Opinions, I think, are like newborn babies: If you’re lucky enough to have one, you probably assume yours is better than anyone else’s. It’s perfectly natural to feel this way; we are, after all, at the center of our own lives. Why shouldn’t our opinions be our own north star? What’s most important to remember, however, is that you can’t apply objective veracity to an opinion. You just can’t. “Blue is the best color,” despite probably being true, has absolutely no factual foundation or any provable determinant. It’s just a thing that someone believes. And that’s cool—we’re entitled to believe stuff. Also your baby is just mediocre-looking, so chill out.
All of this said, I have a hard time applying the same nonchalance to the benign-turned-merciless Song of the Summer concept. If we’re sticking to our guns and slowly but surely amplifying the importance of this completely arbitrary title, then there should be criteria set in place for what qualifies. This isn’t the Thunderdome. We need rules, man.
“But Austin,” you say. “This seems a little rigid. Can’t we just give the title to whichever song we like most during the summer months?” Normally, yes. If all things were equal and “Song of the Summer,” was just some fly-by-night appropriation we applied to songs that work a little harder poolside than they do in a windowless room at midnight, then I’d completely agree. But that’s not what this is. This is an amorphous, unrestrained monster that we’ve created. And it’s got to be regulated. Otherwise, this will earn the title. Or this. Or—God forbid—whatever this is.
If I had my druthers, songs of the summer would include, but are certainly not limited to, all three of these tenets:
Tenet number 1: SONGS OF THE SUMMER MUST MAKE YOU WANT TO DANCE YOUR BALLS OFF. You read that correctly.
Tenet number 2: SONGS OF THE SUMMER MUST BE ACTUALLY GOOD—GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU TO SAY TO YOURSELF, “FUCK. THIS IS ACTUALLY GOOD.”
Tenet number 3: SONGS OF THE SUMMER MUST MAKE YOU WANT TO HUG YOUR NEIGHBORS AND NOT VICIOUSLY MURDER THEM.
These aren’t hard to adopt, tbh. They really don’t limit the offering all that much, but they are effective in keeping out any track that sucks, which can’t be said for summer past.
My whole point in diatribing so hard was this: No album released this year has the kind of natural bounce or affability that Joe Goddard’s Electric Lines LP has, and no track off Lines makes me want to dance my balls off, hug my neighbor or say “Fuck, this is actually good,” more than “Home,” does.
In its simplest definition, “Home” is a banger. Goddard is an alchemist when it comes to this type of thing; “Home” is a well-stirred conglomeration of light, airy disco samples (via Brainstorm’s addictive 1978 hit “We’re On Our Way Home,”), tightly wound highs, heartbeat bass lines and a near-perfect vocal performance from the low-key brilliant Daniel Wilson. The track itself is beautiful and brilliant, but if you’re at all privy to Goddard’s body of work, none of this should come as a surprise.
But more than anything, “Home,” makes you want for the summer months. It evokes the taste of bottomless mimosas and the smell of chlorinated water. It moves you without tipping you off that you’re moving, and it’s a guaranteed good time for even the most house-music-averse. In short: It should probably never be played for fewer than five people at a time.
I’m hopeful, but I’m also keenly aware that “Home,” likely won’t take home the title of Song of the Summer. It’s not quite as radio-ready as the radio hits on the ballot, and Goddard, despite being one of the most reputable producers in the world, still isn’t quite the household name he would need to be. Nevertheless, I fully anticipate that by year’s end, Spotify will email me to impart that I played “Home,” more times than most other tracks all year. And the majority of those times will have been at swimming pools. Probably. — Austin Reed