The sun came out and I thought it would be a good time to kick off a new project…
The aim of “20 songs” is to compile a playlist of twenty songs on a particular theme, taking somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes to come up with the final selection. Like my best games of blitz chess, the hope is that this enforced deadline will boost instinctive creativity and stop me getting bogged down in analysis paralysis (like my worst games of chess).
Depending on where you are right now, the sun might have gone, gone away, but perhaps this summer playlist will help you get over that. Entirely co-incidentally, BBC6Music’s People’s Playlist earlier this week was all about the sun, but mine was compiled first and is clearly the superior collection
The Cardigans - Rise and Shine
We kick off with The Cardigans, back in their sunniest days, long before they got all serious on Gran Turismo, and the almost impossibly bright and breezy Rise and Shine:
Belle & Sebastian - Legal Man
From there, we move to another occasionally twee artist, Belle & Sebastian, only here they’re dipping a toe into their Northern Soul crossover waters. On the face of it, Legal Man doesn’t seem like a summer anthem, other than in its sheer exuberance and fun, but wait until you get to those final lines before you cast judgement
Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Day
The disappointingly short-lived The Maybes? are up next with “Summertime” and their wise advice to dance, dance, dance with the radio on, advice roundly ignored by Jason Pierce on Lay Back in The Sun. The delicate and bewitching BC Camplight (real name Brian Christinzio) follows with I Wouldn’t Mind The Sunshine - Christinzio, fact fans might like to note, has played live with The War on Drugs, a band whose former members include one Kurt Vile, up next with Wakin on a Pretty Day.
The Style Council - Long Hot Summer
Taken By Trees (aka Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes) carry us off to distant shores, then that bloke from The Strokes’ dad warns us of possibly metaphorical downpours in southern California. And then it’s time to get in a boat with Paul Weller and ask him why exactly it was he had to split The Jam up so soon and go all coffee-shop jazz on his fans:
The first half closes with Caribou’s one-word solar paean, Sun.
ELO - Mr Blue Sky
Pray silence please, for The Electric Light Orchestra.
Len - Steal My Sunshine
Is a song called Steal My Sunshine appropriate for a good weather playlist? Perhaps not, especially one that was featured on the soundtrack to the film Go (tagline: A weekend wasted is never a wasted weekend) but there’s plenty enough late millennium style fun in the sun in the video to say otherwise.
Tokyo Police Club - Hot Tonight
Sunshine Superman is, apparently, “the quintessential bright summer sing-along”. Perhaps Hot Tonight could be described as the quintessential late evening woo-woo-woo-along:
A laid back sextet finish off the playlist - the perfect warm day wind-down. Snow Patrol give us perfect Mediterranean summer evening bliss with An Olive Grove Facing The Sea, R.E.M. will make you feel that raising a cocktail to your lips is about as far as your willing to move with Beachball, while Neil Young is On The Beach, but probably not playing with a beachball. Pala is the one track on Friendly Fires’ second album of the same name that won’t have you on your feet, and Nick Drake can’t quite bring himself to write a song about the sun without mentioning the rain as well, but Grandaddy sees us out in fine style with the admittedly wishful but unrequited The Warming Sun - don’t let the song’s sad story detract from the quiet calm as it washes over you.