First you have to set some parameters: Was the jam of the summer that one song you and your friends sang along to at three in the morning on more than one occasion in the past three monthsand rarely outside your car? No, it’s not. That’s your jam of the summer and it’s OK if it was Panic! At the Disco or We Are Scientists. It’s your jam, but it’s not the jam of the summer. If the Boston Globe is to be believed, the true jam of the summer was Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy (an oddball R&B ballad about insanity). Given its chart-toppery and the fact that I heard a drunk singing it at a bar on Flatbush, the Globe gets partial credit on this one. Because Crazy couldn’t have been the absolute summer jamdid you even like it that much?
No, the jam of the summer cannot be a divisive issue; it is, after all, the song upon which we all agree. Despite this, I’ll say I had my own personal summer jam: Loudon Wainwright III’s The Swimming Song, which was linked in the very first installment of this columnat the beginning of the summer. Many thanks to Said the Gramophone for tipping me off to that one.
» Hear The Swimming Song at The Rawking Refuses to Stop!
Over at Scissorkick, Steve Marchese sets the bar for the summer jam: If you think Sinbad would be into it at Reggae Sunsplash. That sounds about right. He points to Tommy Guerrero as the source of this year’s summer jam, at least for East Coasters.
» Hear Just Ain’t Me at Scissorkick
Could Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie be the jam of the summer? Please noand there goes its unanimity. But speaking of radio hits, how about Christina Aguilera’s Ain’t No Other Man? It was late to the summer, but that shouldn’t compromise its contender status.
» Hear Ain’t No Other Man at The Daily Growl
Which makes me wonder if we’ve even heard Summer 2006’s jam yet. JP at Music for Robots reminds us all the 2003 summer jamone of the greatest of all summerswasn’t even out until fall: Outkast’s Hey Ya. JP’s pick for the jam of this summer is Pigeon John, who’s label-mates with Tommy Guerrero on DJ Shadow’s Quannum records, which means maybe DJ Shadow is working the summer jam angle?
» Hear Higher at Music for Robots
On the other hand, Peter, Bjorn, and John may have secretly been storing away the summer’s best song. Though it won’t qualify as the jam of the summer, it’s superb, and remarkably summery. Don’t miss this.
» Hear Young Folks at CrazyTalk
Beyond compare, however, the all-time greatest summer jam is Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. This song, and the great feeling it evokes, is the singular reason Smith still has a career. From the moment this record hit, the sky was the limit: become a movie star, get put on a thousand magazine coversand nothing, not even starring in two movies with Martin Lawrence, has yet brought him down. Summertime was his ticket to everlasting goodwill. Download it today and play it for four months from now, and you’ll understand why.
» Hear Summertime at Indie Don’t Dance