What's 2023's Song of the Summer? Exclaim! Staffers Share Their Picks

Our suggested soundtrack to your summer, featuring Jayda G, Avalon Emerson, DijahSB and more

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Jun 21, 2023

Choosing the song of the summer is no laughing matter — how do we want to define the coming months? What tone do we set on this, the day of the solstice, to lead us into our backyard barbecues and poolside escapes, our evenings twirling in the bar and huddled next to campfires? It's no small feat, but we at Exclaim! have taken a swing at it nonetheless; from Kylie Minogue's sharp, thumping return (just in time for Pride Month) to Jayda G's bittersweet ode to growth or KAYTRAMINÉ'S irrepressible anthem, these are the songs we want to hear bumping from clubs and pouring out of car windows.

It's officially the first day of summer, so here are Exclaim! Staffers' picks for the song of the summer. Enjoy!

Afternoon Bike Ride
"Good Company"
(Friends of Friends)

Sometimes the song of the summer comes on quietly. I mean that twofold: in terms of the delicate beginning of the Montreal trio's contender, and the fact that it's the penultimate track of their sophomore album, Glossover, which was released back in February. Much like the sparkling icicles of that season beginning to melt, this is like the lo-fi, ambient-adjacent version of a pulsing electropop jam.

Summer is supposed to feel carefree. I'm still haunted by the fact that we no longer get to take it all as a vacation because we're working adults or whatever, but those moments of freedom are something I experience more like little pockets; cool sips of relief from the cloudless blue sky or open road or ripples on the water. Lia Kurihara encapsulates this with her lyrical will to drive miles "for a cup of tea and good company" in her memory as she cares for her dad, who has Alzheimer's. The weather can't prevent us from that stomach-churning grief, but holding onto — and sometimes, letting go of — the people we love gives us pockets of pure bliss. Looping "Good Company" gently coaxes the realization that the sun feels warmer when we know we'll have to contend with its absence.
Megan LaPierre

DijahSB and veggi
"Lisa Leslie" 

Toronto rapper DijahSB teams up with California beatmaker veggi for the most infectiously fun hip-hop jam of the summer. Dijah raps about how "good thoughts and the good vibes keep me flexin'" while name-dropping retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie over a giddy club beat. With a deadpan flow that relentlessly pushes the joyfully pulsing beat forward, it's a two-minute burst of feel-good energy — exactly the kind of thing that should be pumping out of portable Bluetooth speakers all summer.
Alex Hudson

Avalon Emerson
"Astrology Poisoning"
(Another Dove)

"Astrology Poisoning" sounds like fresh melon; like chlorine in your hair; like sugar water swirling in a plastic blossom. Guitars flit like hummingbirds above burbling bass and drums fall in a glittering sunshower as Avalon Emerson's voice, cool and smooth as a stone, sinks among the bustling gentleness. 

It's the kind of song that could play on loop endlessly, a balmy escape into some rarified world where everything is dotted with dew. That is, until you read the lyrics — Emerson's plush, breezy fantasy is a front for a confrontation with failure and heat death and loneliness, a piece of stained glass hung before a bombed-out living room. It's a fitting choice for 2023's song of the summer then, a beautifully complicated piece of pop, a place where the "Hometown you left is ash and black," but the question remains: "Would you have felt it all / Another day of glamorous / Euphoria in spite of it all?"

Emerson — a longtime DJ who's taken a sumptuous swing at singer-songwriter fair with this year's & the Charm — sneaks a slyly humorous, slightly devastating treatise on anxiety and fear into a song that twirls and illuminates like fireflies. It might not exactly be the escapist anthem we typically want at summer's height, but it feels like the truth. And hey, if you're looking to tune out the real world for a bit, you can always crank the volume and jump in the water. 
Kaelen Bell

Jayda G
(Pirates Blend)

While it's long been understood that Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" is the perennial song of the summer contender to beat, Jayda G's "Scars" has done just that for me as the season sets in. Appearing on her excellent sophomore album, Guy — a tribute to the artist's late father — the track is based on William Richard Guy's memory of the relentless bullying he faced in his high school years. Its house production shapes that recollection into an anthem of strength and perseverance, pushing forward with growth in mind despite the weight of conflict one may carry.

As weighty as its inspiration is, the execution is decidedly uninhibited. "Scars" opens with Jayda's brief a cappella vocal before splashing listeners with detailed percussion and an alluring chord progression, as if the artist has plunged into the blue she treads on Guy's cover. Hand drums then enter to deepen the groove, with the undercurrent leading to a massive chorus in which the artist shakes off her inhibition: "I've got scars / But I promise you I'm growing." Knowing Jayda's skill as a DJ, we're crossing our fingers for Guy's extended mixes to one day wash ashore, making summer last a little longer.
Calum Slingerland

(Club Banana)

Choosing just one track from KAYTRAMINÉ's eponymous debut album to dub the song of the summer wasn't easy, considering that it's packed to the brim with shimmering production, breezy flows and braggadocious songwriting, but after spending the weekend sizzling in the Southampton heat with beach beverages in hand, the lead single "4EVA" separated itself from the crowd. A bubbly instrumental courtesy of Kaytranada, paired with Aminé's effortless swagger behind the mic, perfectly embodies the mindset portrayed in the album's artwork — kicked back on pool floaties, sunnies down, cold drinks raised in a toast to the steadily-climbing UV. And, really, what better way is there to spend the summer? 
Ben Okazawa

Kylie Minogue 
"Padam Padam"

She knew what she was doing. With just days before Pride Month and the requisite TikTok teaser pre-release period on lock, the summer anthem gods brought all the elements together in catapulting Kylie Minogue's latest banger to the forefront of the season — and not without merit! 

Delectably catchy and channelling the uniquely Kylie brand of camp, we were absolutely due for a song like "Padam Padam," in this, the summer of "post"-COVID, with all its renewed get-outside energy. Simple enough to blast through parade speakers or be shredded to bits in dance floor remixes, the song — with its heartbeat through-line — has just enough sentimentality to lend itself to both hedonistic pursuits and backyard pool parties in equal measure.
Allie Gregory

Róisín Murphy
(Ninja Tune)

Last week, our dear Reviews Editor Kaelen and I were kicking ourselves. How could we have exhausted all the Hit Parade early cuts in our Staff Picks before choosing our songs of the summer? Róisín Murphy must have heard our pleas, answering with another silly season anthem just in time for the solstice. The circle of life encompasses "Fader" as she channels back home, though things never get too deep. Buoyed by breezy dips into hip-hop and playful lyrics, there are few artists who could make the line "I lay eggs every single time I think of you" sound as effortless as Murphy does. Of course, the best summer soundtracks never take themselves too seriously. 
Sydney Brasil

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