Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Impact’s Songs of the Summer 2023


Autumn has finally arrived. The beginning of the school year is about a month behind us now, so it feels as if summer locked its door a while ago, but here we meet the true end.

As homework began to pile up and red leaves started to hit the ground, members of the Impact wrote about the songs that defined their summers. Hopefully, these selections will guide us through chilly days and sleepless nights, but if not, they can serve as a reminder of what waits for us next June.

To listen to our 2023 Songs of the Summer playlist, check out the link at the bottom of this article. But first, reminisce with us, if you so desire:


Sabrina Girardi – “I’m A Man” by Pulp 

My love-hate relationship with this song is rooted beyond just this summer, but ’23 cemented it into my brain. The adrenaline of a catchy, cool song like “I’m A Man” by Pulp is what grew my confidence this summer.

The beat and slightly annoying, whiny tone of lead singer Jarvis Cocker’s voice was my deepest obsession. Repetitive but stuck to me like earwax, even when I was fed up with Cocker repeating the same lyrics and skipped the track, I craved to hear his voice again. 

Diving into the rest of their album, This is Hardcore, was about my only down time, and to say I listened to “I’m a Man ” once every day this summer is most likely an understatement. It is infuriatingly always stuck in my head, and when I am listening to this song, I have a main character complex. Before any social event this summer, I would listen to this song to temporarily dismiss my social anxiety, feeling cool and believing that everyone listens to my music when driving with my windows down.

This song wasn’t only my obsession but also my drive this summer, and it should be yours too. But do tread with caution because after the first listen, it will become part of your personality.


Riya Patchava – “Ventura Highway” by America, George Martin

I wore pants most of summer. I wore long-sleeved button ups and sat in an air-conditioned building, taking peeks out a window far too small to light up the small basement office I dedicated my days to.

Summer didn’t earn its title this year, just as Christmas has faded in the years prior. It was only in a handful of moments where I remembered it was summer at all — moments too few and far between. I can count them on one hand: the roller coaster on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, the bus ride up to Hearst Castle, cruising through the streets of Chicago with the top down.

As I sat in my squeaky office chair on my endless days of work, I’d come back to these moments, willing them to return by playing the song “Ventura Highway” by America and George Martin as loud as I could. I must have listened to this song at least a hundred times, wishing for its melodic strum to lull me into the memories of summer I missed so dearly.

It droned out the incessant typing and the frantic murmurs of the office. All I heard was the gentle voices of America and George Martin and the jaunty tune of the guitar, reminding me of the warmth of the sun and the feeling of grass on my bare feet. 


Sam Kurtzman – “Runnin’” by The Pharcyde

This past summer was my last summer before I graduate, assuming I don’t fumble any of my classes this year. The crushing pressure of adulthood loomed heavy over my head, mostly in the background, as I spent my days toiling away in the basement this radio station calls home and, occasionally, venturing outdoors for a hike.

But with me every step of the way, whether I was tweaking about growing up or enjoying a sublime sunset, was Labcabincalifornia by the Pharcyde. Nothing quite matches the feeling you have when that album comes on, and you close your eyes, instantly whisked into a warm Los Angeles evening, strolling through deserted streets.

As if this scene could be any more divine, the J-Dilla production on “Runnin’” would kick in, and my stroll became an ethereal glide, Adidas leaving the concrete as each member of the Pharcyde unleashed their signature flow. It’s the third verse that hits the hardest for me, with Imani rapping about feeling the weight of the world, but in the end, reminding us that no matter how hard life becomes, we can’t keep running away. 


Mike Merucci – “El lugar correcto” by Natalia Lafourcade

In summer, we stare at clouds. We stare at pinks, reds, purples streaking behind full trees, helicopters and the occasional hot air balloon. In the midst of a freezing December, I will lay in memories of warm winds and post-work walks. I will lay in memories of my legs dangling from the back of my truck. I will lay with Natalia Lafourcade’s “El lugar correcto” oscillating through my mind.

This summer was a beautiful one — one that I will look back on quietly, graciously, with empty East Lansing streets and bustling European ones running equally along my legs, along my arms, up into my mind. When I think of this summer, I think of the faces that accompanied me during it. I think of a day where there was mist in a clearing and gold in the sky. Matching everything is “El lugar correcto,” a song that will keep that gold sky with me forever. 


Ashley Morgan – “Destroyed by Hippie Powers” by Car Seat Headrest

Months ago, one of my closest friends made me a playlist that contained, among other songs, Car Seat Headrest’s “Destroyed by Hippie Powers.” Little did she know how much that one entry would affect me.

