Check out Upside Down Shark’s summer anthems for humanity’s most confusing year
August is almost within our grasp, people are slowly just emerging from their shielding curfews and the weather has probably been the only positive thing from the year of 2020, right?… Wrong! The music this year has been on point with some solid releases across the board! So here at Upside Down Shark we are going to explore what songs will make our summer in this god awful year known as 2020. Join us in the second annual Upside Down Shark Songs of Summer. Feel free to let us know what your Summer playlist consists of this year!
Pac-Man (feat. ScHoolboy Q) – Gorillaz
There is not a band quite like Gorillaz. When most people say that they mean from an aesthetical point of view but I like to believe this can be true in regard to their sound as well. This year, instead of releasing an album they are dropping songs sporadically throughout the year to bring just a little bit of joy whilst the whole world goes to hell. Pac-Man (feat. ScHoolboy Q) celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pac-Man without getting too cheesey or sounding like a gimmick track. It is the perfect chill beat homage to Pac-Man that can help you get through the summer with ScHoolboy Q rounding it off.
Satellites* * – Enter Shikari
Enter Shikari are a band that are not afraid to discuss politics in whatever manner they deem good to do so. They are constantly looking at different instruments, methods and overall genres to create powerful messages through their music. Satellites* * on top of being a song that fills me with ‘I’ve got to get up and dance’ energy, it has a message of equality and togetherness that in this current climate is well needed.
Take Me As I Am – The Streets
It’s 2020 and Mike Skinner has released a new The Streets album, the first since Computers and Blues released in 2011. Nine years feels like a lifetime ago and the anticipation for a release like this surely could not match the hype and expectation right? Whilst None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive may not have the appeal of A Grand Don’t Come for Free it has enough good moments for you to remember why there is nothing like The Streets and why their existence is important to music. With all that in mind Take Me As I Am reminds of a younger time when Do You Really Like It was all the rage and BBQs on the beaches were commonplace. Simply put this song just feels a lot like a summer anthem.
2020 has been pretty thin on the ground in terms of new music that has really stuck with me, especially when it comes to loud guitars (god damn, I am missing live music so much). Instead of whining, though, I’m gonna use my little intro paragraph to shout out some honourable mentions – songs that didn’t quite make my list this year but that have brought a smile to my face when they’ve started playing. My honourable mentions are: Less Than by Nine Inch Nails, Imitation Of Life by R.E.M., Flowers by Milk Teeth, One Mil by Jimmy Eat World and Violence by Grimes.
Another Try – Haim
I’ll start my official picks with a song from Haim’s new album, Women In Music, Pt. III. If you’re a fan of Haim, this album was yet another home run by the band, and picking a single song for this list has been really tough. In the end, I’ve opted for the song Another Try, which is a pretty calm and chilled out song from slap bang in the middle of the album. It reminds me a lot of Red, Red Wine by UB40, but no one else has agreed with me on that feeling yet.
Hayley Williams – Sugar On The Rim
Next up, a track from what has been my favourite album of the year so far, Petals For Armor by Hayley Williams. I’ve already raved about this album on the site, and the love just hasn’t died in any way, shape or form. My favourite track on the album is the Madonna-tinged Sugar On The Rim, a song that I have probably listened to at least once a day since the album came out in early May.
911 – Lady Gaga
As far as I’m concerned, Lady Gaga is the greatest Pop star of our generation. An excellent songwriter with an artistic flair that sets her aside from all of her contemporaries, no one does both the music and the style together as well as Gaga. I truly believe one of the greatest shames of 2020 is that the Chromatica Ball tour had to be postponed until next year, meaning that those of us who were lucky enough to have tickets will have to wait soooooo loooooong for the songs from Chromatica to truly come to life (and believe me, whilst the songs are already superb on record, they’re gonna take on a whole life of their own in the live setting). Anyway, my favourite song on the album is 911, and I think it’s even better with the Chromatica II interlude that leads into it, so here you go!
I Wanna Go Where The People Go – The Wildhearts
I couldn’t do this list without including something loud and guitar-based, and The Wildhearts fully fit that bill. Without question, one of the UK’s most underrated Rock bands, I’d annoyingly never deep-dived their back catalogue until a couple of months ago – a big mistake, because they’re brilliant! The second my first listen of I Wanna Go Where The People Go finished, I had to replay it. It’s one of those songs that I feel everyone in the world should enjoy, and boy howdy, the title is ringing true this year; who’d have thought I’d ever miss just walking around London?
hand crushed by a mallet – 100 gecs
1000 gecs was one of the albums of last year I didn’t really think I’d revisit, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I wasn’t entirely sure at what point I’d be ready to deal with just how eclectic every song on the album is. I didn’t expect to be revisiting this album, let alone being excited for the release of the remix album, let alone being absolutely swept up by a pop punk cover of hand crushed by a mallet. There’s no way I thought I’d have this on repeat in my twenties, but here I am.
PLEASE BE NICE – Black Dresses
I was completely swept up by the Black Dresses hype in the first half of the year, going from having not heard of them to owning all of their albums. It’s a real shame the duo split ways just a few months later, but fortunately they were putting out hits until the bitter(sweet) end. PLEASE BE NICE is quite pertinent to their closing days as a band, and it just summarises everything they did so well, lyrically and musically. They were really unique and I definitely recommend checking out their respective solo stuff.
