Is it just me, or is summer ripening up nicely? There’s something about the heat and that first whiff of a barbecue that just, well, slaps—and around this time of year, it starts slapping like a four-to-the-floor drumbeat. You start salivating for the sea. You panic about your conversational Greek. You start wearing shoes you don’t have to bend down to put on. People still get a little bit hung up on summer bodies, sure, but the great Peloton amnesty in the wake of Mr. Big’s unfortunate demise put an end to many a regime. So loosen your belt a notch and enjoy the daylight. Yes, the summer days are great—but, oh, those summer nights.
Summer nights are a drug. Muggy and thick. Wet and coconutty. Everything tacky to the touch, like lip gloss. And as soon as the sun dips, it’s usually the “Macarena” that starts playing on a loop in my head—but pop lioness Beyoncé has come through with a decent bid for the song of the summer with “Break My Soul.” The carefully considered rollout felt refreshing in and of itself, in that we had fair warning of the drop instead of her more recent tactic of a surprise (and slightly stressful) cavalcade of a zillion songs and vids. There’s a purity to “Break My Soul” as a standalone, moreish morsel of the forthcoming album.
Summer bops come in all shapes and sizes. (I’m still reeling from Dua Lipa’s “One Kiss,” tbh.) They capture the flavor of that specific summer in your memory for years to come. I’m no music writer, but I like bops, pure and simple, and Beyoncé’s latest tune is a bop, pure and simple. The mid-tempo track ladles house-anthem-y hot sauce over our sun-kissed shenanigans. It’s been so long since we had a sip of Lemonade, and “Break My Soul” is a banger for the ages, whether you remember House of Deréon or not.
Speaking of which, we’re experiencing something of a throwback summer, revisiting the music goliaths of yore. Beyoncé has sampled 1990’s certified banger “Show Me Love.” Thanks to Stranger Things, quintessentially British and genuinely fantastical music nutter Kate Bush is topping the charts after a 40-year sabbatical. (I like the Placebo version of “Running Up That Hill” better, but I’m splitting hairs here.) Justin Timberlake is back on stage in Washington, D.C., even if his attempt at a “beat ya feet” dance looked more like Irish river dancing than the moves he was intending to recreate. There’s a cozy familiarity and a sense of something reassuring in the not-quite-new-ness of these faces (and voices) as they come back around.
We’re entering silly season—a period where the relentless news cycles rest like fresh-out-the-oven brisket in favor of summer mischief—and there’s nothing sillier than dancing. These newly-minted bops help ease us into those proceedings. Becoming a chorus of limbs as the music thumps is a release. So embrace the loosey goosey-ness of it all. Let go that extra little bit. Allow the heat to ease your brackets so the gates can swing open. (Without the doors completely coming off, of course.) After a couple of strikingly soft summers—all sanitizer and fretting—this one’s going hard. I hope you’re ready.