S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest, Summer Strut, two thousand twenty one edition. It’s Wednesday, August 11th, 2021. Welcome to our finest show of the year or so. Fun, a grammar and usage snob. Use the word funnest to describe it. Joining me today is Slate’s film critic, Dana Stevens. Hey, Dana.
S2: Hello, Stephen.
S1: Danity, you kind of agree, kind of the funnest show.
S2: It is the funniest show of the year. But I have to say that my big regret this year is no, Julia. I mean, God bless her. May she take the longest maternity leave possible, as everyone should. But Julia invented Strut. She came up with the idea she’s the biggest Strut enthusiast. And I just want people to know if you sent in songs thinking I’m sad Julie won’t hear them, that I have spied on Julia and seen her on Spotify in my friends list listening to some of these songs. So she’s out there listening even though she couldn’t do the show.
S1: I know she is the she’s the spirit of Strut. It’s true. I agree. But we’ll soldier on and that’ll be much easier because we have Chris Molanphy here. Chris, welcome. Thank you so much. Steve and Chris, let me credential you a little bit. You’re the host, of course, of the Slate podcast hit Parade. You write a column. Why is this song number one? And of course, you join us every year for the Strut. Yeah, OK. For those of you who might not know, some are Strut originated many years ago. And Julia was I can’t remember whether she was in a summer funk or just needed new music, but she threw it out there to our listeners. She said, you know, it was a summer episode. She said, I just need some new music to listen to. What are you strutting to? And we got hundreds of emails and we enjoyed culling through that list. And then we decided to talk about the list. And it just has turned into an annual right of summer passage for us as a podcast to do the Strut, to get tons of songs from our listeners. Whatever you’re listening to, whatever you’re starting to cull through it, get it down to, I guess each of us comes in with maybe a dozen songs and when and in the moment we pick six, each of us to talk about. So that’s Strut.
S3: And might I add that here we are in twenty twenty one. The first Strut was in 2011, which makes this the tenth anniversary of Strut.
S1: Wow man. The tenth anniversary without
S3: technically the eleventh inclusive but but the tenth anniversary. So it’s a momentous occasion. It is a pity that Julia’s not here, but we we honor her in absentia.
S1: All right. The very first order of business is Chris. Every year we talk about the song of the summer. And I’m wondering not only what that song or what the candidates for that song might be, but also the state of the concept itself. Is it still relevant in a fragmented culture coming out of covid? Is it more more urgent than than ever? What what do you say?
S3: So I would say that song of the summer we were already and even before the Delta variant started to boccie summer plans, we were already for Song of the Summer to be a thing again. I think, you know, people are gathering in public spaces. There is ambient music in the air, whether you’re at an amusement park, the beach, you name it. This is the point of song of the summer, right? It’s supposed to be the song you can’t escape, like it or not. And what’s messing with Song of the Summer is not anything having to do with people’s desire for it. What’s messing with Song of the Summer is, well, not to put too fine a point on it and I should probably duck under the desk before I finish the sentence. But the Beats Army. So one year ago when I did summer Strut with you all beats the Korean septet. That is by most measures the biggest pop act in the world right now, had never had a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. They have since had four. No, wait, I’m think I’m miscounting five number one hits. The reason I’m miscounting is they just snuck another one in a few weeks ago and I’ll get to that. It was a long desired goal of beats to score a number one hit in America, and they went hard after it with this song that came out at the very end of summer last year called Dynamite, I guess.
S4: Sites like. Yes, I got a micro
S3: it came out so late in the summer that even though it was a massive number one hit debuting at number one and eventually scoring some pretty significant airplay, it was too late for Song of the Summer. They then subsequently scored a couple more number one hits, including a song called Life Goes On. That was a ballad mostly in Korean. That was a big deal because we never had a mostly Korean number one hit in this country.
S4: Sean and Jeff Strut made an.
S3: They appeared on a remix of a song called Savage Love by Jason Derulo and a young kid from New Zealand who calls himself Josh 685. And the remix by Beats got that song to number one song.
S4: I mean, I’m not going to come down and tell me that they got my shot. I got. I’m gonna.
S3: Every now and then finally at the start of the summit, this song, Butter, which I’ll give it props, is a total jam, made it to number one in its first week. It debuted at number one, much the way Dynamite did. And unlike dynamite, butter is very well timed for the beginning of summer song with. Molanphy. Mark. But so I like the song and it sounds summery to me, it sounds like a worthy song of the summer to me. However, this is a song you may not be hearing out in the world all that much. It’s radio airplay has been fairly limited. It is only reach number 20 on the radio only chart, which billboard tracks as a component of the hot one hundred. And this has caused some controversy over is this a real hit or not? As it was when dynamite went to number one, it had very little airplay and it eventually cracked the top 10 in airplay. Radio airplay is a funny thing in America. It factors into our charts and it’s not a factor in most other countries in the world. And the Beats fandom, the so-called Beats Army, are incensed that they even have to care about radio when they’re thinking about their beloved heroes scoring a number one hit, they accuse radio of racism. They may not be wrong about that. For the record. I mean, the fact that the songs that are mostly in Korean have done particularly poorly on American radio is damning evidence. So I give them their props on that. But the reason why butter has now spent, I think it’s up to nine weeks at number one. And by the time you all hear this on Wednesday, it may be 10 weeks at number one, which makes it the longest running number one hit of twenty twenty one. The reason it spent all those weeks at number one is because fans have been buying it. And by the way, I’m using that word carefully, not streaming it. So its streams have been solid, strong, not terribly exceptional. Frankly, there are even a little weak at this point. Now that the record is two to three months old, streaming is normally what makes a hit nowadays. You know, lots of Spotify play butter is staying at number one week after week after week because it is selling anywhere from one hundred thousand two hundred and fifty thousand copies a week. And basically that sales figure is so massive at a time when the best selling song in a typical week, the best selling download or physical copy, what few of those there are will typically sell twenty thousand copies, ten thousand copies. The fact that this is a multiple of that. So swamp’s all the other data on the chart that the song has held at number one all this time, and some, including my fellow chart columnist Tom Bryan over at Stereogum, have accused the Beatles Army of making a mockery of the charts. And my counterargument when I wrote about this for was the song No. One Is. This is still a legitimate hit. Not only does it sound like a hit, but, you know, if the BBC’s army is legitimately buying the song week after week and not pretending to buy it or buying it in bulk, which is technically illegal, Billboard has mechanisms for detecting if people are just buying copies for the sake of buying copies, a single user, if they’re not setting up a streaming loop to play over and over again. That’s another thing that billboard tries to weed out. This is a perfectly legitimate way to get a song to No one. It’s just that it’s not a terribly ambient hit. It’s not omnipresent. And it’s so finally begs the philosophical question, has the BBC’s army sort of hijacked not only the number one spot which fair play, but the meaning of what song of the summer even is if it’s no longer an ambient hit? And whose fault is that? Is it radio’s fault for not catching on? That this is just a damn catchy song and they should really probably be playing it more than they are. So sorry for the long explanation, but it’s an unusual situation this year. And by the way, it’s now early August. There’s almost no chance anything is going to beat this song. This is the song of the summer, almost unquestionably. So what do we do with that? And speaking as a chart analyst, I kind of don’t know what to say to that.
S1: OK, Chris, I want you now to enter an alternate universe and tell me if you could pick the song that ended up the sort of beating heart of the summer of two thousand twenty one. What would it have been?
S3: Well, that’s easy for me because I’m in the tank for this artist and have been since last year. My number one album of twenty 20 was Duleep, his future to Stoljar. And there’s a wonderful story happening with her song Levitating, which was picked as I believe, the third single from that album. We talked quite a bit about Duleep on Summer Strut last year because there were fantastic summery songs on that album and they were all jams. Levitating has quietly levitated, pardon the pun, up to number two on the charts and has been in and out of the number two spot, kind of bumping around the top five for all of the summer. And it kind of had two lives on the radio. Like they picked it as the third single. It climbed the charts, didn’t get too far, looked like it might peter out below the top 10 and then radio stations kind of caught on that. Their listeners really, really loved it. And they really should be giving it more airplay. And suddenly it kind of turn tail just as it was starting to sink and
S4: flew back up the charts. Gonna start, I mean, sure. Come back to me, Joe. Oh, my God. Oh.
