I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music lately. With the inconsistent weather and my hectic work schedule, I wanted to listen to music that would give me a sugary, sweet escape. What I’ve found is not just endless choruses of “yeah, yeah, hey” over a generic beat; it’s something deliberately layered, affectionate and hopeful.
I’m so glad I’ve grown out of my dismissive-and-disdainful-of-pop-music phase (“Justin Bieber? Ew.”) because I would’ve missed out on a lot of pop and pop-inspired music today. And honestly, what’s summer without that quintessential pop album for lazy poolside afternoons or stuffy commutes to an internship? Here are my top sounds (albums, songs, etc.) for the summer:
10. Samsaya, Bombay Calling
I first heard Samsaya off her single “Stereotype” and I’ve been hooked ever since. She’s so incredibly earnest with her music but sometimes her lyrics are clunky, kind of like reading from one of those positive quote books you could pick up at a bookstore counter. But it’s endearing and paired with these rolling, high energy beats, it’ll certainly get you on your feet and dancing through city streets. I love the urgent drums and nostalgia of “Bombay Calling,” the melodramatic rhythms of “Beginning at the End,” and the overwhelming happiness of “U & Me.” Listen on Spotify.
9. Little Mix, “Black Magic”
The beat reminds me of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and I’m a sucker for 80s-inspired music (a prime time for pop music, imho). It’s appropriate because it is a super fun song and it always makes me smile when it comes on.
8. Luca feat. Tei Shi, “Best On”
This might not really be considered pop music but I love Tei Shi and this song is perfect for something more mellow, sensual but still fun. It’s repetitive in terms of lyrics but the harmonies and vocalizations will keep you interested.
7. Only Real, Jerk at the End of the Line
Made for hazy, lazy summer days. Eventually, it all melts into one dreamy guitar line and staccato sing-rapping but it’ll compliment a warm breeze and soft sunshine kisses. Listen on Spotify.
6. Demi Lovato, “Cool for the Summer”
This is coming from someone who hasn’t listened to Demi Lovato since Don’t Forget and she has had some songs that I nod along too but this is the first one that has my full attention. Slinky and a little dangerous, it’s an anthem for sweaty, crowded basement parties and sickly, sweet drinks spilled on hot skin.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen, E*MO*TION
I wish people would give her more credit. I guess it’s the curse of “Call Me Maybe,” but seriously, give her a chance. Her only fault is that she reveals very little about herself; it’s a solid pop album, but it almost feels like anyone could’ve made it. Anyways, listen to “Emotion” and feel those 80s vibes.
4. Nao, February 15 EP
This is leaning more towards R&B and I love it a lot. Nao had me since “Back Porch” and her So Good EP from last year had so much replay, I was starting to dream to her voice.
3. SALES, “big sis”
They’re still brand new and working out their kinks but man, I love the tenderness, awkwardness, stumbling along through life that their sound encompasses. Their song “vow” occupies a very special place in my heart. “big sis” is warm rain and gentle, starry nights.
2. Harriet Brown, “Stop Think”
Tropical and reflective, “Stop Think” is hollow in a way that makes me want to dance away my blues.
1. Lianne La Havas, Blood
I love Lianne La Havas. I love Lianne La Havas. Did I mention I love Lianne La Havas? This album is everything I could ever want. It makes me want to grow and heal and fall in love with realities and possibilities. It’s so genuinely positive and full of light. I need more music like this. Is Your Love Big Enough? was the blueprint and now Blood is the foundation. It is truly an album that runs through my veins. “Green & Gold” is reminiscent of her debut sound: rhythmic, soft but present with her lilting voice gliding through. “Wonderful” is heartbreaking and even though your heart is in pieces, it’s cut with clean lines so that it’s definitely possible to put back together again. “Ghost” shimmers like water at midnight with Lianne’s voice caressing you with warm hands. Every single track is full of love and makes you believe the world could be kinder. Listen on Spotify.