You’ve made it. Somehow, you survived the entirety of the spring semester and you’ve finally reached that coveted, barren expanse of time with supposedly fewer obligations. But beware: the upcoming four months of “freedom” are bound to pass by at an infinitely quicker pace than the previous four months of drudgery, so be sure to use your time well. Honestly, as nice as it is to have a break, navigating the abyss can be a daunting task— so as always, it’s music to the rescue. Enjoy this summer survival guide.
- Queens of the Stone Age: “Smooth Sailing”
The empowering guitar of this track serves as a bold entourage for singer Josh Homme’s snarky-confident lyrics, exuding the exact attitude that you need coming into the summer. You finished that ten-page paper, you passed organic chemistry—you’ve earned the right to saunter out of that carnage with a new and unshakable sense of self-assurance. Whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do, just go for it.
- Grouplove: “Standing in The Sun”
Breaks are, or should be, all about recovery from the corrosive semesterly grind. In this track, Christopher Zucconi endures his hangover and reflects on his wild weekend alongside gentle, minimalistic acoustic guitar, ultimately finding the peace to let go of his regrets and accept a lesson while standing in the warm sun in solitude. The slow pace, mild percussion, and conversational tone will give you the space to take a deep breath as you prepare to move forward.
- Smash Mouth: “Walkin’ On The Sun”
At some point, it’ll hit you that this summer has a limited lifespan—and there’s nothing quite like Harwell’s punchy vocals to give you a wake up call. This song in particular has the added benefit of a crash-course recap of the entire twentieth century, so you can at least feel prepared for your upcoming modern history class. “So don’t delay, act now!” Summer is ru-u-unning out.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers: ‘Subway to Venus”
Hidden within one of the Peppers’ earlier albums—Mother’s Milk (1989) was released before they found their fame—”Subway to Venus” gives us a taste of their early experimentalism. Kiedis is a decent rapper, but he has yet to adopt his signature staccato style. Trumpets and percussion tumble together in an explosive swarm of rapid energy. And that chorus—is that an echo of Duran Duran’s style? Somehow, it works, or comes close to working. It’s a great reminder that we all have to experiment a bit in order to find our individual styles and interests. Go experiment this summer. Go on an adventure to somewhere you’ve never been before. Go to Venus. (And use the subway, because that’s bound to be an expensive Uber.)
- The xx: “I Dare You”
After the previous track’s chaos, you’ll appreciate The xx’s minimalism. Their poetic lyrics elegantly float from your earbuds and exude that calm, quiet kind of confidence: the type that you should carry with you day-by-day, allowing it to inspire you through all your daily endeavors and daily struggles. Take this summer to focus on your goals; reinvigorate your passion as you break from the stress and turn your attention back to your long-term aspirations. If your summer is as jam-packed as your fall and spring semesters, The xx’s echoing autotune offers a chance to take it slow for a minute.
- The Beatles: “Paperback Writer”
Remember all those cool ideas that you came up with during finals about all the topics that you’d love to write about instead of your assigned prompts? (Or maybe it’s just me?!) Regardless of whether or not writing is your thing, summer is your chance to get creative and share your work with the world. “Paperback Writer” is all about following your passion.
- Arctic Monkeys: “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
If you need a reminder to stay in contact with your old roommates, let it ride the satisfying sound waves of the Arctic Monkeys’ signature bass rhythms. Vocals, synthesizer, and bass guitar echo one another in a coherent cannon over increasingly determined percussion in bold procession, and trust me, it makes your car sound really cool when you’re blasting it on the highway in the late at night.
- Depeche Mode: “Enjoy the Silence”
Don’t overcomplicate your summer—the simple things can be quite beautiful, as Gahan recognizes in this soothing track. Initially, the sharp keyboard chimes intermittently, highlighting the spaces in between. As the song progresses, the synthesizer and guitar melt together, ultimately comprising a delicate melody to accompany a contented message. In some of their other songs, Depeche Mode blends shrill chords to create an uncanny form of beauty; in this one, fragile echoes take the forefront, suggesting an appreciation for something valuable that is too easily forgotten—or broken. If you fail to structure an elaborately jam-packed summer, it’s okay. Just enjoy the silence.