S3: Now, there’s one small factor that is a bit of a tarnish on this, which is that a remix by Duleep with rapper De Baby was a big reason why the song got a new lease on life, because this gave radio stations a chance to play a new version. However, if you’ve been following music news for the last couple of weeks, the baby has made kind of a jerk out of himself by saying some horribly homophobic and ignorant things about AIDS at a at a concert gig and has very half heartedly apologized for what he said. And so radio stations are now actually dropping the baby remix of the Duleep a song and are going back to the original version. That’s just Duleep, which frankly is fine with me. I didn’t think the baby did a bad job with his rap, but the rap was gilding the lily. You had a great song to begin with and I’ve just loved levitating. Like I’ve loved everything on Duleep his albums, so I’m delighted that it is become the smash that it deserves to be. And it’s been the most played song at radio for the last month and a half.
S2: I mean, I just have to say, Chris, the merits of either of these two songs aside and neither of them am I really familiar with, nor are they really up my alley. I just have to say that we need to rethink what Song of the summer means clearly. Right? I mean, maybe I’m prejudiced in favor of radio, but the idea that there would be a song of the summer that’s been a song of the summer for 10 weeks or whatever it is, and it’s not something that most people have heard just clearly means that we no longer have a social world anymore and we have to rethink this whole pop music thing.
S3: Yeah, I mean, it’s been argued that, you know, song’s going to, number one, just in an ordinary week, whether it’s the winter or the summer. You know, it’s it’s a bit of a canard if they’re doing it through an explosion of, you know, sales one week or streams another week. And by the way, it’s extremely unusual at a time when the download is all but dying as a medium and everybody switching to streaming, that sales would be the way the beats would pull this off. But I usually say that, you know, no one songs come in all shapes and sizes and get there by all sorts of means. And often some songs that debut at number one wind up being quite enduring. And, you know, you can’t always tell which are going to be the enduring ones. I don’t mind it so much week by week on the charts. What is problematize then? I’m basically backing up. Your point is that Song of the summer is a cumulative contest. Basically, you just add up the weeks from roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day and say, OK, this is the song that’s amassed the most chart points in this roughly 12 week period that has really kind of been hacked by this campaign. I find it less that there are no number one any given week. I find it more that they’ve kind of rendered the song of the summer chart moot. And that’s a little depressing. But I don’t know what Billboard can do or will do to address this. We’ll have to see.
S1: All right, well, let’s move on from Song of Summer, let’s get into the meat of it here. Let’s get into our Strut. Dana, I have this like I’m getting this weird sort of vibe tingle that our our lists are going to overlap in interesting ways this year. I don’t know what songs you picked. I don’t know if you looked at my list, but I just I just have that that premonitory sense that that we’ve got a couple of songs or more in common out of hundreds.
S2: I know we have at least one because Chris mentioned that we did, but I deliberately did not look at your list. So the kid or Chris, so that we could all have a surprise as we share our songs. And I want to start off with my rules of summer Strut and what I will choose and what I won’t choose, because I want listeners to know that some of my favorite things that I listen to and that I strutted the hardest do I’m not going to put on my list either because I already knew them or we’ve already talked about that artist a lot, or for whatever reason, it just sort of seemed like a summer Strut song should be somewhat new. It doesn’t have to be something you’ve never heard, but it could be an unfamiliar song by an artist you love, which a couple of minor or some other sort of novelty because otherwise, what’s the list for? Right. Otherwise we’re all just agreeing that good songs are good. So I’m going to start with one of the categories that, you know, I’m going to have on my summer Strut Brazilian music, one of my favorite listening categories, which I probably don’t include quite enough because I often am somewhat familiar with what people said, but somebody really got me this time. It was actually a Trump Lioy or Trump Lobet kind of situation. Like my ear got tricked into thinking I was hearing classic sort of Brazilian Tropicalia mo something from the 70s, 80s kind of period. And I thought, oh, I’m so boring that I always like this kind of music, but I just love the song. So I’ll put it on my list. And it turns out it was made in spring of 2021, so I’m cool. After all, it’s a song by Do to Beat. That’s the the performance name of a Brazilian singer from ASIFA. She’s, I guess, in her 30s and she’s been making music since twenty eighteen. But this is a song from her most recent album, 2021, and the song is called Male P0.
S5: Let’s listen to a little bit Sephardim.
S4: Again, I thought you said.
S5: John Sofija, Maija Saadet, national meeting in Lesego.
S4: One place I want to go. What do you think?
S1: OK, that did not make my my final cut, but it made my pre final cut, it made my penultimate list. I love that.
S2: OK, so so Strut. All right. And Chris, I’m going to throw it to you to talk a little bit about who due to it is, because I just I just learned her name from this song. But what that made me think of I didn’t think it was her, but it made me think of the arrangements and the style of singing of Murry’s and Munchy, who’s, you know, classic singer of that period of the, I guess, 80s, early 90s. Tell me about doing a bit.
S3: I mean, I think I’ve learned about as much as you have, which is that drumbeat is let me see if I get this name right. Andrewartha Bettencourt.
S2: Simos, you seem to have some voice.
S3: Thank you. You would know how that last name is pronounced. She’s currently based in Rio de Janeiro and this is just her latest single. And I love the the siren like sound that’s on it. And, you know, honestly, there’s a theme in this this year’s playlist of Brazilian music. There are several others, including a couple others I think we’re going to talk about that managed to combine bossa nova with more modern dance music and, you know, Brazilian beats. And that’s got this clattering Strut dance pop thing crossed with, you know, something that is very distinctly Brazilian that I don’t know. It just really, really works. And it’s got attitude and I guess Strut for lack of a better word.
S2: And then I just have to add that from a lyrical point of view, if you happen to get the Portuguese, it’s great. She is apparently called the queen of pop, suffering a hiatus of friendship. Popi. So you hear that in her lyrics. There’s a part where she talks about I’m going to delete you from my social media. She talks about sort of grabbing for someone as they’re trying to get away from you. It sounds like it’s on the dance floor and you’re sort of like grabbing an arm or a leg, like the words are. So in spite of the very Strut he beat, the words are this kind of beautiful Adele like masochism. That’s a very pleasurable to dance to you.
S1: Then your fluency in Portuguese slays me every time. I just I love that, you know, that language. It is it’s just a wonderful fact about, you
S2: know, well, I love the language. I mean, I almost never get a chance to speak it anymore, but I think it’s the most beautiful language in the world.
S1: Chris, what was your first track here?
S3: OK, so I’m going to pick a cover of a song that I just fundamentally love and have loved for a long time. The original song is by a Chicago house trio from the late 80s around 1989 called Ten City. And the song is called That’s the Way Love Is. And somebody submitted a cover of the song by Poi Dog pondering. You know, who are this? I believe Hawaii based act that, you know, bring all sorts of instruments to the table fiddles and various rhythm instruments. And, you know, I am often a little dubious about covers of songs that started in, you know, a dance music medium or a hip hop medium that then get translated. And frankly, if I had my druthers, I would have put the original ten city version, the original House version on this playlist. But I got to give give it up to point of pondering. They do a terrific job covering it. They find interesting ways to with their own instrumentation to kind of make it theirs. And they don’t mess with one of the best features of it, which is this just killer piano line that’s like classic house piano from like the turn of the nineties. So, yeah, that that’s my first pet.
S4: Other states and a number of. By the way, the. But don’t you know, deep down in that feeling very strongly, they try hard. Their husband.
S2: Chris, that is a lovely pick, it’s so summery, I didn’t know that song or the album it’s from, but there is a boy dog pondering album. I don’t know if it’s there first, but an early one from from 1990 called Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the sea used to be. You know, that album that used to be sort of that was sort of one of the key albums for a particular friend group that I had back in those days in grad school. And I remember very specifically dancing to a bunch of songs on the album, which is great for beginning to end with a bunch of people in a room. And one of those people is the person I’m now married to. So it’s a memory
S3: that is a nice memory. I’m glad I could invoke that for you.
