Web Extra: Weezer, Janelle Monae, Leon Bridges: WYEP has Your Songs for Summer in the City

Let's Talk About THE Song of the Summer... WYEP Hosts Make Their Predictions. 

Okay, so we're not talking about the BLAZIN' HOT Top 40 song that you're gonna hear in every mall, radio station and roller skating rink in America, but we're aiming to make YOUR summer (you thoughtful, cool, WYEP listener) more audibly enjoyable with WYEP Host picks for best tunes of the season. ALSO make sure you get in on WYEP's Summer in the City Giveaway, where you're entered to win a bike, kayak or concert tickets when you donate $10 to listener-supported WYEP. Enjoy our hosts' summer song picks and see ya at WYEP's Summer Music Festival (This Saturday!)


Joey Spehar (Morning Mix Host)
Song of the Summer: "Africa" by Weezer

Back in December, Mary Klym started a movement. The 14 year old didn’t organize a political march or write a letter to her congressman. No, she created a Twitter account called @WeezerAfrica. Klym just wanted her favorite band to cover Toto’s 1982 hit song, “Africa.”

In May, Weezer finally responded to Klym’s request with a striking Toto cover. In true troll fashion, though, the song they released was “Rosanna”- the opening song from Toto IV which happens to close with “Africa.” A few days later, bringing this long-standing meme full circle, Rivers Cuomo and company shared their faithful rendition of “Africa” using an image of one of Klym’s tweets for the single’s cover art.

Weezer’s version is very well done (of course) and its release prompted Toto guitarist Steve Lukather to sing its praises on Twitter saying, “Very flattered and thanks Weezer.” Lukather went on to say “We recorded this -2nd take NO rehearsal in 1981. Not that anyone cares.. hahaha... Hope we meet someday. Unless you hate us. hahaha.”

Weezer has a long repertoire of cover songs including “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs, a couple of Radiohead songs, and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” to name a few.


Cindy Howes (Evening Mix Host)
Song of the Summer: "Crazy Classic Life" by Janelle Monae

When we know we’re going to have a wild night, my friends and I will jokingly declare “No one dies tonight!” before we clink our glasses. Since we’re closer to 40 than 20, we’re usually in bed by 11pm, but man, the memories of past summer adventures are alive and well. This is particularly true when I hear Monae’s “Crazy Classic Life” from her explosive new record Dirty Computer.

The thing about this song is that it’s one of those up-tempo bangers that has a very important message that revolves around the rights of women and people of color to be treated equally. This means that a black girl should have the same treatment as a white girl when making the same stupid mistakes in life. Monae’s message is that no one is perfect and we should all be allowed to be ourselves, mistakes and all, without judgement, no matter who we are. 

The pop-centric “Crazy Classic Life” has a sweet R&B groove with a poignant rap verse rounding it out. There Monae puts into perspective what it’s like to be a black woman in a white world: “Me and you was friends, but to them, we the opposite/The same mistake, I'm in jail, you on top of sh-t” meaning that she and her white friend both get arrested for the same misdemeanor, but her punishment is harsher.

While the song is really fun and enjoyable and would sound great at your summer pool party, Monae has opened the window for people who feel the way she feels to be more understood by those who are learning about it. 


Kyle Smith (Midday Host/Music Director)
Song of the Summer: "Bad Bad News" by Leon Bridges 

This is easily my favorite summer jam, the first single on Leon Bridges sophomore effort, Good Thing. "Bad, Bad News"  has a soul groove, hip-hop beats and some funky jazz guitar that takes Leon’s music from the Sam Cooke era on his debut, to a summer jam made for the car and dance floor.  Once you’ve spent time head bobbing along to the grooves, the lyrics like “I don't worry about people in my face - Hit 'em with style and grace and watch their ankles break" grab you and realize the song has depth and real meaning.  Leon’s been quoted as saying the song is “an anthem about breaking past negativity and achieving greatness.”  If you enjoy the track as much as I do, the video has a powerful message, about women being catcalled and rising up against harassment.


Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)
Song of the Summer: "Nameless, Faceless" by Courtney Barnett

Let’s shun the formulaic approach to a summer hit song and instead go with one that quotes Margaret Atwood! That’s what Courtney Barnett does in “Nameless, Faceless,” a track that balances bouncy pop and head-banging grunge rock. It’s driven by heavy percussion, pulsing bass, and Barnett’s distorted guitar and vocals – think Kurt Cobain’s feminine side. Barnett’s take on everyday events and emotions is so original that she makes the mundane feels sublime. Her wit is subtle and often self-deprecating, but when push comes to shove, watch out. She brilliantly defangs a snarky troll’s critique of her songwriting: “I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you” he claims. “But you didn’t” she deadpans. Barnett treads the indelicate balance between men and women, quoting Atwood’s line “men are scared that women will laugh at them, women are scared that men will kill them.” All that’s missing is a tra-la-la.


Brian Siewiorek (Production Director, WYEP's Disembodied Voice, Fill-In Superstar Host)
Song of the Summer: “Humility” by Gorillaz

Damon Albarn’s cartoon band plan to release a new album in late June, and the debut single, “Humility”, is my choice for song of the Summer. It has sort of an “easy breezy” sound to it, the kind of song that you want to turn up at a backyard barbecue or blast in the car with the windows down. Its strung-out synths and laid-back beat are expertly accentuated by the smooth guitar of jazz legend, George Benson. Albarn’s lyrics cast away the notion of isolation and vaguely warble about getting back with someone, or back to some place. He could easily be singing about the the end of Winter and cabin fever, and the return of the warmer weather and the activities it brings. That idea is furthered in the song’s music video, which features the band’s cartoon leader, 2D, roller skating alongside a beach in sunny California and passes by all kinds of people enjoying the sunshine in different ways. This is a feeling definitely relatable to most, which is why this song will be on all my Summertime playlists.