Add This To Your Playlist: Week Twenty-Eight- Perfect Summer

We’re in the heart of the summer, which means we want to be listening to carefree, fun songs that remind us of good memories spent with friends and family. This is the time to let loose and just enjoy yourself. So if you’re looking for songs to listen to at the beach, or even just when you’re cruising around in your car, here are some summer tunes that won’t disappoint.

  1. 1. "Vacation" by Hippo Campus

    So at this point, you’re probably sick of seeing me recommend songs from this band, but I couldn’t make my Perfect Summer playlist without including a song off my favorite nostalgic summer album, Landmark. Hippo Campus has been making a statement in the indie music scene since 2013 and has consistently impressed audiences with their unique blending of older psychedelic and rock styles with more current alternative sounds. The band truly took off three years ago with the success of their single “Violet” which now has 4.7 million views on YouTube. Their most recent album, Bambi, was released last year and has produced four music videos, the most recent of which (“Honestly”) was uploaded to YouTube last month. In addition to creating an intriguing discography, the band has also dabbled in activism. They paired with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in support of the Me Too movement so that profits from their merchandise sales would benefit women in their hometown. Similarly, they have sold t-shirts to support the Normal Parents organization and the Everytown for Gun Safety organization to speak out against gun violence. 

    “Vacation” details the culmination of Hippo Campus’s debut album and the process Jake Luppen went through to write it. He talks about his struggles to stay connected with his bandmates throughout the record’s production and how it put a strain on their relationships. Luppen begins the song with the line “My thoughts are a battlefield of sub-surreal and unfamiliar” as he is trying to draw inspiration from the abstract to create his art. When conceptualizing an album, many artists want to include a thematic thread throughout all of the songs that make it a cohesive collection. By putting that pressure on himself, Luppen feels as though he is proverbially banging his head against the wall. He then describes his hallucinogenic, drug-induced episodes that he went on to try to come to a different state of consciousness and find “direction” for his album. The chorus, which repeats, “You’re friends are all waiting,” implies that he’s been spending so much time in his head that he hasn’t been able to spend any time with the people he cares about. Luppen noted that this song was not only one of his favorites from the album but also the rawest and most natural. There’s nothing like writing about the writing process. 

  2. 2. "Ease My Mind" by Hayley Kiyoko

    Fan-declared “Lesbian Jesus” Hayley Kiyoko is a Los Angles-based pop singer, songwriter and actress. She became famous for her role in the Disney Channel original movie, Lemonade Mouth, along with her role as Velma in the 2009 adaptation of Scooby Doo! She began her career as a solo artist in 2013 with the release of her first extended play,  A Belle To Remember. She proceeded by releasing two more EPs, This Side of Paradise and Citrine before finally releasing her debut album, Expectations, in 2018. Through her music, Kiyoko strives to normalize female/female relationships and voice the experience of girls falling in love with other girls. In taking on this goal, she has created several self-directed music videos highlighting the struggles and realities of queer women. Not to mention, she's just teased the release of a new song "I Wish."

    “Ease My Mind” is the pinnacle example of a perfect summer bop. This simple song depicts feelings of longing as the speaker is remembering a past relationship and wanting to be close to the girl she loves again. Kiyoko begins her song with the line “I hear you like a whisper in the corner of my lovesick thoughts.” She tells the audience that even though she’s tried to move on, she just can’t get this girl out of her head. She compares the feeling to “sand through a filter,” and as sand is one of the finest sediments, it would likely just fall through the filter instead of being caught. She feels like the relationship and the girl herself got away from her. She then asks for this girl to “ease [her] mind” because she is still being haunted by what they could have been. This song, despite depicting a sad topic, is upbeat and punchy, making it more of a reminiscent and wistful song than a depressing one.

