By Daniel G. Moir
Well, it is about halfway through the Summer of 2017 and we should have a pretty clear idea of what the “Song of the Summer” is. Except, we really don’t. Is it “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, or maybe it’s Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj’s “Swish Swish?” How about “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit? We certainly don’t want to forget about the masterful Bruno Mars and his “That’s What I Like.”
Justin Bieber has certainly doubled-down twice in his pursuit for inclusion on the 2017 sounds of summer parade. In addition to his part in “Despacito,” his voice is also heard in David Guetta’s “2U” as well as “I’m The One” by DJ Khaled. The Khaled track joins him with Chance the Rapper, Quavo and Lil Wayne, so there is certainly a chance to appeal to a wide range of listeners.
So far it seems that we are all pretty divided on what exactly might be 2017’s true “Song of the Summer.” In order to put this all in context, it might help to define exactly what qualities might make up such a tune.
The “Song of the Summer” is something that is truly ubiquitous. Describing it as just “catchy” or that it “has a good beat” is a given. These things are far more than just merely tuneful. It is the song that you hear when you are at the gas station filling your car. It will be the recording that morning talk shows like “Live! With Kelly and Ryan” or “The View” use to go to commercial when the hosts want to appear “cool,” “timely,” or “with it.” You can pretty much guarantee that “Good Morning America” or “Today” will feature the artist and song as part of their end of the week “Summer Concert Series.” It is a foregone conclusion that you will hear it between innings at a baseball game. Hell, you even hear this tune when you are getting your groceries at the local supermarket. These songs are that pervasive. They appeal to a wide demographic, are inescapable, and are heard throughout the summer months no matter where you go.
Some of these past unavoidable songs have included Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” and Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” I mean, who can possibly imagine the summer of 2012 without Carly Rae Jepsen’s indelible “Call Me Maybe” coming out of someone’s speakers at Lake Harriet? These are songs intentionally designed for warmer weather.
While it is true that “Despacito” has topped the charts for numerous weeks in a row,
along the way earning the title of most-streamed song ever, it doesn’t seem as omnipresent as past summer songs have been. Maybe it’s due to a language barrier, but I doubt it. Spanish was certainly not much of a problem for Los Del Rio’s giant Summer Smash “Macarena” in 1993. Maybe there is an Anti-Bieber movement at work, but it just doesn’t seem like I am hearing this song in all of the places summer songs are usually found.
Like any true Minnesotan, I absolutely worship summer in this state. After endless months of snow, ice, and below-zero temperatures, summer is part of a sacred agreement that I make annually with Old Man Winter. For my part, I agree to suffer through the slush, the questionable daily commutes, the walking of the dog in the frigid, complete darkness of 5:30 p.m. and in return, I get approximately 12 weeks of sun-soaked paradise. The songs of summer are collected as the soundtrack, and then go into my “winter survival” bank to review in January and give hope of a warmer day to come. That is the deal. That is the contract.
So, where does that leave us for 2017? Maybe it is the divided nature of our society right now, but I don’t hear any clear winner of the Summer Song Sweepstakes for 2017, and I find that more than a bit unsettling. Between the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, Donald Trump Jr.’s secret Russian meetings, and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, I need something that will help tie this whole crazy period together and wrap it in a bow of incarnate sunshine. Seriously, I need something more than the re-opening of the long-awaited St. Croix Bridge to remember the Summer of 2017. Don’t you???
Maybe we have just gotten so segmented as a society that the idea of a “Song of the Summer,” something that might join us all together, is no longer even possible. Today, we all pick the news network that falls in line with our current political viewpoint. We listen to individual Spotify playlists that are based on past listening preferences. We now have so many options available, that there is no universal cohesive source that might tie us all together. While this may help us avoid goofy stuff like LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” it also serves to further divide us as a society. I am not so sure that this is a good thing. Right now, music should serve to unite us. It is entirely possible that I am putting too much importance on the search for a single unifying song, but I don’t think so.
Unity is never going to come from our leaders. They are only going to do whatever it takes to get re-elected under the mistaken guise that they serve “the voice of the people.” That’s about power, not unity.
Back when I was a kid, my friends and I would all share music with each other. If Jeff bought the new album by Billy Squier, it would get passed around every teenager on the street until we had all made copies on cheap little C-90 Avanti cassettes. This was our network, and we heard everything. Eventually, we would find the songs that rose to the surface and begin calling our local rock station demanding it be played. This began to build community among us. We focused on the songs, artists, and albums that joined us all together. So, the community may not have dug my copy of The Clash’s “London Calling.” That was OK, I got over it. We could agree on Journey’s “Escape,” however, and that stood for something.
So, I long to hear our community select a song that will represent the Summer of 2017. I want to believe in the sense of unity from the people that will rise up and do what leaders of political parties cannot. I want music to tie us as a people back together. I almost don’t even care what the song is. I want to have something like Zedd & Alessia Cara’s “Stay” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” play in the distance and witness people walking by, heads bobbing, somehow subconsciously knowing that they love something that is part of something greater. In a call for societal unity, it’s a start.
That all being said, it will be good to have the St. Croix Bridge back. Now, I just wish I had something to listen to when I cross it next February.
Grabbing My Ears:
Kelvin Jones–Stop the Moment
If you’ve watched any Twins games on FSN this season, you have certainly heard a song called “Call You Home” sung as a duet by Kelvin Jones and Karissa E. Lee in an ad for CenturyLink. The original can be found on the Zimbabwean singer-songwriter’s impressive debut album. Jones deftly matches introspective lyrics and catchy melodies on an acoustic-based album with timeless appeal. This is a guy to keep on your radar.
Sex Pistols–Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
An oldie but a goodie. This is one of those albums that will always hold a special spot in my aging, punk-rock heart. If you have never heard it, make sure you change that situation very soon. If you already know this album really well, you will know what I’m talking about here. Great accompaniment to Jimmy Guterman and Noel Monk’s excellent book “12 Days on the Road” about the Pistols sole trip to America and their inevitable disintegration.
Run The Jewels–3
Perfect for cruising in the car. Come for the beats, stay for the message. Killer Mike takes us through his experiences as an activist in the past election-year on the biting “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters.” It is both a call to arms and sadly honest reflection on our times set to complex beats. “Call Ticketron” and “Stay Gold” are just pure hip-hop lyrical power at work. “Thanks for the ransom, handsome.”
Owl City-“Not All Heroes Wear Capes”
This recently released single by Owatonna’s own Adam Young is a sweet paean to his father. This guitar based tune is so warm hearted and catchy, you will want to give your own dad a call immediately after hearing it. If I song could smile, it would be something close to this.
That’s The Ticket:
Billy Joel-Target Field July 28, 2017
Billy Joel is, and will always be, my absolute favorite. I have seen every show that he has done in the Twin Cities since 1982, so when he had indicated that one of his remaining goals was to play every MLB Ballpark, I knew I would eventually see him at the home of my favorite team. Yes, he will play “Piano Man.” Yes, it will be a hit-filled parade of music. Hopefully, it will also be FINALLY an opportunity to hear him pull out “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway” and “Summer, Highland Falls” from Turnstiles in this market. Seriously, if he doesn’t play “Miami 2017” THIS year, it will never be played here.
One Last Thing:
There is nothing I could say about Chester Bennington that would be better than this piece by Rich Larson. Bennington was another great voice now silenced by the devastation of depression.
This article was edited by Rachel Wohrlin
Daniel G. Moir is a freelance writer, musician, part-time DJ and baseball enthusiast. Mostly, though, he is among the most passionate music fans and aficionados of our times. He can be contacted at @DMoir5150.
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