Summer: the time for unlimited Coppertone, bizarre tan lines, impromptu road trips and lazy beach days. It is also a time for some fun and fresh tunes. Check out this list of five artists to keep an ear out for this summer, whether you’re lounging by the pool or driving home from work with the AC cranked up full blast.
Justin Bieber, “Boyfriend,” Believe
He’s finally 18 and no longer just a favorite of prepubescent teenage boppers or members of the Moms 4 Bieber fan site (yes, a site wholly dedicated to mothers who love the Biebs). “Boyfriend,” the first single off his third studio album Believe, provides the same poppy melodies and catchy chorus as his debut single “Baby” but with a sexier R&B and hip-hop influence. That’s right – the Biebs is no longer just the cute, innocent boy next door, he is officially a smooth and sexy hip-hop mogul reminiscent of Justin Timberlake (with similar dance moves to boot). With musical guest appearances including Ludacris, Drake and Nicki Minaj on tracks such as “Right Here” and “Beauty and a Beat,” don’t be surprised to hear catchy DJ remixes of the Biebs all this summer, from dancing at a trendy club to waiting in line at an amusement park.
Nicki Minaj, “Starships,” Pink Friday, Roman Reloaded
Summer should be all about fun, something which Nicki Minaj seems to understand all too well. If you want some bouncy, upbeat, and danceable tracks to beat the heat with this summer, Nicki is your girl. A follow-up to her 2010 album Pink Friday, Roman Reloaded is jam-packed with sweet rap delights, including the bubbly, fast-paced “Starships.” “Beez in the Trap,” “Right by my Side” featuring Chris Brown, and “Pound the Alarm” are some others that are sure to start popping up on hit radio stations in the next couple months. Imagine sipping on a cool drink while hanging out on a beach patio, now turn on some Minaj and let the good times roll.
Train, “Drive By,” California 37
Lead vocalist Patrick Monahan definitely knows how to make the ladies swoon while still keeping it cool and calm with the guys. Hit singles including “Drive By” and “Feels Good at First” have already hit the summer airwaves full force (let’s just hope they don’t get overplayed to the point where they become exhaustingly obnoxious, like Maroon 5’s “Payphone”). The lyrics are so feel-good and inspiring it is hard not to roll the windows down, turn the volume up and sing along, whether driving down Highway 101 or an old country back road. Although happily married, Monahan is sure to gain numerous female fans with the beautifully-chorused, heartfelt tracks “Bruises” (a powerful duet featuring the talents of country singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe) and “You Can Finally Meet My Mom.” California 37 is the perfect record to turn to after a long hot summer day, when the sun is finally setting and one can enjoy herself on the front porch with a nice cold glass of pink lemonade.
Pitbull, “Back in Time,” (single from “Men in Black 3″)
If the single “Back in Time” offers any glimpse at what fans can expect with Pitbull’s upcoming album Global Warming (to be released sometime later this summer), they are in for a delightful, dance-worthy treat. What makes the track such an awesome summer hit is its mingling of modern hip-hop and dubstep with 1950’s R&B and rock and roll. The chorus features lyrics and the main guitar riff from Mickey & Sylvia’s 1956 “Love is Strange,” a song that many may remember from the 1980’s classic “Dirty Dancing” (the chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey during this featured dance sequence in the film is phenomenal). The old mixed with the new makes for a great sun-and-surf vibe, so be sure to add “Back in Time” to your summer iTunes playlist before hitting the beach. The closing dubstep breakdown is just the cherry on an already awesome hot fudge sundae.
Rihanna, “Where have you been,” Talk that Talk
Rihanna’s versatile style and cool, laidback attitude screams summer, and her voice proves no different. The Barbados-born queen of fashion and R&B/hip-hop is always sure to offer up some perfect warm-weather tunes, especially when some sun and tanning oil are added into the mix. The hit single “We found love” topped the charts back in fall but still provides that fun, feel-good vibe to enjoy on those late-night trips to the diner or at an afternoon BBQ. “Where have you been” is the newest single to distinguish Rihanna as a strong, independent female, and for that we salute her. Also be sure to check out Rihanna’s teaming up with Coldplay on the song “Princess of China.”
