Every fall, my music habits change. I ditch the faster pop-punk and rock for slower, more contemplative music. When spring rolls around, though, I stash the sappy crap and get right back into the fast stuff. The weird thing is, nothing changes when summer hits. Maybe it's because most of the time it's too hot to wear headphones, or because I no longer have a car to cruise around in, and the car is the perfect place for unbridled music consumption, especially during summer. (Stay back, audiophiles.)
Point being, I have no idea what makes something a good "song of the summer," or "soundtrack of the summer" for that matter. So I asked Jamieson Cox, The Verge's entertainment reporter and resident expert on bangers. From Slack:
it should either make you feel some sunlight and humidity, like… the feeling of all the fans in the world not being able to cool you down. OR it should be crisp and refreshing. a tremendous relief. like a nestea or sprite commercial.
Okay! That's a start. It makes sense to my brain — you either want something that enhances the traits of summer that many of us love so much, or you want something that mentally cools you off. But the divide here aligns too strongly with personal preference. To achieve song or soundtrack of the summer status, the music needs to transcend personal preferences right? Jamieson thinks so:
honestly i think a song of the summer designation has less to do with any specific musical qualities than consensus. it just needs to appeal to a wide swath of people and peak at the right time.
That is why I'm making Simpsonwave the soundtrack of my summer. What's that? You don't know what Simpsonwave is? Neither did I, until I saw this tweet this morning:
Know Your Meme has, of course, a pretty great breakdown of what Simpsonwave is and where it came from, but the gist is this: over this past winter, internet users started editing clips from The Simpsons into trippy "vaporwave" music videos, combining the melted, nostalgic sound of chillwave with the visual aesthetic of a cyberpunk’s neon nightmares. (I know, that's a lot. You can go right back to Know Your Meme if you want to learn more about vaporwave, too.)
Simpsonwave does all of the things that Jamieson described. Vaporwave music is mostly chill and seems like the perfect complement to a hot summer day. And some of it is a bit more chaotic and bright and fast!
But most importantly, it definitely has the ability to "appeal to a wide swath of people and peak at the right time" — aka go viral — because there is something so beautiful and perfect (and maybe unintentionally poignant?) about the way The Simpsons matches up with this music. Sam Sutherland, who runs the YouTube account "This Exists," breaks it down pretty nicely here:
Or, as Jamieson put it: "[I] love when jokey pico-genres have some conceptual heft." Man, you know what? Maybe Jamieson should have just written this post himself. I have a bunch of Simpsonwave to watch to anyway, and it's not getting any colder outside.