What makes a summer song?



If, like me, you aired WJCT’s anthology station during the July 4th vacation, you were probably delighted with what you heard. Especially if, like me, you were on the beach when you did.

Breezy, ultra vibe-y, Anthology’s new Summer Songs playlist (played on 89.9 HD3 and the WJCT app) is a mix of over 1,300 songs from 1962 to 1985, curated by the curious and eclectic ear of David Luckin of WJCT.

But what makes one summer song? As contemporary artists like Lil Nas X and Megan Thee Stallion claim the Summer 2021 Song Throne, there has been a lot of talk about when the ‘Song of the Summer’ is actually. has become a thing.

As this debate rages on, I asked for Luckin’s expertise on the matter. We talked about her curation process for Summer Songs on Anthology and discussed what exactly makes a summer song. Below are the highlights of our conversation.

What’s going on on Anthology right now? Tell us about the summer songs.

Anthology right now is a special thing. These are summer songs. And that doesn’t necessarily mean songs that are about summer, but songs that came out in summer; around or after Memorial Day. We included songs that came out a bit before that and ended up being big hits during the summer months. These are songs that must have been on your jukebox or on your radio or on your turntable during the summer of 1962 to 1985.

I understand that the songs don’t have to mention summer in the lyrics or about summer. But the recording industry certainly has a strategy around what’s coming out this summer. I have read a few thought-provoking articles on “Song of the Summer Candidates” for 2021. Tell me, as someone who has worked in radio for decades, what makes a summer song? ?

Oh, I think it’s the one with a big hook, something that comes and we all sing the words. I think it must be pretty optimistic. I’m not sure it’s a downtempo song, unless you’re talking about “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. I think summer songs are pretty upbeat and pretty happy. It’s a prerequisite, so when you drop the top of your convertible or sit by the pool, we don’t all lament, “Oh, that was a terrible year. And one of the reasons we did this is because your first apartment, your first kiss, your first time away from home, summer music is all about youth and good times.

Let’s take a few examples, here. Can you tell us about a well-known or familiar song that people will hear on Summer Songs and tell us what makes it summery in your opinion?

I think a good example is Barbara Lewis and her song “Hello Stranger”From 1963 still makes my top ten songs of the summer. It’s not necessarily an upbeat song, but it’s a song we all want to dance to slowly. Then I would go until 1983: “Cyndi Lauper”Girls just wanna have fun. “It really shows the arc of female singers singing the slow romantic song to, in the ’80s, women saying,’ Hey we don’t need you! ‘I think it’s an interesting arc and it shows. the transition of music and society in parallel. I think those two songs were perfect for their time. If you can find a more perfect 80s song than “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, with the beat, the lyrics and the look. Barbara Lewis in the 60s, same. They still get hooked on the doo wop thing, but they switch to surfing.

Totally. And if I’m not mistaken, by 1963 the youth culture had gone crazy about surfing, right? With Gidget and beach party movies.

Ah, absolutely. And for this time, [“Hello Stranger”] was so perfect as a romantic counterpart to the party music. I was 13 when it came out, and loved it from the first time I heard it. It’s subtle compared to Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels ”Sock for me, baby. ”

When you organized this mix of music, was there a memory that stuck with you that you drew inspiration from? A moment in time that you were trying to capture the mood?

Let me start by saying that cared for means I didn’t use any music, which is true. There were songs on the charts that I would just call drek. So Summer Songs is definitely organized. I think for me, personally, out of all the bands over all these years, when I hear The Moody Blues, it brings me back to the dark lights and the posters, the first apartment, all of that. Good time. They weren’t your typical rock n ‘roll. They were trying to take us to a higher place, no pun intended. I still lean towards them.

I will also say that we have a lot of cool dub versions of songs that we have included in the mix. I don’t know how many people remember, but in the 80s dub exploded to the point where popular artists had to record dub versions of their songs. To the point where we have Bruce Springsteen “Dancing in the dark [dub]. “We have included dub mixes in the Summer Songs mix.

It’s Electro Lounge crossover, there!

Exactly. It’s funny. Everyone had to dub. Even Bruce. We have “Johnny B. Good” by Peter Tosh for six minutes. Luckily this one came out this summer, as there were plenty of Beatles songs I wanted to include, but couldn’t. But Revolver came out in the summer so it’s over there. Already seen from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is also present.

I’ll warn you: tough question ahead. Thirteen hundred songs on David Luckin’s Summer Songs. All-time song of summer, according to David Luckin?

My answer, and it won’t be the one anyone else chooses, “Summertime” by George Gershwin, 1935. Billie Holiday recorded her version in ’36. Janis Joplin I saw it live. Gershwin is my favorite composer.

Until Lana del ray covering The Sublime version, right?

Oh nice! Yes. And Louis Armstrong’s version is also very good. Also, Deep Dive Corp. “Summertime (Sweat mix)“; that’s a big one. Look at this one after we’ve talked.

Well, thank you David. I’ll go have a drink now. Maybe I’ll imagine there isn’t bad weather on the horizon and kick off Summer Songs on Anthology.

Sounds good, man. Thank you.

Listen to Summer Songs on Anthology on 89.9 HD 3, on the WJCT app or by clicking here.


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