Early contenders for the 2021 song of the summer

Originally published on Sumner Newscow on April 16, 2021

Happy Friday. As the weather slowly, but surely starts heating up and the pollen (not so slowly) starts ravaging our sinuses, we can rejoice knowing spring has sprung. I hate winter more than most and I’m always happy when it gets above 60 degrees. But there’s one thing I love even more about the change: summer music.

Summer music is punchy, fun, and focused more on good vibes than most of its lyrics and I couldn’t be happier. But by the time summer rolls around, it’s already too late to audition for the title “song of the summer.” With the notable exception of Lizzo’s Juice that came out in January and stuck around the entire winter, the song(s) of the summer make their debuts right around now.

With that in mind, I’d like to talk about some early contenders for title that came out in recent weeks.

First of which is Kiss Me More (feat. SZA) by Doja Cat. Kiss Me More is a groovy disco-inspired pop song (like every pop song since 2019) about the lighter side of a relationship. The opening lines are:

“We hug and yes, we make love
And always just say “Goodnight” (la-la-la-la-la)
And we cuddle, sure I do love it
But I need your lips on mine”

And she’s right, more pop stars should kiss more and this is the silly, light song with great production that’ll bring this message to the masses. After you give it a listen you might think that it’s remarkably similar to Doja’s first major hit Say So and you would be correct. It has the same producer and that same 70’s feel to it, but nevertheless remains fresh and something you can see yourself sipping a WhiteClaw to on a beach or the rooftop of a gay bar.

The most surprising part of this song isn’t what the Doja sings, but her accompanist. We already knew SZA was a remarkably better singer than her partner, but she did something in this song she very rarely does: sang about something new. I love SZA, but she does rely on the crutch of “hot girl singing sad songs about how people don’t like her” pretty often. I would never minimize whatever real interpersonal struggles SZA has gone through, but it’s refreshing to hear a new tune from her.

The second early contender isn’t extremely likely to stick around the entire summer but still warrants mentioning because of the controversy. As I’m sure all of you know by now, Lil Nas x dropped his newest single MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) to the ire of every reactionary on cable news due to the satanic depiction in the music video.

The controversy that followed was exactly what Lil Nas had anticipated and already had a (successful) scheme to profit from. In short, he took Fox News’ playbook and used it for good. The actual song, however, is catchy enough to be an earworm but doesn’t have the staying power that his Old Town Road enjoyed in 2019.

For two days this week, it did seem like the overreaction-police had managed to take Lil Nas x down. The song was pulled from streaming services and the YouTube video was nowhere to be found. The reason for which is still unknown, but clearly comes from a legal dispute we aren’t privy to yet. The good news is that it’s back on every platform and will hopefully remain there for the foreseeable future.

Not everyone shares my love for popular music these days and yearns for a time when pop music had a little more acoustic guitar in it (2008). Well, if you do belong to that faction, Taylor Swift has you covered with her latest album Fearless. It’s a re-recording of her 2008 album of the same name, but with a few extra tunes from “the vault” (like she’s Disney).

The best of these secret songs is Mr. Perfectly Fine, which a classic Swifty hit about a breakup she had in her early 20s. The song is one long subtweet about Joe Jonas who broke Taylor’s heart so hard she started dating the wolf-boy from Twilight, Taylor Lautner.

But, like any other Swift song, her shortcomings in love make for great music. Mr. Perfectly Fine would’ve been the lead single of the first release of the album if it had been on the track list (and Love Story, You Belong With Me, and Fifteen had been left off). Either way, it’s a great song and will stick around for the next few months, unless she re-records Red by then.

Lastly, I’d like to award an honorable mention for a song of the summer that won’t make it on any radio station you listen to, but fits the summer vibe better than any song previously: Palms (with Channel Tres) by Gus Dapperton.

Channel Tres is someone you should be listening to every day with songs like TopdownWeedman, and Snake Depot, but he’s just as welcome when he’s the feature. Listening to Palms teleports you to the backseat of an electric blue convertible driving slowly down the non-congested part of Los Angeles. Give it a few listens and report back with a sunnier attitude.

Meme of the week

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