Playlist | Impact’s Songs of The Summer

Entertainment Team

At the beginning of the semester, the Entertainment Team was still discussing this summer’s music releases. As a warm-up for a semester of writing ahead, volunteers new and old wrote about the song that personally defined their summer. Be it a season of fun or forlorn, everyone has their song of the summer. As fall makes its way to East Lansing, reflect back on your summer with The Impact.


Sofi Aultman, “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart

On my very last day of summer, I stood in the pouring rain, tears and water droplets racing down my face, clinging to my friends with desperate hands. An hour and a half from home seemed so close until the night before I left for college. My song of the summer is “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart because it encapsulates the heartbreak of growing up and moving on. The song starts slow and soft with a sorrowful first verse about leaving old friends behind. By the third verse, however, the lead singer’s vocals become gravelly and full of emotion as he sings about being far from his family. If you’re missing old friends and looking for the perfect song to cry to, clear your schedule, grab a box of tissues and give this song a listen. 


Norene Bassin, Editor, “King For A Day” by Pierce The Veil feat. Kellin Quinn

Similar to most “elder emos,” I was a little annoyed at first when Pierce The Veil’s “King For A Day” trended this summer on TikTok. I remembered being 11 years old and jamming alone in my room to this song, shredding my vocal cords trying to scream like Vic Fuentes. I remembered where I was in life ten years ago, and how much I absolutely loathed “posers” — real or perceived. I used to hate when people who I thought couldn’t relate to the lyrics (AKA pretty and popular) were listening to my music.

My playlists were my therapists for a while; I found solace in the common themes of depression and feeling alone. I wanted my own space to feel my feelings, but it couldn’t be my space if too many posers knew about it. However, if I noticed another band-tee-clad kid listening to my music, I would be ecstatic — finally, someone who gets me. I fully recognize now that I was simply judging people based on their appearances and being wildly pretentious, but I digress. 

Today I feel that same energy and excitement I did when I was younger. It took some time to realize there’s a whole new generation of emos who didn’t get a chance to enjoy it when it first came out in 2012, as they were still in elementary school. The emos of today deserve to enjoy the classics, like Collide With The Sky, without ridicule.

Why does this song define my summer? I really didn’t do much this summer except for some serious self-reflection. I spent my days deconstructing my thought patterns, working with my therapist and healing. I also just spent hours at a time alone in my room. How did I get myself out of the depressive episodes? My favorite songs, of course. I would shuffle my “Middle School Throwback” playlist, jump out of bed as soon as I heard that iconic opening riff and get on with my day. You just can’t be sad listening to such energetic music.

I love showing my friends my favorite songs, so I was overjoyed when they knew this one. Driving down Woodward Avenue with the windows down, blasting “King For A Day” and singing along with my friends is the type of life 11-year-old me thought 21-year-old me would be living. I made it. Ten years later, the anthem for my loneliness became the soundtrack to my summer.


Gracie Oldenburg, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz

I’d like to give a huge shoutout to HBO’s Euphoria for helping me rediscover one of my childhood favorites and for giving me my song of the summer: “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz. Although the episode featuring this song aired back in February, I listened and listened through both blizzards and heatwaves. In the episode, Kravitz’s falsetto and soulful guitar riff sets the scene perfectly as we watch the father of one of the main characters graduate from high school back in the ‘80s. As I watched and listened, I imagined how I’d be in that exact spot in just a few months. It was the first song I played after graduation as I drove home from my high school’s gymnasium, tassel moved to the left side. It dreamily played in the background of my conversations with my friends, blasted from my car speakers every time I had my windows down and was my anthem as I transitioned from high school senior to college freshman. It means so much to me, and I encourage you to give it a listen and find your own meaning in it too.


Mike Merucci, Editorial Assistant, “Passionfruit” by Drake

Well, this is a new one for me: I wouldn’t consider myself a Drake fan, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a Drake summer. That doesn’t entail exactly what you might think, though: the Drake song of my choosing is “Passionfruit,” a gentle, slightly-melancholic megahit off 2017’s More Life. In the days following a surgery I had in the middle of summer, “Passionfruit” crept into my life, somehow never having touched my ears before. Over one billion streams on Spotify and I had never heard it. Or I simply let it fly from my memory. But in those weeks of being restricted to a recliner and hobbling around with a walker, “Passionfruit” had latched onto me and, for better or worse, had me dancing a little bit. As one should know, it’s not a good idea to be wiggling your hips when you can barely walk. But even when I wasn’t wiggling those hips, I was often sitting still in equal halves of relief and pain, letting this strange allure of “Passionfruit” wash over me. I suppose it completed those pink sunsets I could only partly see through my window; it helped me feel the wind again. And it was present as I made big steps in my life, all the while constrained to a single chair in a single room. Call me a Drake fan now, I suppose. Even as I drift away from memories of walkers and chronic pain, I still hold “Passionfruit” dear, replaying it and replaying it, almost always letting it run three or more times in a row. I feel that it’s odd to say, but “Passionfruit,” even under its blanket of longing and detachment, now sews rose-tinted threads through my everyday life. As I brush my teeth, take out the trash and step over the cracks of sidewalks, I can’t help but notice the intangible romance in it all. 


