27 July 2020

Summer Jam 2020 Week 12: A Cool Week in the Mountains

I can feel Summer winding down already. Winter is coming, people. And guaranteed, we will go from 90 degree days straight to negative twenty. It's the way of the horrible world now. But we still have some sizzling hot jams to get through! We have a few hot new ones this week along with some old favourites. Let's get to it!

Hot Jam of the Week: "Snowchild" by The Weeknd

All these Weeknd songs seem to be following some coherent storyline, or at least have him dressed the same. I haven't really watched them. This is a lot chiller than his earlier bops this summer, and like the next hot jam this week, doesn't seem like much of a summer track. It's also another one of the growing list of 2020 animated music videos - it's nice to see folks innovating during the age of Corona. I like it, it's not quite "Blinding Lights" but it's fine.

Second Hot Jam of the Week: "cardigan" by Taylor Swift

We were all set with The Weeknd, then Tay Sway decided to drop a surprise album. It's okay. This song is more her longfull ballad style, which she's maybe weaker at than her effervescent witty pop artistry. In terms of upbeat summer jams this is lacking, but its mournful tone perhaps suits 2020 better than bippier tracks. There is a lot coming out of this album, and we'll see if she has any late surge or domination. She's capable.

The lyrics to this jam really hit me this week. It's an incredibly dark and depressing song. But it's such a bop! I enjoyed jamming out to it this week but damn, it's such a monument to relationship despair and self-assessment. It's a marvel, and truly a completely 2020 song. It's doing okay chart-wise and I'm far from sick of it so far.

Speaking of longevity - it has been a very long time since we had a week without "Rockstar." Consistency in Summer 2020 is exceedingly rare. I'd be surprised if this manages to have a successful August - there is getting to be quite a bit of competition. I almost left it off this week, but it came on some Google playlists of mine, and I reflected how it was the #1 song in the country for so long, without real widespread recognition. It'll keep trucking.

This is another song that has been on and off, and I'm maybe giving it a lot of late credit. Megan Thee Stallion was also shot at this week, which is crazy. It's more of a Summer 2020 soundtrack jam than I've given it credit for and Beyonce certainly elevates any song she's attached to. I like the flow here more than the beat. It's probably a little out of style at this point, but we'll see if it hangs on any more.

What do we do with "Watermelon Sugar" at this point? It's maybe making a good case for itself, and doesn't really show any sign of going away, despite me predicting that a few weeks ago. It's really one of the only explicitly summer songs we've had this year, even if Summer 2020 has produced a handful of specific Summer 2020 songs. We'll see how everything eventually shakes out.

"death bed (coffee for your head)" by Powfu

I feel like I've known this song for years. This entered my purview a few weeks ago and it didn't even strike me as a new song. It's an awfully cute song with some Kanye-style vocals-as-beats. But it's so darn sweet. I think it's popular. Anyway, despite it sounding old, it's certainly fresh this week and I'd like to see it surge for a while.

"Wishing Well" by Juice WRLD

Juice WRLD has had a lot of charting songs this summer, particularly with a surging album over the last few weeks. The echoes of addiciton, depression, and refrain of "I can't breathe" resound in 2020. It doesn't even seem to explicitly be in reaction to George Floyd, but that's an inexporable link at this point. The track's been around for a time, but this week I realized that I had both listened to this a ton so far this summer and it's also hella relevant. This is a depressing week.

Next week...

I almost threw Dua Lipa on this again, but she just missed the cut. I'm curious if Taylor hangs on, although no track off folklore is traditional pop. Surely her getting back to some folk roots can be a good thing. And "exile" is tight as hell. There's a path there, but we'll see if Summer 2020 wants stripped down Taylor Swift music. Also her F-bomb on "betty." Yes, I listened to this whole album. Stay tuned, folks!

