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Wherefore Art Thou Summer Jam Of 2010?

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 25, 2010 5:20PM

Photo by Michelle Meywes
The question started going around the Chicagoist office a few weeks ago: What’s the summer jam of 2010? As brains were wracked and heated discussions arose we began to realize that something was deeply wrong. You see, a summer jam is that tune that just OWNS the season. It’s universal. It’s everywhere. And the summer of 2010 doesn’t have that going for it this time around. There’s no one tune everyone has on repeat in their cars, on their stereos, and in their earbuds. There’s no “Ghetto Superstar.” No “Umbrela-a-a-a.” No “Since U Been Gone” or “Somebody Told Me” or “all My Friends;” no nothing! Has the music scene finally become so fragmented there is no song to unite us any longer?

Seriously, if Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is the best the summer of 2010 can come up with we are all seriously fucked.

So we decided to come up with our own nominations for the summer jam of 2010. We decided that in order to by a jam it doesn’t HAVE to come out in 2010, it merely needs to capture the feeling of this particular summer. See what our writers came up with after the jump and make your own nominations in the comments below.

C’mon people, let’s find the summer jam of 2010!

Rob's pick:
"Kiss On My List" by The Bird And The Bee

An insanely catchy song gets the definitive remake, courtesy of Inara George & Greg Kurstin. Proves that almost any song is better with an electric piano and a sweetbreathe chorus. It's rather delicate but hey, I still jam when it comes up on my iPod.

Ben's pick:
"Maybe So Maybe No" by Mayer Hawthorne


Michele's picks:
"Boyfriend" by Best Coast

Nothing seems to conjure more thoughts of a breezy summer afternoon than the wispy, innocent voice of Bethany Cosentino resting gently atop bright guitar tones and a smash of cymbals singing her forlorn tale of her unrequited love. The song definitely takes us back to summers in the early 90s when Belly's "Feed the Tree" was rocking our boom-boxes. This selection is well-suited for a long, hot summer day on the beach while paging through your most trashy romance novel, dreaming of that every-so-romantic summer fling

"Shutterbug" by Big Boi
Fresh raps, hand claps and ass slaps may ensue once you turn up the volume on this soon-to-be hip-hop classic. If summer for you means a night out in dah club, this is most definitely the song for you. Visions of flowing champagne, bright lights and late nights seem to cascade out of every beat and sultry lyric of this one. Big Boi's quick and clever and quick rhymes seem to perfectly inter grate into the chugging rhythms in this ass-shaking summer jam.

"Bang Pop" by Free Energy
If any band has made a career out of creating good-time party music it's Free Energy. Their brand of 70s-inspired-power-pop gives us the urge to swill mass amounts of beer at any backyard bar-b-que on a hot summer day. Well, the song Bang Pop is no exception. These irresistible Philidelphian's have managed to put hooks from end-to-end in this song making it the song that everyone will be singing along to on a hot summer night.

Jake's picks:
"Where I'm Going" by Cut Copy

Leading up to Lollapalooza, we were wondering if Cut Copy would unleash new material upon the world. Much to our enjoyment, they did, and it's as summer as summer can get. "Where I'm Going" strays from the synthy disco sounds that comprised their last album, In Ghost Colours, but while that statement may worry some, the song is a blast that oozes fun in the sun. Remniscient of 60s beach-rock and pop, Cut Copy somehow made a tune that sounds old school and oh-so-fresh at the same time.

"Yamaha" by The-Dream
Had it been the summer of '84, I probably would've chosen something off Prince's Purple Rain as the definitive summer jam. Then again, I wasn't alive in 1984, and since then Prince has all but lost his relevance, especially in the wake of his "Internet is dead" statement. Luckily, his defining, summery sound lives on, and the best sign of that is The-Dream's lovey-dovey jam, "Yamaha". If you need coaxing, The-Dream wrote "Single Ladies" and "Umbrella". Dude's got the magic touch.

Steven's picks:
"Rill Rill" by Sleigh Bells

Someone had to pick a Sleigh Bells track, so it ought to be their best jam. Or their best Funkadelic sample. Anyway, it just feels like sweaty summer 2010 to me.

"O.N.E." by Yeasayer
I would like to be driven up and down Lake Shore Drive in a convertible filled with supermodels wearing pastel-framed sunglasses, blasting this song, forever. If you don't like it, that's cool, we can drop you off.

"Nothin' On You" by B.o.B.
Because B96 owns the summer.

Aaron's picks:
"Orphans" by Gaslight Anthem

The entire record this track is on, American Slang, should be played on a back porch at midnight with a cooler filled with tallboys at maximum volume. This track just happens to be my favorite, the kind of song that makes 30somethings remark how much better things were when they were 20.