S2: But one of the things I always liked about Poy Dog is precisely their instrumentation. I mean, they’re from Hawaii, so they bring in some Hawaiian instruments, but they just you never know what’s going to happen in one of their songs. It’s like there suddenly could be a harmonica or a trumpet or, you know, any any kind of harmony. And they’re really adventurous in that way.
S3: Well, and as I was saying, there’s this piano line that underpins the song, which they haven’t messed with yet. The main melodic hook, that descending figure that keeps repeating over and over again is on violin, which it absolutely isn’t in the original 10 city version. And that’s the special sauce the poor dog puts on top of it and makes it interesting, and yet they keep the Strut in it. I speak from experience. I listen to it on headphones while walking and it totally maintains the Strut. So it works out in the wild.
S1: Mm hmm. All right. Well, so I don’t have very many Strut rules. What I would say is that we get, you know, hundreds and hundreds of submissions. That adds up to well over, you know, 24 hours worth of music. And to cut it down to like, you know, I feel like a Harvard admissions officer, you know, it’s like to cut it down, you know, to six or eight or ten or even, you know, even to get it to like a hundred is a challenge. And then, you know, anyway, so I’m just going to start with something that I found incredibly catchy. I knew nothing about this artist, though I probably should have. And I’m so curious to hear Molanphy explain to me what the song is and why I love it so much. It’s called Photo ID, and it’s by Remi Wolf with Dominic Fike,
S5: a company
S4: with the. You can’t deal with that,
S5: she gets me. I have pictures of my friends on my Instagram photos, on my toes of my only fans and visuals in these frames look better than the ones that she posted on Facebook. I’m ready. When you want to point out that Polaroid didn’t do that shot. That means that only happened in my wildest dreams. Did we talk about this behind the screens and not be trying to stream consciousness?
S1: Maybe so, Chris. The great thing about doing the show is that I don’t have to do my homework, you know, and I will say the one thing I do know about the song or two things. First is that I love it. And the second is that it empties out my brain and then in its place puts it Jody Rosen’s brain inside there like I is all of my former commitments to Antep optimism. Just go down the kitchen sink. But talk to me about REMIC, Wolf, in this tune.
S3: Yeah, I love that one, too. Remy Wolf is a fairly new artist. I believe she she’s from Palo Alto, California, dropped her debut EP only two years ago. By the way, I love the names of her albums because her debut app was called You’re a Dog Exclamation Point. And her major label debut from which this song comes, is called I’m Allergic to Dogs, which just that kills me. So she’s she’s described as sort of a disco funk singer songwriter. And what I think is, you know, hitting my pleasure centers, maybe yours, too, is that the main hook for the idea that, like that note she hits is very I would call it 80s freestyle. It’s it’s almost got kind of a Lisa Lisa era vibe to it. It’s a very specific form of, you know, 80s R and B electro hook. And it really it just works like gangbusters. By the way, also, Remi Wolf, I found this out of my research. She was a competitive downhill skier for ten years and she was an American Idol contestant in twenty fourteen. So someone’s already had this one has already had multiple lives and now she’s, you know, signed a major label deal and is releasing great dance pop and all. I’ll I’ll I’ll add to that is that Dominic Fike is also kind of on the on the move. He’s he’s topped the charts a little bit in his own right. He is a sometime rapper. He’s got an interesting background. He’s black and Filipino. And yet a lot of his songs are not even really rap. They’re kind of this Kobana friendly singer songwriter pop with touches of nonchalant hip hop. He’s even been compared to Jack Johnson on occasion. And yet on this track, he’s doing straight up rap and quite well, actually, I like the rap. So, yeah, this thing’s just firing on all cylinders.
S2: Yeah. All I have to say about that one, Steve, is it was on my short list. So soul mates. Oh, I mean, not my short short, not my short show that I said to Chris, but it was it me. I mean it made it out of that, you know, giant ocean of hundreds of songs that we listen to for me as well. Just so danceable.
S1: OK, well, before we go any further, I think we should do business, yes, Dana.
S2: Steve, what I love about the Summer Strut show is that it’s all just one big blob thing. And the editor is the one who has to figure out where it all goes. So basically, our Slate plus segment is just going to be two more songs that each of us tack on to the list of our favorites from the main show. So if you get through the main show and you didn’t hear your song, you might want to stick around for the bonus segment. Also, everyone should know Slate plus members or not, that you can find links to all of the Spotify playlist, the songs that we’re talking about on our show page, which is Slate Dotcom Culture Fest. And if you’re not a Slate plus member, of course, you can sign up today at Slate Dotcom Culture. Plus, that only costs one dollar for your first month to get ad free podcasts and bonus content like the extra segment I just described. You’ll also get to hear segments like that on shows like Slow Burn and the Political Gabfest. And members, of course, will get unlimited access to all of the writing on Slate. You’ll never hit a paywall when you’re a Slate plus member, so please do us a big favor and support our work by signing up at Slate Dotcom Culture. Plus, once again, that slate dotcom culture plus.
S1: Right, Dana, you’re up next.
S2: All right, well, I’m knocking off the categories first because again, in honor of Julia Turner, the absent co-hosts with the Cleo mostest, I want to do a mascara song, which is a category that we’ve invented over the years of summer Strut, which is the song that you listen to while you’re getting ready to go out, obviously in this covid summer. I don’t know exactly where we’re going out to like the park, I guess. But the thing that you play, for example, is as good as hell would be a classic example of a lipstick song.
S4: Check. Baby, how you feeling?
S2: So it has to have that sound, something that you can dance to, something that preferably has lyrics that pump you up, it’s maybe about girl power in some way or just personal power. And the song that made that cut for me this year, I specifically went in search of where is the Mascaro song in this list? And what I came up with is another new song, relatively new from spring 2021. So I am once again cool. The song is Star Struck, which I think of as a Kylie Minogue song, because she’s the person on it that I’m familiar with. But she’s actually doing a remix of a song by a British musician named Ali Alexander. So he wrote the song, initially recorded it. Then Kylie said, and it did the remix. The remix is just fantastic. The conversation between them is all about I mean, I can’t bring the lyrics into my brain right now, but it is all about exactly that kind of you’re awesome and you know, it kind of vibe. And I also found out researching this song that it has specifically been aimed at the Messaggero song market that Ali Alexander, the singer, did a tock challenge based on this song, The Starstruck Challenge, which he has, which he explained to us. And once again, I’m reading from his wiki, but this is a direct quote from Ali Alexander. It’s all about showing your finest post lockdown gloop. That is leaving everyone starstruck because you look so fine.
S5: Let’s listen. Wow. I see. Like these people
S4: and this shine like you. Good bye to you. I was inspired by Cosmin. Good luck on your I, my oldest. All your. If you want to dance, let’s dance.
S5: There may no reason.
S3: What’s interesting about you saying that, you know, Kylie Minogue and Ali Alexander have kind of a dialogue going in the lyrics of that song, as I also feel like musically, the track has a dialogue going on between the years and years sound and the Kylie sound. Years and years used to be a trio, but they’re basically now just Olly Alexander, like the the other core members fell back to production and, you know, playing roles where they’re just, you know, playing instruments and stuff. And they’ve basically turned it into a showcase for all the Alexander. If you’ve never heard the songs King by Years and Years or Shine, that was like a number one and number two hit back in, I think, 2016. Those are spectacular records. But this this really works because I think the remix with Kylie really just kind of brings it home for them.
S1: Chris, what do you got?
S3: I want to call inaudible audible here, I want to not only play a song that wound up on the playlist from a listener, but I want to ask Cameron and the crew if they can play a song that it samples because it explains part of what turned me on about this song. First, let’s play the song. The song that is on the playlist is by the band Texas, and it’s called Mr. Hayes. So let’s play that and then we’ll talk about the other record.
S4: I just want. Kinami.
S3: So that’s the band, Texas, and before I go any further, I’d like to do a quick pop quiz. Do you guys know the band Texas and do you know where they’re from?
S2: I’m going to assume that they’re not from Texas or that would be too easy a question. But no, I don’t know them at all. You, Steve.
S1: I don’t. And I’m going to say Sweden.
