“To me, making a tape is like writing a letter, there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again … A good…
“To me, making a tape is like writing a letter, there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again … A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick it off with a corker, to hold the attention … and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch … oh, there are loads of rules.” – Nick Hornby, “High Fidelity”
Ok, so some of you might be asking: what’s a compilation tape? While making a playlist can be serious business, we tried not to take ourselves too seriously and just had fun assembling our favorite summer tunes for you.
Music is content, and we asked the Imprint team experts to pick some of their all-time top summer songs. The result? A compilation of an epic heatwave playlist for the ages.
- Click here to start the complete playlist on YouTube
- Below, you can play a condensed version from Spotify (some songs were unavailable on the platform)
Below read about how the curation came together: which tunes were nominated by which Imprint member and why. Because behind every song, there is a story!
We’d love to hear from you—what did we miss? What essential summer jam do you think deserves to make the cut? Do you have a summer playlist of your own? We’d love to hear it! Ping us on LinkedIn or email us at email@example.com.
Here’s the background to the list (alphabetical listing by team member’s first name):
Andy Seibert: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
While every big artist delayed releases when quarantine hit, Dua Lipa went for it—and for me, thank goodness! The album is so right for now – it has purpose—and “Don’t Start Now” is dance-in-your-face, hand-in-your-face female empowerment perfection.
Andy also submitted “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z.
Ashley Brenner: “Ray of Light” by Madonna (Calderone Club Mix)
This particular summer, we have renovated our kitchen. It’s always good to have a club mix playing when you’re doing something not particularly fun, like painting a room. But it’s also a nice combo of the song title “Ray of Light” and adding windows and white cabinets to open up a living space so central to our home.
Note: The Calderone Club Mix is only available via the YouTube playlist. We had to settle for the original “Ray of Light” on the Spotify playlist.
Colter Hettich: “Humility” by Gorillaz
Timeless and mellow funk drums and bass, some jazzy guitar by George Benson, smooth vocals by Damon Albarn—what’s not to love? If that doesn’t check enough boxes, how about a Venice Beach roller skating music video featuring Jack Black? Plus, the lyrics “Calling the world from isolation / ‘Cause right now that’s the ball where we be chained” couldn’t be more timely.
Craig Gartner: “Summer Romance” by The Rolling Stones
I’m afraid I don’t listen to any current stuff. I can only say I’ve been playing the Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” album lately. They are my favorite band. For me, it takes me back to July 2, 1980, my “perfect day.” Mom drove us to the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ, where there was a Korvettes. You could buy LPs for $3.99. I bought that one (as well as Graham Parkers’ THE UP ESCALATOR).; then we went to a Nathans restaurant and had amazing hotdogs. I also hit the video arcade (do they still have those?) for an hour. Beautifully simple. That day was one every 16-year-old would be lucky to have.
Craig also submitted “Down in the Hole” and “Where the Boys Go” by The Rolling Stones.
Dan Davenport: “Plage” by Crystal Fighters
I take songs of summer very seriously! To speak in strategy-ese, I have four key pillars, and this is not pass-fail: You’ve got all four pillars or you go home. For me, “Plage” by the Crystal Fighters crushes them all: 1. The setting is literally a summer location. 2. The point is love and/or beauty. 3. There’s an utter lack of seriousness/consequence (this pillar was never more important than in the COVID age). 4. The energy is huge and the beat is 100% danceable.
Duncan Milne: “Tender Things” by Bill Withers
One of the most underrated soul artists was Bill Withers who died this year. While he’s well known for timeless classics such as “Lovely Day,” “Use Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Just the Two of Us”; his genius for truly innovative and sophisticated arrangements, funky baselines and political awareness were never quite recognized enough to bring him the superstardom of, say, Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. “Tender Things,” in my humble opinion, is his masterpiece and I’ve been listening to it lot lately. It’s good to be reminded that, despite the horrors of 2020, there are plenty of things to be grateful for and happy about.
Duncan also submitted “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness.
Jenna Warner: “Age of Consent” by New Order
“Age of Consent” by New Order is my song of the summer because it elevates any moment. As soon as I hear the opening riff I feel like I’m moving forward, like it’s the soundtrack for a movie montage showing that these are the good times. New Order was a bit of a first love when I started getting into music. I’m weak for that synth! Whether you’re on a beach blanket or staycationing at home, this song sets the pace to have some fun.
Julissa Ortiz: “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
It reminds me of simpler times, when I was a kid growing up in NYC running through playground sprinklers while this song played in the background. I’m confident that 20 years from now, people will still be bopping their heads to this song.
