As the weather warms and the summer party planning starts to hit full swing, you’ll definitely need a worthy playlist. Summer hits are basically the soundtrack to the entire season — you probably remember exactly what tunes were playing in your car stereo when you and your high school friends zoomed down back roads after school let out. Or maybe a certain song takes you back to that special family vacation you’ll never forget.
The bottom line is, whatever music you surround yourself with this summer will stick around in your memories whenever you look back on 2018. Every summer has an anthem that brings you back – last summer’s was probably Rihanna and DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” or Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (with some help from Justin Bieber). And, if we had to guess, one of the following songs is going to help you time travel back to summer 2018 for years to come…
“Youth” by Shawn Mendes Feat. Khalid
When you need an adorable fella to croon some sentimental tunes, Shawn Mendes is usually your guy. This song, which also features Khalid, takes the heartbreak of a breakup and seamlessly transitions it into a hopeful tone of redemption, using both acoustic tones and poppy notes that come in later in the song. That’s something anyone can relate to when dealing with an ill-fated summer romance. The song is part of Mendes’s self-titled album coming up later this year and Teddy Geiger was a co-writer on this song and several others on the album. Yeah, I’m on board.
“Changes” – Mat Kearney
Mat Kearney has always offered up some seriously sentimental songs — “All I Need,” anyone? That song will basically rip you to pieces. And of course, he’s perhaps best known for early 2000s bops like “Nothing Left To Lose” and “Where We Gonna Go From Here.” Now, it seems like he’s continuing to take things a step further than the acoustic songs he became famous for, but still keeping the same emotional lyrics that made them so special. “Changes” has a distinctly 2018 feel and is much more synthesized than his past work, but that doesn’t do the song a disservice. Kearney keeps it classic while still trying something new, and his voice is as endearing as ever.
“Hunger” – Florence + The Machine
Florence + The Machine never fails to deliver haunting yet somehow upbeat tunes — Between “Dog Days Are Over,” “Shake It Out,” and “You’ve Got The Love,” they’re basically an indie festival staple that any summertime playlist needs. With “Hunger,” the group continues its symphonic, complex beats with frontwoman Florence Welch’s unparalleled vocals. Anyone can enjoy this song, whether you’re an indie enthusiast or someone who usually listens to nothing but Top 40 radio. This band always delivers songs that’ll be stuck in your head all day, and “Hunger” is no exception. Expect to hear it a lot this summer!
“This Is America” – Childish Gambino
If you haven’t been talking this past week about Childish Gambino’s newest song, “This Is America,” which dropped the same night he hosted Saturday Night Live, what are you even doing with your life? The song and its video have been the buzz of the internet since its debut, and they’ve also spawned some seriously interesting pieces about the video’s symbolism and what Childish Gambino’s artistry means in today’s world. It’s not just a great song on its own — it’s got cultural significance. While it’s definitely got a more serious tone and themes, it’s a song that almost certainly remind you of this time – maybe the entire year – for a while to come.
“Somebody” – The Chainsmokers
The Chainsmokers have given us summer jams in the past, and this one is their contribution to 2018. This song, right off the bat, basically makes you feel like you’re in a nostalgic indie movie. The somber notes and mellow vibe make it perfect to listen to as you sit around a bonfire, stroll the beach, or take a nighttime drive with your friends. This EDM duo is great at capturing this kind of mood — “Something Just Like This,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” and of course, “Closer” – most of their huge hits take you back to hanging on your friends’ patios or flirting with that cutie at the beach party. They’re masters of this kind of song, and I wouldn’t be mad if they released a few more before the weather turns cold again.
“Brooklyn In The Summer” – Aloe Blacc
In case you need a reminder, Aloe Blacc has been bringing us bangers for a looooong time. He provided the amazing vocals on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” and had solo hits like “The Man” and “I Need A Dollar.” His voice is soft and smooth like all the best soulful artists’ are, and “Brooklyn In The Summer” is no different. The title basically says it all, but the song takes it home. Between the drum beats, the sentimental imagery, and Blacc’s trademark soothing notes, “Brooklyn In The Summer” is set to accompany you as you reflect on life, perhaps while walking through Brooklyn itself or swinging from a beachside hammock.
“Forgive You” – Leon Bridges
This song has some quirky vibes right off the bat with its high pitched twinkling notes, smoothly leading into its first solid verse. It’s a bit of a breakup song, but one that ultimately leads to forgiveness, as the title suggests. Anyone who’s begrudgingly let someone back into their lives after being hurt by them can relate, and will be bopping along to this in the car all summer long. And to make things even better, Leon Bridges’s voice is such an easy, peaceful listen, no matter what content he’s actually singing about.
