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.
My favorite guitar solo of the year only lasts about 10 seconds, but it feels much bigger than that. Listen to the sound that Snail Mail‘s Lindsey Jordan pulls from her instrument about a minute into “Heat Wave,” right after the first verse: a quick, sharp sting, like lightning or a summer crush. It’s a catchy sequence of notes, but Jordan doesn’t come back to it, and she doesn’t need to. She’s already said what she means.
The rest of “Heat Wave” is just as stunning. This big, sad, skywrite-the-chorus song might be the best thing ever to be named “Heat Wave,” and that’s no light claim. For Martha and the Vandellas, a heat wave meant desire. For Snail Mail, it means getting bored enough to make some dicey emotional bets. Jordan spends her vacation falling for a green-eyed dream who’s barely there, mostly because she has nothing better to do. “I hope I never get a clue,” she sings. Knowing what’s real would mean knowing it was never meant to be. Who wants to think about the future in the middle of July?
By the end of the song, Jordan has wised up. “I’m feeling low,” she sings. “I’m not into sometimes.” That’s self-knowledge for you – it can be a real bummer. Snail Mail understands. Throw some mixed feelings on the grill and turn it up.