Home Must See Songs of the summer 2018: our writers pick their favourite tracks

Songs of the summer 2018: our writers pick their favourite tracks

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As we reach that time of year when debates heat up over which track will be named most likely to soundtrack the hotter months, which songs are Guardian writers picking?

Ariana Grande No Tears Left to Cry

There is a fine art to the ballad banger. From Gloria Gaynors I Will Survive to Robyns Dancing On My Own, they require equal parts defiant survivalism and a bruised vulnerability. No Tears Left to Cry the first comeback single from Grandes forthcoming album Sweetener does both, filling summer dance floors with a beat-heavy sway, and also announcing her return in the face of prior tragedy with steely assurance. No Tears Left to Cry is an oath to keep the party throbbing no matter the cost. I just want you to come with me, she pleads. Im pickin it up, loving, Im livin so we turnin up. With twists and turns that keep listeners on their toes, its influence spans genres and eras, from new jack swing to grandiose pop, with Grande stamping her sweet yet vital falsetto all over the track. We way too fly to partake in all this hate is a great mantra for 2018, and all the punchier given the songs sticky hooks. EB

Kacey Musgraves High Horse

Consider this an endorsement not just for High Horse, Kacey Musgraves exuberant country-pop send-off to a man who thinks hes John Wayne, but for the entirety of her record Golden Hour, the most perfect collection of summertime tracks since Frank Ocean dropped Blonde in August 2016. Though it runs mostly counter to the US national mood, and prevailing trends in pop music, Golden Hour is a mature, delightful, gorgeously visual album, one where Musgraves lyrics wrap around her melodies like a vine. Any number of its songs make for good warm weather listening the opening and title tracks, specifically but High Horse certainly lends itself most easily to the coveted song of the summer designation. Marrying a disco beat to Musgraves Texan lilt, it typifies what the singer herself called space country, a cross-genre sound inspired in equal part by marriage and acid trips. JN

George Ezra Shotgun

Look, there were cooler songs I could have chosen: one of Risn Murphys brilliant singles with Maurice Fulton. Lizzos anthem-in-the-making Boys. Christine and the Queens immaculate Girlfriend (or to be properly cooler-than-thou, Damn, Dis-Moi, the French version). But I cant lie. This summer Ill be riding shotgun underneath the hot sun with George Ezra, whose ode to razzing around coastal roads in a car packed full of sweaty bodies and crisp crumbs is, I have accepted, essentially perfect. Plus the enjoyably mindless chorus vibrates at the peak frequency that any sunbaked brain can handle. LS

AJ Tracey and Not3s Butterflies

Over the past few years, UK rap has fallen under the spell of afrobeats and afroswing, a shift thats run parallel to the cool-ification of African culture more generally (see: Black Panther, the Nigeria kit). There hasnt been such a love affair with Caribbean music here, however. Enter AJ Tracey, the buzzy Ladbroke Grove MC, and his mate Not3s formerly the Addison Lee guy, now a rising rap star. Africas really well represented now, so hold tight with my African friends but my culture isnt represented, Tracey told the Fader earlier this month. And so the pair created a dancehall-inspired banger with refs to a posterior thats bigger than Jupiter, shooters gettin peeled like a mango, and even a nod to Lethal Bizzles Fester Skank. Could it kickstart a wave of Caribbean-style hits? Maybe. But for now its in an arch and impossibly laid-back league of its own. HJD

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Mainland

From the possible indie rock album of the year, Hope Downs, this Melbourne quintets exuberant recent single could hardly sound more summery if it came with its own deckchair. And yet, those chiming power-pop guitars and uplifting tambourine bashes conceal an oncoming storm. The song was inspired by singer-guitarist Tom Russos visit to his parents birthplace in the Aeolian Islands, near Sicily, where he read about the Mediterranean refugee crisis. Thus, with vivid imagery of rotting piers and jagged rocks, Mainland reflects on the gulf between the secure and the dispossessed, and the randomness of fate and privilege: We are just paper boats bobbing adrift afloat / While winds of fortune shove us where they will / Woke up coughing on the shore, cold outcrop broken, sore / Back on the mainland, the chimps were coming up trumps. Its a deceptively feelgood anthem with a message for humanity during this hazy, crazy season in the sun. DS

Parcels Tieduprightnow

The de facto sound of summer tends to come with whomping bass and a throbbing kick-drum. It comes from open car windows, through the doors of bars late at night, or played tinnily through leaking headphones on buses. The sound I prefer is less 3am than 6pm, a hazy evening with a cold drink, something that skips rather than hammers. Parcels, from Australia, were noticed last summer when Daft Punk worked with them on Overnight. This years Tieduprightnow is less insistent, but just as lovely: pitched at a place where Orange Juice or Haircut 100 have turned the Chic knob on their amps up to 10, and the Byrds knob down to 0, and paired with a video that suits it perfectly: the band drive around the coast, not doing very much. Theres some surfing, theres a game of beach cricket. It looks how the record sounds: like joyful, aimless fun, the kind of day, and the kind of song, youd be happy to live through forever. MH

Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin I Like It

Its a bit on the nose, really, but these things often are. The artist of the moment paired with the Latin trap thats commanded the airwaves for a year-plus underpinned by an accessible, widely known sample in Puerto Rican singer Pete Rodriguezs 1967 boogaloo classic. The fourth single off Cardi Bs loaded debut LP, already popular even before Hot 97 started playing it every 10 minutes over the past month, is an irresistible bilingual trap-salsa bop that oozes exuberant summer vibes. Ella Mais Bood Up may be the sentimental choice (never more than after Sundays BET awards), but Cardis most vibrant triumph yet, with memorable assists from reggaeton titans Bad Bunny and J Balvin, is the one youll spend the next few months hearing from car windows. Youd be hard-pressed to engineer a better song of the summer in a lab. BAG

The Internet Come Over

Less of a pool party anthem and more of a rooftop bar scene-setter, the second track from the Internets new album Hive Mind is one of their finest to date, a sexy, slinky Prince-inspired ode to getting an object of desire to stop playing games. The song sees Syds delicate yet distinctive voice imploring a girl to give her the green light to come over, and by the time Steve Lacys guitar solo sneaks in, the sneakily effective argument is impossible to ignore. Theres a seductive sunset vibe to the accompanying arrangement and while the understated mellowness, a characteristic trait of their music as a whole, might not sound out quite as loudly as traditional songs of the summer, the balmy effect will stick around for far longer. BL

Disclosure Ultimatum

After a 15-month hiatus, the brothers Lawrence are back with Ultimatum, a shimmering sonic sunbeam driven by a vocal sample from Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara. While the last Disclosure album, 2016s Caracal, was a singles-oriented affair powered by cameos from pop megastars including The Weeknd, Lorde and Miguel, this new single suggests a return to form for the twentysomething brothers who were praised as the new lords of house music with their 2013 debut Settle and its worldwide hits Latch, F For You and White Noise. Shedding the standard verse/chorus structure, Ultimatum is more dancefloor oriented than those early tracks, and subtle in its moments of tension release, with builds dissolving into synth jazz better suited for daytime parties than darkened clubs. We have been missing you all immensely, Disclosure tweeted with the 17 May track release, so we wanted to share something weve been working on with you now the sun is shining, the trees are green and some dancefloors need filling. Their new album is expected next year; in the meantime, this Ultimatum demands you dance. KB

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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