Sam Kurtzman, “KLINK” by Smino

It wasn’t until a lazy afternoon in mid-June that I realized it was summer time. And the catalyst for the realization was the song “KLINK” off Smino’s second studio album, NOIR. My lazy ass was spending yet another unproductive day lounging on a hammock under the New Jersey sun, questionably conscious, when I decided to throw on some Smino. Fast forward to “KLINK,” and as if the last month of doing absolutely nothing didn’t register with me at all — because it hadn’t — it hit me like a truck. It was summer.  Smino’s shrill delivery of the chorus leading into his breakneck flows during the verses came together to form the ultimate soundtrack to my heatstroke-sponsored inertia. Even now, in late September,  I continue to bump this song in a futile attempt to stave off the realization that it’s about to get real cold out there, real fast. But hey, don’t be sad that it’s over. Be glad that it happened. And maybe bump some Smino to gaslight yourself back into that summer time state of mind.


Bella Short, “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin

I have always wanted to go to Italy since I was younger, and this summer my dream finally came true. I had the incredible opportunity to go to Florence and Rome on a study abroad trip. I was immersed in Italian culture, food, people, art and history for only two weeks, but being there felt like three months. During our first night out in Florence, a good friend and I were dancing in the streets and singing “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin at the top of our lungs over and over again. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know all of the lyrics or that we were singing in the wrong key; all that mattered was that I was truly living in the moment. This is a memory I will cherish forever. This song captures the essence of Florence and Rome and how there is love all around you, anywhere you look. Now, when I listen to this song I am reminded of the beauty of learning a new culture, making new friends, discovering Duomos, cartwheeling in the streets of Rome at night, listening to a jazz club in front of the Colosseum, watching two lovers hold hands, eating gelato, having my wine spilled at dinner and finding the hidden treasures of Florence and Rome.


Brennan Spear, “Let It Play, Part 2” by Peter Michael Hamel

The beauty of learning is abundant. I made it a point to develop a new skill during the summer. In this case, it was learning the piano. I stumbled upon Peter Michael Hamel’s 1979-1983 Selected Pieces and instantly found a sense of urgency in “Let It Play, Part 2.” I truly value Hamel’s work, since it confirms my long-held belief in the power of repetition. I found myself crying, laughing and even practicing aerobic exercises when listening to this piece. That is the beauty of learning and the immeasurable treasures that emerge from it, whether through inspiration or desperation for something greater. Even now, whenever the circumstances call for it, I play Hamel’s “Let It Play, Part 2.”


Brooke Bass, “love.” by Kid Cudi 

Spending the majority of my summer days working at a summer camp, I got to meet so many amazing people from all over the world, from England to Scotland to Israel and almost every place in between. Little did I know that at the start of the summer, these people that I would spend the next two months of my life with would become some of my best friends. While being very social, this summer was also very healing and restorative for me. I learned how to love myself and others unconditionally, which is why my song of the summer is “love.” by Kid Cudi. “love.” was arguably one of Kid Cudi’s best leaked songs until it was released on July 8, 2022 on the album The Boy Who Flew To The Moon (Vol. 1). The album is a meticulously curated mix of Cudi’s best songs from every album thus far, including a new bonus track, “love.” This beautiful song filled with insane guitar riffs and a forceful drum beat is all about self-love and uplifting others in the process. It echoes the message that even though things may seem tough, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, which is the exact lesson that this summer has taught me. So, if you’re feeling low and looking for a pick-me-up song, give “love.” a listen. 


Kyle Raeside, “Spotlight” by Jessie Ware

If a group of scientists and audio engineers were put into a lab to create the perfect pop song, I am convinced that the final product would be Jessie Ware’s “Spotlight.” Beautiful and entrancing strings? Check. A killer bassline that is impossible not to dance to? Check. Uplifting lyrics sung by an incredibly talented vocalist? Check and check. Admittedly, I was a fan of the song before summer, however, the change of season truly opened my eyes to how gorgeous the track is. Ware’s extravagance is so effortless that it can switch the momentum of a bad, groggy summer day into a positive and encouraging one. As the title implies, the atmosphere of this song makes you feel as though the summer sky has shown its light upon you and only you, even if it only lasts for 5 minutes and 31 seconds.


