As a musician and a music lover, I love to share music with others. As a young person, I also have a highly inflated opinion of my relatively average music taste. However, when I found myself encountering difficulties in producing a piece of writing for this blog, it seemed natural to take a stab at something simpler.
So with that glowing introduction, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite songs that I listened to a ton while spending the summer in LA. And if you're a TL;DR type, I embedded the entire playlist at the bottom of this post.
1) “Cut To The Feeling” – Carly Rae Jepsen
If you still harbor feelings of animosity for Carly Rae Jepsen in the wake of her 2011 single, “Call Me Maybe”, I have two things to say to you: “Call Me Maybe” is a bop, and Carly Rae Jepsen makes great music, shut up.
“Cut To The Feeling” is upbeat, light, and honestly, maybe catchier than "Call Me Maybe". To me, its lyrics evoke the desire to drop everything to have fun with the people or person that you love. Overall, it’s an energetic, fun song that’ll probably make you want to dance, or if you don’t dance, at least walk really confidently on the street.
2) “As If It’s Your Last” – BLACKPINK
I have to list this song near the top because I want people to listen to it so badly. If you listen to nothing else from this post, listen to "As If It's Your Last".
BLACKPINK is a four member Korean girl group that debuted just about a year ago. “As If It’s Your Last” is their fifth single and was released in June. In contrast to BLACKPICK’s slightly edgier or darker previous singles, “As If It’s Your Last” is unabashedly bright, fun, and colorful. Its music video also broke several YouTube records, including most views on a K-pop video in 24 hours (taking the record from BTS’s “Not Today”). To be honest, probably about 100 of its now roughly 96,000,000 views are me.
Overall, this is my completely uncontested song of the summer.
3) “Strangers” – Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui
“Strangers” had me hooked from the beginning with pulsating synth sounds and a driving beat. However, I was instantly invested in the song as soon as I heard Halsey sing, “She doesn’t kiss me on the mouth anymore," because if you know me you know that I'm a sucker for queer content. I knew before listening that both Halsey and Lauren Jauregui are out, bisexual women, but somehow I still didn’t expect a female pronoun to slip out of Halsey’s mouth. As I listened further, it became abundantly clear that “Strangers” was about a song about queer intimacy, love, and at times, distance.
“Strangers” is the bisexual anthem of the summer, and I hope you love it as much as I do.
4) “Shangri-La” – VIXX
VIXX is a six-member K-pop boy group that debuted in 2012. I remember learning about them sometime in 2015 from a friend who got into K-pop long before I did, but somehow I managed to sleep on them for a solid two years. My mistake.
“Shangri-La” is a song that has been on basically every playlist I’ve made this summer because it is, for lack of a better word, intoxicating. Furthermore, the choreography is stunning (one word: fans) and the music video is gorgeous. Don’t make the same mistake I did two years ago – watch the music video here:
5) “6/10” – dodie
“6/10” is soft and reserved, beginning with quiet piano chords threaded together by a light, repeated note. Soon after, the song introduces lush strings that complement dodie’s tender vocals. For me, the song evoked a very specific feeling of being at a party or other large social gathering and leaving alone despite your friend’s insistences that they’ll go or give you a ride home because you believe that even if they offer help, it’d be a chore for them to provide it.
Listen to "6/10" here, and if you like it be sure to check out dodie's upcoming album You coming out on August 11th!
6) “Hobgoblin” - CLC
“Hobgoblin” is, to be blunt, completely badass. Somehow, it became my go to commute song because it makes me feel in charge and powerful whether I’m walking to my metro stop, standing on the train, or sandwiched in between two other sleepy passengers on the bus at 8:30 in the morning. With a repetitive, driving chorus, fast paced raps, and smooth vocals, “Hobgoblin” is the total package.
Check out the “Hobgoblin” music video below, and if you’re interested, CLC recently released a new MV with a completely different but just as well-executed vibe.
7) “Baepsae/Silver Spoon” – BTS
I had to think long and hard about which BTS song to write about here because to be honest, I’m constantly in a state of rotating through their discography and have been since March, which was the month when I basically listened to exclusively BTS. I started listening to them in January on a friend's recommendation and gradually became more and more of a fan to the extent that my roommate and I drove to Chicago and back in a day to go see them perform on the US leg of their Wings tour (It's a great story, ask us about it). You might recognize BTS from winning the Billboard Music Award for Top Social Artist this past May.
“Baepsae/Silver Spoon” is fan-favorite song that’s a commentary on older generations telling the younger generation that their difficulty to find success is due to a lack of effort and not other societal factors. It references things like “Passion Pay”, which is essentially employers justifying underpaying their part-time workers/interns by saying that they’re also paid in experience and getting to work in a field they’re passionate about. If you’re looking for some good translation notes about "Baepsae/Silver Spoon", check out this post.
I chose to include this song because I feel like it really embodies what BTS is about: socially conscious music that young people all over the world can relate to and songs that are absolute bangers. Even if you’re not interested in lyrics, the song is great and the choreography is intense. Watch the dance practice video below (the song starts around 0:41):
8) “Hola Hola” – K.A.R.D
I’m going to level with you – I didn’t think there was going to be so much K-pop on this playlist but it makes sense when you take into account the fact that 90% of the music I listened to this summer was, well... K-pop. Consider this though: K-pop is a genre that draws from a wide range of musical influences, and arguably there’s something in there for everyone. Also, I’m in too deep.
That being said, “Hola Hola” was one of my favorite songs of the summer. It was the title single from K.A.R.D’s debut mini-album that was released this past July. With a strong beat, a great mix of vocals, and a catchy hook, “Hola Hola” quickly became one of my go-to feel good songs.
Watch the MV for “Hola Hola” here, and if you like it enough, come to K.A.R.D's concert in Minneapolis with me this September!
Other Honorable Mentions
I don’t have enough space to write about all of my favorite songs, and I’m sure by this point you don’t have the patience to read about them. Here’s an abbreviated list of the rest of this playlist:
9) “Ko Ko Bop” – EXO
10) “Nekketsu” – Nekfeu feat. Crystal Kay
11) “Worth It (Perfect)” – Superfruit
12) “DINOSAUR” – AKDONG MUSICIAN
13) “There For You” – Martin Garrix feat. Troye Sivan
14) “Versace On The Floor” – Bruno Mars
15) “Palette” – IU feat. G-DRAGON
If you want to listen to the music in this post without having to navigate a bunch of YouTube links, check out the playlist on Spotify!