  3. 3. "Lemon Boy" by Cavetown

    Twenty-year-old Robin Skinner, better known under his stage name Cavetown, has been performing since 2013. He was born to the Director of Music at Cambridge University and a professional flutist. He began creating YouTube videos featuring his original tracks and song covers when he was just fourteen. He defines his music taste as "bedroom indie", meaning his songs are often atmospheric and melodic. Cavetown places great importance on his audience and is baffled by the amount of support he’s received from fans. In 2018, he was able to release his debut album independently, titled Lemon Boy. The title track took off, earning him over 16 million streams on Spotify. His current project is a mixtape series titled Animal Kingdom.

    “Lemon Boy” is a quaint little song about mental illness and the negative thoughts that consume us. As we follow the speaker, he depicts his relationship with Lemon Boy and how he ends up isolating himself because of it. He tells us that he found Lemon Boy “growing in [his] garden” and that he “pulled him out by his hair like a weed.” This signifies the beginning of a negative thought spiral. The speaker wants to pull him out and get rid of him, but Lemon Boy will just continue to grow back. He decides instead to befriend Lemon Boy and marvels at how easy it is to be “nice to a bitter boy like him.” While he has this new friend in Lemon Boy, he realizes that his “friends are more the savoury type” and that they didn’t like Lemon Boy’s influence on the speaker. By embracing this depressive state, the speaker ended up pushing away all of his friends and was left alone with just himself and his mental illness, a state that is unhealthy for anyone. He seems to end the song by saying “Lemon Boy and I, we’re gonna live forever,” meaning that even if he does treat his mental illness, it’s still something he’ll have to struggle with for the rest of his life. Himself and Lemon Boy are a package deal.

  4. 4. "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" by Yusuf/Cat Stevens

    Yusuf Islam, best known by his stage name, Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter who has influenced folk music throughout the ages. When he debuted, his 1967 album reached the top ten on the UK charts. Following this, his subsequent albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat both received a triple-platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. He has also been distinguished with songwriting awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. In 2007, he received the Ivor Novello Award for his Outstanding Song Collection. As of 1977, Cat Stevens converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam to support his newfound faith and left the music industry to further educate and immerse himself in the new culture. However, he returned to the field in 2006 with the release of his album, An Other Cup. His latest album release was the 2017 work, The Laughing Apple.

    This song is the perfect, happy feel-good song that makes you both nostalgic and transcendent. While the lyrics are simple, they are effective in telling you to just be yourself and live your life without regrets. The song opens by saying, “If you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free.” Stevens wants his audience to be able to embrace their happiness while they have it. So many moments are fleeting, and we are often told to suppress how we feel, but once we start living our truth, everything becomes simpler and we can appreciate each moment as it happens. He also reminds his listeners of their ability to choose by singing, “You can do what you want, the opportunity’s on.” He wants everyone to know that they don’t need permission to do what they think is right for them. This song is all about seizing your moment. 

  5. 5. "Brooklyn in the Summer" by Aloe Blacc

    Born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, Aloe Blacc is a singer, songwriter, record producer, rapper, actor and philanthropist. His most notable work is probably his featured vocals on Avicii’s song “Wake Me Up,” which Blacc wrote himself. Both his singles “I Need a Dollar” and “The Man” charted in the United Kingdom. In addition to his solo career, he also dedicates his musicianship to the duo Emanon, a hip hop music act he performs in with Exile. Blacc grew up in Southern California and discovered his love for music when he began playing the trumpet in the third grade. Blacc began his career as a solo artist in 2003 and released his first full-length album in 2006 titled Shine Through. His most recent project, a collaboration song with EDM artist Gryffin, is titled “Hurt People.”

