Our 25 Favorite Summer Jams of 2013
Houston's not getting any colder, so Rocks Off asked our writers to tell us which recently released songs are helping them beat the heat this summer.
A$AP Rocky: Hot fun in the summertime.
Alt-J, Dissolve Me" A strong, danceable beat coupled with such serenity. It's the sound of floating in the ocean with friends while just a little bit day-drunk. Lovely. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller, "The Way" (Spanglish Version) This is not the most manliest of picks, but damn I love this track. Grande's voice is fresh and familiar at the same time, very Mariah Carey mixed with the teenage Christina Aguilera. Mac Miller stops in for a short and sweet rap interlude, with the right amount of smooth and dirty ("you're a princess to the public but a freak when its time!").
And of course, the beat samples "A Little Bit of Love" by Brenda Russell, whose piano chords were famously used my Big Pun on "Still Not A Player," one of the greatest rap tracks of all time. MARCO TORRES
A$AP Rocky feat. Skrillex & Birdy Nam Nam, "Wild For The Night" A special marriage of the screwed-up, codeine-laced sound and dubstep, this track serves as both a chill-out assistant and fight-club instigator. If there ever were a perfect slogan for those wild, hot, summer nights in Texas, this song's chorus would be it: "I'm going wild for the night, fuck being polite!" MARCO TORRES
A$AP Rocky x Skrillex (by way of his "Goin' In" remix) isn't a collaboration that screams success on paper, but in practice it's a hell of a track. Because of the explicit lyrics it'll never be the true "song of the summer" it deserves to be, and that's a shame because this fusion of hip-hop and EDM should be on every party mixtape from coast to coast. CORY GARCIA
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding, "I Need Your Love" Ellie Goulding is an insanely lovely artist, with her subdued, throaty vocals and major mass appeal, so when you add to the mix Calvin Harris's dance-ready beats, the English and Scottish duo make for a pretty irresistible combo. The music video is enough to melt the Grinchiest of hearts, too, with what seems to be a compilation footage of two adorable fools falling in love, setting it to some really decent music, and then leaking their highlight reel to the masses.
Totally danceable, totally adorable, and yes, I realize I sound totally gushy about it. Summer jams are awesome. ANGELICA LEICHT
Daft Punk feat. Panda Bear, "Doin' It Right" Daft Punk long ago discovered the secret to getting something embedded in people's brains: just repeat it over and over. With a simple sample of their robotic voices repeating the same phrases for a beat and Panda Bear's graceful vocal lines, "Doin' It Right" is endlessly addictive.
The best part, though, is when the robotic vocals drop out and you're just left with Panda Bear and a drum machine echoing through your brain. Pure magic. COREY DEITERMAN
Daft Punk, "Touch" I know there's going to be a ton of Daft Punk mentions on this list, most likely "Get Lucky," but the best track on the album is the 8-minute rock opera "Touch." If the French electro-musicians employed Ziggy Stardust as their musical director, this is what would come from it.
It starts very chill and spacey, jumps into a super-dance-y disco segment, and then shoots back off into space to finish the track. No one was expecting disco when they heard of a new Daft Punk release, but it came and it's great - "Touch" is their best foray into the genre. JIM BRICKER
Dawes, "From a Window Seat" With their third album, Stories Don't End, Dawes have taken what they've been doing best for a long time, and culminated it into a fine effort. First single "From a Window Seat" is the perfect mix of Jackson Browne and Dire Straits, but with that signature Dawes finish. JIM BRICKER
Fall Out Boy, "The Phoenix" Who would have thought Fall Out Boy had it in them? Certainly not me back in high school when they were the biggest band in the world. However, after a prolonged break they returned with one of the best albums this year and this gem: a high octane should-have-been-a-James-Bond-theme ass-kicker to open up their new record and announce their return. "Put on your warpaint," Patrick Stump commands and suddenly I'm enthralled despite myself. COREY DEITERMAN
The Front Bottoms, "Skeleton" Although The Front Bottoms' new album, Talon of the Hawk, is a perfect summer album in its entirety, I'd say "Skeleton" perfectly encapsulates what the album (and the band) is about. It's a great single from start to finish and seems to single-handedly explain why their summer tour sold out nearly every date. I apologize in advance to your record collection - it's about to get dusty. ALYSSA DUPREE
Icona Pop, "I Love It" My undisputed summer jam is Icona Pop's charmingly brainless single, "I Love It." It's a perfect, disposable clump of thumping beats and a hook too stupid to forget, and it's the soundtrack to my life right now. Yes, I originally heard it in a smartphone commercial. Yes, that's embarrassing, and no, I will definitely not ever want to hear it again in two months. But you know what? I DON'T CARE. I love it! NATHAN SMITH
Iggy Azalea, "Work" Summer songs should always be a hair ridiculous, so the opening line "Walk a mile in these Louboutins" makes Iggy Azalea's "Work" a perfect candidate to bump through your car speakers all season long. The rapper-turned-Wilhelmina-model originally dropped the song in the beginning of the year before its YouTube video became a viral hit.