S3: The correct answer is Scotland. They are a Scottish group from Glasgow and they’ve been around since the 80s. They in fact, their big hit making period was turn of the 80s, early 90s and not really in America. They scored a couple of sizable modern rock hits like on the alternative charts. But in England they scored a hit after hit after hit tracks like I Don’t Want a Lover that were big or in our lifetime. And they they also don’t sound like what you expect a band called Texas to sound like they’re very what I would call Sophistic Pop back in the 80s, you know, uro pop. Now, the record I want to play is a follow up to that. As long as it’s still in Your Head is a song by Donna Summer called Love’s Unkind.
S4: She’s got a crush on it and she can’t stand it any time at the.
S3: That book right there. Yeah, I love that hook, you know, this is peaked on a Summernats from 1977. It’s being either sampled or interpolated in the Texas track. What I have always loved about Love’s Unkind. It was actually only a minor hit in America. It was a much bigger hit in the UK and across Europe. And I think the reason why is it’s a kind of anomalous, even though it’s a dance song, it’s a disco song, Peak Disco, Donna Summer, it’s a Donna Summer song that to me sounds like a cross between 60s Girl Group and ABBA, especially that chorus that Stomp Dance chorus reminds me of, I don’t know, take a chance on me or any number of ABBA songs from that period and the fact that Texas is tapping into that. And by the way, I don’t know who put this track on the playlist. I don’t know if they were trolling me, like, let’s get Molanphy because it’s got a Donna Summer sample and people know that I totally fall for Donna Summer every time, but I love both tracks. So anyway, those are my picks.
S1: Chris, you gave me a tiny preview of your feelings about this song. I’m psyched to hear you flush them out. Let’s listen to Be Sweet by Japanese breakfast. OK, so of course, it just it Strut right from the opening and then it just pops on that chorus. And Chris, you said to me in an email, oh yeah, that Japanese breakfast single is one of the year’s great indie Bopp’s and that we should definitely talk about it. So let’s talk to me about the great indie pop.
S3: So Japanese breakfast is the project of a woman named Michelle Zayouna UNSCR. I hope I’m pronouncing her last name right. The album that this comes from, Jubilee is probably going to make a lot of top ten list at the end of the year. It’s getting acclaimed pretty much everywhere and it’s a terrific album. There’s a lot of it that is, you know, Cynthy and A.D.s, not all as obviously an homage to sort of synthpop as that one. But what’s great about the album is that it’s this joyous follow up to two consecutive LPs where Zauner was mourning her mother’s death. And so it was it was sort of darker indie rock, indie pop. And she specifically said in interviews this year that she wanted this album to feel joyous, especially as we were coming out of the first wave of covid. And the video for that song, Bittersweet is part of the fun to it’s a riff on the X Files, but kind of like the X Files, if it was like sabotage by the Beastie Boys, kind of, you know, shot on the cheap where Michelle is going around looking for aliens with another indie pop star, Marissa, Missy Debi’s of Manekin Pussy. So it’s it’s a pretty fun video if you want to enjoy it that way.
S1: Dana, what do you have?
S2: OK, so once again, I’m knocking off a category of no Strut here and then I’m going to go to my randoms on the next round. But the last category that we usually do and the and I usually have something for and Steve often does too, is the hammock song, which is, you know, the cool, breezy, airy, not so Strut summer song that you lie in a hammock and sip a cool drink too. And that to me, clearly on this year’s list was a song called Cherry Scented by a band called Second Summer that not only have I never heard of, but I am pretty sure a lot of our listeners have never heard of them either, because I just looked at the YouTube video for cherry scented and it has 23 views. So so several of which are mine. So it’s actually possible that the members of the band Second Summer, which is a duo, a man and a woman from New Jersey in New York, are the ones who sent us cherry scented. I have no idea. I just know I want to lie in a hammock and typical drink and listen to this song. So here’s cherry scented from second summer and.
S4: Well, is this notion of confusion. One thing outside? The. Way.
S5: I’m just so tired. Singing nonstop, singing the. Do you say, oh,
S1: my God, how did I miss that? That is like it not only makes me want to be in the hammock, but not alone. You a
S1: That’s a really good sock.
S3: It is. And backing up, Dana. I got nothing on this one. I mean, I tried Googling around and I could find absolutely nothing about these artists. That’s backing up your theory that we are dealing with a brand new act here. So good on you for, you know, putting that on the playlist because it totally caught our ears and it’s just fantastic.
S1: Tell me the name of the artist again.
S2: Second summer.
S1: Oh, my
S2: God. And it’s pretty recent to this very reason. This song was posted on YouTube on June 17th, 2021. So, you know, maybe this is this is just their new material they’re starting to put out. But yeah, Chris, very quickly, on the Google page, you get to cherry scented lip products and things like that. There’s only very few hits on the band, but hopefully there will be more listeners very soon.
S3: When I Google Second Summer and tried Googling various other terms, it gave me information about the, you know, boy band five seconds of summer thinking. That’s what I was talking about.
S3: Yeah. So like nothing worked and yeah, there’s no, you know, artist page, Bandcamp page, nothing.
S1: All right, Chris, what do you have?
S3: You know, I seem to keep cheating and squeezing together two songs, but somebody who submitted at least one of these songs has a sense of humor, and I want to acknowledge it. So one of the songs that is climbing, not the hot one hundred so much, but definitely like the alternative and album Alternative Charts is a song by Lorde from her brand new album. And the song is called Solar Power. And I think we should go ahead and play that. It’s it’s the most certainly the most summery thing Lorde has ever done. Great song. Let’s give that a spin.
S4: Boys and girls on to the beaches, come here and come on, I’ll tell you, my secrets are kind of like a pretty cheesy. You can price. Come on in, let the became.
S3: I think the times when you feel it kicking in this. A number of people have said that this breakdown strongly resembles the George Michael hit Freedom 90, huh? Yeah, I can hear that she has not given a songwriting credit to George Michael and she claims that she was not borrowing from him. However, several other listeners, including me, I definitely heard this much more strongly than I heard George Michael. The first time I heard the record compared it to a song that somebody put on some R Strut, I’m pretty sure, as a shout out or a bit of shade perhaps on Lord. And that would be the primal scream song loaded. If we could play loaded, that would be great. So that, of course, is loaded, interestingly, both loaded and Freedom 90 came out in 1990, loaded for the record, came out first. So if anybody’s ripping off anybody, George Michael’s ripping off primal scream that I truly don’t think George Michael was ripping off Primal Scream. And there, you know, Primal Scream, Scottish band. I don’t know what it is with me and Scottish acts today that won the Mercury Prize with that album Scream at DeLucca, which is by far their best selling album. It even sold well in America. It’s sold something like three million copies around the world. They later appeared on the Trainspotting soundtrack. So, you know, Primal Scream have been around the block. And that breakdown at the end of solar power is to me a pretty close homage to Loaded and, you know, props to whoever put loaded on the mix because both it and solar power on the mix in completely different spots in the playlist. So I don’t think it was the same person, but I thought that was a very witty, clever thing to do,
S1: the great ear. And I think you’re onto something there. But both both are great tracks. You know, I laud re-entered my world through my kids who love solar power. So I will say I do have a hammock song upcoming and we’ll have one more visit from Scotland. But first, here’s a song whose lyrics just send a corkscrew straight to my heart because one of the lyrics just so reminds me of the. How to put it the kind of nerve exposed tenderness I feel towards one of my daughters. Anyway, the song is called Life Crisis, and it’s by the Asheville, North Carolina band River Wireless. That’s why Lee says River Wireless.
S4: I’m telling you my thoughts and
S5: pockets for them
S4: to get, you know, be safe for the New York City to save you from the New York City. I. A tried it. Tried. Chelle.
S1: You could probably pick out almost any line from the song and make me cry, but, um, it just the song reminds me so much of my older daughter for so many reasons. But the line is, you know, is this safe, you fool, in New York City, Dana, that feeling of your kid, I mean, this is her first summer driving around in cars off on her own, you know, I mean, it’s that feeling of like, yeah, of course I want you to be independent of me. My God. Like, if I did everything right, you’ll be completely independent of me in some sense. At the same time, you are your me. You’re a part of me out in the world, you know.