    Blacc’s song “Brooklyn in the Summer” outlines a painful breakup as the speaker recounts the loving and touching moments of the relationship and laments about how he will no longer be able to create new memories with this person. It’s equally sad and hopeful as he reminds himself that there is time to fall in love again. Blacc opens the scene on a struggling couple with “no money in Montreal.” They are trying to navigate both financial stability and life in a foreign city, not truly excelling at either. He remembers the quiet moments when they would wake up together and he claims that this other person is “everywhere that [he’s] ever known” because they left such a defining imprint on his life. When he tells them that they “feel like Brooklyn in the summer,” he is telling them that while they are warm and fun like his best memories, they are also a painful reminder of happier moments that he can’t get back to.

  6. 6. "Nothing in Return" by Monsune

    If you’re looking to fall in love with an artist that has almost no presence in the industry yet, let me introduce you to Monsune. This young Toronto-based artist has only put out one song so far, but it’s already enough to have me hooked. “Nothing in Return” was released back in 2017 alongside a self-directed music video that Scott Zhang (Monsune) created. He layers samples of other songs, including the work of Serge Gainsbourg, to create a compelling and melancholy sound. Throughout the process of making the song, Monsune wanted to get across the vulnerability and raw emotion of what it’s like to be in a one-sided relationship. Through expert crafting and sullen vocals, Monsune has made a statement with his current release. While no other songs have been released, he also directed the music video for Brahny’s song “Bloom” that was released in April of 2018. I’m addicted to this song, and I hope to hear more from Zhang in the future.

    “Nothing in Return” is slow and reverent, yet strangely uplifting as it explores the dynamics of unrequited love. The speaker is invested in a relationship that the other person just doesn’t seem to care about. It’s hard for anyone in love to acknowledge the fact that maybe the other person just isn’t interested. It seems as though Monsune has had enough heartbreak. The song opens with the refrain, saying, “If you kept me waiting on your words, would you give me nothing in return?” This illustrates the difficulty of being told to wait and not having it amount to anything. While frustrating, this happens often in relationships, friendships and in the workplace. Getting your hopes up and then having them dashed again and again can be tiring. He defines the extent to which he cares about this other person in singing, “Said I’d promised you the world if you could do the same.” He’s willing to put the time and effort into cultivating something real but realizes that the other person isn’t willing to reciprocate any of those notions. Nothing says disappointment like somebody telling you that you’re not worth the effort. 

     

  7. 7. "Feel So Fine" by TAEYEON

    In 2007, Kim Taeyeon debuted with SM Entertainment’s star girl group Girls’ Generation (SNSD) as the breakout vocalist. Through the group’s success, she has earned her place as one of the most influential women in the Asian music scene. She began her career as a solo artist in 2015 with the release of her mini-album, I. The mini-album reached the number two spot on charts in South Korea, and the title track sold over two million digital copies. In 2017, Taeyeon released her debut full-length album, My Voice, serving as a culmination of her artistry up to that point. At 30 years old, Taeyeon has received five Golden Disc Awards, two Seoul Music awards, two MNet Awards, two Gaon Chart Music Awards and a Melon Music Award. In 2019, Taeyeon put out a brand new mini-album titled VOICE.

    “Feel So Fine” is a song depicting the journey to self-actualization and fulfillment. It begins by following a speaker who is in a dark place and doesn’t know how to find herself again. She describes it as “time that used to cage [her],” signifying that though she has been in a state of mind that’s been holding her back, and is finally ready to break out of that cage. She asks for someone to hold her hand and guide her out of the darkness and to the path that she’s meant to be on. As she sheds her past, she realizes that she has metaphorical wings and that she can “open them one by one” and “awaken the side of [her] that [she’s] been hiding.” She feels free enough to embrace a truer version of herself, one that is unique and beautiful. As the song shifts in tone, we realize that she’s been talking about coming out of a dark place after a significant breakup, saying that she’s now “comfortable being alone,” but that it still gets difficult for her sometimes to remember all of the heartache she had to go through to get to this better place. She is proud of everything that she’s overcome and can now enjoy the feeling of being fine. 

Everyone needs a reminder during the summer to kick back and take a break. Why not do it with some good music?

 

Listen to the full playlist here!