Summer is just about upon us. It's a time for swimming at the beach or the pool, barbecues, sunburns, road trips, and everything else you can do to enjoy gorgeous, sunny weather. Here are five songs that will make a perfect soundtrack to your summer adventures.
“The Girl from Ipanema” has been covered many times, but the definitive version is the one by American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, featuring Gilberto’s wife Astrud on vocals. The gentle bossa nova is like lapping waves, Getz’ smooth sax is as warm and gentle as dappled sunlight, and the lyrics - sung first in Portuguese and then in English - are a perfect evocation of summertime desire.
It’s anyone’s guess what Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” is actually about, but the song is without a doubt the alt-rock legends’ most sublime pop moment. With an ascending and descending guitar riff that you’ll swear you’ve heard somewhere else, and singer Black Francis’s most endearingly sweet vocals ever, there is a sense of carefree joy to the song that you won’t find anywhere else. Listening to the song is like drinking in sunshine on a beautiful day.
After a brief squall of feedback, the lead guitar on Yo La Tengo’s Beach Boys cover hits you in the face like a blast of hot wind. Taking the original’s easy-going cruise and turning it into something more gritty and urban, Yo La Tengo’s fuzzy, slacker pop take on the classic gives you that summer feeling like no other song. As “Little Honda” chugs along, you can feel the hot, sticky asphalt and see the heat corona rising off of the hood of the car.
On his second album, The Wild Hunt, Swedish folkie Kristian Matsson (a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth) moved into more mature and introspective territory. Evoking the melancholy of a dried-out summer on “The Drying of the Lawns”, Matsson recalls the likes of Joni Mitchell as he details a love affair in decline – a love that turned out to just be a mirage in the harsh heat of summer. In this touching ballad, things cannot grow and the ground is not fertile, but the gorgeous finger-picked guitars suggest renewal is just around the corner.
Danish punk singer turned pop queen MØ ruled the summer in the northern hemisphere with her turn on Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and now she’s back to rule the summer once again with “Kamikaze.” Reuinted with Major Lazer member Diplo, the tropical island lilt of the song is a perfect match for MØ’s congenial insistence that we “Let it all go.” This song is the perfect soundtrack every BBQ, beach party, camping trip or road trip this summer.