Pop Life

The Best Song of Summer 2015 Was...

BECK, "Dreams"
What makes "Dreams" so fantastic? Somehow, Beck's newest single manages to sound completely fresh, while simultaneously (and somewhat ingeniously) sounding like a kaleidoscopic melding of the many "Becks" of the past. Mr. Hansen starts the song by throwing in a Guero-meets-Odelay low-key beat into his robotic blender, adding a generous portion of Midnite Vultures-esque dance party, sprinkling a bridge that could rip straight off of Mellow Gold, and then hits 'puree' to create one of the best Beck tracks in years. SELENA DIERINGER

It's hard to say any one song ran away with the summer this year, but one man took home the gold with a whole album full of primo cuts. Big Sean's Dark Sky Paradise came out in February, but no other rap album this year has seemed to have such staying power, with its hits dominating almost every party I attended all summer. I really could have gone with the Drake-featuring monster "Blessings," last year's megahit "I Don't Fuck With You" with E-40, or "Deep" with Lil Wayne, but my personal favorite is this Watch the Throne-esque duet with Kanye. They take a dark soul-sampling beat from West and just totally dominate. The craziest thing about all these tracks is that, even surrounded by all these superstars, Big Sean still always slays the track and comes away with the best verse. This is definitely his breakout year, and the sound of summer 2015. COREY DIETERMAN

Imaginative Austin based pysch-rock band, The Bright Light Social Hour, delivered their second album earlier this year. "Infinite Cities" captures the spirit of traveling without a clear destination or path.The amalgamation of quick drumming and atmospheric vocals echoes the greats of 70s rock. Pairing philosophical and spiritual lyrics with soulful instrumentals, BLSH transcends the typical expectations of Southern rock and carves out their own space in an unconventional place that everyone should be excited to visit. KANDACE LYTLE

DIPLO, “Where are Ü Now”/“Lean On”/“Take Ü There”/“To Ü”
There is not only one song from Diplo that is a song of the summer, nearly anything that he has tossed out there has been a hot song. From his Jack Ü collabs with Skrillex to the Major Lazer release “Lean On” has taken Diplo all over the world this summer from festival upon festival to an appearance Good Morning America. He has easily become one of the most visible personalities in the EDM world. As a result of the collaborations with so many artists, people get a double dose of the tunes – go see Jack Ü and hear “Take Ü There” – go see Kiesza and hear “Take Ü There”. Like it or not, the saturation of his music has flooded the radio and other forms of mass media this season making his music the sound of summer 2015. JACK GORMAN

DR. DRE, Compton
I was hesitant to list Dr. Dre's new album for fear of playing into his viral marketing campaigns for Apple Music and the recently-released NWA biopic, but damn it if this album isn't fantastic. I haven’t stopped listening to it since I first streamed it. A few of the standout tracks in my mind are the ominous-yet-sentimental “Darkside/Gone,” the threatening, metaphor-laden “Deep Water” and “One Shot One Kill,” on which we hear Snoop Dogg return to form. Forget Detox; Compton is the album I wanted all along. MATTHEW KEEVER

DR. DRE, "Genocide"
Dr. Dre has had a hell of a summer. “Straight Outta Compton” is a smash, N.W.A. are back on the radio, and oh, here, have a surprise album release. The track I keep coming back to on the Compton soundtrack is the first one I heard: “Genocide,” the song featuring Kendrick Lamar where Dre meets the youngster more than halfway. The production is pensive and restless, both of the famous guys turn in worthy verses, and it sounds damn good banging out of a Cadillac. NATHAN SMITH

EAZY-E, "Eazy-Duz-It"
N.W.A.’s biopic is a huge success and gave us a place to discover/rediscover music where the radio failed us this summer. Straight Outta Compton, the album, has climbed straight up the charts again; but, back in the day I preferred Eazy E’s solo album, Eazy-Duz-It, which followed closely on the heels of the band’s debut. The title track was a favorite, thanks to its infamous sing-song opening and rapping about 8-ball sippin’ and Uzi unloading. I once heard “Eazy-Duz-It” in a dance club called Cooter’s in Windsor Plaza, which was as far away as one could get after getting straight outta Compton. Everyone wanted to be hard in the late '80s. That need to be gangsta, no matter how fictional, never seems to go out of style.

