Escape has always been a big theme in popular music and the few years locked down have meant there’s an even bigger appetite for songs of this nature right now. Covid is still here but going out remains on a lot of people’s minds.
Historically, such themes always seem to prevail in times of uncertainty and as far back as the 1930s loads of new music stars emerged as the great depression took hold worldwide. Forty years later disco music flourished in a similar time of uncertainly and offered a temporary escape from the mundanities and limits of unemployment, low-paid work, poverty, and social problems.
There’s echoes of all this at the moment and while the current economic recession seems to be only beginning, the music anthems are screaming “let’s party”. Lizzo knows how to make anthems and ‘About Damn Time’ is certainly one of this years biggest jams, and it’s a huge ’80s styled disco funk jam that’s taken hold everywhere.
Beyonce, like Lizzo, is about to drop a full album of anthems in the next few weeks and ‘Break my Soul’ is another song of the summer, and it’s impossible to walk down the road without hearing it blaring loudly from someone’s car on a sunny day.
As I recently mentioned in my article about Drake and house music, the Canadian is also dipping into the world of electronica once again for his new album, and while ‘Massive’ is the big one right now, I feel ‘Falling Back’ is his own biggest tune this summer.
Dance music anthems that continue to be popular include a slew of singles from Irish duo Belters Only, who have lived up to their name with ‘Make me feel good’, ‘Don’t stop Just Yet’ and their version of ‘I will survive’, while Acraze, LF System, Jax Jones, and others still have big jams in rotation. The Tik-tok/streaming generation eschews conventional patterns and Calvin Harris and Dua-Lipa are still enjoying as much success with ‘One Kiss’ as they are with their various current projects, though Dua-Lipa’s collab with Elton John is still big too. The ‘Big Energy’ remix by Latto reworks ‘Fantasy’ by Mariah Carey and gets her on the remix, it in itself an update on ‘Genius of Love’ by the Tom Tom Club.
Other pop music anthems include singles by Harry Styles, Jack Harlow, and Doja Cat, while the world of reggaeton continues to bring crossover hits from artists such as Bad Bunny, Karol G, and the latest single from Shakira.
Of more interest to my own tastes are the afro bangers that continue to come from western and Southern Africa. In the last few years both ‘Jerusalema’, ‘Essence’ and ‘Love Nwantiti’ were all huge international hits and Tems is now a global star who has recently aided Future’s huge ‘Wait 4 U’ single.
The Ed Sheeran feature on ‘Peru’ has helped give the single more longetivity, while Fireboy also unleashed ‘Playboy’ recently. Sheeran helps Burna Boy on ‘For my hand’, while ‘Last Last’ continues to heat up dancefloors. ‘Finesse’ by Pheelz, ‘Calm Down’ by Rema, ‘Woman’ by Omah Lay and LoJay’s ‘Monalisa’ are some more of the big jams. Meanwhile Amapiano and Afro-house continue to popularise the music from this vast continent.
It’s not been as fruitful as usual for hip-hop though the UK remains strong and there’s some Irish anthems too. My favs include Kendricks ‘Die Hard’, a whole host of Pusha T tracks, some Tion Wayne, ‘Could Have Been’ by Ddotz and Dice and ‘Baba’ by Russ Millions but there’s tons of rap, drill and trap bangers out there too.
Lot’s of unlikely summer anthems come in the form of older tracks by Kate Bush and Metallica, finding a new lease of life due to Netflix features, and this trend continues to be very relevant to Tik-tok too, where the unlikeliest of tunes from the ’00s and ’10s keep on coming back for more air.
There’s certainly no shortage of big hits this summer.