Though I had been a fan of the band’s work for a while, that specific song didn’t frequent my rotation until summer’s arrival. It was a jam for the season’s happier moments, but it acted as something more significant during the difficult ones. My senior year of high school ended on a rough note, which did not mesh well with trying to process the impending realities of growing up and leaving home.

The powerful guitar and piercing drums of “Destroyed by Hippie Powers” became the soundtrack to many angry bike rides, and I can’t tell you how many times I belted the second pre-chorus through sobs. Vocalist Will Toledo’s candid and emotionally charged description of how he transformed himself when moving on from childhood resonated with me, especially as I was anticipating college and preparing to leave my own childhood behind.

I interpret the song as being about both shedding aspects of your old identity and being anxious about the direction your life may go: perfect for the uncertainty of the summer after senior year. It provided the necessary vehicle of catharsis, to cut through my doubts and to face college head-on.


Violet Sanford- “Someday” by The Strokes

I’ve been a fan of indie for a long time now — listening almost exclusively to no-name artists on SoundCloud, looping Car Seat Headrest’s Living While Starving EP for the entirety of a six-hour plane ride, finally hearing a clear version of Panchiko’s D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L without severe disc rot after months of being a fan. The genre’s been a part of my life since early middle school.

Having said that, I never really understood the hype around genre titan The Strokes. Of course, I knew of them — knew several of their songs by heart, even — but I admittedly never cared enough to actually sit down and listen to each album as a whole. That is until this April, when I heard their first album, Is This It, in its entirety for the first time.

My first thought after the last notes of “Take It or Leave It” faded away was, “I get it now.” The rawness of the production, the sound of frontman Julian Casablancas’ voice, the sick guitar riffs: It’s so up my alley.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I was weirdly sentimental about leaving high school. The fact that I would never be able to return to being a highschooler scared me a lot, so “Someday” resonated with me above any other song. On top of just sounding like a summer song, the lyrics felt like moving on. I can’t count the number of times I’ve deliriously yelled along to this song in my garage at 3 a.m. while tearing up. “Someday” arrived at exactly the time I needed, providing an odd sense of comfort with every word. 


Ryan Wilbert – “Life Worth Missing” by Car Seat Headrest 

The sky is bursting with oranges, reds and pinks; the leaves slowly dance in a breeze just faint enough to cool the summer heat. It is blissful. But summer is also a strange time, as it marks for many — especially students — a closing of a chapter, a kickstart into a completely new book.

At first, the final summer before heading off to college felt like the pinnacle of exactly what I’d been running toward my entire time at high school: a time to finally relax, have fun and be proud of the person I’d become. As I dug deeper into the summer months, I ran into anxiety and uncertainty like never before. I was overloaded with emotion,  and newfound freedom quickly turned into pressure.

Once again, I found myself running. “Life Worth Missing” by Car Seat Headrest perfectly encapsulates these emotions. The ambivalent energy made up of spacious synths and lead singer Will Toledo’s tender lyrics — littered with abstract comparisons to seemingly small moments — create an absolute rocket of a song. I have a blast listening to it every time.

This song helped me accept my anxieties about others’ expectations and those I place upon myself. “Life Worth Missing” is that cool breeze, the warm colors dotting the sky; it’s permission to stop running and a reminder to just breathe.


Ashe Burr – “Mambu” by Lova Lova

This past summer, I spent a lot of time working at a restaurant where I loved my coworkers but wished the management would just leave like our customers the moment it hit 9 p.m. Sadly, this never happened, with degrading, berating comments spilling out more and more from the big man in charge like a leaky faucet nobody cares to fix.

The level of disrespect I received from that place was something that could classify as cruel and unusual punishment. So, in order to let loose all the frustration that was slowly building up within me, I needed to listen to some songs that carried a level of rage and frustration I didn’t know was even possible.

The moment “Mambu” came on my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist, the Afropunk artist Lova Lova’s lyrics and beats began thumping in my car’s stereo. I definitely won’t be back there because of the man, but man, will this song remind me of the nights spent venting about that place with my coworkers until the dead of night and all the fun we had doing so. 


Bella Short – “Disney Girls (1957)” by The Beach Boys 

This summer was unlike any other. I was more aware of the grass beneath my feet and the sunshine on my cheeks. It was peaceful, but loneliness seemed to linger in the back of my mind. I started to notice the small things in life: laying on a blanket in the hot sun with my best friend, going to the beach with my sister and finding a ladybug on a rock.