Ken Williams: “Six Feet Apart” by Luke Combs
This song sums up the times we are in, the separation from family and friends, and all the things we took for granted prior to COVID. It makes me think of all the people important to me that I have not been able to spend time with. Plus, Luke Combs is one of those artists you find where you connect with/enjoy every one of their songs. And coming from New Mexico, it’s kinda hard not to love the genre.
Kim Papa Amadeo: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Sure, it’s a couple of years old, but anything that makes my daughter laugh and clap every single time it plays is a winner in our home. Plus, its relentless positivity is something we could all use a little more of these days. When I look back on Summer 2020, I hope the memories of us dancing with her around the living room overshadow the fact that we were in the middle of a pandemic.
Meg Staknis: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
I was 8 in the summer of 1977 so the point of Steve Nicks’ lament to waning love was lost on me. But it struck a chord with lots of other folks, hitting #1 that June. Whenever I hear it now I think of chlorine swimming pools, words about thunder murmuring from the radio by the lifeguard’s chair, zinc oxide smeared across his nose as he lazily twirled the whistle around his fingers, or eating ice cream cones with my brothers in the twilight at the country farm stand, swatting away the mosquitos as we tried not to let everything melt down our hands.
Michele Radcliffe: “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2
I am a huge U2 fan, and songs from their “Joshua Tree” album (inspired by the national park in the Mojave Desert) were on my favorite road trip mix tapes. The album and this song were a perfect accompaniment for my 12-hour drive from college in Arizona to the SF Bay Area. The route on Interstate 10 would take me south of the park. To me, it is a song about being independent, being self-sufficient, and exploring new places. I would leave Tempe at dawn to beat the heat driving across the desert in my used (and very dusty) VW convertible and get to LA in time for lunch and a break by the ocean before driving north up the coast.
Molly Malinowski: “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen has so many songs that are perfect for summer, but Thunder Road is my all-time favorite. The harmonica paired with lyrics like “the screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays,” really capture the feeling of summer for me. My dad was also a Bruce fanatic so listening to any of his music reminds me of growing up in Rhode Island. This song in particular, however, always transports me back to beach days, cookouts, and driving with the windows down.
Nick Silva: “Veg Out” by Masego
We all need a mental break from time to time and especially this summer. This song is a great reminder to relax and block out the noise and stress brought on by the pandemic and the upcoming election. The light piano riff, Masego’s calming, repetitive lyrics and backing high-energy rhythm section make the song perfect for any summer cruise or socially distant get-together.
Nick also submitted “Sanza Tristesse” by Francis Bebey.
Peter Gallagher: “Call Me a Hole” by PomDeter
About three of four years ago I spent a weekend in Chicago with a couple of good friends. We spent most of our time at a street festival called Market Days which includes several stages and many different bands. Following the last night, we sat up in the hotel listening to different songs and this was one of them. The thing I like best is that it’s a combination of two very different artists. Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails sounds raw and pessimistic and Carly Rae Jepsen sounds so perky and optimistic. It’s such an unexpected combination, but together it’s a really good song. The perfect yin & yang.
Note: This song is only available via the YouTube playlist.
Pierce Kinnally: “I Want to Know Your Plans” by Say Anything
“…Is a Real Boy” is the first CD I remember stealing from my sister and never giving back. Max Bemis, the lead singer, was maybe my first “celebrity” crush. He’s totally this emotionally raw, sad puppy. The whole album is a great, mostly high energy, pop-punk emo opera essentially…but this song, a slower love song, resonated with me as a teen for the melodrama. I’ve definitely attached it to a few boys! And the sound is airy and loving, a great chill out song to lie around in the heat with.
Pierce also submitted “Lake Song” by The Decemberists and “New World” by Tacocat.
Robert Gonzalez: “Bailando (Spanish Version)” by Enrique Iglesias
One of my summer goals has been to work on my Spanish language skills, and listening to Spanish music has been a fun and easy way to practice my listening skills. Bailando, which translates to ‘Dancing’ in English, has been a great learning tool because the lyrics are repetitive, giving me a chance to familiarize myself with certain words and phrases several times each play through. More importantly though, it’s an awesome tune! Bailando is upbeat, catchy, and radiates the energy of the classic summer song.
Will Thomas: “Timber” by Pitbull ft. Ke$ha
This summer, as the quarantine continued, I started listening again to “Timber,” by Pitbull, featuring Ke$ha. It was already a classic feel-good party anthem at its release, in 2013, but the craziness going on this summer gave the song new meaning for me—suddenly, it felt like a defiant, tongue-in-cheek anthem of celebration, even as the world was falling apart around us. While the stock market crashes, a pandemic rages, and politicians pour gasoline on the fire, Pitbull’s Timber makes you feel like it’s okay to have fun again, despite it all.