The latest music releases to add to your summer playlist: NPR

A new Beyonce album is like a solar eclipse in pop music: rare and spectacular. But what other summer releases? NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe talks with Reanna Cruz of the Switched on Pop podcast.



(SOUNDBITE OF BEYONCE SONG, “CHURCH GIRL”)

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Beyoncé has a new album called “Renaissance.” And like a lot of things Beyoncé does, it’s like a solar eclipse.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG, “CHURCH GIRL”)

BEYONCE: (Singing) I’m up. I’ve been down I felt like I was moving mountains. You have friends who cry fountains, oh.

RASCOE: But there’s a lot of other great music out there this summer, so we want to take the time to talk about the iconic Beyonce and also do well with other hard-working artists worthy of your eardrums. So we called Reanna Cruz, who’s with Vulture’s music podcast “Switched On Pop” in Los Angeles. Welcome to the program.

REANNA CRUZ: Very happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

RASCOE: First of all, I think we have to give Beyonce some space because it’s a summer sound. It’s a project. It’s all the songs, like they have transitions into each other. I didn’t even know you could do more. And then the other thing is that it made me feel like I was almost, like, in a rave. And I’ve never been to a rave, but, like, I had glow sticks. And I was dancing, you know, with my arms.

CRUZ: With the gloves that have the lights on the end, and people move them a little bit?

(LAUGHS)

RASCOE: Yeah, that’s what I heard. I felt like I was in a hot, sweaty club, even though I’m sitting here at my desk doing, you know, interviews.

CRUZ: Yeah, I mean, as an avid club goer, I feel like feeling like you’re in a hot, sweaty club is the perfect mindset. It’s what Beyonce was going for, I guess, especially with the seamless transitions, which make me think of a house or disco mix. Like you’re in the club, everything mixes, goes from one track to another. It’s really interesting.

RASCOE: Another person who has really good dance songs, with a really upbeat beat: you have “About Damn Time” by Lizzo.

(SOUNDBUTTON OF THE SONG, “IT’S ABOUT DIFFERENT TIMES”)

LIZZO: (Singing) Turn up the music, turn off the lights. I have a feeling I’ll be fine. OK, OK, OK. It was about time.

RASCOE: It’s on your must-have list this summer. What do you think of this song and how does it rank in Lizzo’s body of work?

CRUZ: Well, the song is currently No. 1 on Billboard in the heat of the summer, so I think that’s inherently a qualification to be in the song of the summer discussion. And I think a lot of what we’re hearing in Lizzo is similar to what we’re hearing in Beyonce: the kind of disco revival, a lot of syncopation. There’s a bright summery sound, specifically in Lizzo, between the guitar on “About Damn Time,” like think, like, Nile Rodgers, Chic, Prince, that kind of vibe. There are flutes. There’s this breakdown in the middle, which I’ve seen a lot on things like TikTok and Instagram. The part where she’s like, Balenci-ussies (ph), you know.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG, “ABOUT DAMN TIME”)

LIZZO: (Singing) In a minute, I need a sentimental man or woman to love me. I feel demanding, walking in my Balenci-ussies, try to bring out the fabulous.

CRUZ: Lizzo does a great job of capturing the public consciousness through her music and making it a ubiquitous event.

RASCOE: I mean, and part of it is that this is a summer where people are trying to, you know, get back outside, you know?

CRUZ: We’re out. exactly

RASCOE: So you’re bringing us some Puerto Rican heat too, right?

CRUZ: Wepa, baby. I think the album of the summer comes from Bad Bunny because it speaks to that zeitgeist. And the song for me that is my personal song of the summer is “El apagó” from “Un verano sin ti”.

BAD BUNNY: (Rapping in Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE BLACKOUT”)

CRUZ: It is indicative of a particular energy that comes with tropical temperatures. And I personally, I’m Puerto Rican, so I like to listen to it because it’s an ode to Puerto Rico and it makes me think about my culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE BLACKOUT”)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Spanish).

RASCOE: So give us something to end here.

CRUZ: I think the song of the summer contenders; one thing that I think is really interesting about them is that they cater to the queer community. And I say this about Beyonce’s album, which is clearly a dedication to the gay, black and brown communities through the use of lounge music. And I think you can look at a lot of gay clubs, and you can look at a lot of the queer and trans population specifically at what songs become the songs of the summer because I feel like those communities have an attunement to the kind of saccharine pop. that we need in an effective summer song. So one thing that I’ve been tuned into and a lot of my friends that I’ve been tuned into is the song “2 Die 4” by Tove Lo, which came out recently. But I could totally see this as something that will stick with us for at least a few weeks to get us through the end of summer.

(SOUNDTRACK OF THE SONG, “2 DIE 4”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) Look live and come with me. You must die for each day. Crawl outside at midnight to dance in the headlights and kiss in the rain.

RASCOE: And what is it about this song that stands out to you?

CRUZ: Paste. I mean, you have to have a good rhythm. You have to be able to repeat, right? Because you hear the summer song all the time, and that does it for me. I finished the three minutes of the song, and I was like, oh, I need to hear this again immediately, and I need it everywhere.

(SOUNDTRACK OF THE SONG, “2 DIE 4”)

LO: (Singing) Die for every day. When I think of you, the world becomes less blue. Let’s do it again.

RASCOE: This is Reanna Cruz. They produce Vulture’s music podcast “Switched On Pop.” Reanna, thank you very much.

CRUZ: Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed being here.

(SOUNDBITE FROM TOVE LO’S SONG, “2 DIE 4”)

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