There are a lot of rising emotions as the summer dwindles. Most students feel like summer wasn’t summer at all with social-distancing measures put into place, and now we’re on campus again! Since there were limited things to do outside, most people turned to music to pass the time or get them excited for the future. Check out the buzz staff’s picks for best summer releases and songs that remind them of returning to school.
You’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t think that “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles was the song of the summer. Though it came out last year, the song reached its peak this summer, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart just this past week. This song screams summer, seeing as the opening lyrics are “Tastes like strawberries on a summer evening.” You may have heard this song playing on the speakers of people hanging out at the beach or in cars as you drove down the highway this summer. Or maybe you were the one blasting the song as you mourned the postponing of the Harry Styles concert this summer. Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was released last year, but it’s still a summertime jam in 2020. It’s also reminiscent of the beginning of the school year when someone would play it at every party and bar during those first few weeks. Nothing puts you in a good, pumped-up mood like “Truth Hurts,” and you’ll never see a group of people jamming out harder than to this song. Lastly, if you’re more of an indie/alternative fan, you might consider “Are You Bored Yet” by Wallows (feat. Clairo), one of the defining summer songs. The perfect pairing of Wallows and Clairo makes for an incredibly catchy song with an immediately recognizable piano riff. This song is ideal for listening to during a late-night car ride with many friends on a warm summer night. It’s the perfect mixture of chill and upbeat that is also an excellent song for chilling out on the quad with some friends (while socially distancing, of course).
Whenever the school year’s start rolls around, I consider a fresher beginning than New Year’s. It is the commencement of a new academic year with brand new expectations and classes. When it comes to music during this time, I lean towards the familiar. I go back to artists of slightly older generations like Queen, Nirvana, and Fleetwood Mac. A song that always reminds me of the beginning of the school year is “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. From my perspective, Nirvana’s music and Kurt Cobain’s voice will always have strong connotations to autumn and the beginning of a new semester. In “Come As You Are,” Cobain reflects on the disconnection between telling someone they can be whatever they want to be, and how you treat them. It’s about identity and embracing yourself, even though our society continuously supports the opposite. People will claim that you should “come as you are,” but being yourself is sometimes unaccepted. To the root, the song is a dark and cold truth, and I can admit that the message is not something you would typically start your school year with. However, at its core, the song reminds me that you should still be yourself, regardless of what society thinks. Haters are going to hate, so just come as you are anyways.
Released on July 29, Päter’s “SOLE” explores various musical styles throughout the six-song tracklist. This self-produced EP is an interesting display of adapting to the socially distanced times, as its songs were primarily composed and recorded during COVID-19. “SOLE” is a favorite summer release because of Päter’s ability to showcase their emotions through songwriting without removing the listener’s ability to relate to its meaning. Despite this tumultuous year, Päter illustrates the human experience of living during the pandemic. The EP features songs such as “Dam, Damn,” “Levity,” and “Sleep.” Initially released on May 20, “Dam, Damn” is a folk-inspired tracklist favorite with bouncing, playful instrumentals. Throughout the tune, Päter layers their vocals to create harmony and a multi-voice effect. “Levity” features a lowkey bass line that lurks beneath Päter’s voice and complements their lyrics and other instrumentals. While it is the shortest song on the tracklist at barely a minute long, “Levity” showcases Päter’s impressive vocal range and musical finesse. “Sleep” begins with relaxed instrumentals that are amplified during the song’s chorus. Throughout the song, Päter uses vocal slides that set the tone for the tune’s overall energy. “Sleep” confronts the constant feeling of uncertainty during quarantine isolation. “SOLE” embodies Päter’s thoughts during confinement. It’s a favorite summer release because of its vulnerability and emotion that Päter transformed into a diverse EP with songs for varying music fans.
As an avid Taylor Swift fan, my favorite release of 2020 has been her new album. “folklore” is a different side of Swift and is a more vulnerable, raw experience. As far as other pop albums, “No One Else Can Wear Your Crown” from Oh Wonder is excellent too. It has its usual upbeat songs with a melancholy undertone and touches on some very relatable topics. However, over the summer, “How I’m Feeling” by Lauv was undoubtedly my most played album. This album goes in-depth about all the feelings and thoughts that come with loneliness, which certainly helped get me through the majority of quarantine.