Along with cocktails on rooftops and sunbathing by the pool, summer grants the official ok to zip by in your car with windows down blaring music from the speakers. Whether hearing someone’s music blasting from their headphones on the A train, or eating outdoors at my favorite low-key Brooklyn cafe, I look forward to observing what music gets the people going. Only hours into the official first day of summer there are already countless songs that are on constant replay on iPods or car stereos. For whatever reason, warm weather tends to bring proper music odes to the beauty of the new season. Cheers to this summer being one of producing music that makes you feel something. Here are three songs that I plan to have in heavy rotation over the next few months…
NOMINATION: Meek Mill ft. Drake & Jeremih, “Amen”
EXPLANATION: Summer time is when I indulge in rap music. The beats, instrumentation, samples and lyrics boost my energy for jam packed days. Unless you were a music journalist or a diehard hip-hop fan, it’s likely you hadn’t heard of Meek Mill at this time last year. That all changed with his successful single “I’m A Boss” and later the Dreamchasers mixtape. The buzz around the Philly rapper grew with praises of his storytelling ability in tracks from the mixtape like “Tony’s Story.” He signed to Maybach Music Group where his buzz blossomed due to his first mixtape, but it’s the followup, Dreamchasers 2, that was the real attention grabber. “Amen’s” church choir sound can be attributed to the organ, a common instrument that has been used in black church spirituals for forever. Although “amen, preach and church” are rattled off through the chorus, don’t expect to hear anything church-y. The only thing spiritual about “Amen” is its divine sound.
Surely you’ve noticed: Best Coast frontwoman and hipster clothierBethany Cosentino loves her some Los Angeles. And in the new video for “The Only Place,” directed by Ace Norton, she and guitarist and Best Coast other-half Bobb Bruno shows us exactly why.
For starters, as she sings in the title-track to Best Coast’s well-received The Only Place, the video contains multiple references to the ocean, babes, the sun and waves. Those things exist on both coasts, though, so it’s the details that make L.A. is the true “Only Place.” Details like the bunny rabbits that roam the remnants of house parties and the outdoor couches; the watermelons and the blenders readily available for blended beverages; the troops of cheerleaders and the pyrotechnic bicycles and guitars. And everyone gets a matching “Best Coast” emblazoned jean jackets. (Just kidding, only Consentino and Bruno get those. But an East Coast girl can dream, can’t she?) It’s to these sun-soaked, oddball adventures that this love song sings.
Earlier this year, Cosentino told us that this song was inspired by a bout of homesickness. As she explained: “‘The Only Place’ is supposed to mean my bedroom, my home, Los Angeles, California. It’s a place where I feel the most comfortable and confident. I wanted to make a record that reflected that this place is my safe place, and all these songs that are written about more darker, kind of lonely feelings, those all go away as I get back to this only place.” And after watching this video, how could you blame her?
Back on December 25th in the year 2001, before Regina Spektor was signed to a major label deal, she decided to spend her Christmas Day in the recording studio. Over the course of the day, she recorded 12 original songs — ones that featured no other instrumentation besides her vocals and her piano — which ultimately became her Songs LP. This was a particularly fertile period for Spektor, creatively, and many of these songs remain fan favorites to this day. She decided to re-record that album’s first track, “Samson,” on her breakout 2006 LP Begin To Hope, and now she has decided to revisit another one of those early Lower East Side anthems that propelled her into the spotlight in the first place.
“Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” was the closing track on Songs, but in its new incarnation, it’s the second single from Spektor’s brand new album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. We’ve been singing and dancing along with the original for years, but there’s no denying that the song has been tremendously improved by the addition of a more robust sonic palette, which includes adorable percussion (bells, a Casio Keyboard style drumbeat), a much needed bassline and even a rollicking horn breakdown. As for the video, it’s our favorite of Spektor’s since 2006′s “Better” (the one that propelled her to VH1 You Oughta Know status) — with its stately interior shots, slightly surreal imagery and continued use of slow focus, it’s the kind of music video that we imagine Stanley Kubrick might’ve been inspired to shoot. In it, Spektor remains as beautiful, quirky and ebuillient as ever, and thanks to the recent tide of interest in yé yé-style pop songs, perhaps this song —with its chorus of “Ne me quitte pas” — might land Spektor in the race for Song Of The Summer.
California-based buzz band Best Coast earned across-the-board raves for their lo-fi debut album Crazy For You, which was released back in 2010. This week, the band’s sophomore LP, The Only Place, was released. This time around, the band traded the fuzzy, surf rock vibe present on their first record for a cleaner, more aurally immersive sound, courtesy of super producer extraordinaire Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West). While it remains to be seen which version of Best Coast fans will remember more fondly, the band’s new single, “The Only Place,” is undeniably one of this summer’s sunshineiest melodies.
Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Bethany Cosentino and lead guitarist Bobb Bruno swung by the Ed Sullivan Studios earlier this week to perform their new single on The Late Show With David Letterman, and they turned in a cool, confident performance of this ode to the joys of the great state of California. “‘The Only Place’ is supposed to mean my bedroom, my home, Los Angeles, California,” Bethany told us when we caught up with her at SXSW in March. “It’s the place where I feel the most comfortable and confident. I wanted to make a record that reflected that this place is my safe place, and all these songs that are written about more darker, kind of lonely feelings, those all go away as I get back to this only place.” Well, after finally hearing the whole record, we can attest that the current of loneliness runs through it loud and clear. In this regard, the title track stands in complete contrast to the rest of the album in that it positively shimmers, both live and on wax, not unlike the sunshine bouncing off a tasty Pacific Ocean wave.
Exciting news for all Single Ladies fans, the popular series is back for a second season kicking off May 28th at 9 p.m ET/PT! If you tune into VH1 over the next few weeks, you’ll see a promo featuring the hottest ladies of Atlanta serving up some cold treats in anticipation of the season premiere. And if you’re wondering what the catchy tune is playing during the spot, we’ve got you covered!
For this particular placement, we wanted to capture what VH1 Director of On Air Promos, Bex, describes as, “a happy, summer fun time extravaganza — with a song that really felt like a ‘song of the summer’.” VH1’s Creative Music Integration team picked through dozens of songs before pitching B.o.B’s “So Good”, off his 2012 album Strange Clouds (which hits stores next Tuesday, May 1). CMI Vice President, Jennifer, felt it not only perfectly fit the “song of the summer” description, but was also “a song that really stood a shot at being a hit.” And it’s no wonder since the track is quickly picking up steam, currently sitting in the Top 20 (#18) at Top 40 Mainstream radio and selling over 100K in digital singles, it’s revving up to be the perfect summer jam.
It’s an inspirational track, one that’s very reminiscent of last summer’s big hit for Eminem, Royce da 5’9″ and Bruno Mars, “Lighters.” Both songs feature a simple piano loop sitting on top of a thumping backbeat, lyrics about overcoming adversity, and a soaring vocal hook that is impossible to resist singing along with. “The Fighter” seems well-positioned to do well on this year’s Song Of The Summer charts, and seems like a no-brainer to be prominently featured during musical montages during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Move over Rihanna, there’s a new babe on the block! The super gorgeous Rita Ora is poised to topple Rihanna’s throne as the go to girl for hip hop collaborations and sexy pop. Her new single, “Party & Bullsh*t” (which you can listen to below) is the first release for her forthcoming debut under Jay-Z‘s label, Roc Nation. The chorus of the infectious party anthem directly references Biggie‘s own iconic “Party & Bullsh*t”, and we predict that the new track is going to be blasting out of speakers everywhere this summer, especially with Jay-Z’s backing, and other huge collaborators like Drake, The-Dream and Stargate for her album.
The stunning Ora was a favorite at fashion weeks this past month, and rumors are flying that Jay-Z has “dumped” Rihanna is favor of Rita. Media Take Out “reports” that Jay-Z has begun a “media blitz” for Rita, not least because he’s angry at Rihanna’s for her recent collaborations with Chris Brown. An “rock solid” insider has allegedly said that, “Rita [Ora] has the same kind of pop appeal that Rihanna does, but she’s younger, and not as crazy… [Jay Z] has scheduled to make a bunch of appearances with her, and he’s even going to integrate her into [upcoming THRONES] concert [with Kanye West].” Does Rihanna need to watch her back? Will Rita dethrone RiRi’s, until now, dominance of cameos on the songs of hip hop’s finest? Is Rita Ora about the be the sexiest thing to happen to pop since RiRi’s “Umbrella”?
These Jeopardy contestants have got some catching up to do. When presented with the question “Got that song ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ stuck in your head? Blame this trio led by Mark Foster,” all three contestants were hilariously silent. One of the catchiest songs of 2011, Foster The People‘s “Pumped Up Kicks” has been unavoidable; it was played everywhere, all the time, and as a result, has been stuck in our heads since the spring. We’re finding it hard to believe that these contestants completely missed the boat on one of the most fun, danceable songs of the year. Memo to Jeopardy contesants: add our You Oughta Know section to your bookmarks, stat!
For the last 14 weeks, we’ve been tracking the race to see which track would become this year’s Song Of The Summer. Since people consume music in so many different ways these days, our goal was to put together a democratic formula that compared how a group of over 70 songs performed across five of the primary channels that people frequently use to listen to their favorite jams: the Billboard Hot 100 (radio play & sales), the iTunes charts (pure sales), Last.fm scrobbles (listening on computer and mobile devices), the YouTube music charts (streams) and, of course, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. Each week, we tracked how our group of competitors fared in each of these different platforms, and then added up the results.
So, without any further ado, we are psyched to announce that Katy Perry has taken home the first place prize in VH1′s first annual Song Of The Summer competition! When the summer began, it looked like Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” was going to be an unstoppable force, but as soon as Katy dropped her 80s-tastic “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” video during the week of June 27th, she dominated the countdown from there on out. Katy was gracious enough to film an quick speech for us while she accepted our totally awesome Song Of The Summer trophy, which we’ve got for you above.
For you completists, here is our final Song Of The Summer countdown chart (that is, until Memorial Day 2012 rolls around!). And you’re on Spotify, you can subscribe to our VH1 Song Of The Summer 2011 playlist and re-live the summer whenever you want.