Summer is my favorite season...musically.
It's not because of summer concerts. As previously discussed (see: " 'Tag Yourself' Memes: A Love Story"), where most people have a soul, I have a big heap of garbage. Like John Waters, I "have faith in my own bad taste," and since switching from Pandora to Spotify, I have only become more able and more willing to indulge in my favorite questionably-good jams. The season feels frivolous and disposable, knowing in ten weeks we'll cast it off for something longer-lasting with more impact. Not that important things can't happen in the summer (I went to Italy, after all), but it doesn't have the gravity of fall or winter. It seems appropriate that its music embody that same tone. The song machine churns out hits year-round, but some of its punchiest, perkiest, poppiest tunes are birthed during the hottest months - which makes summer the best time to listen to them. Just as summer produce tastes better in season, certain pop songs lose a bit of their flavor come fall.
This means the same five pop songs which carried me through June and July (shout-out to my OG jam, "Can't Stop the Feeling") won't cut it once I have piles of homework to complete. (Or will they?) Point is, I can't\won't\shouldn't listen to the exact same music year-round. My musical wardrobe changes with the season, just like my physical one. There are some basics which can go the whole year (the "Hamilton" soundtrack, for example, transcends the tonal shift), but some things are more fitting for summer weather than sweater weather. If my summer vibe is "I'm free to do what I want and have a good time," my fall vibe is more "wake up, you need to make money." I need songs to soothe the savage beast that is me trying to finish a term paper on time.
1. "Both Sides Now," Joni Mitchell.
I joke this was the only good thing I got out of watching the Steve Jobs movie (besides Michael Fassbender, of course). Ironically, they don't even play the song in the movie; Jobs just has a conversation about it with his daughter. I've never before been able to pick an all-time favorite song, but I think "Both Sides Now" may just be that one. It's consistently good no matter how it's performed. While the original (sung by Judy Collins) has a spring\summer feel (light and airy, like one of the happier songs from the "Godspell" movie - maybe "Day by Day" or "Prepare Ye" ), Mitchell's iconic cover is perfect for the upcoming chillier months.
2. "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)," Celtic Thunder.
I owe my friend Maggie for introducing me to the the sweet, Irish, goodness of Celtic Thunder (so thank you, Maggie!) "Seven Drunken Nights" will always be my #1, but "Scarlet Ribbons" takes the silver-medal spot. It has ruined me for all other versions of the song (including the one from the "Kids Klassics" CD I enjoyed as a child). I started listening to it last winter. I don't see any reason to stop now, aside from death or a lost Internet connection.
3. "Cold Water," Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber & MØ.
Justin Bieber. You either love him or hate him (and if you love him, then you make it your secret shame because he still hasn't overcome the stigma of his swoopy-hair days). Kate McKinnon did an amazing SNL sketch parodying his Calvin Klein ads. Regardless of the way you feel about him, he's come a long way, baby. His music went through an awkward stage, but now it's better than ever - in a slicker, more adult way than the songs which brought him fame. Major Lazer, Bieber, and MØ make a triple-threat tune which won't get packed away with the swimsuits when summer ends.
4. "Stick It To The Man," School of Rock: The Musical.
A year from its debut, "Hamilton" still has everyone talking (and trying to get tickets) but Andrew Lloyd Webber is burning up Broadway right now. "Phantom of the Opera" shows no signs of leaving. "Cats" - which held the record for longest-running show on Broadway, until "Phantom" usurped it in 2006 - came back (it couldn't stay away), and his latest project, "School of Rock" is rocking and rolling.
A collaboration between Webber, Julian Fellowes ("Downton Abbey"), and Glenn Slater ("Tangled," "The Little Mermaid: The Musical") "School of Rock" puts their respective talents to good use, creating a heartfelt, fun-for-all-ages, comedy. "Stick It To The Man" is by far my favorite number from the show; it speaks to my inner radical feminist, who cries out for the blood of misogynist pigs and wants to deconstruct the whole system and build a better world. On top of that, it's catchy enough to be a Top-40 hit. Too bad they don't play show tunes on mainstream radio....
So, what songs get you (kind of) excited to go back to school? Tell me in the comments - and follow me on Spotify for more fun-eclectic playlists!