Ashe Burr, “Since I Met You” by Cassidy Mann

My summer was predominantly spent in a state of worry. I would be moving away from the closest friends I had ever met, most of them moving to other states. I wasn’t even supposed to start classes in the fall semester when my summer began. And to top it all off, I lost one of the first friends I made in high school to cancer. I managed to find comfort in Cassidy Mann’s song, “Since I Met You”. The song features a very simplistic opening with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and Mann’s voice. The lyrics felt so personal. Mann’s voice on this track was comforting and felt like it was coming from a place of similar anguish to what I was going through during that time. I spent several nights listening to this song, trying to hold in my tears as the past four years of memories slipped through my fingers. With the final moments playing out, an electric guitar over a simple synth progression is introduced into the track for the first and only time. As I listened to that part, I realised that the only thing that I had to lose was a dream of something brand new. If you are looking for a more intimate experience with a song than what you’ll typically find on these sorts of playlists, give “Since I Met You” a listen. 


Joey Owczarek, “12:51” by The Strokes

You only get one summer in your life between high school and college. Part of me hoped to find who I really was a little more in that time, part of me wanted to just soak up the sun and watch the days burn by with my friends. There’s something about the contrast between the Strokes’ mildly melancholic lyrics and their upbeat early 2000s house party rock sound that made this song perfect for my summer. It was an adventurous sound for an adventurous time, and I listened to “12:51” from the top of mountains in New Mexico to the last days I saw my friends before they left for their colleges out east to move-in day here on campus. The world felt like it was opening up and closing at the same time, and this was the best anthem for it. If you ever want two and a half minutes of catchy rhythms and garage-jam vibes, this song is at the top of my list. 


Marion Reilly, “Neverita” by Bad Bunny

When you think of summer, you may think of blasting a song in the car with the windows rolled down, sand in your hair as you drive away from the beach at sunset. Everyone tries to make the most of their summer, especially as a student, and the most important thing you need is a soundtrack. Bad Bunny’s latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, was essential for my playlist this summer, most essential being my favorite track, “Neverita.” The bright, electronic pop music contrasts with the melancholic lyrics about a failed romance. This track was my go-to car jam, especially for road trips and hanging out with friends. The sound of it will bring back good memories for years to come.


Taylor Truszkowski, “When in Rome” by Mac Miller 

When in Rome, you wake up at 7:00 in the morning and walk 30 minutes to class in 80° weather, only to spend the next four hours under the scorching hot Italian sun touring ruins of the ancient world. Your summer tan is in full glow, you’ve had nothing to eat but an espresso shot and a sugary pastry. Your head is pounding from last night and you can’t seem to get your mind off the boy you spent it with. Once your homework is done you’ll be able to have an hour nap before gathering with your closest friends, who only weeks before were strangers, on your balcony overlooking the cobblestone streets as you chug red wine and prepare for the Italian bar crawl to come. You guys are listening to “When in Rome” by Mac Miller because, my God, you need to wake up. Compared to the soothing R&B of much of his discography, this fast paced song is like an IV bag full of Four Loko and it’s just what you need. Just when you thought you didn’t have an ounce of energy left, you’re ready to sprint full speed down Via del Plebiscito back to Scholars. Tomorrow you’ll wake up at seven in the morning and do it all over again. Sometimes you miss the peaceful Parisian days that passed in the early days of your study abroad, before trading the cool lavender breezes of France for the summer sweat of Italy. But now as your pink sunburned cheek hits the cool thin pillow, you know you never really felt alive until you came to Rome.


Kale Guenther, “I Hate You” by Oliver Tree

Every day on my way to work, I would listen to the exact same songs on repeat. Was this because the work was so monotonous that my music should fit the same vibe? Or were the songs really that good that I can spend a whole summer listening to the same tracks and never get tired of them? I think it’s the latter. I relate very deeply to Oliver Tree’s “I Hate You” because I thought the exact same thing with someone who I used to call my best friend. I just didn’t know how to put it into words, but Oliver Tree did it for me. It’s not all sad though; Oliver Tree has a way of making bangers out of the simplest ideas, just think of “Life Goes On,” for example. “I Hate You” didn’t make the cut for his album Cowboy Tears, but it easily is in my top songs from him. If you need a pick-me-up, or just want to vibe to an absolute bop, give “I Hate You” a listen.


