29 October 2023

Summer Jam 2023: The lost summer

Yeah, dude. After years of decline, I don't know. This summer was confounded by both actually important things going on in my personal life (my pregnant wife), a waning disinterest in a lot of pop culture for primarily personal reasons (again, creating a life changes you), and a continued fracturing of what it even means to be a Summer Jam.

I'm not sure there was even one big song that you could point do and say, "Yes, that's it!" So this isn't even in any order and I'm not anointing one. That may seem like it breaks from tradition, but if you've learned anything from this site is that tradition for anything matters very little. We always focus on what our lives, actually mean, and freely disregard what we are supposed to do for what we are doing. Anyway, let's review a smattering:

Morgen Wallen brought huge crossover force to the summer and found a lot of mainstream pop success in addition to the country charts. Country might actually be getting popular, and I know that there are more country stations than any other, but that is also because radio stations exist in like five mile blocks and you need a lot to fill the...country. But real humans might actually be listening now, and this was a big summer. Anyway, it was also apparently the #1 Streamed song on Spotify.

This is probably my pick if I had to grab one. SZA has been around forever, but is also finally finding some mainstream appeal, especially with youths. This is not her best song, but easily one of her most accessible. It was on the radio forever and is very listenable. I dug it.

This was also the summer of Ice Spice, which is fun because it rhymes. Man, this is the most mispronounced song ever. My rate of mondegreens are already way too high. I can't understand anything. I thought it was about astrological signs. Again, on the radio forever and really did seem catchy. But that doesn't even matter any more, does it!? I think people liked it.

It's genuinely rare for anyone to come out with a song as popular (and superior) so an initial hit fourteen years apart, and ten years after her peak. But "Flowers" is great, unpretentious, a true maturation of Miley as an artist, which proves what a lot of knew, which is that she's far more Lady GaGa than Katy Perry - as in, she's actual artist with things to say, someone who works hard, and finds new ways to challenge herself. We're big fans.

Taylor Swift might be one of the most powerful artists (and frankly, human beings) on the planet right now. She is more powerful than the NFL. And the movies. It's wackadoodle. She keeps coming out with genuinely great hits. When do we just acknowledge her as one of our greatest artists? She had some continual hurdles or some reason. This and "Karma" are reliably great, either are fine choices for song of summer.

Dua has had some great years and Barbie (2023)'s obscene success certainly thrust this forward. It's a standard Dua Lipa song, which means it's very solid but not earth-shattering, but it also really works as a perfect song for the movie, where it can just innocuously exist but is also a legitimate banger.

Is it possible that Olivia Rodrigo isn't an industry plant after all? Nice that she's showing she's not a one-hit wonder although this isn't really any kind of step forward as an artist. It's a step sideways, which is...fine. It's not backwards awful. It's just not really anything hugely new or interesting. Will it get on a Halloween mix this year?

Obviously the Tracy Chapman version is definitive, but man this version hits hard. It wasn't all that big, but I did really dig it this summer. Somehow the blue collar cred just seeps out of this one and it becomes deeply sad. I get bummed out just about every time, but it's a good kind of bummer. 

This was definitely a song that would come on, be enjoyable, but like, you could never place the artist or what the song really was. It was a classic 5-8 spot by our old list system. Like, always around but never at the top. And again, I don't think it ever did well on streaming. Just radio. Sort of. We're in weird territory here, folks. I don't even know how we share anything.

What a great 2008 song, right? Of course it's got today's modern sampling. But there isn't really any passion here, it's two old dudes fighting for relevancy. I mean, it's fine, but this made zero splash anywhere. Except on my local radio stations that would still play it, presumably to go after the wacky dad vote. As you can tell, I'm so out of touch. It's why I'm retiring. I couldn't get into any Bad Bunny this summer.

This always reminded me of that intro song from La La Land (2016), you remember that? I feel like no one cares about La La Land anymore. Which is fine, but the future will be surprised to remember how big of a deal we felt about it at the time. This song is so light and fluffy, it really is a great summer song. It seemed like it was mildly popular.

We gotta have one Tik Tok meme song, right? Man, all this shit has just left me. Anyway, this is pretty cool, it's got a tubthumper of a beat and some pretty fire bars to land on our poor old ears. I'm down with the youth. I don't know if anyone actually listened to it, I think that maybe it didn't take off? I saw them running down the street and stuff, seemed fun.

Here's another sampled song that does work, but it also feels old and outdated. But sort of popular! It's fine. We had so many just fine songs this summer. It gets me kind of amped, right? I don't know, the original is probably better and they're just counting on nostalgia to push forward, but the truth is there are plenty of great original songs like "You Wish" out there that are genuine products of artistry. Oh well.

There were other ones like "Chemical" by Post Malone, which is just kind of dumb, and that Selena Gomez song that starts with VIBES which was cool but came out like a year ago, I guess? Anyone, one of the above, or definitely just Bad Bunny is the song of summer.

And that's probably why I'm hanging this up. It's all Bad Bunny's fault. But more accurately, it's my fault for not being able to distinguish in the slightest modern Spanish-language songs from each other. Pop culture moving on without me combined with some significant life changes are really fueling a disinterest in keeping up this section of our Fabled Blog. Maybe we'll keep doing a Fall wrap up, right around Halloween, of course, but I just think its time to move on.

Happy 2023, everyone!
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