I have so many memories of my mom and I listening to the radio together. Our favorite stations were 80s on 8 and Siriusly Sinatra, but this summer we only wanted to hear The Beach Boys. My mom has always loved The Beach Boys, but they never spoke to me until I heard the song “Disney Girls (1957).” It became my summer addiction.

I drove in the car with the top down, taking in fresh air and vibrant green trees: All my problems and worries seemed to slip away when “Disney Girls (1957)” came into my life. The Beach Boys talk about a fantasy world and escaping from reality, and that’s what this summer was for me: a time to take a break from my responsibilities and appreciate the small moments in life.

I felt the song’s soft melody most clearly in moments with my mom, taking long walks with her, being acutely aware of her tinkling laugh and undeniable beauty. These small moments that once escaped me are now what I reminisce about. 


Shay Gale“Unsung” by Helmet

I think the word that most described my feelings this summer was “resistance.” An internship requirement for graduation led me to the first steps of what the rest of my life could look like if I decided down the path that was expected of me, and I hated it. First world problems, I know, but it was a wake-up call that I sorely needed.

What I saw during my stint into the “real world” was a culture of alienation, boredom and apathy. There was no greater meaning: You are a number, and they have what you need to survive. This brings me to my song of the summer: “Unsung” by Helmet, a song that perfectly encapsulates the feelings that an early twenty-something feels when confronted with the rat race of our modern society.

The lyrics brought my feelings to a boiling point and helped me confront my own feelings of hopelessness when faced with the seeming inevitability of selling my soul to corporate America. The structured and militant tone of the singer, combined with the stop-and-go aggression of the drums and guitar, conjures emotions of animosity — specifically against the status quo — so strong that it’s palpable. One specific line, “To die unsung would really bring you down,” will continue to guide me as I try to find my footing in our tragic, but beautiful world.


Peyton Skiver – “Vienna” by Billy Joel

My summer was wonderful: It was filled with laughter, love and new adventures. However, it was also filled with a lot of doubt and stress about my future. As someone with a type-A personality, it feels like I constantly need to have everything in my life figured out.

This summer, it was extremely hard for me to fight the feeling of being behind in certain aspects of my life, especially when looking back on my first year of college and wishing I had been more involved outside of class. Because of my constant anxious thoughts, “Vienna” by Billy Joel was on repeat this summer. Although it is one of Joel’s most popular songs, I only started loving it this past year. 

With lines like “Slow down, you’re doing fine” and “It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two,” this song was my daily reminder that I needed to slow down and appreciate every day individually. “Vienna” perfectly describes the feeling of being so ambitious and focused on the future that life can pass by without notice.

So, throughout the summer, I tried my hardest to take life day by day and appreciate the small things, whether it be talking with my family around the dinner table or going on random adventures with my friends. “Vienna” reminded me that growing up is inevitable, so I might as well focus on the present moment and embrace life as it happens. 


Gabby Nelson – “3am” by Malcolm. 

My biggest fear is growing up. If I could stay 21 forever, if I could stay in this cozy college town, I would. But the reality that I’m graduating this year is rapidly killing those dreams. Denying the future is no longer an option. Last summer, I realized I won’t be coming back to live in my childhood home, that next summer I’ll be living in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, taking on the adult world with an adult job.

So last summer, I took advantage of living off my parents’ paycheck under their roof. I attempted to learn a new language and failed. I went to Austin, Texas, with my friends. I took spontaneous trips to the beach and swam in the lake even though it was raining. I spent a lot of time with my younger sister and with my parents. I did crafts and puzzles and played with my dog. And I listened to “3am” by Malcolm. because it made me feel young and stupid and free. 


Ryan McMillan – “Car on a Hill” by Joni Mitchell

A soundtrack for my late summer, Joni Mitchell’s jazzy “Car on a Hill” describes an anxious night waiting for a lover to return home. It’s not necessarily the happiest song for summer, but it’s so addictive that it’s nearly impossible to not replay it a thousand times. Mitchell is one of the best songwriters of all time, if not the best, and this is a shining example of her lyricism. 

It always seems so righteous at the start /

When there’s so much laughter, when there’s so much spark /

When there’s so much sweetness in the dark.” 

I am not proud to admit that I had long overlooked this brilliant song. The album it comes from, Court and Spark, is easily my favorite Mitchell record, but the track list is so stacked that you can come out of each listen with a completely different favorite.

