TFIS. A time for kicking back, hitting the beach, wiling away the evening in a beer garden, chilling in the car you spent all day waxing. And – of course – listening to amazing pop music. Here are the tracks that’ll be melting your ears this summer.
- Exclusive NME offer: Save £10 on Amazon Music Unlimited plans with code NME10
The One For Cornetto Time
Phoenix – Fior de Latte
Why it’s great: That moment when you hit the ocean road and slide the top down – that’s what Phoenix have captured on this sublime, sun-dappled track that sounds like 10cc’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ guzzling choc-ices on a Miami Beach lounger.
Summeriest moment: “There’s no seasons in LA,” lilts Thomas Mars in the breakdown, sounding ever so slightly mournful
What they say: Guitarist Laurent Brancowitz has claimed the band’s new album is inspired by “summer and Italian discos”. If only everything was.
The one for your fishing trip
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – Feels
Why it’s great: With a cast list this awesome, this track was never going to be anything less than epic. Catchier than Chlamydia on Love Island.
Summeriest moment: When Katy Perry chimes in with her “Don’t be afraid to catch feels” line and you’re convinced she’s saying “Don’t be afraid to catch fish”. We love flicking our rod in the summer too, Katy!
They say: “I wanna thank every artist on the album for not only keeping an open mind, but also then knocking it out of the park” – Calvin Harris
The one for when it’s too hot
Lana Del Rey + ASAP Rocky – Summer Bummer
Why it’s great: This saucy slow-jam is summer at its sultriest, for those nights when you have to have all the windows open and a fan constantly pointed directly at your sweaty bits. Old musical sparring partners Lana and A$AP are never anything less than steamy.
Summeriest moment: The fact that Lana sounds even drowsier than usual during her laid-back lines. Get that girl some antihistamines, stat.
They say: “There probably are a lot of tracks somewhere that we’re both on over the years. We do ’em and forget ‘em and if one’s better than all of them, like this one, we try to put it out.” – Lana Del Rey
- Read more: NME’s best songs of 2017 so far
The one for dancing in the streets
Bonzai – ‘I Feel Alright’
Why it’s great: Take equal parts MIA, Charli XCX and Major Lazer and you’ve got ‘I Feel Alright’, a dancefloor-ready banger produced by man of the moment Mura Masa. Could it be any more 2017
Summeriest moment: That hyper build up to the chorus. That’s your cue to breaking out of the office and twerking against your boss. Don’t tell HR.
They say: “It’s about the feeling of being lost which I think everyone feels at some stage but then it’s like – it could be worse and it can always get better.” – Bonzai
The one for getting your freak on
SZA – Drew Barrymore
Why it’s great: The track might be a reflection on the neo-soul artist’s moments of self-doubt, but it’s hotter than a Saturday night in a hot tub. Perfect for seduction.
Summeriest moment: When SZA croons “Am I warm enough for ya… Is it warm enough for ya, inside me”. Cold showers all round.
They say: “Drew is the quintessential awkward, beautiful, quirky girl that is very comfortable being herself. She’s a boss” – SZA
The one for road trips
Haim – ‘Want You Back’
Why it’s great: A summer playlist without a song from California girls Haim would be a very poor summer playlist indeed. With it’s highway-ready harmonies and singalong chorus, ‘Want You Back’ is one for blasting from the car speakers as you hit the road and drive out to the desert – or Torbay.
Summeriest moment: That woozy opener, as Danielle Haim does her best Stevie Nicks impression and muses on her “wandering heart”.
They say: “I don’t fully understand my feelings until the song’s done and out in the world… I think I’m gonna start to figure out what a lot of these new songs mean in two months, or something” – Danielle Haim
The one for a summer wedding disco
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Why it’s great: Because it sounds like ABBA. Oh and also the pan-pipes. And that rousing “nah-nah” bit towards the end.
Summeriest moment: That piano line, of course. We knew Arcade Fire were classy, but this kind of simmering majesty is some next level shiz.
They say: “It was kind of an accident to be honest. I was working on a remix of [‘The Coffee Cola Song’ by late Cameronian artist Franis Beybe] and just ended up writing a completely different song around it without even thinking about it.” – Win Butler
The one for stormy nights
Lil Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3
Why it’s great: The Philly rapper found fame on this languid trap banger, which has been the sound of the summer since it was released in March. Moody as anything, it’s as close as a sticky summer’s evening.
Summeriest moment: If you thought a man saying “all my friends are dead” over melted beats wasn’t summery, then be prepared to be proved very wrong indeed.
They say: “It’s trap singing. It’s fun. It sounds good and girls like it.” – Lil Uzi Vert
The one for your Marbs trip
Luis Fonsi ft. Bieber – Despacito
Why it’s great: A beach bar favourite that, translated, includes the lines “we will do it on the beach in Puerto Rico/’Til the waves scream ‘dear lord’/So that my seal stays with you”. Remember, when on holiday, never accept a stranger’s seal.
Summeriest moment: The bit where Daddy Yankee says ‘bom bom’ and we realise that he’s now talking about arses.
They say: “At no time was I trying to write a crossover record!” – Luis Fonsi
The one for the Irish pub
Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl
Why it’s great: ‘Galway Girl’ is either the most irritating song of the year or the most fun you can have with your felt Guinness hat on, depending on which side of the Great ‘Galway Girl’ Debate you’re on – an issue which has split the country more than Brexit.