S2: Oh, that’s beautiful. That makes me wish I heard that song on my listen through, but I didn’t listen to the lyrics closely enough. And you just pointed them up and made me listen. And I mean, lyrics obviously are a huge part of why one responds to a pop song. Right? Just who does it remind you of? What moment or feeling does it remind you of? So that reason alone is a great reason to nominate a song. But but it’s also just musically lovely.
S1: Yeah. And the other lyric is, if this time you feel your shell has grown too thin, then I will lend you my skin.
S3: Oh, I was going to point out that lyric. I’ll lend you my skin if my love’s grown too thin. That one broke my heart.
S1: Yeah, that’s the second time around. They say love ground truth and not shell. Yeah. All right, Dana, back around to you.
S2: All right, having checked off all the things on my on my normal summer Strut playlist, I’m just going to go basic and go with the song that I just physically responded to because it’s my kind of music and it’s not cool and new. In fact, it’s from 1977. But, Chris, I’m sure that you’ll have something to say about this song. It’s Hamah Love by Syreeta. Yes. Let’s listen to a little bit of it first and then we’ll talk about who she is and
S4: what the song is. It’s. This is something that’s sweeping. It’s the one thing in life that will never be fit. And so and it loses the next. It’s. And then
S5: you have.
S4: Do you feel responsible and. On.
S3: So I’m glad we listened through the chorus, because if you listen to that course very carefully, you can hear a second voice and that second voice is none other than Stevie Wonder. Syreeta is Syreeta Wright. She was married to Stevie Wonder. She also was a co-writer with him on a number of his turn of the 70s hits. For example, she co-wrote Signed, Sealed, Delivered with him. She co-wrote It’s a Shame, a song that Stevie gave away to the spinners. If you really love me, these are all kind of just pre that period where Stevie resigned his contract and got very independent and did superstition and things like that. But she’s very important in his transition into adulthood. They were also married only for about a year and a half back at the turn of the 70s. I have to assume, based on what I’ve read, that the divorce was relatively amicable because they continued to work together for years. And by the way, I have a slight amendment to the year you gave, but I was just as confused as you were until I looked this up last night. It’s actually in nineteen seventy five song. That’s when it originally charted that then appears on her nineteen seventy seven album. But it was kind of the last gift I guess that Stevie Wonder gave her was this really awesome song. By the way, nobody seems to know what Hamah ARMM you are means. It appears to be a word Stevie Wonder made up and it’s not like listening to the song in context explains to you what Harmer love is. But given the light reggae lilt in the fluttery keyboards, you know, it it clearly is a kind of carefree love or I have and this song, it wasn’t a big hit. It was not a pop hit at all. I think it peaked on the RB chart. It’s something like number seventy five, like it didn’t get very far. But this song has such an afterlife. I’ve seen it in movies. I think I’ve seen it in a commercial or two. It’s got real legs. And I just I think it’s gorgeous.
S2: I mean, it’s to me is the essence of Strut. It’s got that classic soul kind of expansive feeling, but it’s also got a little bit of a reggae hot summertime feeling. And you’re right, I have no idea what Hamah Love is, but whatever it is, I want some here. Here.
S1: All right, Chris, it’s up to you now.
S3: So obviously the summer Strut mix is often filled with Brazilian music, Latin music of all kinds. But one thing I noticed this year in particular is that there are a lot of Italian songs on the mix. I don’t know if this was multiple people or just a couple of people submitting all these Italian records, but I loved most of them. And there’s at least two I want to talk about. One of them is the winner of Twenty Twenty One’s Eurovision Song Contest, which is by a group called Monist Skin. And if that word doesn’t sound Italian, that’s because it’s not one of the members of the band. Their bassist is Danish and she named the band and Manasquan M, A and E and is a Danish word. But the title of this Eurovision winning song is very much in Italian and it’s Zippi Abalone. And then let’s give a listen to that.
S4: I don’t understand why they can’t follow the pocket, but if I die, you’re gonna see me now. It’s because of me marching through the down. Supplied it with the. Sally Dodd. When I see the video to see me, a lot of young people a while you become Strut in your blind spot. Shut up and not do sulcus, applauded Molly Brown. This was a. Any.
S3: So not what you normally think of with a Eurovision, right, not a ballad, not pure pop. This is probably the hardest rocking Eurovision nerds will have to trust me on this, but I’m pretty sure this is the hardest rocking Eurovision winner since the Swedish metal band Lordi won back in, I believe, 2006. So a hard rock song. Winning Eurovision is itself very unusual. And I just think that song totally works. It’s it’s like a hard rock heavy metal song imagined by Max Martin because it’s got pop hooks everywhere. And yet, you know, it has total put up the devil horns kred and it yeah, it totally cleared the field this year in Eurovision. And then again, I’m going to cheat and throw in one more song. One interesting thing about Zeti Abani, the song we just played is that they’re singing and winning Eurovision despite singing in their native language, Italian, because it’s long been said that the safer thing to do in Eurovision is to sing in English. In fact, the Will Ferrell movie that came out last year, Eurovision even plays with this concept of them singing in Icelandic rather than singing in English. A song that I totally love and it’s about 50 years old is by an Italian named Adriano Celentano. And I’m going to let him pronounce the title of the song rather than me pronounce the song and then I’ll explain what the song is.
S5: But he’s in codenames tonight. Hueso Ithica may say I’m freezing cold at night and I do all right.
S4: Wednesday to Mount Hope in the same manner, all right, maybe get on the bus. Oh, no, I’m going to go stay at Joe. We decided to choose my own home and the same in a home and maybe get to bus about. By say, let’s give the company a steam, you know, I’ve just got to.
S5: What to tune, so the
S3: title of that, it’s like a 25 letter word picture, something like supercalifragilistic xbla dosis, and he pronounces it right at the beginning, Prezant, Colon and Cenac Crutzen. I’m not even saying it right. If it sounds like nonsense, that’s because it is nonsense. It’s gibberish picture. If you know Tutti Frutti by Little Richard was all what ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba boom. The song is all in neither Italian nor English. It is in gibberish literally. If you looked this up online and you see the part where it says language, the language is gibberish and the guy who did it.
S1: Is that one of your languages?
S5: Yeah, that was I
S2: said you wouldn’t understand me.
S1: So yeah, my, my complete degree was English, Irish and gibberish were my three languages.
S3: So the joke of that song is that Adriano Celentano, who’s both a singer and an actor, kind of a multi hyphenated Italian performer, he was intentionally trying to sound like an English speaker without actually speaking English. So like the only actual words in the whole song are, all right, those two words repeat, but it’s otherwise all lyrics that are made up but are meant to sound like American slang. So it’s kind of like, you know, as if you’re trying to say to your friend, hey, be cool and do this and do that and let’s hang out and blah, blah, blah. But he’s making all the words up and they are not in any language whatsoever. And the one last thing I’ll say about it is that if you look this up online and can get the YouTube video, the YouTube video is the coolest thing ever. It was performed on an Italian TV show around 1973 74, and it’s what made the song a big hit. And it’s like Celentano is performing it in front of a classroom full of students and they’re all doing this kind of slinky move together in unison. That is just the most badass thing ever. So anyway, I love that I got to talk about cold and seeing just trueness all not pronouncing it.
S2: Chris, I like that song. And I considered putting it on my short list. And the main reason I didn’t is I didn’t want to have to say the title. So utter respect to you for taking it on.
S3: Yeah. And I’m not sure I got it right, but thank you.
S1: Who could not for my next Strut. I’m going to just throw to a completely. It’s such a traditional pop song like traditional traditionally structured songcraft like, you know, verse chorus, middle eight, whatever its bad habit by your Smith.
S4: We sat down at a party, the. He said it could be worse. You tore the
S5: labels from your drink, we might as
S4: well get our first. At. I mean, we. Crystalize.
S1: So, Chris, like not it’s not, you know, pushing the envelope is not, you know, moving the scrimmage line or whatever, just come out, it just kind of nails ancient songcraft. I love the vocal. And when she on that and it’s a song built around a hook and then a punch line. Right. Loving you is the worst one of all my bad habits. Right. And the way she sings the word one in that song, it just makes me want to curl up and live, you know.
