COLUMN: The best summer songs for 2020


"California English, Pt. 2" by Vampire Weekend plays on someone's phone. Photo Illustration by Sam House

Summer is a time of peace, a much needed break in the monotony of schoolwork. Rainbows twinkle across lawns, simpering in the nebulous mist of lawn sprinklers. Everything dons a new intensity: relationships, emotions, nostalgia. Facades crumble, outward elegance is cast aside and replaced by more welcoming, disheveled looks.

Summers have their own soundtracks. They radiate joy, sprinkling magic across horizons. Each picturesque moment is backlit by major chords and poppy synths.

Even with the uncertain state of the world, it’s possible to find some solace in songs. Here are some bangers to toss into the rotation that can help bat away some of the dark clouds. 

‘Super Natural’ by Turnover

“Super Natural” is the massage therapy of songs. The guitars are dreamy, they grab your hand softly and lead you into a field of sunflowers. The track is weightless, fluttering around like a monarch butterfly on a warm breeze. Every line transports me to some new, magnificent vista. Each note is a vacation.

‘Mexican Wine’ by Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne will most likely always be known by our generation as “the band that made ‘Stacy’s Mom.’” “Stacy’s Mom” is a great song. I literally do not care if you think it’s one of the whitest songs in history. Those harmonies are absolutely god tier. Anyways, the band mastered power pop. Its 2003 album “Welcome Interstate Managers” is a masterpiece as is its second single. “Mexican Wine” is all about the fickleness of the universe. Everything is constantly changing, and things can be terrible at times. “But the sun still shines in the summertime,” and sometimes that can be enough. 

‘Scavenging’ by Le Matos

This almost two-minute instrumental from the soundtrack of Canadian film “Turbo Kid” infuses me with raw, unfiltered happiness. I’ve never seen “Turbo Kid.” I honestly have no recollection of how I came across this song. But I’m glad I did. The track manages to elicit a range of emotions with the steady beats of drum machines and ethereal synths. It’s one of those songs that leaves you sad when it ends.

‘Song For You’ by Big Time Rush feat. Karmin 

“Song For You” is a relative deep cut from Big Time Rush’s 2013 album “24/seven.” “24/seven” was the boy band’s last album, so the songs have a glossier sheen to them. The sound is more robust, clearly separate from their early tracks like “Boyfriend” and “Worldwide.” “Song For You” features a sugary synthline and the worst guest verse of 2013. Karmin’s guest spot is terribly corny, but if you’re listening to Big Time Rush you probably understand the joys of irony. 

‘California English, Pt. 2’ by Vampire Weekend 

The companion piece to 2011’s “California English” is a glitchy, strange foray into straightforward synthpop. For some reason California is romanticized as this grandiose utopia where the sun shines brighter. Sure, it’s better than Indiana. That’s not a particularly high bar to clear, but “California English, Pt. 2” almost makes me understand the hype.

Starships’ by Nicki Minaj

“Starships” is the ultimate summer song. I still remember where I was the first time I ever heard it. It floated through the speakers of my father’s car as we drove back home from a soccer game. I cannot remember a majority of middle school, but I remember “Starships.” 

‘There Is a Ledger’ by Wild Pink 

Wild Pink is a special band. Their songs are watercolors. Beautiful lyrics swirl around each other, swimming in the warm, colorful ocean of hazy guitars and soft drum beats. “I don’t know what happens next,” frontman John Ross sings. “But I hope we find peace." The song is meant for those in-betweens, those silent, romantic moments in the evening when the world begins to sleep.

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