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

The new Beyonce album is like a solar eclipse in pop music: rare and spectacular. But what about some other summer releases? NPR’s Ayesha Rasko talks with Reyna Cruz from the Switch On Pop podcast.

(Soundbite of Beyoncé’s song, “Church Girl”)

Ayesha Rusko, Host:

Beyonce has a new album called “Renaissance”. And like most things Beyonce does, it’s like a solar eclipse.

(soundbite of song, “Church Girl”)

BEYONCE: (Singing) I’m up. I’ve gone down. I felt like I had moved mountains. Friends who cried waterfalls, oh.

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

Reyna Cruz: Very happy to be here. Thank you for being me.

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

CRUISE: Gloves that have lights on the end, and people move them around?


RASCOE: Yeah, that’s what I felt. I just feel like I’m 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 clubgoer, I think you’re sounding like the best mindset to be in a hot, sweaty club. This is what Beyoncé wanted, I assume, especially with the seamless transitions, which make me think of a house or disco mix. Like you’re in a club, everything blends together, going from one kind of track to another. It’s really interesting.

RASCOE: Another person who has some really great dance songs, really up-tempo – you have “Damn Time” by Lizzo.

(Soundbite of song, “This About Time”)

Lizzo: (Singing) Turn on the music, turn off the lights. I had a feeling ‘I’m going to be fine. Okay, okay, okay. It’s about damn time.

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

CRUZ: Well, this song is currently No. 1 on Billboard this summer, so I think it naturally deserves to be on the hottest song of the summer. And I think a lot of what we hear in Lizzo is similar to what we hear in Beyonce—kind of a disco revival, a lot of syncopation. Lizzo has a bright summer sound that makes you think of Nile Rodgers, Chic, Prince, that kind of vibe, especially in the middle of “About Damn Time’s” guitar. It has a flute. There’s that breakdown in the middle, which I’ve seen a lot on TikTok and Instagram. The part she likes, Balenci-ussies (ph), you know.

(Soundbite song, “About Damn Time”)

Lizzo: (Singing) In a minute, I need an emotional man or woman to pump me up. Feeling fussy, walking in my Balenci-ussies, trying to bring out the fabulous.

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

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

Cruz: Out of us. Exactly.

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

CRUZ: Wepa, baby. I think the album of the summer comes from none other than Bad Bunny because it speaks to that zeitgeist. And for me this is my personal song of the summer “Un Verano Sin Ti” off “El Apagan”.

Bad Bunny: (Rapping in Spanish).

(Soundbite of song, “The Blackout”)

CRUZ: It’s indicative of a particular energy that comes with tropical temperatures. And I personally – I’m Puerto Rican, so I love listening 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 wrap up here.

CRUZ: I think the Song of the Summer contestants – I think what’s really interesting about them is that they cater to the queer community. And I say that outside of Beyoncé’s album, which is clearly a dedication to the gay, black and brown communities through the use of ballroom music. And I think you can see a lot of gay clubs, and you can see a lot of the queer and trans population especially in terms of which songs become songs of the summer because I think those communities have a kind of melody of saccharine popness. Just what we need in an effective summer song. So something that I’ve been tuned into and a lot of my friends have been tuned into is Tove Lo’s song “2 Die 4,” which just came out. But I can totally see this as something that will at least stick with us for a few weeks to get us to the end of summer.

(soundbite of song, “2 Mar 4”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) Look alive and come with me. You must die every day. Drag you in the middle of the night to dance in the headlights and go out in the rain.

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

CRUZ: It’s fascinating. I mean, you have to beat a good one. You have replayability, right? Because the summer song you hear all the time, and this one does it for me. I finished three minutes of the song, and I’m like, oh, I need to hear this right away, and I need – I need it everywhere.

(soundbite of song, “2 Mar 4”)

LO: (singing) You’re gonna die every day. When I think of you, the world goes less blue. Let’s do it again.

RASCOE: That’s Reyna Cruz. They produce Vulture’s music podcast “Switched On Pop.” Rena, thank you very much.

CRUZ: Thank you for being me. I really enjoyed being here.

(Soundbite of Tove Lo song, “2 Die 4”)

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