S3: Well, speaking of curling up and Dana maybe will back me up on this, I think that’s yet another Hammack track. I got. I got big Hammack vibes.
S1: Yeah, that was my I’m sorry. I should have said that was my hammock track.
S3: Yeah. I mean, it’s wonderfully languid. Your Smith, by the way, is Caroline Smith. She recorded for several years as Caroline Smith. And then at some point around, I think, I don’t know, twenty seventeen or so she decided that she wanted to record just as Smith, but she realized Smith would be a terrible name to take on. You know, it’s not global. And so she instead changed her name to your while you are Smith, like your Smith belonging to you. And it was meant to be snarky and cheeky and be kind of an alter ego. And she formed a new all female backing band. And, you know, this is how she’s presenting herself now. And, you know, if it’s if it’s all like this, the album is also called Bad Habit, and it got strong reviews, so I should probably give it a listen.
S2: All I have to say about that song, Steve, is that’s our first overlap, or at least that we’ve talked about on the show. I had that on my list, too, and for the same reason. It’s a sweet, sweet Hammack track. It’s four minutes long. You’re right. It doesn’t break any new barriers, but it’s just a lovely little condensed pop candy bar.
S1: I am so pleased. I know that there’s another one that we have overlapped. Dana, do you want to just go ahead and have it now or.
S2: All right. Since it’s my turn and we just had our first overlap, I will talk about the song that I know we overlapped on, because Chris already leaked this in his in his massive prep email for our our summer Strut segment. And that is another old school song. I love that. Steve and I both landed on it. It’s called LeFleur The Flowers. It’s by Minnie Ripperton. Let’s listen to a little bit and then Chris will tell us all about it.
S4: Despite the. People know. Time.
S5: Oh, it’s so good.
S2: All right, I just feel the need to say that when that beat dropped or whatever you call it, when it got really symphonic at the end that our producer, Cameron Andrews, is all but head banging against the studio guys.
S1: Oh, my God, this song is so the grandeur, the majesty. I mean, I asked Chris Minnie Ripperton with, like, kind of wispy throw. I mean, this is terrible, I’m sure. But it’s just, you know, if you grew up like I did in the 1970s, she was on the radio a lot for one song in particular that had a kind of treacly quality to it. And this is
S2: one that had that super high note. That’s what you knew her for, right? That she could sing that incredibly high glass breaking note on. What was that song, Chris?
S3: That song is loving you. Oh, of
S2: course. Loving. It’s easy because you’re beautiful.
S3: Because you’re beautiful. Right. And then she does this, which I take what I just did.
S5: Chris, you hit it.
S3: So, yes, Minnie Ripperton is most famous not for the song we just played. She’s most famous for Levin You, which was her one and only number one hit. She had other hits, particularly on the R and B charts. This is five years earlier. It was recorded on an album called Come to My Garden, which is by those in the know widely considered a what they call chamber soul masterpiece. But it didn’t chart at all in 1970. It didn’t break many ripperton. It was. And it’s a showcase for the work of two eminent artists, Ripperton herself, who, by the way, has a four octave range, and the producer and arranger, a guy named Charles Stepney, who worked with the Dells in the 60s and later would become even more famous working with Earth, Wind and Fire. And, you know, he’s the one arranging that crescendo that just, you know, makes you want to pump your fist in the air when come to my garden, finally chart it. It didn’t start until the album until 1974, after many Ripperton started a break with songs like Levin You and the Tragedy. The real tragedy of this is that, you know, if it’s a showcase for both represented Stepney, they both died. Young Charles Stephani died of a heart attack in 1976 at age forty five and many. Ripperton famously died of breast cancer in nineteen seventy nine at age thirty one, leaving behind a couple of kids, including the comedian Maya Rudolph. So yeah, it’s this. When you know the back story like it’s, it’s moving and beautiful and even more poignant, frankly, because it’s such a showcase for, for both artists really.
S2: I mean it’s just it’s so much song, right? I mean, it starts off as this delicate flower thing. It’s literally being sung from the point of view of a flower. Right. Will you pin me in your hair and then it just builds to this crazy symphonic. I mean, it’s just such an ambitious song.
S1: Yeah. And also and it’s like the crescendo is is is the lyrics and the crescendo go together so beautifully because as it crescendos, she says, inside every man leaves the seed of a flower. If he looks within, he finds beauty and power. And it’s with it’s like it’s like that’s what masculine power should be is what the song is kind of about at that moment is so. An incredible, incredible
S2: that’s that’s the song of my summer.
S1: All right, Dana, do you get another one another?
S2: I mean, I almost want to end on the Minnie Ripperton because it’s so great that we all converged on this powerful, life affirming song. That is what the song of the summer should be. But I also want to shout out this one song, a little perfect pop song by an artist that I already loved but did not know this song. That unfortunately captures to me what the summer of 2021 actually feels like with all of its covid anxiety and just complete uncertainty about what every next second is going to bring. I mean, let’s face it, we’re not really having the hot back summer that we thought we were going to have. Right. And this song to me really speaks to that feeling lyrically and musically as well, while also being quite poppy and singable. It’s Nick Lowe, who is one of my favorites from that period. Absolutely love him. But a song that I had not heard before is called I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass with. Listen.
S5: I love the sound of breaking.
S4: Deep into the night.
S5: I love the work only it can do. Flying all around, all around. Greg. Nothing. Blake.
S1: All I can say, I love that song and that album, Jesus of Cool is one for all of eternity. But I can say about hearing that right now, Chris, is that that bass player earned his paycheck.
S3: Oh, here, here. Absolutely. You know, and also, Nick Lowe says he can’t play this song live, particularly when he’s solo acoustic because he says there’s nothing to it. I would bore people if I played it by myself. It’s it’s just a groove that’s really all there is to it. And he says, what makes the record? And by the way, it was a hit in the U.K. It was a top 10 hit in the U.K. in 1978. What makes the record is, is what that bassist in his band, the production touches and just the little the claps, the piano glissandos, just all the little bits in the song are what make it. And yeah, I just love that record to death. Yeah.
S2: I mean, to me that song is just it’s fascinating. The tension between its pop craftsmanship is exactly three minutes long. Right. It’s as you say, it’s all about these bouncy hooks and that bass playing and it pulls you in. And then the lyrics are just about edgy anxiety and depression and and almost the desire to destroy in order to make yourself feel better. And it’s just about this very complex psychological state. But he’s getting it across in this bouncy three minute pop song. It’s just I mean, only Nick Lowe. I’m in awe.
S3: Yeah. I was just going to say that’s Nick Lowe, you know, in a nutshell is I mean, think of cruel to be kind as one big American hit, which, you know, is a romance song about, you know, the cruelty of a lover. So, you know, and he’s he’s been mining that vein for a long time.
S1: All right, Chris, what do you have?
S3: OK, if we’re winding up, I feel like I have to acknowledge the music that’s being played the most in my household and in the car this summer, which is Bo Burnham from his, you know, much discussed movie inside and two songs from inside were submitted. And between the two, I think I’m going to go with content.
S6: Can I confess something? This is Cameron, the producer. These two I suggested to Cleo. These are my picks. And every time I put them in there to see if anyone would buy it, I thought Dana might because we talked about it on the show. And these are the songs that have been stuck in my head all summer.
S3: I mean, I’m actually thrilled that we’re getting Cameron’s pics into the show. And I want to commend you, Cameron, because I really think this is the summer of Inside by Bo Burnham, in a way, especially with the Delta variant now rampant inside, is looking more prescient all the time. And it’s it’s definitely the soundtrack to my summer wherever I go.
S2: Yeah. Cameron, the reason I didn’t choose these for my list, if that’s what you were aiming for, is because they broke my rule of being too familiar. You know, it’s music that I’ve already been listening to this summer, but I completely agree. I did not expect, even though I really liked that special when I watched it to return to the soundtrack. Yeah. Again and again. But I have and my daughter has along with me. And we basically walk around singing little hooks from those songs all day. And even though the special is all about anxiety and feeling awful, the songs make us feel really good.
S6: So let’s listen to content, which is appropriately dancey and Strut and depressing.
