Best Songs of Summer 2011

The Fall is coming up on us soon, and with a new season comes great new music (Jacks Mannequin, Common, Drake, and Coldplay just to name a few). But until Autumn gets here, and in celebration of this past summer, we decided to put some of our favorite songs into one giant post. Just a note here: some of these songs are not from 2011, but still was enjoyable to listen throughout the blistering heat of this summer. Please feel free to post some of your favorite songs below, we’d love to get some feedback. Hope you enjoy the list, and check out these songs before the years up!

Honorable Mention: “Pulp Fiction” by Motion City Soundtrack (2010)

This summer, I finally finished my collection of the Motion City Soundtrack albums. However, as much as I listen to each album, I keep going back to My Dinosaur Life and listening to “Pulp Fiction.” The complete randomness that the song blasts (Slasher films, Miami Vice, and Inspector Gadget just to name a few) creates an almost small explosion in the mind of the listener. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the song has some more significance to me than all of the rest of the songs on the list. Regardless, it still was played on loop in my car, laptop, and wherever music was being listened to. Now, Motion City Soundtrack is working on their sixth studio album, which I can’t wait to here once it’s out.

Alan’s Pick #5: “Time Travel” by Never Shout Never

“Time Travel” isn’t necessarily a summer sort of track, but it is definitely a refreshing change in pace for Christopher Drew and the rest of Never Shout Never. Traditionally, NSN was all for peace and love, and was only done by Christopher Drew himself, but “Time Travel” turns into more of a psychedelic trip to the moon that happens to sound more like Queen that anything that NSN has done yet. The title track of the new album (due out September 20th) might have some questionable lyrics (“Suffering twelve degree burns, I learned that the sun was no fun”), but the overall tone and delivery that Drew and Co. produced doesn’t belong on the Warped Tour, but in a large theatre.

Alan’s Pick #4: “Hawaiian Air” by Friendly Fires

The lyrics alone makes it a sure fire summer song, describing a flight to beautiful Hawaii and the flight to get there. Electric trio Friendly Fires knows how to create a song that can both be catchy AND fit what the song is talking about. The tribal drums and sound effects truly makes it feel like a hawaiian alternative song (the band’s actually from the UK), and it’s charming humor in the music video is what makes it one of the best songs of the summer. Please do yourself a favor and check them out. “Pala” is out now.

Alan’s Pick #3: “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West (feat. Otis Redding)

There is a lot of talk of what is going to be the hip-hop album of the year already, mostly between Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter IV and Watch The Throne, the new Kanye West and Jay Z collaboration. But right now, “The Throne’s” lead-off single “Otis” can possibly take the title of hip-hop song of the year. The simplistic beat structure, plus the Otis Redding sample, plus ‘Ye’s and Jays amazing rhymes, makes you want to blast this track out of your “other other Benz” all day long. Their collaboration album, “Watch The Throne” is out now.

Alan’s Pick #2: “This City” by Patrick Stump (feat. Lupe Fiasco)

Patrick Stump could’ve just have easily made a song about Chicago (his hometown), but instead, he put out a song that can literally go anywhere. The lyrics might not be as positive as other songs about cities (Lupe has a verse about how the economic value of his house will go down when someone of a different race moves in next door), but the funkiness that Stump is bringing to his music is something that pop music desperately needs right now. The first single off of Soul Punk (due out in October) is something that deserves more play than it has been getting. I’m definitely looking forward to the full album.

Alan’s Pick #1: “Houdini” by Foster the People

I KNOW “Pumped Up Kicks” has been almost inescapable this summer, but after listening to their full length debut Torches, “Houdini” is the best song on the album. The upbeat tempo and the keyboard hooks makes the song incredibly enjoyable, and often repeatable. As much as people love “Pumped Up Kicks,” it has been overplayed (almost as much as Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”). “Houdini” however is a song that you can listen to on loop and it somehow never gets old. It’s fun time vibe alone makes this song the best of the summer.