“When The Night Is Over” – Lord Huron
Whenever you hear Lord Huron’s songs in the winter time, cozying up with a mug of coffee, they’re the perfect winter songs. But those same tunes feel just as representative of summer when listened to a few months later, and something tells me “When The Night Is Over” will be no exception. These guys are old school musicians with such a unique and somber sound, and it grants a nice reprieve from the overly-produced songs that can often saturate summertime playlists while still being an interesting listen.
“I Said Hi” – Amy Shark
Amy Shark is the next big thing, mark my words. She’s already got some solid songs out there — “Adore” is her most well-known, and for good reason. Its dramatic tone is filled with adorable, fun lyrics and it’s a nice twist on the love song genre. Now with “I Said Hi,” she goes a little darker, and it works masterfully. Despite its upbeat tempo, the song is about struggle, and how that struggle can go unnoticed by the people who used to know you best. But all of Shark’s music is lined with a feeling of resilience, including this song.
“Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” – Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy has come a long way from their early pop punk roots, but no one can ever say they never tried anything new. Though their newest album, Mania is definitely an even further departure from what most longtime Fall Out Boy fans know and love, “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” is an obvious standout. The song acts as a single for the group, and that’s no surprise. The tune is so catchy and the lyrics so much fun that no one can resist belting along when it comes on the radio, which, btw, will happen pretty frequently this summer.
“You Worry Me” – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have a little rougher of a sound; they’re a little more country music-influenced, and you’ll hear a little more rock & roll. All their music is incredibly solid, and “You Worry Me” is a great representation of their overall vibe. The group’s other songs — “S.O.B.” and “I Need Never Get Old” in particular — are also so much fun to listen to, but even the more somber tone that “You Worry Me” brings is perfect for a summertime vibe.
“If You Were Mine” – Ocean Park Standoff
Ocean Park Standoff is a relatively new band — their debut EP was released just over a year ago — but they’re certainly coming in with a splash. This song, featuring Lil’ Yachty, definitely fits right in with any summer playlist. “If You Were Mine” would feel right at home at a raging house party or hanging out by the beach, and captures the excitement and emotion of new summer romances.
“A Good Night” – John Legend
If you paid any attention to Kanye West’s great Twitter tirade of 2018, including poor John Legend’s attempts to get his friend to chill the hell out, you’re aware that Legend has a new single out. He cheekily divulged the info in a text to West after the controversial rapper made it clear that he was in the habit of tweeting text screenshots. You should definitely be paying attention to “A Good Night” this summer. Legend’s talent is huge and undeniable — and pretty much anything he does will be played on radio stations everywhere nonstop.
“Love Is Madness” – 30 Seconds To Mars Feat. Halsey
If you were wondering if Jared Leto is still ridiculously talented at making music even aside from all his recent acting accolades, the answer is yes, he is. 30 Seconds To Mars, Leto’s longtime band with a history of churning out hits like “This Is War” and “Kings And Queens” further departs from their traditional rock and roll roots to team up with an unlikely partner for “Love Is Madness” — Halsey. It’s essentially a Chainsmokers song with Leto’s vocals, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s probably more built for Halsey’s fans than those of 30 Seconds To Mars. Regardless, it’s a bop that’ll be stuck in your head all summer.
“Run For Cover” – The Killers
This song came out late last year, but still missed the summer of 2017, so I’m counting it! The Killers are one of those bands that keep on evolving but never seem to lose their rock and roll foundations, and it’s kind of amazing. They’re still the same band who blessed us with “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside,” but they’re integrating more old school rock and even some country vibes with their latest album. The whole thing is filled with worthwhile tunes, but “Run For Cover” definitely stands out as one of the best when it comes to being a contender for this summer’s big song.
“Youngblood” – 5 Seconds Of Summer
5 Seconds Of Summer basically have the high school and/or college dreamboat demographic locked down – especially since One Direction is on a hiatus. We’ve always known their beats werre catchy-as-hell beats — but now “Youngblood” is just adding to that repertoire. The band’s name itself evokes feelings of summer, obviously, and the songs they continue to crank out definitely live up to the precedent they’ve set for themselves again and again. This song’s an edgy bop and you can expect to hear it blasting at your summer bonfires all season long.
“No Tears Left to Cry” – Ariana Grande
We had to round off the list of summer song contenders with the newest contribution from our girl, Ariana Grande. She was gone for a little while, but now she’s back – and thank God she is. “No Tears Left to Cry” might sound like a sad long from its title, but it’s actually upbeat and the perfect song for letting go of all the stress and B.S. for a carefree summer. Any song Ari puts out is pretty popular and “No Tears Left to Cry” debuted at number three on Billboard’s Hot 100. Expect to get as close as you can to being sick of this dance-pop song… of course, without actually getting sick of it.