My Totally Sweet Summer Jams (2011 Edition)

Photo property of BBC

Just to check, we all make summer playlists every year? We do? Good. Anyway, here’s what I’ll be blasting out the windows of my car while driving to video shoots for the next month and a half.

“Switchblade Smiles” – Kasabian

This meets my requirements for a Kasabian single in that it makes me want to rob banks and kick open doors in slow motion. That said, I would probably replace this with likely next single “Velociraptor!” except that hasn’t been officially released yet.

“Beat of My Drum” – Nicola Roberts

The best pure pop single of the summer, which, unfortunately, you’re not going to hear on any radio stations in the U.S. We already know how awesome Girls Aloud are, but Roberts, the third member to go solo, is the first to do it well. Some people might call this a guilty pleasure, but I’m not remotely ashamed to admit I adore it.

“Americano” – Lady Gaga

More shiny mainstream pop! Born This Way is pretty fantastic, but weirdly, all the best songs are the ones that aren’t singles. This narrowly edged out “Electric Chapel” as my favorite. I have a weakness for pounding kick drums, flamenco influences, and “la la la” refrains.

“Will Do” – TV on the Radio

Okay, now we need to mellow things out a bit. I recently decided that now was the time to catch up with the rest of the world and give TV on the Radio a look, and yeah, the rest of the world was right. The new album is probably the most upbeat they’ve made, so there are lots of good choices. For the purposes of the this list, I’m gonna go with this one. It’s romantic, it’s melancholy, and it’s really, really groovy, too.

“It Won’t Always be the Same” – The Millennium

I only discovered The Millennium a few months ago, and to me they remain a mystery. How is Begin, their only album, released in 1968, not considered a classic?* How has this song never been used in the closing montage of a movie? How did I not know about this band for so long? I don’t have answers to these questions (and I really hope I get to be the person to use it in a movie), but I do know that this band, album, and song are fantastic, and make for perfect summer listening.

*And how has this gone over 40 years without being sampled for a hip-hop song?

“High Ideals” – Elbow

Elbow’s great new album generally feels more like music for autumn than summer (it’s heavy on childhood nostalgia), but this song is an exception. It’s the grooviest Elbow song I’ve ever heard (I feel like two uses of “groovy” in one post is too many), and has this weird but awesome mix of a distorted bass line and orchestrated strings and piano. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s wonderful and you should listen to it.

“Youth Knows No Pain” – Lykke Li

Let’s switch to something a bit harder. Lykke Li’s new album is one of my favorites so far this year, and while it’s not what one would label “summer music,” it’s awesome and super catchy, so that’s enough for me. Why this track? The organ hook. Who doesn’t love a badass organ hook?

“Lorelei” – Fleet Foxes

The new Fleet Foxes album is pure musical joy, and picking a favorite song seems way too challenging a task for me to trouble myself with over this blog post. Picking the best “summer” song? Not all that hard. I can’t listen to music without visualizing how I would use it in a cinematic context, and hearing this song, all I can think is that it’s the perfect “frolicking through the forest” song.

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

This has been out for a day and everyone is already in love with it. There’s no chorus and no hook, just Hova and Yeezy rapping over Otis Redding with a super minimalist beat. Sometimes that’s all you need.

“Suck it and See” – Arctic Monkeys

If I’m being honest, this list could easily just be the track listing to the new Arctic Monkeys album. I’ve listened to virtually nothing else since this was released last month and I’m nowhere close to tiring of it. Since I’m forcing myself to narrow it to a single choice, I’m going to go with the album’s title track (the name sounds obscene to American ears, but is actually English slang for “give it a try”). This is pretty much a perfect pop song, not to mention the best love song I’ve heard in ages. Plus, it contains my favorite lyric of 2011: “That’s not a skirt, girl, that’s a sawn-off shotgun/and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me.”


“Independent Women Part I” – Elbow

Destiny’s Child with xylophones and Manchester accents. What could be better than this?

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