1. Leidi Li – “Mate a mi novio”
This song contains one of my favorite lines of all time, “Estaba basta de tranquila” — “I’d had enough of being calm.” For all the girls in the barrio, Leidi Li croons, this one’s for you.
The Bomba Estereo chanteuse has gone and killed her boyfriend, and for all those interested chicas out there, if you can speak Spanish, you can follow her foolproof recipe to poison, terminate, and successfully hide his body.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
Ok, so you’ve killed your boyfriend. Now it’s time to move on, to someone totally cute.
Despite, or rather because of its complete lyrical incoherence (“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad”), for me this song totally encapsulates the kind of summer vulnerability I so righteously enjoyed as an angsty adolescent. The heat burned out a lot of my anxiety about boys and dating, so all that was left was this kind of insouciant, slightly manic joy; tantamount to leaving the question, “Call me maybe?” on my crush’s windshield.
3. Grass Widow – “Spock on MUNI” (or “Hang Around”)
Earlier in the summer, Vice posted this completely misogynistic, out-of-nowhere review of Grass Widow’s recent release, Internal Logic. Maybe one of the hidden benefits of such lazy journalism is that more people, myself included, actually checked out the music. The album itself is delightful, and this cut is hypnotic and lovely, like warm summer rain.
4. Rye Rye – “Drop”
“Drop” is the first track on Go! Pop! Bang!, and it’s the kind of tune that completely changes the vibe on a dance floor lulled by familiar top 40s remixes. It’s fresh, M.I.A. produced, with all the bells and whistles that make a good dance song great.
But the really exciting thing about this track for me is Rye Rye’s no-holds-barred lyrical style. In particular, the line, “I’m a hood girl doing white girl shit” — in reference to leaving her Baltimore neighborhood behind for a major record deal with Interscope — is sure to make many a “post-racial” ear turn scarlet.
5. Mati Zundel – “Bronca (feat. Miss Bolivia)”
Argentine producer Mati Zundel is making a name for himself by mixing traditionally indigenous Latin American sounds with deep cumbia grooves and catchy synths. “Bronca” features Miss Bolivia, who raps about desperately praying to the pachamama — or earth mother — to protect her from falling back on familiar patterns — in this case, following around an old boyfriend when the relationship has reached its natural endpoint.
Without understanding a word of Spanish, it’s clear Miss Bolivia is pissed off and delivering a message that matters to her (this is coming straight from her “puta alma,” she raps without a trace of artifice). Both from Zundel’s pulsating back beats, and the lyrical flow of Miss Bolivia herself, this tune is bound to touch you, from your head to your toes.
6. Santigold – “Disparate Youth”
This song might be my favorite on this mix, and of the season. Super infectious, but not in a sugary way like the aforementioned Carly Rae Jepsen hit, “Disparate Youth” combines serious sentiments with a pop sensibility. The lines, “We know we want more…A life worth fighting for,” could be the mantra for under-challenged, over-stimulated young people everywhere.
7. The Sugarcubes – “Birthday”
This song is actually 25 years old, but I think we could all use some Icelandic cool to better handle the summer of 2012’s epic heat. The Sugarcubes were fronted by Bjork in the late ’80s. “Birthday,” originally released in Icelandic, became a crossover hit and traveled high on the UK charts.
Characteristic of the era in some ways — you can hear The Cure’s influence in a pretty big way — and of Bjork’s later work in others — she gives off a cathartic howl during the chorus — “Birthday” still refreshes.
8. Miguel – “Adorn”
This dropped in February, but Miguel’s sound is too exciting not to share. Blanca Mendez at Club Fonograma has been blogging about where he fits in the Latin music scene (Miguel is from a mixed Mexican and African American background, and his sound is pretty firmly rooted in R&B).
With an addictive style that draws from Marvin Gaye and Prince, if you’ve got any heart at all, this song will be in repeat all throughout what’s left of these hot months.