Summeriest moment: Has any line said ‘pissed-up summer fling’ more than “I walked her home, then she took me inside/To finish some Doritos and another bottle of wine”?
They say: “…There’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish… And those type of people are going to fucking love it.” – Ed Sheeran
The one for the festival pre-lash
The Killers – The Man
Why it’s great: Brandon Flowers marches back into the fray with the swagger of a Gallagher and the beat of a Bee Gee – and a bull elephant’s balls. This single is amongst the band’s brightest ever tunes and is boldly applying for the job of dancefloor filler of the summer.
Summeriest moment: Those ‘Stayin’ Alive’ harmonies slapped all over the chorus are as Club Tropicana as an inflatable pool sofa.
They say: “Around about the time that The Killers start is when ‘The Man’ harkens back to. It was nice to go back and inhabit that character, that figure, that version of myself for a song” – Brandon Flowers
The one for post-banana boat seasickness
Mura Masa feat. A$AP Rocky – Love$ick
Why it’s great: This tropical smooth cut built on the sort of house piano, marimba and terrace horn blasts that’ll make your local Club Fingerbang feel like Rio Carnival for three minutes.
Summeriest moment: When the steel drums kick in. I mean, when was the last time you saw someone playing steel drums in drizzle?
What they say: “It’s been amazing for me to see people, real people care about this, beyond numbers ticking up on the internet” – Mura Masa
The one for romantic beach frolics
Miley Cyrus – ‘Malibu’
Why it’s great: It’s a folkish frolic that perfectly captures the romance of snuggling up in the surf at sunset (even if “the sky’s so blue in Malibu, next to you” might not sound quite as exotic in Walton-On-The-Naze.
Summeriest moment: “We are just like the waves that flow back and forth,” Miley muses, and who among us can say we haven’t thought exactly the same thing while dosed up on ketamine in Ayia Napa?
What they say: “They’re going to talk about me if I come out of a restaurant with Liam, so why not put the power back in my relationship and say, ‘This is how I feel?'” – Miley Cyrus
The one for midnight rooftop snogs
Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete the Kisses
Why it’s great: Here, Wolf Alice conjure a twilit cityscape of sound, ideal for pumping from that roof terrace you only get to use for three weeks a year.
Summeriest moment: Ellie dreaming of giddily covering a notebook with the words “you rock my world” like a smitten LA teen flick heroine.
What they say: “I kind of wanted to make one of those head out the window on a long drive tunes,” Ellie said. “And I wanted to try my hand at like a hold-nothing-back love song” – Ellie Rowsell
The one for playing it cool
Tove Styrke, ‘Say My Name’
Why it’s great: The Swedish star’s new tune loops around a laid back ukelele line, but with its perky beats and vocal flourishes it also manages to be a total bop – proving you can have your deliciously chilled ice cream cake and eat it too.
Summeriest moment: The pre-chorus synth screech – it’s like a funky pop macaw.
They say: “This is the best thing I have ever created and I am so proud of it. This song is basically just: “I like you, can we just be together, don’t complicate it” – Tove Styrke
The one for tequila-fuelled nights
Lorde – ‘Supercut’
Why it’s great: If you’re too short on time to listen to all of Lorde’s masterful ‘Melodrama’, make do with its literal ‘Supercut’, which distils Lorde’s widescreen world of post-breakup emotion into one dancefloor-ready night.
Summeriest moment: As on her massive single ‘Green Light’, the rhythm of the piano line on the chorus here sounds like Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’, and that was summery AF.
They say: “I wanted it to feel like you were through the wall from a party. I liked the idea of this party leaking over” – Lorde
The one for #summerbae
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna – ‘Wild Thoughts’
Why it’s great: Rihanna does most of the work on this sizzling flamenco track, and Rihanna is the greatest pop star in the world. But then there’s also the beautifully OTT Santana sample, the smoky contribution from Kentucky R&B bro Bryson Tiller, and DJ Khaled’s random intrusions into his own song. That’s some strangely sexy alchemy at work right there.
Summeriest moment: The sultry Spanish guitar line underpinning each of the verses. ‘Despacito’ eat your heart out.
They say: “I had this idea for years. I wanted for it to be the right time, but also to make sure I put the right artist on there and I knew for me to flip this record I wanted Rihanna. I didn’t have a Plan B.” – DJ Khaled
The one for back-to-school feelings
Selena Gomez – ‘Bad Liar’
Why it’s great: A totem of the sophisticated pop that’s been surging through in 2017, ‘Bad Liar’ consists of a simple beat, a four-note Talking Heads bassline (from ‘Psycho Killer’) and icy vocals about suppressing a crush. May cause brain-freeze.
Summeriest moment: The sunny pat-a-cake claps throughout.
They say: “It’s one of the most nerve-wracking moments things in the world to sample one of the greatest bands of all time. I just wanted it to be really simple and beautiful and refreshing.”
The one for throwing festival shapes
Confidence Man – ‘Boyfriend (repeat)’
Why it’s great: The bassline on this thing is so funky you could smell it all the way from Brisbane – which, incidentally, is where this four-piece disco-pop band are from. Musically heirs to B-52’s, Yeah Yeah Yeahs or CSS, their lyrics blast a needy bf for cooking breakfast and wanting to talk all the time.
Summeriest moment: Just before the final chorus, where vocalist Janet Planet commands: “Get down!” At this, reader, thou shalt indeed get down.
They say: “For us, the band is kind of this new and exciting thing where the whole point is about dancing and getting down.”