20 July 2020

Summer Jam 2020 Week 11: Vacation from Crap

We are barreling through the chaos now. I don't even know where to begin anymore. Everything is pretty bad all the time. I guess we can just listen to some hot summer jams to get funky fresh but what's the point? What's the point of any of this! Cataloging the Summer 2020 Summer Jam List has unearthed heady bits of existential drama over here. Let's dive in!

Hot Jam of the Week: "For the Night" by Pop Smoke ft. Lil Baby, DaBaby

Pop Smoke dropped an album and got like six songs in the Billboard Hot 100 this week. None are particularly good, maybe "The Woo." Juice WRLD is lighting up Spotify, but they aren't all that great, either. So, I'm sure I'll eat my words when these become big bangers, but I'm also struck by the fact that we're so decentralized that entire albums get charted because people are just streaming and listening to whatever they feel like listening to. It's amazing and democratizing and fantastic. Hell for distilling into a weekly list, but great for pop culture consumption.

"The Bigger Picture" by Lil Baby

This song found its way on a playlist of mine this week and although it's not really charting, streaming, or getting radio play, it also feels very much like a song of our time and I enjoy it quite a bit. It's a good jam, too. We're at such a point where we don't know how to react anymore and the art that emerges from quarantine and racial struggle ought to get some more recognition. The way Lil Baby says "We've had a hell of a year" sums it up. We certainly have.

"Say So" by Doja Cat

We're doing a hardcore "Remember the Summer" edition this week, not in small part because we seemed to hear a little bit of everything over the last few days. In the life of a pop song I think we're beyond the initial freshness, beyond the initial staleness, and then into the "Oh yeah, this jam is a jam" part of jam life. "Say So" is all in that. It's still a very funky song that we enjoy.

"Blinding Lights"by The Weeknd

Surely we are forming some kind of Summer 2020 with some of the jams this week. I still don't really believe Summer 2020 will be known for its music, but these are all emblematic of the Soundtrack to Living in Our Homes. I also generally like all these songs. With a gap of anything really ubiquitous, this is the default. Funky 80s style with some fresh rivets.

"Rain on Me" by Lady GaGa ft. Ariana Grande

I heard this this week and kind of didn't hate it, even longed for it a little bit. It still seems like an underperformance considering the talent invovled but it's maybe not totally terrible. I don't know where Lady GaGa finds herself. I am an obvi stan but she seems inexorably tied to her early 2009 pop success and daring fashion statements rather than the lasting diva she should be. Maybe I'm way off base, especially for a fan. I'm saying I wanted this song to be better rather than a clubthumper that could have been done by any starlet out there.

"ROCKSTAR" by DaBaby ft. Roddy Rich

This is maybe pretty much over, but it still earns a place here. I'm not tooootally sick of it, just getting there. It's still doing well chart-wise and at this point, has done well to cement itself as a strong contender. At least at this point I don't feel like any other song really sums up 2020. At the same time, it feels so small, right? No one is singing "Rockstar" in the streets. We'll see how we keep progressing.

"Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa

After a few weeks off, Dua Lipa is back with a song we heard a ton a while ago but not much since. I dig this track a lot, it might be my favorite Dua Lipa to be honest. She has splintered her jams this summer, though, and I worry that she won't contend for the crown since no one song has been dominant. This apparently still has some life in it, though. Could be something.

"Toosie Slide" by Drake

Drake is just the default of like, the decade. I don't think he's especially great - he's definitely good, but should he dominate the way he does? Not really. Like Dua Lipa, after a few weeks in the shadows, this track came back in a big way this week, and I found myself humming it quite a bit. It's fine. It's a fine song.

Next week...

I'm not sure "Toosie Slide" should be #1. But this is where we're at. I'm curious about the track Kanye dropped as he dropped out of the Presidential race. Perhaps he realized it's actually a hard job that requires geopolitical knowledge? Or not, who cares. Any of those Juice WRLD or Pop Smoke tracks might catch on. But the same as Dua Lipa's multiple hits, when you have five or six contenders, it's hard for any one song to stand out and become THE notable song. Keep truckin!