Claudia Braesch “Good Looking” by Suki Waterhouse

I have to admit to being a poser when it comes to Suki Waterhouse. I started listening to her in June due to my deep love for her boyfriend Robert Pattinson. Simultaneously in early June I was trying very hard to get a girl to like me. The first time we hung out she played “Good Looking.”  The smooth and soft instrumentation complemented the longing lyrics. The song feels like dewy grass and the sun on your skin. It played every time we hung out, and it turns out she was into me so I owe a great debt to the Waterhouse/Pattinson power couple. “Good Looking” deservedly became a huge hit this year after comparatively minimal fanfare over its 2017 release. But I will always remember hearing it skipping the last days of senior year in the park, or on a late night drive. “Good Looking” perfectly starts any peaceful indie pop summer playlist.


Nick Sanchez “Super Saturated” by Drug Church

“Super Saturated” was released on March 11, when daytime high temperatures barely cleared 30° — it was a bright and beaming musical misfit among dreary, late-winter slow jams. I first heard this track while I was walking between classes, bundled up under three or four layers of clothing with the wind biting at my face. It immediately hit me as a song out of place, or more accurately, out of time. It jumped out of my headphones with reckless energy — this was not a song written for dreary mid-March weekdays. This recklessness made its way into my ears and told me things about life that made me yearn for the summer to come like I was a child again. It told me that youth spent in fear of mistakes is youth wasted. It told me that life is too short to worry about what you can’t control. It told me to let go. These were the things I needed to hear before a month spent abroad alone. But this didn’t become my song of the summer in the June fog of London. Nor did it become my song of the summer in the freezing mid-March sleet of East Lansing. It became my song of the summer in the hazy triple-digit heat of a Northern California July. Back home in Sacramento, I was sweating in my car’s broken air conditioning with some of my oldest friends; the windows were down and the wind was doing things to my hair that I wasn’t happy with. My friend then told me a joke that I shouldn’t repeat, and as I was laughing I heard the first two pounding drum beats of “Super Saturated.” All of a sudden the heat didn’t feel so hot and I didn’t care what happened to my hair. Everything felt a little more carefree. On that day, our lives could be whatever we wanted and we didn’t care about any consequences. Life isn’t meant to be thought about, planned and plotted over. Life is meant to be lived, and who cares what happens otherwise? No, this song wasn’t written for cold walks between classes, mopey Sundays and cloudy weekends. This song was written for blaring car rides that are a little too fast, sun-drunk afternoons with your best friends and hot summer nights when you’re making decisions you’re not sure that you should, but you still do because you know it will be a great story later. 


Gabby Nelson, “Clocks” by Coldplay 

Coldplay has been a part of my life’s soundtrack since my parents bought the newly released A Rush of Blood to the Head CD less than a week after I was born in August 2002. My mom still tells me stories of her rocking me to sleep to “Green Eyes,” of us dancing together in our living room to “The Scientist” and “In My Place.” But “Clocks” was our anthem. The chorus never fails to get us swaying, eyes closed with heads tilted up to the sky. Twenty years later, the song still feels like home.  

This summer, my mom and I got the chance to see Coldplay in concert. I’ve dreamt about hearing Chris Martin play the “Clocks” piano melody — probably as familiar to me as it is to him — and on May 28, that dream came true. I cried, multiple times. I will also never forget Chris Martin running in place on stage with an alien head mask on. And I’ll never forget that feeling of swaying next to my mom, eyes closed, head tilted up to the sky, surrounded by 60,000 other people. All of us belting out the chorus to “Clocks.” 


Arden Vanover, “Victim of Nostalgia” by mxmtoon

The existential crisis that looms on every incoming senior in college hit me this summer as I worked at a home improvement store under my mom. I was at a job where I felt out of place. All my friends were scattered across the state because, bless her heart, only one of my friends had the displeasure of growing up in the same town as I did. I couldn’t really put into words the fears of uncertainty after I graduate in the coming spring I was feeling, and I still can’t. Everyone thinks of songs of the summer as an upbeat jam that you hear while partying with your friends around a bonfire or the soundtrack to their life, but my soundtrack continued to just sound anxiety-ridden. So, I turned to music for advice to pull me out of my funk that made me scared of what is supposed to be a great year of making memories. Mxmtoon’s “Victim of Nostalgia” put my fears to music and guided me through the summer on the idea that although things seem to be moving so fast, nothing I do will be able to slow it down, so I might as well take the time I have and use it to my advantage. The lyrics are shouting to me, saying that if I continue to reminisce on the past, then no one will ever be able to see me as anyone but that little girl who was just a “mini-me” of her mom. My song of the summer sets the theme of what comes after: my life in my own hands being molded into something not scary and not boring.