Through these past couple months, however, my favorite has stayed the same. Now, no matter how many times I listen to “Car on a Hill,” I find new things about it to obsess over. It is perfect over any medium — car speakers, headphones, living room TVs. It is a complete standout in one of the best catalogs in music. 


Andrew Austin – “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem

The end of high school was as fun and melancholic as many people had promised it to be. I recall many of the final weeks with a fondness, yet these memories are also coming from a time period that’s become impossible to grasp at. When I had walked across the stage at my graduation, a rug had been unknowingly swept away from under me — a rug of support and love from the people that would unconditionally care about me.

As I reminisce on those days back home in Colorado, I try to settle my feet in a new home in Michigan, where I habitually find myself grasping for my old relationships. The understated rhythm and soaring synths of LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great” captured this longing feeling beautifully this summer.

As vocalist James Murphy’s monotone vocals detail the loss of his therapist over the course of the track, he expresses the desire to still be able to vent to them with the line “I wish that we could talk about it.” My friends and family had always acted as a therapist of sorts, yet that’s become a shoulder that’s even more difficult to lean on, in some cases impossible to lean on.

“Someone Great” had become something I bonded with my brother over this summer, yet now it’s something that just reminds me of the past, as we live 1200 miles apart. But its final line, “We’re safe for the moment,” gives an accepting hope to it all: A hope that reminds me of the warmth I felt around my friends this summer, a hope that I can rekindle relationships, as well as build new ones. Because I can find healing in being safe at this moment.


Noelle Simonelli – “True Blue” by boygenius

Originally, when trying to decide on just one song to associate with this summer, I wanted to put something upbeat, cheerful and sanguine. However, when I looked back on the summer I had, I felt it was only fair to talk about “True Blue.” The Record by boygenius was released earlier this year and has been an album on loop for me since.

Over the summer, I stepped wildly out of my comfort zone, traveling abroad to Paris with strangers who would be first-years with me at MSU this semester. Being forced to befriend total strangers in a foreign country was extremely overwhelming but ended up for the better, as I can confidently say I’ve left this trip with connections I foresee long futures with. When boygenius announced their tour, I was devastated to hear they wouldn’t be coming anywhere near Detroit. So, in a spur-of-the-moment decision, my friend and I booked flights to Colorado to see them at one of my dream venues, Red Rocks Amphitheater.

This was one of the most memorable concert experiences I’ve ever had. It didn’t matter that it rained, or that I was extremely sleep-deprived and cold. Being there with my mom and one of my closest friends produced such overwhelming emotions that I’m not even sure I could put it into words. boygenius put on such a phenomenal performance, and the fans there felt like such a tight-knit community — no matter how far away from home we were. We were a part of a fan project that adorned the venue in rainbow lights, and everyone we bumped into had something nice to say about the band or what we were wearing.

I chose “True Blue” as my song for this summer because I found myself feeling strong and true connections with all the friends I spent time with. “True Blue” touches on the feeling of having such a deep connection with someone that they know more about you than you do yourself. It also pays tribute to the people in boygenius’s lives, which in this case is each other. They have seen each other’s ups and downs, which I really found resonated with my own feelings. This was my “It feels good to be known so well” summer, and it will go down as one of my best based on the memories, friendships and connections I made. 


Isabelle Robles – “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree 

Summer is always my eternal state of slumber — a peaceful period of reassuring calm I never want to leave while I’m in it. This summer, however, took planning. I began an unpredictable period of waiting with a deadline I seemed to forget about until the pages of my calendar revealed August. I seem to spend the whole year reiterating ideas to my friends I left in California, about where we should go and what we should do, planning and planning the summer away.

Of course, I never fully experience everything home has to offer when I return, but this summer was everything it should have been: a collection of moments for my haze in which “Steal Away” was my fuel. Robbie Dupree’s harmonious and yearning vocals speak of what could be, or what should’ve been. Its light drums and familiar strums of the guitar kept me grounded in an endless state of joy, ready for whatever comes next.

July seemed to drift off without a goodbye, and, without knowing it, I left again. Yet with the heat slowly fading comes still mornings and colorful leaves scattering the sidewalk. “Steal Away” is a reminder that those golden moments will come again, that the days are fleeting but I laughed with my friends.

Days were spent at cloudy beaches where I basked in the sun every time she made an appearance. I baked cookies in the kitchen for my little brother. I saw rich sunsets from the top of a hill next to an observatory, and I saw an abundance of stars after setting up a campsite in the sweltering heat. I went out for ice cream late at night with my best friend one last time, driving into the dark, singing this song, and that was enough. 


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