My Mostly 80’s Summer Playlist

Between the various polar vortexes and these past Olympics, I was stuck in wintery mindset for much longer this year than I anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong: winter is my favorite time of year anyway, but this year I really wanted to live and breathe summer so I can at least learn to appreciate it just as much.

I associate summer with wearing a lot of light colors, a lot of blues, any excuse [within reason] to show skin.
I associate summer with spending a lot of time at our shore house, going to various shore towns and eating seafood and food off the grill.

Most importantly, I have my summer music. Music I take out whenever the season changes to get into the mood and hold onto for as long as possible. A lot of it from the 80’s, my favorite musical decade. When I get out certain songs, certain locations come to mind. Sometimes, it’s very abstract what comes out.

For starters, I’ve found a few albums that are/will be my summer go-to’s.

Wendy & Lisa, I bring out when it goes from winter to spring. I listened to their first album while trekking through the pine barrens at my school. Some of their songs, I listed to during school trips for my Botany class, so I associate them with being surrounded by water, going to and from Brigantine. I even have a special track that brings me back to the same place every time: my happy place, walking alone from my on-campus apartment at night to meet my friends. So I only listen to it at night.

This year in particular, I got very attached to two albums.
One is Kris Allen’s second: “Thank You Camellia”, which I listened to so often on my commute to work that it just stuck.
The other is Jesse McCartney’s album “In Technicolor,” brand new this year. Maybe it’s the 80’s influences that moved me to make this choice, maybe it wasn’t. Either way, the music is so alive and full of sunlight just like summer is so I sense a tradition has been created.

Now for the actual playlist:

1. Land of Confusion- Genesis
2. Cruel Summer- Banarama
3. Shout- Tears for Fears
4. Head Over heels- Tears for Fears
5. Something about you- Level 42
6. Honeymoon Express- Wendy & Lisa
7. Obsession- Animotion
8. Paradise- Coldplay
9. High Fashion- The Family
10. Take me with U- Prince and Apollonia
11. Everything but you- Wendy & Lisa
12. Charlie Brown- Coldplay
13. Say it isn’t so- Hall & Oates
14. Out of Touch- Hall & Oates
15. Magic- The Cars
16. Ice Cream Castles- Morris Day & The Time
17. One more night- Maroon 5
18. Drifter- Karmin
19. Lucky Strike- Lucky Strike

Each have their own small reason for their inclusion here. Some more so than others.
I’m also starting to ponder the notion of making up a short story with these songs in mind. Some will prove easier to adapt than others, obviously. More on that another time.

When we go to our shorehouse, we like to do it sometimes as an escape from reality, getting away from life for a bit. That’s why for a while we didn’t have Internet down here. Partially to keep our costs to a minimum, but I think some of it is that break from the real world.
So I wanted this playlist to start with a little chaos to demonstrate that.

“Land of confusion” happens to be my favorite Genesis song, talking about political unrest in the 80’s with the threat of nuclear warfare very much a reality. It surprises me how even today, it has its relevancies.

“Cruel Summer,” I cannot have summer without hearing once. This time around, though, I’d more than gotten that wish. Now I’m almost sick of the song honestly 😛 and the lyrics have proven true on a few occasions

“Shout,” I heard on Sirius XM A LOT one summer… couldn’t go a day without it and I loved every second of it. It’s the last part of this “unrest” part of the playlist. And more than once, I’ve listened to it in recent months absolutely agreeing with its sentiments.

“Head over heels,” I hear out of the blue on the radio one time. After I guessed correctly it was more Tears for Fears, I couldn’t help but think how much it reminded me of what Wendy & Lisa’s music sounded like. It makes me think of being outside, soaking in the sunlight and also going through the woods with a light magical mist encasing the ground early in the morning (their song “Chance to Grow” has that image in my head because I heard it a few times going to campus for breakfast)… the other day listening to it was total bliss like I’d never felt. That might have been the intention of the song, perpetuating first love… it was so BEAUTIFUL I wanted to cry. It’s a feeling I hope I never lose.