S5: Yeah, if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be locked inside of my home, I would have told you a year ago. Interesting. No, leave me alone. Sorry, man. I look like a bass. I’m very good. But it got Chris Roberts man on. Still, and so today I’m going to try just getting up and sitting down, going back to work. I know, but still, it’s good I’m sitting down writing jokes, seeing you sing the song, I’m sorry I was gone, but look, I made you some guys
S2: thanks for nothing, so they made us all feel better. Last words.
S3: I mean, there are so many. This album is packed with what I would call zoomer hits. I mean, my step kids are playing the hell out of welcome to the Internet. The two songs named after Jeffrey Bezos All Eyes on Me All Time Low. I mean, these are the songs that are banging in the car this summer, and it’s expressing exactly their sense of, you know, anxiety. And yet, you know, I don’t know, ironically beholding the, you know, the terror, if you will. And, yeah, it does make everybody feel better, I have to say.
S1: All right. Well, I have so many songs that I could go to for my last one. But coming off of that, I think I have to I have to go with this is kind of a salve for the wounds that Bo Burnham calls to mind. All right. Let’s listen to tenderness by general public. To. Chris, you you really wanted this one on
S3: there, didn’t you? I really, really did. I love this song so much and I would because, you know, I’ve often said my favorite year of pop is 1984. It is a 1984 track, peaked on the charts in early 85 at number 27. This is the general public who grew out of the beach or as we call them in America. The English beach, by the way, fun tidbit about the English beat. They scored no serious American hits. They kind of missed the MTV wave, but just a year or two. And yet they spun off to bands that scored much bigger hits, general public and much later, fine young cannibals grew out of the English beat. So go figure. General Public has been called the first post punk supergroup because in addition to featuring ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling of the Beat, it also featured the bassist from the specials named Horace Panter, a drummer from Dex’s Midnight Rutter’s. And this is the most interesting trivia of that song. There’s an uncredited Mick Jones of The Clash just before he formed Big Audio Dynamite in 1985. He’s playing guitar on this track and all over their album, All the Rage. He left the group to go for big audio dynamite before the album even came out. But he is credited. And so I’m pretty sure that that, you know, kind of 50s asked tremolo guitar that you hear on tenderness is Mick Jones, which is a fun, fun detail.
S2: Can I tell you my very sweet, actually very tender memory of tenderness. A personal one, please. I already mentioned the song, The Dog Pondering Song or not, the actual song you played, but a dog album that I used to dance to with friends. But that post dates this dancing memory, which is I think maybe the first time I ever danced in a public setting. So I was I mean, I wouldn’t say shy exactly, but not a super party going kid in high school. I didn’t go to my prom. I didn’t care about prom. I didn’t I wasn’t somebody who went to parties and danced. Right. I maybe went to parties, were dancing, was happening. But I’d be one of the people who was too cool, quote unquote. In other words, shy to get it on the dance floor. But there was a party that must have been a couple of years after the song came out mid eighties sometime where I had a friend named Allison, God bless her, wherever she is, who somehow convinced me to get out on the floor. And basically I can’t remember what she said, but she just sort of told me, don’t think don’t think about what you’re doing. Don’t think about how you look. Just close your eyes and move. And it was the first time I ever really socially danced. And and I mean, Chris, as you know well from my having attended your wedding, I am now the world’s biggest dance floor.
S3: You are. And I want tenderness that up. I love it.
S2: Yeah. That song is at the heart of it all. It was it started the the dance sensation that is Dana Stevens today.
S3: Oh, man. That is and that is a great story. And you know, the beat of that song or the total rhythm of it is what I would call very peak. Molly Ringwald. It’s got you can do that kind of, you know, Breakfast Club era, Molly Ringwald, dance to it. And so it it just invites dancing. I don’t know, I it’s makes sense that this would be your breakthrough dance troupe.
S2: I wonder if other people have that memory. Do you guys have an early memory of when you sort of danced in a Grown-Up dancing at a party sort of way and felt good about it.
S1: Yeah, I’ve, I’ve yet to form that memory. Good. Well, let’s I’ll give you both that.
S3: As Dana knows, I am a dancing fool as I dance my face off at my wedding and basically at high school dances, I would watch the deejay because that’s the kind of nerd I was. But then finally it was something like the fourth or fifth dance I attended, not not the prom or anything like that, just a regular dance. And eventually it took me until three quarters the way through the dance when I found some people, none of whom I was, you know, trying to hit on in any way, shape or form. Nothing romantic is just they were dancing and they were willing to let me dance with them. And I felt so good, you know, being able to dance with peers for once in my life. But you don’t
S2: remember what a song on.
S3: I remember one of the songs we were dancing to this embarrassing is Billy Oceans, When the going gets tough, the Tough Get Going, which is a song from the sequel to Romancing the Stone. I think it was a hit in like 85
S5: with the longest.
S3: Super, super cheesy song, but we dance to it, you know.
S2: Go figure. Yeah, as long as it gets you out there.
S1: All right, Chris, you’re going to stick around for a little bit for our plus segment where we cram in as many of the songs we haven’t gotten to yet. Absolutely wonderful. Dana, thank you so much.
S2: Thank you, Steve. It was a blast.
S1: Yeah, this was fun. Chris, this is a really good one.
S3: Yeah, no, I really feel like we did. Julia proud even in her absence. We miss you, Julia.
S1: Here. Here you will find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page, that Slate Dotcom Culture Fest. And you can email us at Culture Fest at Slate Dotcom. The intro music to this podcast is by the wonderful Nick Brittelle. Our production assistant is Cleo Levin. Our producer is Cameron Drus for Chris Molanphy and Dana Stevens, I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. This was really fun and we will see you soon.
S2: Hello and welcome to Strut News, the segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest for you, wonderful members of Slate plus who get a bonus segment every week. The thing I love about this week, some are Strut week, is that instead of chopping up the show into little bits, we just have one massive musical flow that our editor then turns into different segments. So this is basically more of the same. This is just more songs that we want to talk about and didn’t get a chance to. There’s no special theme that’s cordoning them off. Stephen, I think I’ll start with you because I think you may be the most bursting with extra songs of all of us. What have you got?
S1: Yes, there are a couple of songs I really want to get to, and I love it when this happens, when it happens to you this year, when there’s a song that you love and you’re trying to Google and figure out who these people are and they scarcely exist. Yet there’s nothing on the Internet about the band or the act, you know, behind it, behind the music. And this happened to me this year sort of with an indie band, One Word Horse Girl, and the song is Sealife Sandwich Boy. And I just did get so much.
S4: Now. And Gabfest.
S1: So here’s what Google has for these are three 17 year old high school girls trying to finish their first rock and roll album before they all go to college. Chris, to the end of time may be high school kids with guitars and amps and a garage for them to pack into to make a fuck ton of noise and just thrill each other with it.
S3: Amen to that. I turned up an article that revealed their names as Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Chang and Geeshie Reese. And yet they are channeling the 90s and the underground, which predates their birth. Yeah, it’s
S1: it’s CAPM Jazz. It’s like Chicago noise rock. It’s just such it’s shoegaze.
S3: I hear shoegaze are some shoegaze.
S1: It’s this is great rock and roll.
S2: All right. Well, I’m noting that we have not yet had an instrumental song on our list. And to me, we’ve talked about this when I asked for my Winter Walk the counterprogramming to the Summer Strut playlist, when I asked people to send in things, you could walk around you on a melancholy day that maybe didn’t necessarily have lyrics or maybe at least not lyrics that you can understand. I like that kind of music. And I think to really Strut you need a little bit of that, too, because sometimes you don’t want to think about the lyrics and what they mean and you really just want to feel it. And a band that can carry off a nice compact instrumental that doesn’t feel kind of New Orleans sprawling is just a great thing. So there’s several of those on this playlist this year. But I’m going to choose one in honor of Julia. That’s called bird watching. I presume this it’s a song about bird watching, although it has no words. So maybe the birds are just in the music. But the thing I love about bird watching was by a band called a.T.M that I don’t know at all is that it’s it’s very horn driven. And I love a pop song with a horn in it. I mean, that’s part of my my love of old classic soul music. Just anything where there’s that sudden surprise of that warm golden kind of horn sound coming in just always gets me right from the start. And and bird watching has just a little bit of that, along with a lot of other great instrumentation. Let’s listen. Birdwatching by a.T.M.
