[Spotify playlist embedded at end]
Just as Shakespeare labored over his comedic masterpiece A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so too have I been laboring over A Midsummer Night’s Spotify Playlist. Only history will determine which of these flexings of artistic muscle will truly stand the test of time. My goal here was to properly soundtrack the Summer Solstice, which my in-depth research (Wikipedia) informed me is the longest day in the northern hemisphere as the earth is tilted most towards the sun.
Now how successful this playlist is at soundtracking the longest day of the year depends on how you celebrate it. This playlist will likely not be a hit in Northern Ireland (unlike the rest of my playlists, which have a rabid following there), where the Summer Solstice has become known as The Day of Private Reflection. My idea of the Summer Solstice, and summer in general, is less private reflection and more public intoxication. Accordingly, this playlist is meant to soundtrack a summer day spent without such exotic troubles as “school” or “work” or “Northern Ireland religious conflict.”
It starts with songs intended to gently nudge you from slumber, then ramps into more up-tempo indie day-drinking tunes, followed by the inevitable sloppy late afternoon dance party, before simmering down into some slow-burners meant for that special kind of hangover that happens before you’ve even gone to sleep. The playlist is linked at the bottom of the post, right after I highlight some of my favorites:
MORNING or “If my roommate hits snooze one more time I’m going to destroy that damn alarm.”
“17” by Youth Lagoon
Bedroom pop of the finest order, Youth Lagoon’s ode to imagination starts soft, with lovely keyboard and distant vocals working to ease the pain of waking up. As the song continues, the instrumentation builds until finally the drums come in and the song swells into the perfect alarm clock.
MID-DAY or “Is it too early to start drinking yet? I feel like it’s not, right?”
“Golden Days” by Whitney
Whitney, a new band formed from the ashes of Smith Westerns, just released their debut album and it is a perfect summer album. Filled with easily digestible guitar licks, endlessly hummable melodies, and some mellow horn parts, it’s an album seemingly created for the sole purpose of being listened to with the windows down or on water.
“Archie, Marry Me” by Alvvays
A good portion of this song's music video is grainy footage of the band on a boat with a Canadian flag on it, and I can’t think of a more perfect visual companion to this song. It’s retro, almost too catchy, and has enough punch to it that it makes a great sing-a-long.
EARLY EVENING or “If someone doesn’t play Chance the Rapper right this second I’m going to lose it.”
“All Night” by Chance the Rapper
The only thing holding Chance’s newest “mixtape” from comprising 100% of this playlist are that the numerous mentions of a higher power and the extensive gospel touchstones throughout may not pair smoothly with copious binge drinking. That said, “All Night” doesn’t have that problem and is an excellent song to blast once the day-drinking has turned to early evening drinking and people are yelling slurred requests at the holder of the almighty aux cord.
“Come Down” by Anderson .Paak
If you don’t know who Anderson .Paak is then it’s time to change that, because this California hip hop/soul/r&b stand out takes a lot of what makes Kendrick great (a love for organic instrumentation, a noteworthy rasp, real talk) and a lot of what makes Chance great (energy in spades, endless positivity) and turns it into a fantastically unique style. This album was released in January, which hopefully won’t stop it from getting its fair share of summer spins (there are like four spoken word interludes about surfing so I’m not super worried).
NIGHT, or “This rocking chair is too comfortable for me to worry about how no one has seen Kyle for three hours.”
“Golden Chords” by Deakin
The least heralded member of indie powerhouse and recent Fayetteville visitor, Animal Collective, released a low-key album this year that literally opens with the sounds of crickets and other summery nightlife. It’s a relaxed, meditative song that sounds as if some stranger with a beautiful voice and a guitar emerges from the night to play on your porch before disappearing back into the darkness. According to Fayettechill insiders, the full moon is pretty special this Summer Solstice, so get lost in that while Deakin gently serenades you into sleep.
And here’s the full playlist, intended to be listened to in order (but I know you heathens will hit shuffle):