Summer means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some of us, it means relaxation: a chance to live without having to check our planners for when the next problem set is due. For others, it's a time of freedom: we can perform research in the fields we're interested in or intern at the companies we want to work for. It's also a time for personal growth: a time for self–improvement and introspection, when we finally have time to focus on ourselves, our relationships, and our world.
Here are the songs we feel capture these complex emotions, described from the perspective of eight individual Street staffers and editors.
"Slide" – Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean, Migos
When Calvin Harris' Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 came out in June 2017, I felt like it was made specifically for me. It was released the summer after my senior year of high school—the first summer when I truly felt free, like I had a new life ahead of me. "Slide," the record's lead single, holds a special place in my heart. From Frank Ocean's familiarly soothing vocal delivery, to each of the Migos' smooth verses, to Harris' breezy, laid-back percussion, the track is a steadfast reminder to take it easy, to "slide on all your nights like this." Every time I listen to the song, I'm transported back in time; all of a sudden, I'm in my Jeep, driving down I-35, windows rolled down, friends all around me, soaking in the sun, laughing and smiling and singing. Bittersweetly, "Slide" reminds me of a perfect summer, a time gone by.
—Kyle Whiting, Summer Culture Editor
"I'm Not Getting Excited" – The Beths
For me, the quintessential song of the summer always sounds like the height of a long drive, all heady with anticipation. With its pulsating drumline and hot–blooded guitar riffs, "I'm Not Getting Excited" by New Zealand band The Beths feels like speeding down a highway in your mom's Suburban, the windows down and angst palpable. The song, ironically, is about the underbelly of anticipation—fear. Lead singer Liz Stokes wrote the song to contend with the temporal nature of excitement, and how embedded within the thrill of a fresh start is the worry that it's going to be taken away. Though recorded before the novel coronavirus upended our plans and sense of certainty, "I'm Not Getting Excited" captures what it feels like to live in a society on the precipice of recovery. Everything, from dinner plans to our fall semester, feels unsteady. And, while it's easy for pop music to sell notions of blindingly bright futures, The Beths have chosen to do something radical: remind us that, sometimes, it's good to worry.
—Bea Forman, Culture Editor
"Doin' Time" – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” is a short but savory summertime jam. Made for a documentary about Sublime, the cut from last year’s Norman Fucking Rockwell provides a handy summation of all that has become apart of Lana Del Rey’s brand: Southern California, dangerous desire, and droll glamour. By keeping the original lyrics (about a toxic relationship with a woman), Lana imbues the angsty, scuzzy sk8er boy anthem with her signature seductiveness, amplifying her femme fatale image. Lana’s take on “Doin’ Time” breezes by like a hot summer day at the beach, a pleasant slice of sleazy Americana.
—Peyton Toups, Music Beat Writer
"Beautiful Day" – U2
When I’m feeling down, I tend to listen to music that perpetuates my despondency. But sometimes I don’t want music to help me wallow; I want it to uplift me. No song gets me out of a funk quite like U2’s “Beautiful Day,” with its climactic chorus—an explosive crash of drums and cymbals over an electric guitar riff—and poetic lyrics. It makes me think of the peaceful contentment of summer: of driving on the highway with the windows down, the breeze softly blowing my hair, the setting sun slowly disappearing behind the trees and tinting the leaves a warm gold. It is an ode to life: a gentle reminder of the simple beauties of the world and a warning not to take them for granted; an encouragement to look for opportunities and to see your endless potential; a command to seize the day because it is literally and figuratively beautiful. The message may sound trite, but its delivery in an edgy rock song takes away any cheesiness. With Bono declaring so passionately in his sexy, gravelly voice that “It’s a beautiful day,” you just can’t help but agree with him.
—Eva Ingber, Staff Writer
"Watermelon Sugar" – Harry Styles
Whether it is the specific use of the word summer or the playful, beachy music video that’s “dedicated to touching,” Harry Styles’ "Watermelon Sugar" radiates summer vibes. The upbeat yet chill melody makes it seem almost like an ode to the 2020 summer we were all dreaming of but won’t get to experience the way we thought. "Watermelon Sugar" would be the ideal background track to a video of a perfect summer day in California. I can almost picture myself singing along to the song during a long drive to the beach, only to be met by perfectly tanned friends playing with pink–and–green beach balls.
—Fernanda Brizuela, Summer Assignments Editor
"Rain On Me" – Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
Much of my quarantine was spent listening to moody music. I abandoned my pregame or running playlists for Hozier, Coldplay, and Tame Impala. I couldn't go out dancing, and I certainly didn't feel like it anyway. But I have a sweet spot for both Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, so when "Rain on Me" came out, I took a break from my more relaxing music to give it a listen. It's been stuck in my head ever since. It transports me back to middle school, where I would dance to The Fame and Born This Way in front of my bedroom mirror—back when Ariana was Cat in Victorious. I can imagine myself dancing to this song at a pool party, or outdoor bar with a fruity drink in hand. While these scenarios probably won't happen this summer, maybe I can channel my middle–school self and keep dancing to it in my room anyway.
—Eliana Doft, Assignments Editor
"Boredom" – Tyler the Creator feat. Rex Orange County & Anna of the North
"Boredom" by Tyler the Creator and Rex Orange County is perhaps the best encapsulation of this summer and the lighthearted sense of aimlessness that seems to accompany it. The repetitive chant in the chorus, “find some time / find some time to do something” exposes the ultimate vulnerabilities of a summer in an era where nothing seems to be open and there is nobody to see.The juxtaposition between Rex Orange County’s honeyed vocals and Tyler the Creator’s sharp, almost jarring raps create the perfect metaphor for the paradoxical nature of this summer: a perpetual state of idleness whilst facing the realities of the situation on a daily basis. To me, the song embodies summer in the simplest sense in that it transports me to a state of being adrift in a pool, with the summer heat and my high–school friends in tow. It consistently reminds me of the mental inertia accompanying a summer where there is nothing to do but float.
—Aakruti Ganeshan, Arts Beat Writer
"Who I Am" – Toro y Moi
Although Toro y Moi dropped his sixth studio album Outer Peace early last year, the track "Who I Am" is the perfect tune to soundtrack a summer whose contents are still unknown for many. Its colorfully synthesized production coupled with the repetitive yet tongue–in–cheek line "Who cares about the party / I came to see the band play" makes for a flirty, dance–worthy handful of minutes. It's a track that pairs well with my evenings laying outside, Bluetooth speaker on the lawn and Animal Crossing island in tow. If there was a song that sounded like fizzy strawberry lemonade, I'd be willing to say this was it.
—Mehek Boparai, Summer Campus Editor