Songs Of Summer by Sheryl Crow

I’ve been pretty derelict in my duties when it comes to the recurring elements of the blog I set out for myself this week, but nothing has suffered more than Songs Of Summer. Sorry about that. Here’s a quadruple dose of Sheryl Crow songs to try and make up for it, starting with her most recent and on the nose single for our purposes, “Summertime.”

She sure has a knack for writing summer themed pop songs you want to just hang out and listen to, doesn’t she? Speaking of which, though it might not seem like a very summery song, I distinctly watching the “If It Makes You Happy” video in 1996, hanging out in the summer and watching videos.

Speaking of which, “Every Day Is A Winding Road” was pretty much in the same boat. I remember thinking “She seems cool AND she can sing and play the guitar? WHA?!”

And finally, here’s her hit from a few summers back “Soak Up The Sun.” Damn, I just looked it up and that song came out 8 freaking years ago. I feel old.

Luckily I feel old and summer though, so I guess it’s a wash.

Songs Of Summer “Good Girls Go Bad” by Cobra Starship with Leighton Meester

I’ll be honest, I can’t remember if this track came out during last summer or not, but it’s got a hell of a summer vibe. I think I remember seeing the video before heading to work in the City last year which would place it as a 2009 summer song, but I can’t say for sure. Anyway, I’m a big fan of the power pop/dance/rock scene that includes bands like Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Plain White Ts and Cobra Starship. I have no idea if this is an actual scene or not, but to me it is.

For the longest time I didn’t know that Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester was the main female voice in the song (I only ever watched the free GG pilot thanks to iTunes and was out after several attempted rapes in just the first episode). I really dig how she sounds on the track and even though it’s a boastful party song, it’s a really fun boastful party song with great call-and-response and back-and-forth between Meester and the lead singer Gabe Saporta. Plus, the very idea of a secret club under a convenience store that’s being staked out by the cops is just cool and more complex than you get out of a lot of videos today (are they on the run at the very very end or being escorted to the cop cars?!).

Songs Of Summer “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” by Hanson

I get sick of pop music pretty quickly nowadays. I try watching VH1 in the morning sometimes just to see what new videos are coming out to talk about on the blog, but after several weeks of the same crap earlier this summer I had to step away. Today I watched an hour of videos, most of which I hadn’t seen, and came across this rad Hanson song (14-year-old TJ just threw up in his mouth a little bit in the past and has no idea why). It’s a great soul song by the former MMMboppers which shows off not only their solid musicianship but also their good taste in faithfully recreating the Ray Charles music shop scene from the classic Blues Brothers (and yes, that’s Weird Al playing tambourine for some reason). It’s a clean, bouncy hit, that defies you not to bob your head along to the beat.

Cool, right? Anyway, a few years back I heard one of Hanson’s then-new singles and I was pretty impressed with the guitar work which made me realize they’re actually solid musicians. This song definitely takes them out of the pop realm (at least the current pop realm) and puts them in a different musical arena that actually involves musicianship. I’m hoping this 70s soul-inspired thing really takes off because that’s some of the all time best music ever. I know it’s late in the season, but hopefully “Thinking ‘Bout Sometin'” can take the place of one of those awful songs I’ve heard a thousand times on the missus’ pop stations. Damn, you really can’t go wrong with a strong horn section!

