Summer sure flew by, didn’t it? As those languid days bled into each other and stifling heat and humidity gave way to cooler climes, my song consumption also cooled down a bit. It happens every year: summer is full of bangers, then autumn hits and I’m back to my comfort zone of moody atmospherics, darker content and more introspective experiences.
From the heights of summer fun to its final gasps, let me just track my musical diet so we can move on with autumn and get ready for the final year end blow-out best of’s for this insanely overwhelming and generous year of music.
JULY TOP 10 (as always, by order of playcount)
1. Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith – “Lalala”
This is one of those magical tracks that drops into your life and changes it forever (melodramaaaaaa….) But seriously this is such a gorgeously lush dance track with crazy angelic vocals from my new favorite soul-singing white boy. Get on it if you haven’t heard yet!!! Seriously, just watch the video NOW.
2. Guy Sebastian featuring Lupe Fiasco – “Battle Scars”
This is an older track that my sister just discovered this summer. Soaring choruses swapped with rapped verses. Usually I cherry-pick the choruses and spend the rap verses groaning and rolling my eyes (see: anything with Gym Class Heroes), but this is equally moving and passionate.
3. Disclosure featuring Sam Smith – “Latch”
The second “La-“/Sam Smith song on the list, “Latch” is a hypnotizing dose of ’90s club music set to Smith’s delicious croon-shrieking (boy got range!) This was huge over the summer, get to catching up if you haven’t heard it yet.
4. Austin Mahone -“What About Love”
This new pop idol looks like the next Bieber but this song is about 110% N’Sync, circa Celebrity. He even says “Bye bye bye.” A done deal.
5. The Bullitts featuring Tori Amos – “Wait Until Tomorrow”
This is some movie/music project by the Bullitts. Of course I am onboard for Tori, but the rest of the soundtrack album is killer. Features a whole bunch of people (from Lucy Liu and Rosario Dawson to Mos Def). Also likely to be the only dubstep track featuring Tori.
6. Britney Spears – “Ooh La La”
Did you know there was a Smurfs 2? Yeah, wtf, right? This is from that soundtrack. A classic Britney banger. Kept our July fresh.
7. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – “Can’t Hold Us”
Some songs are just designed to get you hyped. This is one of them. You know it; you’re likely sick of it already.
8. Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie – “This is What It Feels Like”
Pure unadulterated house-techno joy-fest. Throw them hands up and be happy you’re alive.
9. Mel C featuring Matt Cardle – “Loving You”
I’ll always love my favorite Spice. Sporty’s solo stuff has always been the best, mostly because she’s the best vocalist from the Spice Force 5. Paired here with UK X-Factor dreamboy, it’s a power ballad in the vein of James Morrisson/Nelly Furtado “Broken Strings.”
10. Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash featuring John Martin – “Reload”
Holy shit, there are a lot of “featuring xyz”s on this list, eh? The summer of the feature, ha! Genres don’t exist anymore, everyone likes everything. Alas. Anyway, here we are, with the 3rd year in a row that John Martin has benefited from his friendship with Ingrosso (2011 had “Save the World” and 2012 had “Don’t Worry Child”, both with Swedish House Mafia). What a party.
Favorite Album of July:
Disclosure: Settle — a continuous dance mix straight from 1991, packed with current UK vocal up-and-comers. Groovy.
AUGUST TOP 10
July bled into August and the above 10 continued to gain spins (holy shit, all that pop and EDM!?! Isn’t this a fucking rock blog???). Here are the new additions to the eternal summer playlist.
1. Lady Gaga – “Applause”
If you know me, you know the build-up to this release was a little bit important for me. After Daft Punk and NIN (ok fine and Arcade Fire), my most anticipated comeback-single-drop was Gaga’s. I was not disappointed and this song did not stop playing for days. Holy shit. She does not disappoint.
2. Zeds Dead – “By Your Side”
Sludgy, chilled-out pseudo-dubstep from the current EDM wave, but I love it because of that angelic female vocal and its kinda-trip-hoppy feel. This is more my pace. You can keep your violent drops and molly, thank you!
3. Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of a”
The album is perfect, Trent’s best since 1999’s Fragile. This is the opening song of the new album, Hesitation Marks, and the 2nd single. I must say, it makes 1st single (and 2nd song on the album) “Came Back Haunted” a better song. Jittery, driving and ferocious, but without all that violence and rage of early-day Trent. Just delicious.
4. Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up”
You’ve all heard it. It’s on the radio every 5 seconds. For a brief moment in August, it was still fresh and exhilarating. It’s still good, but it’s almost played out. Alas, thank you Avicii for pumping out another life-affirming earworm.
5. David Bowie – “Let’s Dance” (InFiction String Remix)
This soundtracks a car commercial. And it is amazing. “Let’s Dance” is one of my favorite Bowie tracks (up in the Top 3 with “China Girl” and “Suffragette City”) and this is one of the few remixes that I love (I’m usually not a fan of remixes). It’s got that creepy X-Files vibe, some sci-fi M83-type shit. Once the vocals kick in, it’s just a blast.
6. Depeche Mode – “Should Be Higher”
Off their latest, Delta Machine, this is a slinky sultry nugget that thumps along like a mysterious cloaked version of “Personal Jesus” or anything off Playing the Angel. After all these decades, they still can make me dance and grind. So sexy it hurts.
7. Michael Buble – “It’s A Beautiful Day”
I was in Europe for a wedding. This song was out. It was a perfect marriage (ha!) in terms of soundtracking a particular moment in time. he cranks out perfect smile-makers and this one is one of his best. All hail Buble.
8. Chthonic – “Set Fire To The Island”
The best black metal band from Taiwan has released one of the few black/death metal songs that I can listen to on repeat. Usually stuff like this is reserved for particularly bad days when I want to smash everything. It’s pummeling, it’s loud, it’s gorgeous. Why? The chorus is drenched with classical Chinese opera instrumentation and operatic vocals. A fantastic combination.
9. Austra – “What We Done?”
On their sophomore album, Austra have beefed up with atmospherics. Whereas their debut was a freaky trip through dark creepy tunnel, this one feels more open, more expansive and a lot more lively. It’s still creepy, but the beats hit harder. Rather than bobbing our heads in a dimly-lit corner of the room, we’re now dancing on a dimly-lit dancefloor.
10. Katy Perry – “Roar”
This took me some time to get into. It’s so boring and plain. Where’s the fun? But after a while, that overly positive, go-get-em girl! attitude really wore me done. I like it now, ok ok. It’s only a matter of weeks before it’s on Glee.
Favorite album of August:
KT Tunstall – Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon
First half is about her dead dad; second half is about her divorce. So you know this is going to be a cheerful record. It’s her most stripped-down yet, almost acoustic in its instrumentation. It’s also very pretty. I love the delicacy of it, but my friend said it was “sad music.” Sure. But it’s good sad music. Less lush than Beck’s Sea Change, but maybe in the same spirit. She has yet to disappoint me.
See you in a month, when the list gets inevitably darker, heavier and moodier. Fear not, pop-phobes ;P