Perhaps the only thing that gets us through every year is the return of summer. All our worries simply pack their bags, write a note to remind us to feed the cats, and leave us alone for those good three months. And as we start to plan how we’re going to spend our long days (road trip, beach or eating another charcuterie board?), we start to build our perfect summer playlist; those songs that need to pass certain vibe checks and absolutely have to be worry-free. Lucky for you, we’ve got some suggestions. And not to brag or anything, but they’re pretty good suggestions.
Here are 12 of our fave tracks that will ensure you have the perfect summer.
1. Niko Walters – ‘Not My Neighbour’
The brother of NZ’s fave SIX60 frontman Matiu Walters, Niko Walters brings a breath of fresh contemporary R&B air to our music scene. The lead single from his debut album Escape, ‘Not My Neighbour’ is a seriously infectious funky hit that takes inspiration from Quentin Tarantino films. This one is bound to be on repeat on your playlist.
Play this when: You’re driving along with your friends at night.
2. eleven7four – ‘What’s Hannin’’
Auckland’s coolest twins dropped their debut album What’s The 1174? (Side 1) back in October, but its partying theme ties in great with summer. The track ‘What’s Hannin’ is a jumping club hit that seems to line up with your heartbeat a little too perfectly. A perfect track to get you in the mood for festivals.
Play this when: You’re on your fifth drink and hey, dancing seems like a good idea.
3. Drax Project ft. Fetty Wap, AACACIA – ‘Firefly’
The catchy tune from hitmakers Drax Project is not only a flex with its features but couldn’t sound more summery if it tried. With a tropical warmth and that trademark Drax Project sound, ‘Firefly’ is the perfect track to get you in the mood for those longer days and nights.
Play this when: It’s a really warm night and you’re surrounded with the best company.
4. SIX60 – ‘Fade Away’
It’s simply not a Kiwi summer without SIX60 and while there are plenty of their hits to choose from, latest one ‘Fade Away’ is a must for your summer playlist. A mellow, feel-good track, the hit definitely passes the vibe check. In fact, it just might’ve invented the vibe.
Play this when: You need something to get you in the mood to start your day.
5. BENEE – ‘Kool’
It’s undeniably been a great year for BENEE, so it makes sense that she’d roll on into summer too. With her quirky yet trendy flair, the hit ‘Kool’ off her debut album Hey u x follows the same likability and groove. And she even teamed up with the team over at The Sims for the music video!
Play this when: You’re sunbathing poolside.
6. deryk – ‘MEN’
Emerging Auckland artist deryk excels at making hypnotic pop; her unique voice a great contrast to her whimsical melodies. Her single ‘MEN’, off her latest EP WOMb, brings a stripped back and more introspective vibe to summer, asking us to take some time for ourselves and enjoy it.
Play this when: You’re driving with the windows down and there are no clouds in the sky.
7. Mikey Dam – ‘Time’
With his effortless harmonies and R&B cool, new Kiwi star Mikey Dam proves there’s power in slow and acoustic-type tracks. His latest hit ‘Time’ is a peaceful tune about missing your loved ones when you’re far from home, and it’s the perfect kind of easy listening sound you need for when the sun’s shining.
Play this when: You’re enjoying a picnic at the beach.
8. Gino October – ‘Enjoy The Ride’
Our very own Gino October has been making waves in the hip-hop scene for a few years now, his smooth mid-tempo beats a cool complement to his poetic bars. The single ‘Enjoy The Ride’, off his latest debut EP Look How Far We’ve Come, really shows the rising rapper in his element. A suave R&B hit that definitely highlights all the best parts of summer.
Play this when: You’re watching the sunset at the beach.
9. SWIDT ft. B Wise, Mikey Dam – ‘WONDERS’
The hip-hop group from Onehunga have a talent for combining electric production with their effortless flow. Latest track ‘WONDERS’ (off their 3-track-project GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES) brings a taste of Latin grooves to summer, the sultry guitar running behind the entire track a refreshing addition to the group’s sound.
Play this when: The party’s just getting started.
10. Ariana Grande – ‘positions’
With the drop of her latest album Positions, Ariana Grande brought a whole new aesthetic to her musical sound. With floaty beats and a notion that the star was undoubtedly happy, the album stands as a good palette cleanser for the year. Lead single ‘positions’ is a fun and bouncy track that’s kind of impossible not to sing along to. A perfect summer hit!
Play this when: You’re ready for a car sing-along.
11. Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber – ‘Monster’
Everybody’s favourite Canadian pop stars finally linked up for a collab, and the result is far better than we expected. Bonding over their own struggles with fame at a young age, Bieber and Mendes bring their own individual aptitudes to ‘Monster’ and create a hit that’s bound to be heard a lot over the summer.
Play this when: You’re on your third charcuterie board and you’re wondering to yourself, am I the monster?
12. Billie Eilish – ‘Therefore I Am’
In her typical aloof style, Eilish’s latest track ‘Therefore I Am’ shamelessly claps back at her haters and body shamers. And that’s exactly the kind of energy we want to take with us this summer.
Play this when: You’re enjoying your own company with all the sunshine, food and books you desire.