Songs Of Summer “Magic” by B.o.B featuring Rivers Cuomo

A few weeks ago, the missus asked me if Rivers Cuomo from Weezer had been doing some songs with hip hop guys. She had a heard a song on the radio with Cuomo and a rapper she couldn’t remember the name of, but said she heard it on the radio. I said I know he’s recorded with some hip hop guys in the past, but I hadn’t heard of anything. This is a testament to how old I am. In the late 90s/early 00s you would be hard pressed to stump me on a Weezer factoid. But after the crappiness of Make Believe, a record I listened to exactly twice and couldn’t stomach anymore, I left Weezer as a current band behind and only listened to their old stuff. They’ve since come out with two albums I haven’t listened to and are apparently working on another one soon. But the song the missus was referring to isn’t a Weezer song, as we discovered tonight on the way home from Despicable Me (good flick, check it out). It’s him singing with hip hopper B.o.B who seems to be exploding all over the place this summer (his Airplanes songs was already an SOS entry this year). The track is called “Magic” and it doesn’t seem to have an official video yet, so you’ll have to settle for the above clip of the king geek up on stage at a hip hop show doing his thing and this video of a spaceship but with a better recording of the song.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a song involving Cuomo this much in quite a while. It actually makes me want to give Make Believe another listen (sappy pap doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to) and maybe even their other two CDs which I haven’t heard great things about, but not terrible things either.

Songs Of Summer “Don’t Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls

Much like “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey, “Don’t Cha” was a superb pop song I heard all the time on the radio while driving home from the Chad, Chad, Toth House after a night of Halo and Sweet Tart Whiskey late at night with many of the street lights flashing yellow. Also like that Mariah Carey track, I bought this on iTunes with a gift card, but I accidentally bought the version with Busta Rhymes which (I know this sounds crazy) makes it seem dirtier than I like. Maybe one of these days I’ll go back and pick up the version I wanted, but for now, I can make it past that one part to get to the good part.

Songs Of Summer Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Double Whammy

In all my self back patting yesterday for starting a calendar for the blog, I completely forgot to do Songs Of Summer. Here’s two Tom Petty & The Heartbreaker videos to make up for it.

This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen (or at least remember seeing) the video for “Into The Great Wide Open.” My history with Petty is actually kind of funny. My buddy Chad was in one of those BMG music clubs in high school and they were having a huge box set sale, so on a whim I had him grab me the Tom Petty Playback set, which eventually came in and blew my mind. I instantly fell in love with Petty including this song which I’m sure I heard here and there on the radio or possibly movie soundtracks. I know I reference driving when it comes to a lot of these songs, but that’s just where my mind goes when I think about summer. In the winter, driving’s no fun because you’re constantly worried about sliding off the road, having a tree branch fall on your car or some idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing crashing into you. In the summer you don’t have to worry about that (as much). Anyway, this is a great story song, with a good video (though very of-it’s-time) to go along with it that makes me think of taking a trip down Route 66.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” however, I remember very vividly from 1994 when the video came out. It’s such a weirdly wonderful thing starting in a morgue and ending with Mary Jane (played by Kim Basinger) opening her eyes under water. It’s so creepy and I remember it giving me the willies when I was a kid. I was 11 at the time and hadn’t yet been exposed to the massive number of horror movies I would go on to experience, but I still compare all similar scares like that one back to “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Aside from those memory’s it’s a fun song to sing along with your friends while hanging out (or driving!) and exemplifies why Petty’s one of the better story song writers around.

Songs Of Summer “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins

Last summer I purchased Kenny Loggins’ greatest hits for basically three songs “Danger Zone,” “Footloose” and “I’m Alright” all three of which have made their way into several of my playlists, including the summer one that inspired this recurring feature on UM. Damn, Loggins sure knows how to write an awesome song for a movie doesn’t he? I’m not a huge Top Gun fan and think I’ve only ever seen it on television and never unedited (I have no idea if there’s anything cut out for content or whatever). Anyway, the two things I think of when I think of the movie are planes and shirtless man beach volleyball, which probably says something more about me than I wanted anyone to know. It’s a great soundtrack song and a great summer song. It’s impossible to not drive a little faster than normal on a bright sunny day when this track makes it’s way to the play section of your iPod.

UPDATE: This is too good not to show you guys. My buddy Justin (the guy playing the guitar) who I used to work with at Barry’s pointed me towards a performance he and some friends did of Top Gun The Subway Musical. Do yourself a favor and watch these two clips:

I especially like their interpretation of the volleyball scene. I’m not sure if it makes me want to watch the movie again or makes me want to watch the Subway Musical version again…