13 July 2020

Summer Jam 2020 Week 10: Mid-July Blues

We are in the thick of it now, folks. It's the true heart of summer. All the May and June getting reacquainted with the sun nonsense is behind us and we're finally past the all the major High Holidays of Cinco de Mayo, the End of School, and the Fourth of Julio. Now it's just pure summer. Beaches and waterparks ahoy! Well, let's pretend a magnificent disease is not currently ravaging the planet.

Hot Jam of the Week: "Hallucinate" by Dua Lipa

We have two hot jams this week. Who cares, it's summer, it's hot out. Also this first one isn't very good. I struggle with Dua Lipa. Sometimes her tracks are straight bangers, others like this just sound very forgettable and replaceable. I do love this big wave of animated music videos folks are having to do in quarantine. Or maybe this was a real artistic choice. It's not totally compelling.

"The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady" by Kid Cudi and Eminem

Our second hotness - I dig the title and that's maybe about it. The track takes too long to drop which turns me off instantly. The beat also just feels all over the place. So is Eminem lately, who after so much great output exploring him finding his identity, seems to be struggling with the kind of rapper he wants to be right now. Cudi is reliably solid, though. I got into it by the middle of his verse. In terms of jam-ness, this is probably not too big of a dent.

"Mamacita" by the Black Eyed Peas ft. Ozuna, J. Real Soul

This is kind of a cool song but damn I've never wanted to punch a series of artists in the face like watching this video. Are they cool? They're not cool, right? Everyone is just trying so hard. I always thought of The Black Eyed Peas as reigning pop royalty just because their 2005-2010 was so solid and ubiquitous, but I suppose that is getting to be like ten years ago. Maybe they suck and everyone hates them? Have folks largely forgotten their jams? I don't know, but I kind of like their cross genre 2020 work that has a different flavor.

"Say So" by Doja Cat

This track crept is way back into my ears this week and I suppose it had never really fallen too far off this list. Doja Cat is certainly having a hell of a summer, even if her latest track isn't that great. This song really found a way to emphasize everything she does well in the best way, though. It's the kind of name-making track that could last a while.

"The Box" by Roddy Rich

I was actually trying to think of "Rockstar" and I came up with this one. Whenever a song enters long-term brain function I'm like, "Okay, this can get that TOP status." "The Box" got there this week. It's still a factor on the charts and whatnot, but we've definitely left in the dust for a while now. It's still an earworm. Dig it.

"Rockstar" by DaBaby ft. Roddy Rich

This is still a presence although it may be cresting for my own ears. It's still very good and that little mandolin complements the heavy bass pretty well. It's fun and a song of our time unlike any other major song that's penetrated the charts much so far this summer. At this point the race is still wide open, enough that a late-breaking July or August track could even come in and do its thing. In all reality, Summer 2020 is not going to be remembered for its music, it'll be remembered for everything else going on.

"Savage" by Megan Thee Stallion

I'm not a huuuuge fan of this track, but I heard it a ton this week and it's never really plummeted off the charts, so, good enough. I like the thick ferocity Megan brings to the rap table but I need a more engaging beat or a better use of her talents for her to crossover like Doja Cat to me (see everything said above). This is okay, I guess.

"Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles

Yep, all the way to #1! What a bizarre series of events. I compiled all the contenders this week and thought, yeah, I actually both heard and talked about "Watermelon Sugar" the most. It is truly bizarre - we are in a thorough age of hip-hop so deep that it's genuinely weird for a British White Boy Crooner to gain the top spot right now. It's just so unlike any other song on this list. Summer 2020 has a weird playlist. But I like this.

Next week...

There are a lot of contenders out there. We ignored The Weeknd, but he's not quite done yet. I also personally listed to so much Ava Max, but I don't think that brief spat of Quarantine Songs are really much of a thing anymore. Stay tuned, you really never know this summer. And GaGa / Ari! I think there's something there still. Stay healthy, loyal readers!

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