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The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Dan DeLuca

Songs of Summer 2022: From Beyoncé to Bad Bunny to Kate Bush

This list of 26 songs isn't seeking one single Song of the Summer.

Yes, it starts with Beyoncé, whose new song "Break My Soul" announced her momentous return. And it includes lots of other boldface names from Lizzo to Harry Styles to Bad Bunny to Kate Bush. (That's right, Kate Bush.)

This summer songs list is conceived not as a No. 1 to No. 26 ranked best of, but as a playlist that brings together candy-colored hits and subtler experiences, with indie acts and local luminaries mixed in with the heavy hitters and a little bit of melancholy to go with the euphoria.

This is intended to be a playlist. So please, listen to the songs in order, respecting the sequencing and carefully considered segues.

Oh, who am I kidding? Listen how you like. Hit the shuffle button if you wish. These are my songs of the summer of 2022.

1. Beyoncé, "Break My Soul." We begin with Beyoncé's surprise excursion into house music. "Break My Soul" pulls from Robin S.'s 1990s hit "Show My Love" and samples New Orleans bounce rapper Big Freedia. Queen Bey convincingly insists her spirit will prevail no matter what trouble the world brings: "You won't break my soul." "Renaissance," her new album, is due July 29.

2. Lizzo, “Grrrls.” The second single from the forthcoming "Special" — due July 15 — made headlines when Lizzo changed the lyrics to the song after she was criticized for using a derogatory term for spastic diplegia. Free of offense, the song celebrates grrl power, sampling the Beastie Boys with collaborators including Philadelphia producer Pop Wansel.

3. Harry Styles, "As It Was." A synth-happy nod to 1980s pop acts, this single from Harry House's is at once buoyant and melancholy. I got a sense of its communal power in May as it played before Olivia Rodrigo went onstage at the Met Philly, when seemingly every teenage girl there sang along to it.

4. Tove Lo, “No One Dies From Love.” This Swedish pop star has another excellent new single called “True Romance.” But I’ve got this one stuck in my head, which is also from her forthcoming "Dirt Femme" and features a video in which Tove Lo breaks the heart of a lovesick robot.

5. Bad Bunny, “Moscow Mule.” Bad Bunny hitchhikes naked in the video for “Moscow Mule,” whose title presumably refers to the libation the Puerto Rican rapper and pop star is speaking of in Spanish language lyrics that translate as: “I get horny after two drinks.” His album "Un Verano Sin Ti" luxuriates in summertime sadness.

6. David Dallas, “Runnin.” The most uniquely Philadelphia song of the summer. David Dallas is a rapper from New Zealand. “Runnin’” samples the 2005 album "King Britt Presents: Sister Gertrude Morgan," in which the Philly DJ-producer and partner Tim Motzer honored the New Orleans folk artist. Now, Dallas’ 2013 song plays a crucial role in "Hustle," the Jeremiah Zagar-directed Philly basketball movie.

7. Taylor Swift, "Carolina." The first newly penned Swift song to be released since Swift put out "Folklore" and "Evermore" in 2020. "Carolina" sticks to that folk-flavor. It was written on spec for "When The Crawdads Sing," the movie adaptation of Delia Owens' 2018 novel, due this month.

8. Nikki Lane, "First High." Nashville songwriter Nikki Lane's "Denim & Diamonds," due in September, is produced by Josh Homme. This lead single recalls teenage thrills: "Take me back to the first dream, 501 blue jeans tighter than ... Springsteen."

9. Amanda Shires, “Take It Like A Man.” The title track to the forthcoming album by Nashville songwriter and fiddle player Shires is her most powerful vocal performance to date.

10. Kacey Musgraves, “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Country star Musgraves’ understated cover of Elvis Presley’s 1961 hit from "Blue Hawaii" is a standout on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s "Elvis" biopic.

11. Jazmine Sullivan, "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child." Also from the "Elvis" soundtrack, this track finds Philadelphia R&B singer Sullivan putting heart and soul into a spiritual Presley frequently performed.

12. Doja Cat, "Vegas." The "Elvis" soundtrack also includes "inspired by" songs like this Doja Cat rap, which samples Shonka Dukureh's cover of "Hound Dog."

13. Kate Bush, “Running Up that Hill (A Deal With God).” The out-of-the-blue success of British songwriter Bush’s song from her 1985 album "Hounds of Love" is due to its use in the Netflix sci-fi drama "Stranger Things," set in the 1980s. Gothic romance never goes out of style.

14. Duke and Jones featuring Louis Theroux, "Jiggle Jiggle." Also in the accidental Brit category is Louis Theroux, the 52-year-old journalist son of author Paul Theroux. A playful rap he wrote while filming a documentary in New Orleans in 2000 was repurposed by a Manchester, England DJ-producer duo. It's a TikTok sensation.

15. Lily Allen, “F— You.” Allen’s 2009 single was covered by Olivia Rodrigo at Glastonbury last weekend with Allen’s assistance, and now is available as a ready-made protest for a summer of pop stars speaking out in favor of reproductive rights.

16. Vince Staples featuring Ty Dolla Sign, "Lemonade." This highlight from the Long Beach, California, rapper's "Ramona Park Broke My Heart" is about a sense of duty to the place you're from. Staples speaks a summertime truth "Ain't nothin' like an ice cold lemonade."

17. Pusha T, "Diet Coke." Another song with a title that references a refreshing drink, this is rock-solid Pusha T, with the precisely enunciating Virginia rapper teaming up with producers Kanye West and 88 Keys.

18. The A’s, “He Needs Me.” Not to be confused with Philadelphia Athletics, The A’s are a New Wave-era band led by Richard Bush. These A’s are Amelia Heath and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. (Get it?) “He Needs Me” is a cover of the Harry Nilsson song Shelley Duvall sang in Robert Altman’s "Popeye."

19. Thee Sacred Souls, "Easier Said Than Done." Josh Lane, who sings lead for this Southern California trio, has a supple falsetto. "I said, don't worry about the future/ She said, that's easier said than done." True!

20. Alex G, "Runner." Terrific second single from Philly indie hero Alex Giannascoli's forthcoming "God Save the Animals" mixes earnestness with angst.

21. The Beths, "Silence Is Golden." A little peace of mind would be nice. That's the message that Elizabeth Stokes delivers in this (quite noisy) single from her New Zealand band's forthcoming "Expert In A Dying Field."

22. Kiwi Jr., “Unspeakable Things.” Despite the name, Kiwi Jr. are Canadian. And the jangling indie rock band can’t help but sound cheerful, even when front man Jeremy Gaudet sings of “Unspeakable Things.”

23. Rusty, “Surrender To The Rhythm.” Elvis Costello has reunited with Allan Mayes, whom he played with in the Liverpool rock band Rusty in the early 1970s. This song, a staple of the band’s sets, was penned by Nick Lowe.

24. Titus Andronicus, "We're Coming Back." The New Jersey rock band named after a Shakespeare tragedy have returned with a cover of a 1983 song by British band Cock Sparrer. Patrick Stickles is full of faith: "We're fighting to get there, never doubt that we're going to get through."

25. Gorillaz featuring Thundercat, "Cracker Island." Damon Albarn's role-playing rock band are back, with the Gorillaz cartoon sensibility meshing nicely with Thundercat, the virtuoso bassist who makes sure this banger bounces like a Gorillaz song should.

26. Sharon Van Etten, “Mistakes.” Sharon Van Etten has made her most grand, full-bodied music with her new album "We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong." This song celebrates accidents that turn into revelations.

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