Styla – Anamanaguchi
The first time I’d heard of Anamanaguchi was in the Summer of 2010 – they were just releasing a series of eight tracks they’d dubbed their ‘Summer Singles’, and I was obsessed. Up to that point I assumed chiptune was reserved only for video games (or more likely, I didn’t even know chiptune was a thing). Ten years on, I think it’s fair to say I made the right choice sticking with the band. Everything inevitably comes full circle, and the band are once again putting out another series of Summer Singles. Styla encompasses everything the band learnt in the last decade, and I’m ridiculously excited to see what else they have planned.
Documentaries – The Long Faces
The title track off their debut EP, Documentaries demonstrates why The Long Faces are already garnering global acclaim in their formative years. Combining vocals reminiscent of 80s New Romantics with an angular, jazz melody, it’s a song that takes you on a journey.
From the gentle, almost sultry opening, through to Santana-esque lead breaks and a cacophonous finale that’s beautifully dissonant, it’s truly inspiring to hear a new generation of musicians innovate on what’s come before. Expect to hear them on all the major radio stations by this time next year.
If you’re planning on having a swanky, culturally distanced cocktail soiree, this has to be on your playlist.
Poisoned Heart – Creeper
Despite still being a relatively new band, Creeper have already carved out a reputation as the masters of reinvention. Drawing heavy influence from the creative endeavours of David Bowie, they’re not afraid to abandon what made them popular in the past, in the pursuit of experimentation. Heck they even ceremoniously ‘broke up’ on stage in 2018 to facilitate a brand new direction in their sound.
But if you asked even the most ardent Creeper fan if they thought that they’d go on to not only make an emo country song, but an incredible emo country song, they’d raise an eyebrow high enough to crack the strongest of eyeliner.
But Poisoned Heart is evidence that Creeper can seemingly tackle any genre they want. Vocalist Will Gould channels his inner Chris Issak, proving he can croon with the best of them. Lyrically, it’s a more typical affair for the band, conjuring images of doomed love, the macabre and Hell itself.
It’s the perfect song to play at a funeral where the wake has a BBQ.
A Massacre in the North – Abominable Putridity
When you think of a summer playlist, you might not consider including Russian slam metal.
However, there’s method in the madness. A Massacre in the North is three and a half minutes of unrelenting breakdowns, brutally indecipherable vocals and intentionally abrasive, violent themes. It’s an acquired taste for sure, but there’s a lot to love if you give it the chance. It’s as if someone condensed the feeling of being in a horror movie into the format of song; distilled catharsis to scream along to at full volume.
But the fact it’s a punishing listen is the reason it’s on my summer playlist. My neighbours have taken to blaring trash chart music from their free Spotify account (complete with obnoxiously loud ads), and after weeks of tolerating it in the hope they’d stop, it became clear I needed to fight with fire. Thankfully, Abominable Putridity played on speakers facing their garden drowns out the vapid, mass produced garbage quite nicely (and that’s just their kids)!
Snow Cone – Rei Ami
I don’t really keep up to date with today’s music, but I have a couple of songs that I always come back to, so my first choice for the summer of covid music is singer/songwriter Rei Ami with her debut hit Snow Cone. Even though it was released on the internet over a year ago, I still find myself coming back to this song, being one of my most played on my playlists. Snow Cone starts off as a real head bopper with a steady and confident beat that is also reflected in the lyrics. What makes this song stand out is half way in, Rei Ami does a complete 180 in the direction of the song, symbolised by the sound of a tape being changed. The beat becomes much more sad and slow, with a complete changeup of the lyrics too.
Truly – Spazzkid
Truly by Mark Redito (formally known as Spazzkid) is a song that has consistently been in my playlist for a couple of years now. The mixture of lyrics in both English and Japanese combined with the fast happy beat mean this song radiates a unique feel that I really love. The female vocals are provided by Sarah Midori of Kero Kero Bonito, her bubbly style really shines through on this song, making it a real feel good song. I always find myself listening to this song when It’s sunny and I’m excited to hang out with friends or just in a good mood.
Typical Story – Hobo Johnson
Lastly I picked Hobo Johnson’s Typical Story, I’ve always loved the feel of his songs especially Typical story with its high octane lyrics and beat. This song always puts me in the mood to run or exercise and is always a staple in my fitness playlist. I was originally just going to have 3 of Hobo Johnson’s songs for my picks for this list but realised that would be boring.
Gaslighter – The Chicks
The Chicks (previously known as The Dixie Chicks) first album in 14 years did not disappoint. For those country music lovers, feminists and people done over by the ones they thought loved them – this album is for you. The opening track and lead single, Gaslighter, is a fun, upbeat country sound but with a deep and personal meaning, which is so relatable to many. You can hear the anger and emotion, with lyrics like ‘You made your bed and then your bed caught fire, Gaslighter, I’m your mirror, Standing right here until you can see how you broke me’, I wouldn’t have matched the lyrics to the music. It’s so empowering and makes me want to get up and dance whilst giving a big middle finger to the men who did me wrong. I would strongly recommend everyone listen to this powerful and personal album.
March March, Tights On My Boat and Sleep at Night are also favourites on their new album Gaslighter.
Secrets – Regard, RAYE
After releasing a cover of Jay Sean’s song Ride It, it reached number 2 on the UK singles charts and seemed like it played everywhere I went. In April 2020, Regard released a follow up single, Secrets with singer-songwriter RAYE which out did his cover of Ride It by miles. Regard definitely has a sound that I particularly enjoy listening to, a bouncy but chill vibe. It’s the perfect song to dance around the house to but also be sipping cocktails at the bar on holiday (holidays, y’know, the things we’ve been deprived of this year…). This is probably my lockdown anthem and when it’s played in the future it will take me back to a time where I couldn’t leave the house and the world was falling apart.
And that’s a wrap on our favourite summer songs for this year. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
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