The Wanted, “Chasing the Sun,” The Wanted
The fact that they are a British-Irish pop boy band makes them an automatic favorite on this list. Girls swooned at the music video for their second hit single “Glad you Came” off of the album Battleground, which features five attractive young men running around the beach and on a yacht partying with a crowd of glitz and glamour. The modern day version of NSYNC, The Wanted represents a band of youthful love and freedom. The chorus for “Chasing the Sun” proclaims, “When daylight’s fading/We’re gonna play in the dark/Til it’s golden again/And now it feels so amazing/Can see you coming/And we’ll never grow old again.” This seems to be an anthem for summer–when the lines between day and night become obscure and it feels like nothing can get in your way of having a good time. So if you are ready to take an adventure marked by tan lines and sandy feet, be sure to take The Wanted along with you. Also check out “Chasing the Sun” featured in this summer’s 3D computer-animated “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
Usher, “Scream,” Looking 4 Myself
He’s got the moves, the charm, and the voice – not to mention he’s not too hard on the eyes. With Looking 4 Myself Usher attempts to revolutionize pop music by incorporating more soul, R&B, and electronic-inspired sounds, evident on such hit tracks including “Scream” and “Climax.” Even with the blurring of genre lines, Usher keeps the dance beats alive and shaking, reminiscent of the 2008 hit “Yeah!.” Looking 4 Myself is a great album to throw on while getting ready to spend a night out on the town.
DJs known for their dance, rave and electronic beats and remixes are making a huge comeback this summer. Swedish DJ Tim Bergling, known by the stage name Avicii, is of no exception. Headlining the Ultra Music Festival stage in Miami, Fla. with Madonna earlier this year, Avicii has achieved commercial success in the United States, United Kingdom and beyond. Best known for his electronic synthetic hit “Levels,” his newest single “Silhouettes” is sure to cause a stir among the progressive house music community. But you don’t have to be a fan of glow sticks or neon colored paint to appreciate the beats of DJ Avicii. Anyone who enjoys dancing, or even just swaying their hips a little, will come under the trance of Avicii’s smooth synthetic transitions and groovy vocals by Salem Al Fakir. Check out any local dance music festivals (Avicii headlined the Electronic Daisy Carnival in New York and Las Vegas earlier this summer, and his touring schedule does not look like it is about to slow down any time soon), to see if you can catch Bergling or other similar DJ artists in action.
Gotye, “Somebody that I used to know,” Making Mirrors (featuring Kimbra)
This one’s perfect to groove to while taking a ride with the windows down and the wind blowing. The catchy chorus will have you belting along without even realizing just how loud you truly are (hence why that guy in the car next to you is giving you odd looks). The summer heat sometimes leaves one hazy, especially when it comes to summer-fling romances. “Somebody that I used to know” is the ultimate love song revenge, so when that cute guy that you met while on vacation stops responding to your texts, throw it on repeat and rave with your girlfriends.
Katy Perry, “Wide Awake,” Teenage Dream (Dream On bonus track)
Not only is her new single “Wide Awake” blowing up the airwaves, but her 3D concert/documentary film Part of Me – which hit theaters earlier in July – is currently ranked the ninth highest-grossing documentary of all time. With her unique style and down-to-earth personality, Katy Perry would make for a great beach pal or dance club companion – and her music proves no different. In the music video for “Wide Awake,” Perry starts off with her 2010 summer hit “California Gurls” which leads into a maze of mystic, gothic wonder. A little mellower compared to some of her other poppy hits, Perry still provides an impressive melody and silky lyrics (almost a mix between “Firework” and “E.T.”). Some other tracks to check out on the deluxe Teenage Dream bonus disc: “Dressin’ up,” “Part of me,” and “Tommie Sunshine’s megasix mash-up,” a mix which features a number of Perry’s hits.