I think we can all agree that Summer 2020 has been the worst summer in the history of summers in recent memory. The pandemic + the world basically falling apart had us locked in our homes living out a seemingly endless Groundhog Day-type scenario. While some of us may have picked up hobbies and kept ourselves occupied, I've decided to dive into my music recommendations to try to expand my musical tastes and came across some musical gems that made my quarantine a little more enjoyable! So here are 10 songs I've discovered (or rediscovered) over the past summer.
- Like I Do - AWA
Like most of my music discoveries, I came across this song on my YouTube recommendations. Despite the extremely rocky state the website is currently in, their recommendations via their algorithm are unmatched. The video's thumbnail caught my eye, as it reminded me of Solange's work, so I had to see. The song is so unbelievably funky and vibey that I immediately started stanning. Turns out, she had an EP out this past June, titled "cry.baby"! Highly recommended if you wanted to expand your R&B palettes beyond mainstream artists.
- Prototype - OutKast
While I'm not unfamiliar with OutKast, I'll admit I've never properly dived into their discography other than "Hey Ya", their oft-sampled "SpottieOttieDopaliscious", and several other singles. I actually first heard this while binge-watching "High Fidelity" starring Zoë Kravitz on Hulu. I heard that the soundtrack for the show was immaculate so I had to see for myself, and I'm a sucker for funky R&B so this was right up my alley. A little bit of an oldie, but a goldie.
- The Sea - HAEVN
Switching gears for a bit, the release of Taylor Swift's "folklore" had me going on a little bit of an indie-folk binge for like a week and a half. Thanks to the discography of indie-folk titans Bon Iver, I was thrown into a wonderful musical rabbit hole where the music made you feel like you were glamping in a cozy cabin at Yosemite, or driving down to Big Sur. Dutch indie duo HAEVN does exactly that with their coastal symphony simply titled "The Sea".
- KLK - ARCA (feat. Rosalia)
Switching gears again, into the world of electro-glitch-reggaeton. ARCA's name isn't one I'm unfamiliar with, and neither is Rosalia's! If you run around the same circles I'm in, names like Charli XCX, Brooke Candy, A.G. Cook, and SOPHIE would be expected when discussing music. ARCA would be included in those discussions. Although I've never really explored her work other than the production she did for Kelela's "Hallucinogen" EP, I was recommended by friends to listen to her collab with Spanish singer Rosalia. Radically different than most reggaeton my friends listen to, ARCA's "KLK", off of her new album "KiCk i", is a glorious electronic cacophony that'll have you perreo'ing into the 4th dimension.
- Mixer - Amber Mark
Another funky bass-laden R&B gem, Amber Mark is a name that should be all over your R&B playlists. Shockingly, I had apparently Shazam'd this song at some point pre-pandemic and it was automatically added to my Shazam playlist on Apple Music. So when I found this track in my music, I was like "oh my God, I've heard this before!" And this pandemic had me appreciating Amber Mark's music even more. With 3 EPs and a debut album released in 2017, I can only ask myself why haven't I gotten into her sooner.
- Ehlawet Ayami - Reem
Being an international student, this pandemic indeed had me feeling homesick for my home country of Kuwait. I spent part of this pandemic binge-watching Kuwaiti shows from Ramadans gone by and listening to Arabic music. Lately, I've been craving for Arabic music from the '90s and early 2000s, and Reem's "Ehlawet Ayami" (roughly translated to "best of my days") was the type of music you'd listen to with the top down and cruising down Arabian Gulf Street in Kuwait back in the 2000s.
- It Ain't Me - Kygo & Selena Gomez
Talk about a throwback. Back in the peak of the tropical house era, breezy, beachside beats that reeked of California were the embodiment of every summer from 2014 onwards. I'll admit, this beat and it's earworm-y chopped up chorus vocals had me wishing I was on the Santa Monica boardwalk, snapping polaroids, and taking in the fresh summer air instead of my current circumstances.
- You Go to My Head - Jan Savitt
For those quiet rainy days or calm sunset evenings, there's nothing like old-timey big band or jazz music to really put you in the mood. Thankfully, there's been an abundance of both all summer. Another one of my week-long genre binges had me diving into old jazz music from the 30s up until the 40s, and this was one of the few tracks that really stood out. It reminded me of the summers at Disney's Hollywood Studios, listening to all the jazz music while waiting in line for Tower Of Terror or just in other areas of the park in all its carefully constructed and Disney-curated "Old Hollywood" glory.
- Talk About Our Love - Brandy
"Afrodisiac" is a classic, and almost all the tracks on there, including "Talk About Our Love" are just incredible in every aspect. Brandy's foray into alternative R&B with this album helped cement her place in the world of contemporary R&B. With the release of her new album "B7" and her show "Moesha" now being on Netflix, I decided to dive back into her discography and rediscover her music. The way her albums have all aged like the finest red wine...
- These Memories - Hollow Caves
Ending this list off with a quieter indie-folk song, "These Memories" by Hollow Caves is another track I discovered during my post-"folklore" indie-folk binge. The song lyrics reminisce about memories from traveling and experiences, and I felt a lot of that listening to it. This song had me wishing I was with my family, on a plane to make more summer memories somewhere new, yet here were are – stuck indoors and daydreaming about the summer that never happened.
Note: "Ehlawet Ayami" is only available on Spotify.