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.
In a just world, Tove Styrke would have had several Top Ten hits by now. The 25-year-old Swedish singer makes pop that’s warm, immaculately produced and often absurdly catchy, much of it perfect for the beach, a windows-down drive, or inviting the Robyn fan in your life over for drinks. So, while her under-the-radar status makes it tough for her to have the song of the summer, she could easily have your song of the summer.
Take “Say My Name,” the best song on Styrke’s new album, Sway. Released as a single last year, it’s a minor classic of blissed-out romance, as well as (probably) my most-played track of the past 12 months, the kind of thing that demands infinite repeats as a salve after a shitty day or a mood-enhancer after a good one. Styrke, a Swedish Idol also-ran who’s opened for both Lorde and Katy Perry, calls Sway “a little collection of love stories.” “Say My Name” plays like a crush song, or maybe a lust song, full of casual commands for the object of her affection to not just to say her name, but wear it out like a favorite sweater.
Working largely with Icona Pop and Katy Perry writer-producer Elof Loelv, Styrke has honed a mix of inventiveness and snappy, everything-in-its-right-place minimalism; “Say My Name” rides along, improbably, on a perfunctory-sounding ukulele riff. Styrke has a proper Swedish pop star’s gift for turning big emotions into flawless hooks, as well as an arsenal of timbres and vocal tricks, easily bouncing between deadpan and frothy. (Seriously, Robyn fans: Hop on the Tove Train if you haven’t already.) In weighty times, it’s nice to have a song that’s lighter than air.