This dense chillwave tune with several heavy breakbeats received some serious airplay on satellite radio. The first single prepped fans for the release of Death Magic, the eclectic noise band’s third album. The past few months, this song was repeatedly played on my smartphone as the go-to song to hit up many summer adventures. Additionally, the video contains a smiling Alice Glass from Crystal Castles fame and a disturbing minute and a half of high-definition, slow-motion, self-induced vomiting. Fall in love with the song before you watch the video. JACK GORMAN

KYLE HUBBARD, "Going Back to Houston"
Houston rapper Kyle Hubbard released a new song last week from his upcoming Majestic Hotel record. It’s called “Going Back to Houston,” and it’s about the restless homesickness that the emcee felt when he left the city to go off to school. Now he’s back, and damned if even the heat don’t feel like a friendly embrace. Tell me that same story hasn’t played out across town this summer. Well, now the feeling has its own soundtrack. Thanks, Kyle. NATHAN SMITH

CARLY RAE JEPSEN, "Run Away With Me"
The best pop album of the year is finally out, and it's first track is the best summer song that pop music fans are sleeping on. “I Really Like You” was a perfectly serviceable first single, but “Run Away With Me” is the perfect tease of the retro-pop awesome that is Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion. The bouncy bass, a good hook and that sax...Good Lord, that sax. This song is so good I'm willing to forgive her for unleashing “Call Me Maybe” on us. CORY GARCIA

LIL DICKY, "Lemme Freak"/"White Crime"
Lil Dicky's debut album Professional Rapper was released near the end of July, but "Lemme Freak" and "White Crime" were on regular rotation on my Spotify long before the Philadelphia native's debut. As is to be expected from a rookie, his raps aren't without their missteps, but his upbeat and clever rhymes redeem the overall finished product. Professional Rapper is both pleasing to the ears and a riot to dissect lyrically, preferably with a couple of friends who can laugh along with you. MATTHEW KEEVER

DEMI LOVATO, "Cool for the Summer"
I'll confess to feeling a little guilty for loving a song that is so pandering, but I can't deny that when this some comes on I'm totally into it. It's bubblegum pop, but it's not completely dripping in sunshine. It has just enough of a radio-approved edge to make it more welcome than most of what's on the radio right now; the eventually heavy metal cover is going to slay. Plus, it's nice to have a somewhat less icky version of “I Kissed a Girl” out there, especially one that doesn't sound like a bad Gary Glitter b-side. CORY GARCIA

WALKER LUKENS, "Every Night"
Part doo-wop and part rock, Lukens' latest single "Every Night" is a song you listen to on repeat. It's easy to picture Mr. Bonjangles shimmying and shaking to the beats and snaps, yet somehow envisioning a pink-haired tattooed teen bobbing her head to the beat is equally viable. Lukens' raw vocals marry precise instrumentation. The juxtaposition of precision and emotion blends as well as Robert Plant's wail and the Caribbean pop influences in Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song". American Bandstand would have gladly welcomed Lukens' vision in the fifties; however, "Every Night" proves Lukens is able to twist retro into the current indie scene and deliver. KANDACE LYTLE

NIGHT GAUNTS, "8 Dollars"
This song is by and for millennials. The ska-punks from Auckland, N.Z., serve up a rave-up that implores its generation to “take it back to the day when we had eight dollars,” that broke-but-free time before grown-folks stuff like office commutes and financial planning set in. The band is sweeping across the States on its first official U.S. tour and audiences — including one at The Summit here in Houston on opening night — have responded enthusiastically to the song’s house party vibe. Anyone, no matter their age, can benefit from its plea to not “let these motherfuckers get you down.” JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

OMI, "Cheerleader"
If you turned on the radio this summer, chances are you've heard "Cheerleader" at least 100 times. Fitting all the cliche criteria to be crowned the mass public's "song of the summer," just about every station latched onto this easy-listening ditty about a guy who found a sweet, low-maintenance chick so supportive, he doesn't want to stray. With a beachy vibe thanks to Jamaican-born artist OMI, everyone from children to elderly folks were playing this perky yet safe selection at beaches and backyard parties all summer long. Is this the greatest song of the summer? No. But "the song of the summer" rarely is. SELENA DIERINGER

I fell in love with both of these EPs this summer. American Fangs have a gift for writing tight, fast punk songs filled with raw bass and crafty lyrical hooks; their relentless energy is perfect for navigating traffic on Houston highways or blowing off steam after a shitty day at work. Lucky me, I discovered My Enemies & I at an otherwise uninteresting Mayhem Fest this summer. Drummer Ryan Ganster offered the EP to me after being drawn in by their Edgar Allan Poe-inspired merchandise. From the first rotation, I was hooked. I had to know more about this amazing post-core band from Virginia. Sick World quickly became serious competition for American Fangs in my CD player. Both still compete for now. As a writer, I review and listen to hours upon hours of music. Both American Fangs and MyEnemies&I crossed from, ‘assignment’ into my personal collection. Not an easy feat, but certainly my favorite perk of the job. KRISTY LOYE
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