Music Mania: Best Songs of Summer 2021
Text: Molly Wilcox
You’ve heard them on the radio, at your favorite bar, and in your favorite coffee shop. They’re the songs that tried to help usher you back into the guise of “normalcy.” They may have been playing in the background of your gym during your first mask-less workout, or in the new brewery down the street as you fumbled over your words talking to the cute person next to you. They’ve carried you through the ups and downs of the summer, through the dance parties, flings, heartbreaks, and hangovers. Let’s celebrate ‘em.
Olivia Rodrigo- “good 4 u”
It wouldn’t be appropriate to start with anyone other than the proverbial prom queen of 2021. If you haven’t heard of Olivia Rodrigo, there’s a good chance you live under a rock. But given that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, we’ll let it slide. “Good 4 u” is the 2021 breakup song that shoves 30 year olds back into their delicate teens while hyping up the angst and Paramore vibes we’ve missed.
Good for you, you're doin' great out there without me, baby
Like a damn sociopath
Megan Thee Stallion- “Thot Shit”
When I wrote “they may have been playing in the background of your gym during your first mask-less workout,” this is the song I was referring to. You probably had to hold yourself back from trying to twerk in the middle of the free weights, but the fear of looking like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers kept you in check. (Just me?) Either way, this song is a banger.
Everything I eat goes straight to my pockets
2021, finna graduate college
Goth girl shit, I'm a real hot topic
John Mayer- “Last Train Home”
John Mayer, the king of sad boy summer, all summer, every year. The Sob Rock aficionado pulled us in with the 80s reminiscent guitar in the first 10 seconds and carried us along through his smooth vibrato the rest of the song. This song is perfect for belting alone in your car while wondering how the hell you ended up single again and hoping you haven’t run out of your prime. Depending on your age, it cuts deep. If it doesn’t, just bop along to the beat and wait a few years.
No matter how you work it, things go wrong
I put my heart where it don't belong
So if you're comin' with me, let me know
Maybe you're the last train
Maybe you're the last train home
Tyler, The Creator- “JUGGERNAUT” (feat. Lil Uzi Vert, Pharrell Williams)
JUGGERNAUT is a true work of art. Every time you listen you notice a new nugget of lyrical gold. His album ranges from a blend of reggae and soul to trunk-slapping rap that rattles everything in your car. JUGGERNAUT is the latter, and we’re thankful for its existence.
They just got the closest picture of the fuckin' sun surface, that was us
Got the LaFerrari, park that bitch just for one purpose, catchin' dust
My Secret Service carry mops, you call 'em street sweepers, back you up
Lil Nas- “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”
This song screams poolside, roof-top, mid-day party. The kind when your friends show up to a public place wearing theme costumes and taking over the dance floor as soon as this song comes on. It’s also worth noting that the music video is reminiscent of a James Cameron masterpiece.
Champagne and drinkin' with your friends
You live in the dark, boy, I cannot pretend
I'm not fazed, only here to sin
If Eve ain't in your garden, you know that you can
Call me when you want
Willow- “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” (feat. Travis Barker)
This song is feels like a cold drink of water on a hot sandy beach in the peak of summer. There’s absolutely no way you haven’t heard this song this summer, and there’s a good reason for that. Willow’s journey to pop punk could not have been better received by the masses. The song was written with Travis Barker and Tyler Cole, two of the masters themselves.
It's clear to me now
You're scared of me, wow
It's clear to me now
Japanese Breakfast- “Be Sweet”
Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast is on a roll, and I hope she never stops. The indie-rock band has been gaining momentum over the past five years and this album finally solidified her standing in the genre. The song is colorful, vibrant, and throws out just the right amount of disco.
Caught up in my feelings
Overthink the truth
Fantasize you've left me behind and I'm turned back running for you
Normani- “Wild Side (feat. Cardi B)"
Normani just about broke the internet the day this song and video were released. As usual, she and Cardi B can be seen being sexier than most of us can ever dream to be. Since Normani’s exit from Fifth Harmony she’s found her own stride and become more successful on her own than with the group of five. She was recently featured on the cover of Allure.
We can't just keep talkin' about it
We think too often about it
We can't just be cautious about it
I wanna get wild
Doja Cat- “Kiss Me More (Feat. Sza)”
So I don’t know about you all, but if Doja Cat and Sza collaborated on everything from here on out, I would not be mad. In fact, I would be begging for more.
But we could be corny, fuck it
Sugar, I ain't no dummy, dummy
I like to say, what if, but if
We could kiss and just cut the rubbish
Then I might be on to somethin'
Justin Bieber- “Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar and Giveon)”
This song created a peach-tinted makeup trend on Tik Tok and Instagram thanks to wifey Hailey Bieber and currently has around 700 million streams on Spotify. It became one of the most used songs on social media with over 1.5 million tags on Tik Tok. A handful of remixes have been made, but the original holds up on its own.
I got my peaches out in Georgia (oh, yeah, shit)
I get my weed from California (that's that shit)
I took my chick up to the North, yeah (badass bitch)
I get my light right from the source, yeah (yeah, that's it)
Lorde- “Solar Power”
New music from Lorde is literally always welcome. I repeat, always. So a summer-themed, post-Covid-themed song could not have been better received. She leans into the acoustic beach vibes, includes a chorus of voices, and calls herself a “prettier Jesus.” What’s not to like?
Come one, come all, I'll tell you my secrets
I'm kinda like a prettier Jesus
Forget all of thе tears that you've cried
It's ovеr (Over, over, over, over)
It's a new state of mind
Are you coming, my baby?