What makes a summer jam? Is it the sunniest chorus, the hottest beat, the most weeks on the charts? Do the lyrics have to be about beaches and barbecues, or is it a question of vibe? What if it’s a song on your summer playlist and no one else’s?
We believe the answer is “all of the above.” This summer, Rolling Stone’s writers will celebrate the songs that are ruling each of their worlds – from huge hits to weirder, more personal choices. Check back soon for more summer songs, and hear all our picks in the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post.
5 Seconds of Summer’s “If Walls Could Talk” is a near-perfect tune, just in time for their fifth summer—a case of former teen-pop punk ingenues scheming to turn into journeymen. These Australian boys scored the summer jam of 2014, “She Looks So Perfect,” singing about American Apparel underwear and opening for One Direction. But now that American Apparel and 1D have both closed shop, 5SoS are forced to grow the hell up. “If Walls Could Talk” is easily the tastiest snack on their new Youngblood, and it’s the one I’m rooting for to blow up into a hit—the first time they’ve gotten sad-boy sensitive mode right.
In “If Walls Could Talk,” Ashton, Luke, Calum and Michael learn a few tricks from pop gurus Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter and producer Sir Nolan. Where 5SoS once signified punk cool by singing “I made a mix tape straight out of ’94” and wearing a Sonic Youth “Confusion Is Sex” t-shirt to rock a 1D stadium crowd, now they ease into a Savage Garden-style crooner vibe, even while they’re jacking the Stardust “Music Sounds Better With You” guitar hook. (Which Stardust got from Chaka Khan, because everything cool connects to Chaka somehow.) It’s a tale of secret romance: “If these walls could talk/I hope they wouldn’t say anything.” A somewhat goofy chorus, but I ask you, would it be 5 Seconds of Summer without a little goofdom?
A couple weeks back, a fan named @5sosaint wrote on Twitter, “Why do 5SoS’ achievements feel like my own, is that normal?” Ashton replied in a heartbeat: “Because they are yours as well.” Ashton gets it; this band has always gotten it. That’s how they got huge in the first place, and that’s how they’ll achieve whatever kind of future they achieve. “If Walls Could Talk” should be the song that takes them there.