And now it’s my turn! I am pretty sure that I am not qualified to write about music.  Don’t get me wrong, I listen to it a lot, but I am not sure if my rambling skills that I have finely crafted for game and movie reviews will help me now.  This, yeah… the jury is out.  Plus there is the factor that these songs didn’t even necessarily come out during the past summer, so I might have misinterpreted the assignment Alan bestowed upon me.  But like nature, he could not be ignored.

Lauren’s Honorable Mention: “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” by The Decemberists (2005)

This song gets in the honorable mention category because it is actually off of an album from 2005, but I have been listening to them non-stop all summer so I could not go without mentioning them.  A few months back I tagged along with my older sister to a Decemberists’ concert.  Only having heard one of their CDs I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, though I never doubted their talents.  For the next couple of hours I had my mind blown in a fantastical fashion.  Not only are they amazing live, but I could hardly believe the lyrics of one song, accumulating into a magnificent adventure story of loss, revenge, and a giant whale.  Most of their songs can claim the same, but “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” is the perfect example of lyrics and evolving musical emphasis and tempo coming together to create a full experience, including crowd participation in the form of blood curdling screams as we are swallowed whole.

Lauren’s Pick #5:  “Monster” by Paramore

With the news that Paramore was losing band members towards the end of last year, something broke out inside of me, as if the wail of an operatic singer trying to shatter the glass of my soul was wreaking havoc.  AKA my favorite band was going through a rough patch.  But if anything was to rise from the ashes that are Transformers: Dark of the Moon (boo I still am upset with you movie!) it is the inclusion of “Monster” on the soundtrack, pushing me away from the corner of my room that has a well-worn groove in the ground thanks to my incessant rocking.  Paramore is just as strong as ever, with a chorus belted out my Hayley Williams showing that they are not ready to go anywhere.

Lauren’s Pick #4: “I Want To” by Best Coast

Earlier this summer Drew Barrymore directed a video for Best Coast’s “Our Deal,” full of a star-crossed-lovers’ story set to the nostalgic sound Best Coast is rocking.  In addition to up-n-comers of the acting world, graffiti, and sweet jackets, the extended version also includes such songs as “Boyfriend” and “I Want To.”  The latter defines repetition in lyric and instrumental strums; drenching itself in a nostalgia that will have you pining for the days glorified my Grease.  At least go get yourself a milkshake while listening to the tracks.  (Here’s a link to the extended version of the video, you’re welcome)

Lauren’s Pick #3: “Call Me In The Morning” by Taking Back Sunday

Another song off the Transformers: Dark of the Moon soundtrack that was playing repetitively as I sat at my drawing table this summer was “Faith (When I Let You Down),” a catchy, first-single worthy song off their eventual album to be released later.  However, when Taking Back Sunday’s self-titled album finally came out it was “Call Me In The Morning” that dethroned the previous repeat champ.  The first few notes that recur throughout the song play out like a ticking clock to me, playing on the need of the singer as he croons a ballad that I cannot get enough of.

Lauren’s Picks #2 & #1: “Ribbons of Light” by Kids of 88 & “My Body” by Young the Giants

So you have probably figured my secret out by now, I don’t really listen to the radio that much, nor am I on the front lines of what’s hot in music.  Basically it takes a song to appear in a movie or TV show for me to notice it.  Bonus points if it is Shazaamable, though the majority of the time I have to google the lyrics to find the title when shazaam fails me.  Case and point: Chuck.  I have a whole playlist full of songs from all seasons of that show, including some that have moved into the ranks of my favs.  This summer, the job of music provider was filled by Teen Wolf.  Yes, I watched that show.  Talk about a guilty pleasure.  Point being, yet another playlist was formed, including my top two songs of the summer.  “Ribbons of Light” (which plays during the prom in the penultimate episode as our second pair of star-crossed lovers dance together (same male in both pairings FYI), swoon) is yet another song with a strong rhythm that was made for slow motion rave dancing as the seizure inducing strobe lights cut in and out of the traveling colors.  And then there is “My Body.”  I actually forgot about this song until the MTV VMAs when Young the Giants performed on stage, but now that I think about it I might have been distracted by the abs on the screen when it was played on Teen Wolf.  I am only human.  Arguably (or obviously) the catchiest and fastest song on my list, “My Body” deserves the title of Song of the Summer.  Wear the crown proudly.

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