By Robert Masiello
There’s a lot to worry about these days. This summer hardly seems to be rolling in with the joyous optimism we’d typically associate with the season. There’s much to be said about our country’s political and social climate, but it’s all been said elsewhere and better. At the risk of triteness, we ask our readers and friends to please remember to please take care of yourselves in these times. You can worry, you can be angry, but dance when you want to dance. On that note, Writer’s Bone presents to you the definitive Summer 2017 Playlist.
Carly Rae Jepsen: “Cut to the Feeling”
If you haven’t given Carly Rae Jepsen much thought since her ubiquitous single “Call Me Maybe,” now is your chance to fix that. This recently-released track is essentially an outtake from her impeccable sophomore album “Emotion,” and it’s euphoric in a way that that much modern pop music has abandoned. In contrast to the cool indifference that has yet to unleash it’s grip on pop stars, Jepsen’s unabashed excitement is infectious. “I wanna play where you play with the angels,” she begs in the chorus, but she’s already there.
Drake’s “Passionfruit” is the musical equivalent of Valium. It’s so smooth, so hypnotic, that’s it’s barely there. And yet, miraculously, it somehow dodges slightness and becomes almost transcendent. It would sound equally appropriate in the club, on the beach, or in the bedroom. That seductive beat seems inspired by dancehall as much as Chicago house, and it’s a testament to Drake’s skill that he turned these influences into a track that feels so effortless.
Lorde: “Green Light”
Did “Green Light” flop? The first taste of Lorde’s upcoming album lit up the Internet blogosphere upon release back in March, but never really made an impact on the radio charts. Even though “Green Light” lacks the dub-influenced production qualities, which made her debut album so compelling, it's an intoxicating banger that captures a night out in all its messy glory. Despite teetering close to cliché with lines like “I hear sounds in my mind” mumbled over a jangly piano, Lorde’s grasp on the arrangement keeps this song dazzling until the last note.
Mary J. Blige: “Find the Love”
If anyone can pull a song like this off, it’s the queen herself, Mary J Blige. Nothing groundbreaking here, just MJ doing her best to keep hateration and holleration out of the dancery. This cut off her latest release is rhythmic, groovy, and unerringly optimistic. The words might be a little on-the-nose, but her relentless pursuit of unity is perhaps just what the world needs most.
Francis and the Lights: “May I Have This Dance (Remix) [feat. Chance the Rapper]”
Francis and the Lights’ neon-bright production has attracted the attention of big-name stars like Kanye and Bon Iver. Here, he teams up with Chance for a remix of album highlight “May I Have This Dance.” It’s almost shamelessly un-hip, proudly recalling Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel. But the booming chorus, tropical beats, and subtly apocalyptic undertones (“we are bound to inherit the sins of our parents”) keep it grounded firmly in the present.
Danny L. Harle: “1UL”
The PC Music label has been nothing if not divisive since it’s inception in 2013. But it would be unfair for even the label’s most devout naysayers to argue with Danny L. Harle’s infectious club anthems. “1UL” might be his best song yet, with a drop so monstrous that you just may miss the achingly lovesick lyrics. No one said you can’t cry at the club.
Ian William Craig: “Contain (Cedar Version)”
Here’s one for after the guests have left. Ian William Craig typically drapes his classically-trained tenor over atmospheric drone and tape-hiss. On this version of “Contain,” however, a gentle guitar strum is the only thing accompanying him. Existing somewhere in the overlap of love song, lullaby, and lament, “Contain (Cedar Version)” sounds best when paired with the glowing embers of a fading bonfire.