09 June 2014

Summer Jam Week 5: High is Better

Things are heating up and we're into the thick of June now, folks. That means it's time again to go over the hottest Summer Jams of the previous week. We've started to settle a little bit, but there is still a lot of exciting things to go. This week we've mostly got a lot of R&B Jams and songs about getting high. It's Summer, babe.

Hot Jam of the Week: "Pills N Potions" by Nicki Minaj

Opening up our Altered States week is the latest jam from Nicki Minaj. Nicki hasn't really put anything out in a while, but this is a nice comeback to her native Summer Jam territory. It's a softer song for her, in line with more "Your Love" or "Right Thru Me" then her crazy "Super Bass" or "Starships". It's always nice to see her taking it down like this and realizing just how talented this girl is. "Pills N Potions" is set to be a great jam, catchy, smooth, and easily listenable. We'll see if it takes off.

Did You Mean Baby: "Come Get It Bae" by Pharrell ft. Miley Cyrus

I don't know what bae is, probably somehow a shortened form of "baby." Pharrell is doing well with this non-"Happy" song and showing he's got another run at a Summer Jam in him after that collabo with Daft Punk last year. Miley is really understated here, which adds to a really fun song in line with just about everything off of GIRL. Not only is this everywhere on the radio but thanks to those incessant Red Bull commercials the energetic little jam is all over television as well.

Late Night Drama: "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" by Arctic Monkeys

This came out last summer, but like a lot of slowburning alt rock songs these days, it's only getting a lot of mainstream airplay right now. The video is sort of all over the place, starting with their song "Do I Wanna Know?" then bleeding into a tripped out night of mayhem version of "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" It's a pretty competent little jam, even if it doesn't totally endorse its behavior. Arctic Monkeys have been taking off lately, although I think this is still kind of a niche group rather than an epic summer jam factory.

Sexy Crying: "Pretty Hurts" by Beyonce

I always kind of chuckle when artists put out their "inner beauty" whatever songs, like Christina Aguilera did years ago with "Beautiful." Come on, Beyonce, you're one of the most gorgeous women in the world, stop whining. There are some serious issues at work here, though, with the expectation of beauty and the tremendous sacrifice made not only by young girls, but everyone in the face of impossible standards of attraction. The song itself is decent, but I do rather favor Bey belting "RIDE 'IM LIKE A SURFBORT" over what she's going for here vocally.

Psych Out: "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers

Bleachers crawl back on to this list after bouncing around a bit, but this is getting a bit of traction. It's a fun song for sure, even if the video takes a while to get going and has too much talking to really be enjoyable. I'm concerned, though that this isn't really the kind of song we're going to adore a year from now. It seems way too much in the moment rather than something really timeless. Either way, it's a fun jam for the Summer of 2014.

Wake and Bake: "Habits (Stay High)" by Tove Lo

I like the potential of this song. It's sweetly toned even if its subject matter of a tortured addiction may be a bit heavy. There's a lot of passion here, though, along with a pretty high degree of catchiness. I doubt this will ever really catch on and explode, but here's my Tove Lo shout-out for the week.

Mo Money: "Problem" by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea

Has anyone noticed that the cadence of Iggy's verse seems a lot like what Nicki Minaj threw down in Diddy's "Hello, Good Morning" a while back? Maybe it's just me. This really has Summer Jam all over it, from Ariana hitting the ground running hard to the cool coos of the whispering chorus, along with the defiant break-up happy content of the lyrics. It's really hot but I think just not quite at superstar status yet. Wait a bit.

Dolled Up: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea ft. Charlie XCX

I gave "Fancy" the edge this week, it seemed like it had a little bit more airplay. This song is a giant, although to be honest, it's not completely dominating like previous Summer Jams or even crazy Winter Jams like "Happy" was a few months ago. It also may be cresting that annoyance barrier where the novelty of its freshness starts declining. I think our ultimate Jam starling is still out there somewhere...

Next week...

I'm curious about some artists coming up like Sevyn Streeter, Bear Hands, and Bastille, along with some time honored favorites like Coldplay and Beyonce that keep cranking out potential hits. Like I said, though, no one song is completely dominating or set-up for absolute success quite yet. This middle part of June, though is when we saw crazy crazy Summer Jams like "California Gurls" and "Blurred Lines" debut, so grip your seats tight - we're just getting warmed up.

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