"High Pressure Low" by Against Me!
The main riff makes me think of so many fun 80's pop songs, but yet it's a milquetoast politicalish diatribe with an infectious chorus. A+++

"Animal Backwards" by Minus The Bear
The kind of thing you listen to hold up in a dark, air conditioned apartment at 1pm on a hot summer day, avoiding the sun because your hangover hurts too hard or you're a sparkly vampire. Alternatively, you can dance to it if you want to, but leave your friends behind.

Chuck's picks:
"Vivire Para Ti" by Los Amigos Invisibles

This Venezuelan disco-funk band falls somewhere between the minimalist style of Prince in his prime and "Discovery"-era Daft Punk. This song, from their album "Commercial," fits equally at home at a Wicker Park loft party, a Lincoln Park street festival, cruising Humboldt Park, as the soundtrack for a West loop sushi bar, or blasting from speakers set up outside a Pilsen or Little Village record shop. I dare you not to dance to this.

"Kangpe" by Nneka
How can I describe Nneka? Think M.I.A., before the army of yes men and transparent attempts to shock with her political viewpoints. Or Lauryn Hill before she went batshit crazy. The meshing of hip-hop with the rhythms of the Carribean isn't new, but Nneka does more with the marriage of the two styles in this one song that Wyclef Jean has in an entire album. this is also the catchiest song about an abused woman since Suzanne Vega's "Luka;" certainly the most danceable.

"Inspiration Information" by Shuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis's 1974 lost treasure "Inspiration Information" (repackaged and released by David Byrne's Luaka Bop label in 2001 as part of their "World Psychedelic Classics" series) predated the rise of Prince and the Paisley Park funk sound by a solid half-decade, laced with Otis's soulful take on the California sound to create an album that is at once classic and contemporary. Otis utilized the earliest drum machine technology, Moog synthesizers and his considerable guitar chops to create a near-flawless record; I daresay this album was an influence on Radiohead for "Kid A." The album's title track makes me want to roll down the windows and ride with the top down... if I owned a car.

Betsy's picks:
"Walk in the Park" by Beach House

It's one of those chill and relaxed songs that seems to capture the essence of a lazy summer. And the lyrics remind me of how short our Chicago summers are. We have such great expectations at the start of the season. Then, when it abruptly comes to an end, we wish we would have done more to make it worthwhile.

"I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
This band takes the slow-paced and pretty damn depressing Wilco favorite and jazzes it up just the right way. It kind of gets you in that "School's out let's play!" mood. After listening to this, I'm ready to head to the closest outdoor patio and start drinking. And when you hear the song for the first time, it's nice to know the lyrics - kind of like our summers. You expect every year to be just as hot and just as miserable as it has always been, but there's great comfort in familiarity.

Sarah's picks:
"Deadbeat Summer" by Neon Indian

Though this song was released in fall of last year, its drowsy lo-fi pop is a perfect fit for this sweltering heat wave. Blending staccato synth, warped guitar and drowsy vocals, this retro melody has a lo-fi, cassette tape feel that gets us all nostalgic for the lazy days of summer vacation. And because it maintains both a chilled out vibe and catchy dance beats, it’s good for an afternoon eating popsicles in front of the fan or a night sweating it up on the dance floor.

"Tighten Up" by The Black Keys
The Black Keys’ brand of rock and roll is sultry and soulful enough to satisfy even Chicago’s appetite for blues. “Tighten Up,” the first single off their newest album, Brothers,” is a surging, buoyant melody with surly guitar riffs and impassioned vocals howling out lyrics about love, desire and desperation. Still aching over that failed spring romance? This song will ease your blues on those blurry, drunken summer nights and the whiskey-induced urge to text your ex.

Tankboy's picks:
I don't have a pick. Seriously. This summer has been so fragmented music-wise there is no tune that wraps up the whole vibe of the past few months. So instead I offer you a mini-playlist of twelve songs that have soundtracked the beach and the fests and the journeys of the last few months. They didn't define the season, but they helped fill in party pieces of the puzzle. Hunt 'em down and load 'em up!

"All The Lovers" by Kylie Minogue
"Coquete Coquette" by of Montreal
"The Deep End" by Hiawata
"All Summer" by Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam
"Goodbye" by Best Coast
"Wanna-Be Angel" by Foxy Shazam
"Free Energy" by Free Energy
"Dance Yrself Clean" by LCD Soundsystem
"Tell Em" by Sleigh Bells
"Erase Me" by KiD CuDi with Kanye West
"Dancing On My Own" by Robyn
"How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy

And this was the summer I rediscovered the mind-blowingness of Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Stuck on repeat, for real. Oh, also a bunch of pre-1972 Pink Floyd and a LOT of INXS.