We're well into summer, folks. This is the time of reckoning, when the summer jams are separated from the summer shams, when the "Call Me Maybe"s are separated from the songs that just won't get called back in a few months.
How will you decide? Trust your ears. Or, if you need a little more guidance, trust ours. We'd like to think they're pretty trained by now. So we'd like to present to you three late-breaking summer-jam contenders and the earworms that made them so, starting with:
JADE ALSTON, "SOBER"
R&B artist Jade Alston's had an inventive EP, Single on a Saturday Night, out since last December. Despite having fairly prominent names (Claude Kelly, for one) involved, and despite being relatable enough for any girl or guy to embrace, it's gotten not enough ado. Unless you're the sort of person who painstakingly tracks every R&B mixtape out there (in which case, you are awesome and should encourage others), there's a good chance this post is the first you're hearing of Jade.
All the parts of "Sober" are familiar to anyone who's listened to more than three R&B songs in the past five years: sirens, military drums, triumphant orchestral dithering, metaphor extended to the first obvious place ("My heart had a hangover, just like I'd been drinking".) But they're arranged with a light touch, enough that you don't realize how quickly this becomes an earworm. We don't recommend this approach for drinking, but for music, it's excellent indeed.
(h/t: Alex Ostroff)
CINNAMON GIRL, "DEVIL IN ME"
The 2010s have about as many female-fronted synthpop acts as the early 1990s had alt-rock acts. A few of them, like Icona Pop, win the music-blog lottery and get big, but for every massive act are five more as good. You can spend days, 24 hours straight, listening and discovering and rating, and you'd still only have heard maybe 50%.
Here's one we don't think should slip through the cracks. Cinnamon Girl is Danish/English artist Camilla Roholm. She sounds, from time to time, like Amanda Palmer without the gimmicks or Madonna without everything that happened post-"Holiday." The track's that way, too, one of the few supposedly '80s-inspired tracks that actually sounds like it could've been released by actual '80s musicians, not kids with lots of neon, synths and spare time. And since this is the earworm edition, listen to this a couple times and you'll be singing about devils enough to be a one-person Florence Welch song.
(h/t: The Guardian)
The White Queen from Alice in Wonderland said she believes six impossible things before breakfast. We're music writers, so "breakfast" is kind of a variable thing for us (cherry donut holes and coffee totally count), but whatever and whenever it may be, we've probably listened to six things before it. Some of it's part of the general music-news cycle, which you can read all about on this very site.
And some of it, somehow, is music we seek out on our own--Googling bands, trawling through side projects, seeing what artists did before or afterward, searching for great stuff. One particularly reliable source of great stuff is Swedish band Cat5, which practically calls for a spreadsheet to keep track of all the side projects. (Checking my notes quickly: Christina Roos, Light Bulb Project, Otur. Google all those names. No, really: Google them.)
Then there's Hanna Göranson, who goes by Hanna; she's got an EP out, and it's great. The press copy for this makes a lot of how it's inspired by the likes of Prince, Beach House and the Dirty Projectors, which is pretty good press copy in the sense that it'll entice a lot of people but not the only enticing thing about "Lioness." The earworm here isn't any lyric but the groove, funky and breathy and relentless enough to carry the track on its own. If it's a lyric you want, though, then "I used to be an alleycat / but now I'm a lioness" makes a fine mantra, one you can strut to. Conveniently, the track is very good for strutting.
That lioness sound, by the way? Stock sample. I heard it first in one of those _____ Trail games. This means we can and will place "Lioness" next to "Are You That Somebody?" in the grand pantheon of Stock Sound Songs. (Suggestions welcome. If you give us good ones, there could be a playlist forthcoming.)
Got a suggestion for us? Drop us a line!