Lay out a towel, throw on some shades, and crank up the volume — we’re right on schedule for some exciting summer jams. The past three months carried an expected emotional shift from the mellowed out homeyness attached to the cozy winter months, as sensitive fluffiness has finally given way to impassioned pageantry. The preparation for summer’s outdoor party atmosphere brought on more addictive hooks, temporarily prominent synths, added percussive drama, and a pop scene that’s seeping through the walls of neighboring genres to add catchy zest to warm-weather anthems. When conceptually broken down, what more is spring than a ciphered word for “Summer PReppING” anyway?

Okay Directioners, I’ll admit it. You’ve won this round. Harry Styles blew my minuscule expectations out of the water with his April single “Sign of the Times” and I’m still struggling with the embarrassment of my drastic misjudgment. Can you really blame me, though? My opinion parallels that of Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, who elaborated on Styles’ predetermined mantra in an interview with Pitchfork by saying, “He’s finding himself right now, and anybody that comes up in a massive boy band at that young of an age…you’re kind of born overrated. There’s nothing he can really do about it, it’s not his fault.” The remainder of Styles’ self titled debut album certainly has it’s shiny moments, but that shininess occasionally reflects more of a gilded tackiness, glistening with nativity as if to candidly scream the newfound faults his solo deviation.

There’s no doubt about it – Kendrick Lamar will go down as one of the hip hop greats of our time. Those that followed Kendrick’s careered progression would agree that DAMN. is not on the same developmental and socially impactful level as his previous work with good kid, m.A.A.d. city or To Pimp A Butterfly. Regardless, he’s remained consistently innovative as an avant-garde voice of the people. “LOVE.” is a distinguished testament to Kendrick’s novelty, guiding DAMN. away from its political and societal anger and towards a distinctively smooth and harmonious accord. The voice of previously unknown vocalist Zacari is a mysterious treat, emerging from obscurity with a serenading energy unmatched in the industry. His place in the collaboration is as humbling as it is contemporary, as Zacari explained “This song, this beat, the singing, the rapping…I don’t think it can really be compared to another song.”

With all the commemorative grandeur encompassed in a quarterly review, one thing still irks me: how is Daniel Caesar still going unnoticed?! Simply put, Caesar’s 2017 dual release of “Blessing” and “We Find Love” is a vastly underappreciated treasure of soul that the world needs to know about. Caesar’s voice is a seductive powerhouse that rivals the volatile silkiness of artists like Frank Ocean, while his natural proficiency in front of the keys is salient in it’s ability to arrest listeners with appreciative absorption. After all this lost time, Caesar’s best bet may be to prop himself up into a notable pop, hip hop, or electronic producer’s upcoming album of authority in order to shed light on his decaying gems. Life as a featured artist may not be glorious, but it’s better than the thankless life of a prodigal talent forever flying under the radar.

There’s still so much to look forward to this year! Engaging singles from artists like HAIM, The War On Drugs, Rostam, and Arcade Fire all have promising epilogues in store, while the summer concert season is sure to deliver sun-soaked elation to our respective lives. As always, the songs in this playlist are in no particular order with a stipulation of only one song per artist. Happy listening!

Want to turn these new releases into a weekly affair, you adventurous soul, you? Like the post and subscribe to the blog by clicking the “follow” button in the bottom right corner to receive weekly email updates on new and exciting music that floats by my busy brain. Your opinions matter just as much as mine, and I’d love hearing what other songs you feel should have made the list…so let me know what you think!

Missed the first quarter’s review? No problem, you can check it out here: FeenyFaves – Best Song of 2017 – Q1 (January – March)