It may as well be the 2013 reboot of "Working for the Weekend"; this summer everyone will be chanting Azalea's anthem: "I've been up all night/ tryna get that rich/ I've been work work work work working on my shit." Get it girl. SELENA DIERINGER
Janelle Monae, "Dance Apocalyptic" Summer CAN be mostly fun and games. That's totally an option. This is your song, if that's the case. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
Jason Isbell, "Super 8" To me summer calls for a big, brash, Crazy Horse-style rocker that pulls out all the stops and leaves your ears a little sore; better still if it has lyrics you might not wish on your worst enemy. After an especially raucous post-gig party involving a jealous boyfriend and a fungo bat, here Isbell awakes somewhat less than bright and early: "Well I finally got the room clear/ Bleeding from the left ear/ Feeling pretty bad for the maid." CHRIS GRAY
Junip, "Line of Fire" Summer isn't all fun and games. This song is the sound of every summer breakup ever. The building tension, the fighting, the pleading, it's all here. Play this when that one obviously doomed couple starts bitching at each other yet again at your party. You know the couple I mean. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
Kanye West, "Blood On the Leaves" Those horns. Those freaking horns. They may not scream "summer," but put on "Blood On The Leaves" next time you're driving around and it'll turn even the most mundane trip in to something epic. Yeezus may be full of radical sounds, but for my money it's those horns that leave the biggest impression. CORY GARCIA
Kanye West, "I'm In It" A demented sex rap with a stark, pulsating beat and a feature from Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, the ever present voice of Ye's conscience, "I'm In It" has ruled my world since Yeezus dropped. Yeezy gets in some of his best lines ("eatin' Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce") and dancehall artist Assassin AKA Agent Sasco goes in and destroys the track with a killer, completely incomprehensible guest verse. COREY DEITERMAN
Krewella, "Live For The Night" Krewella continue their campaign to be the best thing in dance music with their newest song, adding another anthem to the collection of awesome tracks they've put out in the last year. It may have been released too late for festival season, but expect to hear this in car stereos and clubs and anywhere there is a late night dance party. CORY GARCIA
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us" Say what you like about the never-ending earworm that is "Thrift Shop," Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's mega-single that took over the airwaves earlier this year, but don't knock the catchy, upbeat energy of "Can't Hold Us," 'cause it's the perfect summer jam. They've perfected the whole gratitude and unity message they've got going on without venturing into preachy territory, and if my big, burly metal head tattoo artist can profess his Macklemore love without shame, so can I. ANGELICA LEICHT
Night Gaunts, "Mosquitoes" With the perfect title for a summertime song, this one's a party igniter. These ska-punks are from the lower east side -- as in hemisphere, not Manhattan. Auckland, New Zealand, to be exact. They're currently touring the U.S. for the first time. It sounds like sweaty, shirtless, cups in the air, skank your ass off fun, and that's probably what it'll look like when Night Gaunts plays The Doctor's Office next Thursday, July 18. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Portugal. The Man, "Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue" Pretty much every song off Evil Friends could be the lead single, but the most standout track is the funky, danceable "Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue." It's one of those tunes you'll have a really tough time getting out of your head once it's in it. At the band's recent House of Blues show, they both opened and closed their set with the song - so nice they played it twice. JIM BRICKER
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell Williams, "Blurred Lines" Like it or not, "Blurred Lines" is the official summer jam of 2013. It's got all the ingredients a summer song needs: velvety vocals that are explicity sexy without being vulgar, T.I.'s unique tone working the rap break, and most importantly, the Pharrell factor. How do we know this is a true summer jam? Because we loved it a month ago, we like it now, and by the end of August we won't want to hear it again until summer 2014. SELENA DIERINGER
Tegan and Sara, "I Couldn't Be Your Friend" Heartthrob came out in the spring, but it's too fun to forget. Maybe it's because Tegan and Sara tackled a synth-pop vibe for the album, or it could be that it's full of anthems for summer flings. Whatever the reason, "I Couldn't Be Your Friend" proves that not all songs about heartbreak have to be slow, sad and acoustic. So the next time you're up late thinking about that special someone, have a hairbrush karaoke session to this album and belt out your frustration. ALYSSA DUPREE
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, "From the Sun" Nothing changed dramatically from Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled debut, but something about their latest album, II, took me from being intrigued by the group to being a fan. If you can chew on some psychedelic pop, "From The Sun" is a necessity for your summer jam playlist. I recommend saving this track for a sunset drive home from the beach, when you can roll the windows down and turn the stereo up. ALYSSA DUPREE
Watsky, "Cardboard Castles" Call him "The Plain Eminem" (not nutty) if you want, but Watsky is the business. The title track from his newest album delivers the blueprint: nice beats beneath smart, slam-worthy poetry that goes cleanly from zero to 60 in mere breaths. There's sweetness, humility and optimism on this track, all things missing from a lot of modern rap. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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