That bliss carried over to “Something about you.” Oddly enough I’d heard it a couple times on Sirius this year when I thought of it as nothing but a one-hit wonder that wouldn’t get as much airplay as Pat Benatar’s “Hit me with your best shot” for the millionth time… I’ve heard it a few times either going to or coming back from one of our restaurant spots here. Love the harmonies, but even more, I love the instrumental break in the final couple minutes. That guitar solo, omg!

I had several songs from Wendy & Lisa on this playlist… I realized early on that it just wasn’t meant to be. The songs didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things. Also, some just ran too damn long to keep the flow nice and even. So I have these two.

“Honeymoon Express” is the first song on their debut album. Feels fresh, new and exciting.

“Obsession” was a one-hit wonder I heard for the first time on 101.5, Jersey’s own radio station… I remember googling the lyrics, trying to find what it was, who it was by. I was lucky enough to find an 80’s hits album with it included. Like “something about you,” I like to listen to it en route to somewhere, whether it’s leaving the shore house or returning there from being out for the day.
Probably my favorite synth-hook on any 80’s song.

“Paradise” and “Charlie Brown,” I started listening to a lot last summer and they’d stuck with me ever since.
Paradise makes me think about night time with a lot of stars or just basking in the sun during the day. For my storyline idea, it’d have to be the former.
“Charlie Brown”, I listen to and think about dancing in the sunlight. To me, it feels very warm, euphoric and free. Probably the most abstract track I have here, mainly because I don’t think what it’s about. Not sure if I’d care to, lest it spoil the illusion.

“High Fashion,” I listened to a lot while going through the pine barrens to campus, particularly in the spring time. The quality of music just gives me that vibe.
“Take me with U,” same deal and also because musically, they just fit together. Like you could have them back to back on an album and you’d feel like one continues where the other leaves off… as is the case with that duet between Prince and Apollonia and Wendy & Lisa’s “Everything but you.” It also helps that Lisa co-wrote that Prince song, so the intros have some distinct similarities.

It also works because it shows a change in pace. The couple that’d been together from bliss and so on is on the rocks and starting to fall apart.
The two Hall & Oates songs play to that scenario rather well. They were also more random inclusions, songs I just heard a lot in certain areas that I can’t listen to them without thinking about Tuckerton.

Bliss returns with “Magic” and “Ice Cream Castles”… more rays of sunshine, two more songs that compliment one another musically… mainly because their beginnings are so similar. They both also mention summer in their lyrics.
“Ice Cream Castles” is my favorite song by Morris Day & The Time for a number of reasons. Firstly, seeing the video for it on TV made me look for their music because Morris Day sure as hell made me fall in love with him as I had with Prince. In a way that was lucky because The Time got me through a rough patch I had with Prince… that lasted maybe a week 😛

Anyway, I listen to the song in the summer because it makes me happy, puts a spring in my step and so on. And what other time of year will ice cream melt like it does in summer?

Brining me to the final tracks of the album. “One more night” sold me on one final Maroon 5 album after “Payphone” was kinda so-so… the guitar makes me think of summers on boardwalks and stuff, almost in a Beach Boys sort of way. I also got hooked on listening to it, “Payphone” and “Lucky Strike” on the bridge leading to Ocean City. They come onto my iPod this time of year for that reason.

The Karmin song was a “last minute” addition in the way that it’s a brand new song from a new album this year… and with all the ocean related lyrics, it just fit in this perfectly.
It also works well with “one more night” because both are about casual relationships. In my storyline idea, I might use them for a spontaneous hook-up only meant to remain through the summer until the two people have to go their separate ways.

I can’t say for sure as of yet if the first few songs makes me think of June or that the middle of the album makes me think July, but the last few songs (“Magic” thru Maroon 5) are so bright and sunny to me that I think August immediately. August and its blistering heat.

Maybe I’ll do this every year, maybe I won’t, but it was good to do something this year.
And for the fall, I’ll see if I can put something together, but something tells me it’ll all be albums. Not so much individual songs.

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