A new Beyonce album is like a solar eclipse in pop music: rare and spectacular. But what are some other summer releases? NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe talks with Reanna Cruz from the Switched on Pop podcast.
(SOUNDBITE OF BEYONCE’S “CHURCH GIRL”)
AYESHA RASCOE, PRACTICE:
Beyonce has a new album called “Renaissance”. And like a lot of things Beyonce does, it’s like a solar eclipse.
(SOUNDBITE, “CHURCH GIRL”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) I’m up. I’ve been down. I felt like moving mountains. I have friends who cried springs, oh.
RASCOE: But there’s a lot of other good music this summer, so we want to take the time to talk about the iconic Beyonce and also do right by other hard-working artists worthy of your eardrums. So we’ve called Reanna Cruz, who’s with Vulture’s music podcast Switched On Pop in Los Angeles. Welcome to the program.
REANNA CRUZ: So happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
RASCOE: First of all, I think we really have to give Beyonce some space because it’s a summer sound. It’s a project. It’s all the songs – like, they have 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 in a frenzy. And I’ve never been to a rave, but, like, I’ve had glow sticks. And I was jumping, you know, with my arms.
CRUZ: With the handles that have lights on the bottom and people move them?
RASCOE: Yeah, that’s what I felt. It just felt like I was in a hot, sweaty club, even though I’m just sitting here at my desk doing, you know, interviews.
CRUZ: Yeah, I mean, as an avid clubber, I feel like you’re listening to it like being in a hot, sweaty club is the perfect mindset to be in. That’s what Beyonce was going for, I suppose, especially with the seamless transitions, which make me think of a house or disco mix. Like you’re in the club, everything blends together, it kind of goes from one track to another. It’s really interesting.
RASCOE: Another person who has some really great dance tracks, with a very upbeat beat – you have “About Damn Time” by Lizzo.
(SOUNDBITE, “IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME”)
LIZZO: (Singing) Turn up the music, turn down the lights. I have a feeling I’ll be fine. OK, OK, OK. It’s damn time.
RASCOE: It’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, the song is currently no. 1 on Billboard during the heat of the summer, so I feel like that’s basically a qualification to be the talk song of the summer. And I think a lot of what we’re hearing in Lizzo is kind of similar to what we’re hearing in Beyoncé—kind of a disco revival, a lot of syncopation. There’s a bright summer sound, especially on Lizzo, between the guitar “About Damn Time,” like you think of, like Nile Rodgers, Chic, Prince, that kind of vibe. There are flutes in it. It’s that breakdown in the middle that I’ve seen a lot on, like TikTok and Instagram. The part where she’s like, Balenci-ussies (ph), you know.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “AROUND PUNISHING TIME”)
LIZZO: (Singing) In a minute, I need a sentimental man or woman to spur me on. Feeling restless, walking in my Balenci-ussies, try to bring out the gorgeous.
CRUZ: Lizzo does a really great job of capturing the public consciousness through her music and making it an omnipresent event.
RASCOE: I mean – and part of that is this is a summer where people are trying to, you know, get back out, you know?
CRUZ: Outside. exactly.
RASCOE: So you’re bringing us some more heat from Puerto Rico, right?
CRUZ: Wepa, baby. I think the album of the summer comes from none other than Bad Bunny because it kind of speaks to that zeitgeist. And the song for me that is my personal song of the summer is “El apagon” from “Un verano sin ti”.
BAD RABBIT: (Rap in Spanish).
(SOUNDBITE, “THE BLACKOUT”)
CRUZ: It’s indicative of a special energy that comes with tropical temperatures. And I personally – I’m Puerto Rican, so I like listening to it because it’s an ode to Puerto Rico and it makes me think about my own culture.
(SOUNDBITE, “THE BLACKOUT”)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Sung in Spanish).
RASCOE: So give us something to wrap up here.
CRUZ: I think the song of the wine contestants – something that I think is really cool about them is that they cater to the queer community. And I say this outside of Beyonce’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 look at a lot of gay clubs and you can look at a lot of the queer and trans population, especially what songs become the song of the summer, because I feel like those communities are attuned to the kind of saccharine popness. which we need in an effective summer song. So something that I’ve been tuning in to, and a lot of my friends have been tuning in to, is the song “2 Die 4” by Tove Lo, which came out recently. But I could totally see it as something that will last us a few weeks at least to get us through the end of summer.
(SONG END, “2 DIES 4”)
TOVE LO: (Sung) Look alive and come with me. You must die for every day. Pull up at midnight to dance under the headlights and out into the rain.
RASCOE: And what is it about this song that stands out to you?
CRUZ: It’s fascinating. I mean, you have to have a good rhythm. Gotta have replays, right? Because you hear the summer song all the time, and that does it for me. I finished three minutes of the song, and I’m like, oh, I have to listen to it again right now, and I need it – I just need it everywhere.
(SONG END, “2 DIES 4”)
LO: (singing) You gotta die for every day. When I think of you, the world becomes less blue. Let’s do it again.
RASCOE: This is Reanna Cruz. They produce Vulture’s music podcast Switched On Pop. Reana, thank you very much.
CRUZ: Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed being here.
(SOUNDBITE OF TOVE LO’S SONG, “2 DIE 4”)
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