With the first long weekend of the season in the books, summer has unofficially arrived. That means a number of songs will be vying for the attention of our ears as the temperature rises over the coming months.
It also means festival season is here and the CBC Music Festival is set to kick things off this weekend.
With that in mind, CBC Music contributors have picked some of their favourite songs, featuring a good amount of Cancon — from Serena Ryder, Alessia Cara and Ralph, among others — to soundtrack the hotter months of 2017. Listen to the playlist below.
Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson, ‘Symphony’
Released in March, this song reached No. 1 on the BBC’s Top 40 Singles chart, but in North America it has yet to overtake Clean Bandit’s earlier hit, “Rockabye.” By the time summer is in full swing, we’re predicting “Symphony” will have risen to a prominent spot over here, fuelled by its appealing melodic contour, impeccable production and irresistible ballad/banger structure abetted by Zara Larsson’s soaring vocals.
— Robert Rowat (@rkhr)
Fake Shark, 'Heart2Heart'
Perhaps the most unexpected song of the summer comes from longtime indie freak-pop act Fake Shark (formerly Fake Shark — Real Zombie!). The punky Vancouverites have never gone all in on pop, but on their new record Faux Real — which you can stream right now — they’re doing just that. Their latest single, “Heart2Heart,” is a shining example of the new sound, and it has all the ingredients of a successful song of the summer.
Yearning love? Check. Parties stretching through the night? Check. Copious use of party substances? Check. Tenuous grasp of the concept of mortality? Check. More hooks than a tackle box? Check. This danceable tune is meant for all your summer activities: house parties, dance floors, beach bonfires and late-night drives. Your all-purpose jam.
— Mitch Pollock (@mitchellblack)
Snoop Dogg feat. October London, 'Go On'
A brand new Snoop Dogg album dropped on Victoria Day long weekend. Titled Neva Left, it's a well-timed throwback to the early '90s West Coast style. Featuring a smooth vocal hook from Snoop-signed singer October London, single “Go On” is going to be a laid-back summer anthem for sure. I’ll let the Doggfather’s lyrical content make a case for the summer vibe of this track:
“You done made it to see a whole 'nother summer and it feel good,
Stop, now, top down through the neighborhood.
Let the wind blow, open up the window,
That girl is poison like Bell Biv Devoe.
We have a barbecue to do at four,
Swimming pool party in the back on the low,
BYOB, and the plates of food will be laid out for free.”
— Pete Morey (@cbcpetemorey)
Haim, ‘Want You Back’
The best kind of summer soundtrack is anchored in nostalgia — whether intentional or not. The sisters Haim, hailing from sun-soaked California, have packaged up a perfect throwback to Wilson Phillips in their killer new single, "Want You Back." Complete with a sing-along chorus, slick bassline, vocal hooks and snaps aplenty, Haim's surefire hit is guaranteed to become your belting-in-the-car-with-the-windows-down anthem this summer.
— Emma Godmere (@godmere)
Zedd feat. Alessia Cara, ‘Stay’
Before Alessia Cara even sings a note, this Zedd track grabs you with the best sample of the year so far: the vocal melisma from Banks’s 2016 electro-pop tune “Poltergeist.” Then, Cara locks in the tune’s song-of-the-summer status with the lines, “Living on the sofa, drinking rum and cola/ underneath the rising sun.” And the silences on the chorus’s offbeats are your cue to keep time on your convertible’s steering wheel while adding your voice to the crunchy harmonies. — RR
Paramore, ‘Hard Times’
Being depressed in the summer sucks. The sun is shining and everyone’s rushing outside to soak it all in, but as Hayley Williams sings on “Hard Times”: “All that I want is a hole in the ground.” This song is an anthem for anyone who struggles to enjoy the warmer months, a track that empathizes with our darker emotions, but ultimately tries to remedy that with a ridiculously infectious, synth-pop melody. So, whether you’re blasting this at home in your PJs, or dancing down the street to this song, “Hard Times” is bound to be in rotation all season (and perhaps, all year) long.
— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)
Serena Ryder, 'Electric Love'
If this single is any indication of what we can expect from Serena Ryder’s new album, Utopia, we’re in for a high-voltage summer. The infectious beat combined with Ryder’s soulful voice is exactly what you want to listen to as you’re getting ready for a summer night out. The chorus will give you the energy you need to keep the party going: “You're plugging into me/ high-voltage chemistry.” Be forewarned that the video is hypnotizing — watch it and you’ll be seeing triangles for days. Good thing the song is worth it.
— Monika Platek (@MonikaPlatek)
TLC feat. Snoop Dogg, 'Way Back'
A summer banger’s most important quality is how good it sounds with the windows down. How it makes you feel cool without the AC; makes you feel like you just dipped back to another time, when life was a little bit less stressed. This track is the kind of CrazySexyCool the women of TLC might have dropped when they were at the height of their career. It screams summertime, backyard and barbecue, taking you way back: “Like Prince and Marvin Gaye, like South Side on Sunday,/ some things don’t ever change,/ yeah you and me, cuz we go way back.” Snoop Dogg sprinkles a sweet verse on this tune, and nothing makes you feel laid back like a few bars from Cali’s Snoopy D-O-Double-G. Easy like a hot summer day.
— Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe (@MissAngelineTW)
Ralph, ‘Cold to the Touch’
If we were arguing for EP of the summer, Ralph’s self-titled release would easily win with her emotionally packed, '80s-tinged pop gems. But if we’re narrowing it down to one track, then let's give it to the one she most recently released a music video for, “Cold to the Touch.” I dare you to hit play on that video and not dance along. Its warm synths swirl around and break free into a bright burst of a chorus, just like Ralph’s Raffa Weyman tries to do, to the song’s subject: “Not looking for love/ hate to say it but it’s time you gave it up.”
— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)
Chronixx is poised to be the next breakthrough international reggae star, and "Majesty" underlines why. With a sound that has been termed "reggae revival" for a sound that draws on the roots of classic recordings of the genre, "Majesty" gets extra song-of-the-summer points for its gorgeous, sunbathed video highlighting the country of Jamaica.
— Del Cowie (@vibesandstuff)
Lorde, ‘Green Light’
“I have a strong awareness of the rules — 60 per cent of the time I follow them; 40 per cent, I don’t,” Lorde told the New York Times Magazine profile. She was referring to the fact that hit pop songwriter Max Martin — the mathematician behind songs for the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, etc. — considered “Green Light” to be “incorrect songwriting.” Lorde didn’t care — and neither should you. “Green Light” is a banger on its own schedule, dizzying with its changes and frenzied when the drums finally do kick in. So go get that green light — we all want it.
— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)
Selena Gomez, ‘Bad Liar’
It’s fun, slinky and spare, and it samples the Talking Heads — what’s not to love about Selena Gomez’s ongoing artistic evolution? As the handclaps give way to drum beats and a tightly controlled yet spongy bass, Gomez’s voice moves confidently and playfully from silky sing-speak verses to the sky-high chorus that recalls “True Blue”-era Madonna. It’s a track that’s decidedly low-key even though it absolutely vibrates with sexual energy, a perfect combination of confidence, swagger and summer breeze.
— Andrea Warner (@_andreawarner)
Sigrid, 'Don’t Kill My Vibe'
There may not be anything that captures the feeling of a carefree summer as well as this song from Norwegian pop singer Sigrid. Watching the video for the song is particularly satisfying: she’s dancing with reckless abandon, clapping and singing the lyrics — “Say I’m young, I don’t care, I won’t quit no no no ho.” It’s a catchy anthem with a sentiment in the title that you can pretty much apply to anything. Plus, don’t we all want to spend summer just dancing on the beach?
— Andrea Gin (@andreagin)
Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee, 'Despacito'
You don't actually need to be fluent in Spanish for this infectious song to get your attention. Luis Fonsi's song about trying to slow down the passionate pace of a budding romantic relationship is already a global hit (with over a billion views on YouTube) and currently tops the single charts in the U.S. and the UK. And now, with Canadian Justin Bieber deciding to remix the song, it's destined to become even more popular. — DC
This is the song that arguably kicked off the song of the summer stakes this year. From Drake's record-breaking More Life playlist, "Passionfruit" instantly evokes summer vibes with its airy melodic sounds and Drake's smooth-edged vocals. As the season starts, it's notable the song has already topped the CBC Radio 2 Top 20 and continues to ride high. - DC
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