moments of high energy and emotionally charged tension that eventually developed into something more complex as we got older. 

If you’re looking for the same vibes of a crazed teen drama of summer, then this may be the perfect playlist for you! I wanted to build a playlist with a mix of different genres and vibes that reflect the ups and downs of a summer you’ll never forget. This insane collection of songs is the one you want to hear driving down the road, running on the beach, or reflecting as you hopelessly try to decide between two hot brothers. Without further ado, let’s break down the eras within the perfect playlist to transform your hot girl summer into its own drama! 

“august” – The Summer I Turned Pretty  

This specific version of “august” by Taylor Swift is what inspired me to build an entire playlist around a dramatized summer. Who doesn’t feel the intensity in this version of the song? Taken from the Season 2 teaser trailer of The Summer I Turned Pretty, it perfectly captures the feelings and emotions of a whirlwind summer one can only find onscreen. Watching the trailer invokes this feeling, and I love the rush of how quickly summer can start and end! If I had to pick one song that acts as a culmination of the entire playlist, it’s definitely this one! 

Summer In the Sun 

The first era of this playlist was chosen to reflect the excitement of the start of the summer. I wanted to begin with good vibes, happy times, and the steady anticipation of the adventures that are to come. To sum it up, this is the intro to the start of your drama!

“Something Like Summer” by Caveboy and “Sol Del Sur” by Sun Room are the most literal introductions to this bright and hot season, with the absolute best compositions to emulate so many emotions. “Island In the Sun” by Weezer captures those chill vibes, and “Back on 74” has the catchy beat this playlist needed. These are the songs that should come with no worries, just vibes — the perfect start to your summer!

Summer Lovin’ Had Me A Blast 

There’s nothing more thrilling than a summer love story, and we probably have Grease to thank for that. These next couple of songs capture the thrill of first love and the high energy that this level of happiness invokes! 

“Little of Your Love” by HAIM plants the first seed of love before jumping into “so american” by Olivia Rodrigo. Its flow of upbeat, energized love and happy songs reflects the type of free-flowing spirit that summer allows you to embrace. “I Want Candy” from Bow Wow Wow was taken from the soundtrack to the 2006 Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette. It’s one of my favorite scenes, and who understands girlhood better than Sofia Coppola? Finishing off this era with “HOT TO GO!” by Chappell Roan and “Speed Drive” by Charli XCX to bring the energy to its ultimate high. This will surely not be the only point in the summer when we get to the party! 

The Cruelest Summer 

Somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like this. Summer has its ups and downs, and it’s those downs that make it a cruel summer, indeed. “What’s the Time Where You Are?” by Troye Sivan is the slow transition into an imperfect summer, and “The Way I Loved You” by Taylor Swift drives the point home further. We were riding on a high up until this point, and we now see the drama begin to unfold. We find that the summer lovin’ really did happen so fast.  

“Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey is a perfect, on-the-nose addition to this slump in the season. All the songs in this era translate the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts that follow the downfall of summer love and how your mind changes as a result. It ends beautifully with, of course, “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift, and the juxtaposition between this era and the Summer Lovin’ that preceded it culminates into a summer drama of its own. 

Those Summer Nights 

As the summer winds down and you feel those summer days slipping away, it’s time to start embracing those summer nights! This era is my favorite because it has all the hand-clapping, hip-shaking, heart-breaking pop vibes of the cruelest, coolest summer! While I can’t list them all, I highly recommend giving each one a listen. From the hot girl summer vibes of Chappell Roan, Dua Lipa, MARINA, and Sabrina Carpenter to the let loose party vibes of Beyoncé, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Reneé Rapp, and Megan Thee Stallion, this is the time to let loose and have a blast before it’s time to go back to basics! 

Our Last Summer 

As the summer comes to a close, you may find yourself feeling somber about what you must leave behind. You begin to reflect on what the season meant to you and how different you were at its beginning. You’re almost nostalgic for a time that just passed, and these songs are the period of winding down from it. By the time the summer ends, you’ve probably experienced new things or even become a new person as a result.  

With “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears and “Used to Be Young” by Miley Cyrus, you still have a hold on this time in your youth. However, “Summer’s End” by Phoebe Bridgers and Maria Taylor and “eternal sunshine” by Ariana Grande help bring it to a close. You’re not just at the end of this summer but nearing the end of all your summers. 

While you may not have a sensational summer romance like the ones you see on screen, I want this playlist to reflect something greater: a sensational summer romance with yourself. A lot of us may not be going on trips or have anything grand planned. But no matter how your summer unfolds, you should feel as though you are the main character in your own show!

Whether you listen in order or on a random shuffle, romanticizing your summer with the right playlist allows you to find some fascination and joy in your everyday life. 

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Cheyenne Cruz is a staff writer for the FSU chapter of HerCampus. Her work involves writing for personal experiences, entertainment and pop culture, and campus life at FSU. She is a Senior at Florida State University, majoring in Humanities and minoring in Hospitality Management. She also serves as the Event Planning Coordinator for the Themed Entertainment Association at FSU. In her free time, she loves reading and video chatting with her family just to check up on her dogs. She has a love for pop culture and a passion for discovering a myriad of films and tv shows, both old and new. Any song in her playlist is easily located from a movie soundtrack, and she loves bringing her new discoveries to so many different people.