Rejoice! With Fourth of July 2017 upon us, it’s the signal that summer really is here. While toasting our nation’s independence is ample cause to celebrate, for music fans there’s so much more to look forward to this summer with the plethora of festivals and concerts on the horizon. Of course, the Fourth also serves as a tacit reminder that the year is halfway over — which means it’s time to take stock of the great music that has been released in 2017 (so far). Whether you’re hitting the beach, chilling and grilling with the barbeque, or heading out on a road trip with friends, we’ve curated a playlist of 15 songs that will fill in the grooves not only on July 4th but all summer long.
With its Queens Of The Stone Age-fuzz shuffle verses and horn-hit, hand-clap throwback choruses, “Restart” kicks off the supergroup’s debut album, Volume 1, with a bang! Formed in 2013, BNQT comprise a veritable indie dream team of lead singers from the Band Of Horses, Grandaddy, Franz Ferdinand, Travis, and Midland, giving fans of various guitar-rock flavors a tasty musical feast.
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay, “Something Just Like This”
Summer and relationships have gone hand-in-hand since Grease’s “Summer Lovin'” in 1978, and that’s exactly the heartstring “Something Just Like This” pulls on. “This is about a relationship that doesn’t need to be superhumanly perfect,” said the Chainsmokers. “[It’s] an ordinary love, a love everyone deserves.” As nighttime star gazing and cuddling ensue this summer, you’ll want this playing in the background.
Foo Fighters, “Run”
Leave it to the Foo Fighters to turn in the high-octane anthem of the summer. “Run” is exactly the caliber of propulsive hard-rock Dave Grohl & Co. have built their 20-year-plus foundation upon. Aside from the meaty slab of riffs and thundering drums, it was the song’s video that struck instant viral gold, featuring the band members as elderly versions of themselves performing in a nursing home. All laughs aside, with “Run” the message is clear: the Foos are f*ing back.
Haim, “Want You Back”
An old-fashioned swing feel doesn’t drag this fun trio’s girl power down. The strutting in the video will appeal to both women and the secure men who love them, as punctuated moves and solos bring out the expressive details and high points. All in all, “Want You Back” has the same charm that fetched Haim a 2014 GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist.
LCD Soundsystem, “american dream”
The original Disco Infiltrator and his crew of dance-punk post-indie scenesters return with some of their best and most self-reflective work yet. Capturing lead singer James Murphy’s inimitable “saddest dad at the rave” (h/t Jeremy Gordon, Pitchfork) bittersweet electronic crooning in ways we haven’t heard since the likes of “All My Friends” or “Never As Tired As I’m Waking Up,” the title track and co-lead single from their forthcoming reunion LP american dream sets us up perfectly for what’s sure to be a triumphant return to form when the record drops on Sept. 1.
MUNA, “I Know A Place”
Los Angeles all-girl upstarts MUNA went from playing one of Lollapalooza’s smaller stages in 2016 to opening for pop heartthrob Harry Styles this summer. The secret is out. Experiencing their latest single, and its provocative video, feels like spotting Waldo on a page filled with modern pop anthems polarized as being either socially conscious or party-starting. Refreshingly, “I Know A Place” manages to be both.
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Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
The daytime festival darlings of the late aughts and early 2010s return with their first LP since 2013’s Evil Friends, and they are back with a vengeance. The bouncy opening bassline evokes feelings of classic Motown (think “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough) and transitions into some well-restrained modern synth work, topped with airy falsetto vocals. It’s the perfect soundtrack to watch a summer sunset fade into the evening as you make ready to hit the town to engage in some dirty deeds. The group’s latest LP, Woodstock, was released on June 16.
Kygo featuring Selena Gomez, “It Ain’t Me”
This stripped-down electronic collaboration between Kygo and Selena Gomez might cover some difficult ground: namely, a relationship marred by drinking and overindulgent partying. But the thickly layered chorus and Gomez’ chopped vocals evoke a sort of triumphant, wind in the hair feel that’s perfect for summer — whether you’re out with friends, visiting the beach or cruising down the freeway.
Julia Michaels, “Issues”
With Adele’s repeat victory in the rearview, this ballad’s intense emotion hits a nerve that needed contact. Snaps on the backbeat and a few metronomic effects dance in and out to reinforce the monotony of a young woman talking to herself (and us and her lover). The song’s strengths are its stately slow-dance broken up by urgent surges and that it is perfectly engineered to be put on repeat.
Styx, “Gone Gone Gone”
Styx have released a new concept album about a mission to Mars. Is it 1977 or 2017? Heavy subject matter on The Mission aside, this frantic, up-tempo number packs a sizable punch in the form of singer Lawrence Gowan’s swirling synths, the dual guitars of James “JY” Young and Tommy Shaw, and the backbeat of Todd Sucherman. “Light it up and get this show on the road,” indeed.
Gathering global buzz for their impressive rise to headlining festival stage slots in the early 2010s, these French electro-indie rockers lit a match under their fanbase with this Italian daytime-disco-inspired pop track. The record is positively bursting at the seams with production sparkle and small wonderful acoustic moments abound from start to finish without ever leaving the track feeling over-engineered or too heavily layered. Ti Amo, the group’s sixth studio album, was released on June 9.
Playboi Carti, “Magnolia”
Perfect for grooving and feeling good, the grinding organ-like back-sample keeps this pumping. The ambience sets up a gentler elegance than “Big Pimpin'”‘s bounce, an invitation for any good rapper. Playboi Carti keeps everything natural and smooth at all times, making the rhythm real in the foreground where it belongs. Addictive and excellent.
Lorde, “The Louvre”
Introducing this summer’s anti-hook with “Broadcast the boom boom boom boom and make them all dance to it,” Lorde is back with her uncanny ability to incite an everywoman’s dance party anytime, anywhere with merely a masterful musical shoulder shrug. Her laid-back genius is very much alive in her sophomore album, Melodrama, with help from producer/co-writer Jack Antonoff. A fascinating sonic landscape could make “The Louvre” this generation’s sleeper summer jam.
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Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “Despacito (Remix)” featuring Justin Bieber
No matter where you find yourself this summer, you’re unlikely to escape the phenomenon that is “Despacito.” The Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee/Justin Bieber collab has enjoyed a seven-week (and counting) residency atop the Billboard Hot 100. Instrumental hooks and vocal ear candy abound on this steamy reggaeton-pop-inflected track, which is the first song primarily sung in Spanish to top the Hot 100 since “Macarena” in 1996. For those who want to go the extra mile and learn more about the lyrics and the song’s meaning, Fonsi has you covered.
Alison Krauss, “Gentle On My Mind”
While summer is a time for fun and living life to the fullest, there are liable to be heavy times of reflection. And few things in life can provide a more contemplative backdrop than Alison Krauss’ voice. Her reading of this classic that Glen Campbell made famous is the perfect go-to for those introspective summer moments, when you need to remind yourself “that your door is always open and your path is free to walk.” More summer music: Check out our report from 2017 Essence Festival