S1: And do you often hear that guitar sound go with that horn sound?
S3: No, rarely. I must say it’s it’s an interesting, eclectic combination that you wouldn’t expect. But I love that. I love that about the song. And hear them are they’ve been called the South Sounds, sort of Yo La Tengo, and they’ve been around about as long as Yo La Tengo. They were formed back in the mid 80s and they’re led by a husband and wife, Taraki and Tim Harris, which also makes them like Yo La Tengo, who are led by IRA Kaplan and Georgia Hubley. And, you know, they’ve got that kind of urban cool, but they’ve crossed it with a little bit of southern rock. And they went on hiatus at some point in the 90s and Taraki went solo. She’s kind of the badass guitarist of the group, but they came back together some time in the arts. And this is from 2017 LP. So it’s actually a rather recent track. And it’s nice to see Antietam, you know, still kind of doing creative, unusual stuff this far into their career. It’s a really impressive track.
S2: I just know that walking along to that and I have walked along to it a lot in the last couple of weeks makes me feel like something good’s about to happen. It just has the feeling like it’s a soundtrack to a movie where some exciting twist is about to take place. And I just really need that this summer.
S3: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
S1: So we go to Chris.
S3: I’m going to use my bonus round for some just total catnip records that I know really well. But want to shout out anyway. I’d like to shout out whoever put Give Me the Night by George Benson on this mix. I worship the song. I was recently asked by Rolling Stone to be one of the voters. They have hundreds for their, you know, latest greatest singles of all time was that in theory is coming out later this year. And I actually put the song in my top 50. That’s how much I love it. It’s a peak Quincy Jones production from 1980. And it’s kind of like the sound that Quincy is doing on those Michael Jackson albums like Off the Wall and Thriller, but in a different cooler vibe. And I just I love Give Me the Night. And it has long sounded like summer to me. So I want to shout out whoever put it on their.
S5: Levin falling in love. And Anthony can block all the news and I in the air everywhere. So the night. Give me the.
S1: I did not know that that was Quincy Jones produced. And but now that you said it is Michael, you know, is that Michael Jackson, your production sound. And, you know, just instrumentation. It’s it’s amazing.
S3: Yeah, it’s an amazing record. And it’s like you’re coming out of disco. It’s the same trick that off the wall pulls off, which comes off in late 79, where it’s coming out of disco and it’s indebted to disco. Yet it is not of disco soul. It is much bigger than that. And it’s like defining a new, you know, RB pop sound. I just I love everything about that record. So thank you.
S1: All right. I got to do one shout out. We don’t need to play it, but the trash can Sinatra’s a Glaswegian band and that song, their first single ever obscurity knocks just to this day remains an just an uplifting, like, incredibly intricate hookey indie pop classic. It’s just great. It should be more widely known, but I want to end instead with something that I just want to I want to play and then I want Molanphy to tell me what it is and why I like it. But the song feels right by Big Pig and that’s Bee IGP Iggy.
S4: Picture. And I know. I just want to
S5: be in the driver’s seat, so keep up reserve and do you promise me that you on me don’t give
S4: up? This right? Strut just. I mean,
S3: it could be the juxtaposition of elements, you know, it’s it’s got this baozi spacey dance rock vibe and when it hits the chorus not to keep invoking her sorry, but it’s got like this dual LIBOR thing that suddenly comes out on the chorus. And yet the verses, especially with those vocals, are almost more Billy Eilish with that kind of Asamoah whispery, you know, tactile, tangible thing. I found out who big pig is. And it’s an is not a them. It’s a one woman project by an Irish artist who is based in London named Just Smith or Smythson, which I don’t know how that’s pronounced. And she kind of loops her own guitar lines and synths. And she wrote this song kind of at the peak of Covered in 2020. And her vibe was, I just miss going out so much. That’s a quote. And, you know, it feels right. Is meant to be kind of, you know, her. Oh, I wish we could all be in a club bumping up against each other kind of track. And so, you know, again, very appropriate for this summer. I would say,
S2: OK, I’m going to change the mood a lot for my next one. And and I think, Chris, that you’ll have interesting things to say about this track and this person who is apparently a huge world artist that I didn’t know until somebody kindly put him on the summer Strut list. It’s Burna Boy, the Nigerian singer songwriter rapper who apparently is a gigantic star in Africa and who also just won the best world music album at this very last Grammy Awards in 2021.
S3: And is correct? Yes, he did.
S2: And I don’t know if this song, which is from a 2020 album, was part of the World Music Album that he won for. But it’s a fantastic song called Wonderful by Bernabei Policy.
S4: Too lazy and Molanphy that. Let me show you what I believe, where do you
S5: think this the deep and from the
S1: love that was on my penultimate list and it
S3: really is. Yeah. Bernabei is huge worldwide. He’s a Nigerian reggae dancehall singer. But really, that record is just pure Afrobeat. His idol is Fela Kuti. And you could argue that right now he’s kind of the Fela Kuti of his period because he’s that huge around the world. He was supposed to play Glastonbury in England before covid shut it down, like that’s how big he is. And that song is recorded in both Nigerian pidgin, which has some relation to English. So if you hear English words in there, that’s because that’s kind of part of the Nigerian pidgin language and some Yoruba. So it’s kind of like an all purpose Afrobeat that he’s singing the song in. And I mean as title, the song is wonderful. I really do love it.
S2: Yeah. I just in in honor of whoever put that song on the list, I just really, really appreciate things like finding out huge superstar since I know nothing about because I don’t know that genre or that country or that language. And so people keep on doing that for the summer Strut. So I love it.
S3: That’s awesome. Yeah. No it’s great. I guess I’ll bring it home with something a little on the nose, which is the number one 1966 hit by the Lovin Spoonful Summer in the City. I mean, does it get more obvious than this? And I don’t know if this has ever been in summer Strut you guys have been doing this for a decade and I know I’ve never covered it in my six years on Summer Strut. So I’m going to assume it’s new and we’re just going to put it on there because it’s clearly the Strut a song that the Levin Spoonful ever did. So here’s someone in the city.
S4: Then. Isn’t it a bit it doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city all around, people looking half dead or walking on the sidewalk out of the. He didn’t be all right and they don’t, you know, it’s a pity that they. You like the nights in the summer?
S3: For the record, that song was number one on the Hot 100 exactly 55 years ago this week in August of 1966, and it may well be unofficially the first song of the summer, meaning a song that’s about summer that came out in summer, went to number one in summer. So props to The Lovin Spoonful.
S2: Yeah, Chris, that’s an example of one of the songs that I wouldn’t have put on my list just because I know it so well. And I feel like it was constantly on the radio. I mean, even though I obviously grew up like a fool, I was in my teens a full generation after it was released. It was still a song that was on the airwaves. Right. I mean, that’s just a song sort of part of the the American bloodstream. So I wouldn’t have put it on my list, but I absolutely loved spreading to it.
S1: I know also it’s like one I throw it in with, like the Mona Lisa and Hey Jude and, you know, Hamlet or whatever. It’s just like it’s so suffers from overfamiliarity. You can’t hear it for the first time again. But I, I so have avoided that song for so long, Chris. I think I had the experience of hearing it afresh and that it’s just it’s just, you know, eternal. That track.
S3: I’m glad I gave you that experience. It’s hard to hear new, but yeah, it, it can refresh itself. It’s nice to know that.
S2: All right. Well, we could go on and on and on and on because you all sent us so many good songs, but I think we’re going to cap it off there until next year. Summer Strut. The last thing I would add is that if you sent us a song suggestion in the last couple of weeks, keep it till next year, because there was a certain moment, we just we had to put a lid on it. It was over a full day and night, 24, 26 hours of listening. So some titles did not make it on there. But there’s always next summer. So thanks so much to all of you for listening. Thank you for being Slate plus subscribers and for supporting our work and all strutting for Stephen Metcalf and Chris Molanphy. I’m Dana Stevens. Thanks so much. And we’ll talk to you next week.