NPR logo

Songs Of The Summer: How To Win The Season

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140044520/140052782" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Songs Of The Summer: How To Win The Season

Music Articles

Songs Of The Summer: How To Win The Season

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140044520/140052782" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, host:

We don't want to quite let go of summer without playing you a few summer hits -the songs that've been making it big this month and all throughout the season. This time of year, some songs just hit that perfect balance of fun cliches and lighthearted rhythm. It's exactly what you're asking for at this part of the year. Saying you can resist a song like that is like saying you hate popsicles. So let's take a look at what these summer songs do to draw us in.

(Soundbite of song, "Party Rock Anthem")

LMFAO (Band): Party rock, party rock, party rock.

GREENE: NPR music critic Ann Powers is here to talk about some of these summer tunes. So really, Ann, is this one of the biggest songs of the summer of 2011?

ANN POWERS: It's on every time you turn on the radio. It's charting all over the charts. "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO is the song of the summer.

(Soundbite of song, "Party Rock Anthem")

LMFAO (Music Group): (Singing) Party rock is in the house tonight. Everybody just have a good time. And we gonna make you lose your mind. Everybody just have a good time.

POWERS: This song is a certain kind of summer song designed to sound great pouring out of a car radio. It's built kind of like, I don't know, like a souped-up convertible or something - so flashy, so instantly recognizable.

GREENE: It sounds like it's the kind of song that probably would've done pretty well any year.

POWERS: Well, yeah. "Party Rock Anthem" is like a classic summer song that could've come out basically anytime, I would say, within the past maybe decade.

But the other kind of song that often hits us in the summer is one that's sort of surprisingly relevant. This summer the news has been so confusing. One minute we're hearing about the recession and political infighting and disaster. And the next minute we're trying to care about Kim Kardashian's wedding. This song somehow connects with that confusing mood. It's called "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People.

(Soundbite of song, "Pumped Up Kicks")

FOSTER THE PEOPLE (Music Group): All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

GREENE: What was that lyric? It's better run faster than my bullet?

POWERS: Yes. This song written by Mark Foster, the leader of the group Foster the People, is in the surprisingly strong tradition of hit songs about mass murder. But this song sounds like it's about chewing a piece of bubble gum. It sounds happy, and yet in there the lyrics are telling the story of a kid who's found a gun and is going wild.

GREENE: OK. So we talked about having just the right hook. We've talked about writing lyrics that kind of capture the mood of the summer. Is there just a song that is the sound of the summer? I mean, if you think of 2011, this is the sound that captures it?

POWERS: Well, there's one sound we always need in the summer. And that sound is sexy.

(Soundbite of song, "Sure Thing")

MIGUEL (Singer): (Singing) If you be the cash, I'll be the rubber band. You be the match, I will be your fuse. Boom. Painter, baby, you could be the muse. I'm the reporter, baby, you could be the news.

GREENE: I'm the reporter, baby, you could be the news.

POWERS: Use that line sometime, David. I bet it'll work.

GREENE: I'll try it - maybe.

POWERS: This song is by Miguel. R&B is in this interesting phase where minor keys and kind of nasal lyrics and sort of a disturbed quality is underneath the sexiness.

GREENE: And why does this scream summer?

POWERS: The other songs we've talked about today are really like driving songs, you know. But really at the end of a hundred degree 80 percent humidity day, you just want to lay back. And that's what this song does.

GREENE: That's NPR music critic Ann Powers.

Thank you, Ann.

POWERS: Thanks so much, David.

(Soundbite of song, "Sure Thing")

MIGUEL: (Singing) I could be the boom.

GREENE: And you can read more about songs of the summer at NPRMusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Sure Thing")

MIGUEL: (Singing) The sun don't shine, I've got faith in you and I. Put you're pretty little...

GREENE: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.