Playlist of the Month: Ridiculous Summer Jams

There are two times a year when we all act so ridiculous – wearing wacky clothes and garish color combos, attending party after party, and listening to corny novelty songs – that you have to wonder if we all have temporarily lost our minds. One of these times is Christmas – too wintery, too cold, no thank you – and the other is summer.

When we look back at the summers of our past, the soundtrack is a series of pop and hip hop jams, each more ridiculous than the last. We have another month of summer to go – a whole month of sunny skies, sundresses, and warm nights! And we have just the ridiculous summer jam soundtrack to remind us of all those silly, long-ago summer tunes.

Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!

Jump by Kris Kross
{April 1992}

This song is anything but wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy whack, and makes me want to put on my backwards overalls and sideways ball cap. [ Favorite summer style c. 1992 – 1995: overall shorts with one strap undone, pacifier necklace, keds.] Jump was such a sensation during the summer of ’92 that my brother joked that he would one day have two sons and name them Kris and Kross. 2015: his boys are named Charley and Henry.

I thought the lyrics were more overtly summery, but they aren’t. I guess as a kid I just equated summer with jumping and free-form movement and winter with huddling miserably.

Fly by Sugar Ray
{June 1997}

Summer days from the mid-90s are a blur of riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, making new friends at acting camp, and hanging out at my aunt’s pool until way past my bedtime. This song was all over the place in the summer of ’97 and I can almost still taste the chlorine-tinged Sour Patch Kids when I listen to it. It’s also a little ridiculous: you just started talking two sentences ago, why are you telling me that your mother died? What are those weird sounds you’re making in the middle of it? Are you having a stroke? Is that how your mother died?

Walkin On The Sun by Smash Mouth
{July 1997}

This band’s songs were so tied to summer in the mid and late 90s that on my initial draft of the list I just said “something by Smash Mouth.” I’m sure Smash Mouth fans existed, but I never knew any. It’s more like their music just materialized near swimming pools, beach shops, and water parks from thin air during the summers of 1997 – 2003.

Summer Girls by L.F.O.
{June 1999}

In the summer of 1999 I was about to begin eighth grade. According to the photo album from our trip to the Cape, my three teenage siblings and I were really into khaki. What can I say? Gap and Abercrombie were pushing the khakis, and the youth of America wanted to look like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch.  Summer Girls was chock full of nostalgic references to the early 90s, which was only several years in the past … but to a 12-year-old it was a lifetime ago.

Thong Song by Sisqo
{December 1999}

Don’t let the December release date fool you: the video was released in the spring of 2000, and there were massive tie-ins to MTV’s Spring Break in order to boost it for summer’s Tacky Music Season. This was really at the beginning of butts being a thing; J.Lo’s butt was a pretty new topic in the national dialogue. I feel like Thong Song is at least partially responsible for kicking off the Butt Zeitgeist that I don’t fully understand.

Traci’s Picks

In The Summertime by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
{May 1995}

Years before Shaggy was in denial of it being him and going by Mr. Boombastic, he kept the tone light and fun by sticking to his Jamaican roots and singing straight up about hittin on chicks in the summer. I think my main problem with this, though, is that he constantly refers to himself in third person. “Shaggy say”, “Raggamuffin Shaggy” – both lines muttered by Mr. Boombastic. Also, in general he constantly sounds like he’s got nasal problems.

Cruel Summer by Ace of Base
{July 1998}

If you did a drinking game to this song and took a shot anytime “Cruel Summer” is sung, you’d probably be dead. They’re complaining that it’s too hot and it’s a “cruel summer” because of the heat. What makes this ridic is that the singer is complaining his/her mate isn’t in the city to experience the record heat, and therefore it’s an even crueler summer. Guess what – it’s going to be fucking hot no matter if your signif oth is there or not.

Steal My Sunshine by Len
{July 1999}

“Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week impaired my tribal lunar-speak” WHAT EVEN ARE YOU SAYING, LEN. ALSO WHAT IS A LEN??

Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamic C
{June 2000}

This song came out when we graduated middle school, and for that reason alone, the timing was perfect and it became THE JAM. Back then, the song was reminiscing about our school daze and promising to K.I.T. forever and ever. But I’m more annoyed with it now because A), I’m older than the “we talked all night about the rest of our lives, where we’re gonna be when we turn 25” line, and B) she spoke/sang it like almost slam poetry but with less anger? And a little bit of a whisper, because Vitamin C is embarrassed of her hair, I’m assuming?

Who Let The Dogs Out? by Baha Men
{July 2000}

No one ever got the answer to this. No one cares. Carry on with your summer.

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Blaque Friday, Orphan Black Friday and Beyond: Alternatives To Shopping

It’s Black Friday, and the crowds are hitting the malls and big-box stores. But whether you’re not into consumer culture, already bought your Christmas gifts (show-off!), or are more of an online shopper, you don’t have to brave the masses today. If you have the day off and are looking to celebrate a different kind of Black Friday, read on for suggestions.

Blaque Friday

Remember Blaque? Kind of? The main thing I remember about Blaque, the late 90s girl group, is that they were not TLC or Destiny’s Child but probably wanted to be. But get this: Blaque actually stands for something. No kidding. It’s an acronym for Believing, Life, Achieving, Quest, Unity, Everything. What does that mean? Everything. And nothing. Mostly, absolutely nothing. Still, it makes for a good game if you’re lounging around with friends and relatives. Put a bunch of words in a hat. Everybody has to make up an acronym for the word that they pull. Misspelling the word is fine. So, say you pull Milk. Your Blaque-ronym is Mylk: Miracles, Youth, Love, Knowledge. Or MILKE: Mourning Idaho, Loving Kansas Evermore. The person whose Blaque-ronym makes you laugh the hardest is the winner.

It goes without saying, the soundtrack to this game is either tunes by Blaque, or the feature film Bring It On which features the Blaque members as high school cheerleaders.

Shirley Temple Black Friday

Pour yourself a Shirley Temple (that’s ginger ale and grenadine) then add a splash of any kind of liquor. Any kind at all. Bam! Now it’s a Shirley Temple Black. Round out your Shirley Temple Black Friday with a selection of Shirley Temple films. Come on, I can’t be the only former community theater child around these parts! Get your inner ham on as you sing along to On The Good Ship Lollipop or Animal Crackers In My Soup. Have a Shirley Temple impression-off with your friends and family – especially fun if you’ve already knocked back a few Shirley Temple Blacks.  Sick of Thanksgiving leftovers already? Order some international food, because in her adult life Shirley Temple Black served as an ambassador to Ghana and the former Czechoslovakia.

Orphan Black Friday

Haven’t seen Orphan Black yet? Have access to BBC America On Demand? Today’s your lucky day! You can easily watch all 10 episodes in one fit of glorious laziness. While everyone is evading human stampedes and knife battles at Wal-Mart, you’ll be immersed in a world of mystery and intrigue.

Already seen Orphan Black? If you aren’t up for a re-watch, get your butt to a crowded mall. They say that everyone has a twin, or in the Orphan Black world, possibly at least 8 clones. Play a human matching game! Single out someone distinctive – odd walk, crazy hair, wonky features – then keep your eye out for their closest human match. Takes people watching to a whole new level.

Sirius Black Friday

The Harry Potter movies always feel like Christmas to me. That’s probably because ABC Family aired them as part of their 25 Days Of Christmas for so long that I finally acquiesced. Fine, ABC Family, you win. It’s a Christmas movie. Spoiler if you haven’t read/seen all of the Harry Potterses: Sirius Black seems super shady, but is actually in Harry’s corner the whole time. So today, do something nice for that person you absolutely can’t stand, on the chance they aren’t so bad after all. Or just say screw it and have a Hogwarts-themed feast. There are recipes for Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and more online.

Orange Is The New Black Friday

Much like Orphan Black, this is an excellent series that you can watch in one sitting. If you’re off of work and in a food coma, this might be the right time to see what the buzz is about.

Maybe you already have seen it, though. And maybe OITNB gave you greater empathy for the incarcerated (We all make bad choices. It’s just, some of us got different bad choices to make). Well, you can use some of those Black Friday bargains for good, then. There are several organizations that accept new and gently used books for prisoners – for instance, the Prison Book Program. Either grab some discount reads after the crowds have died down, or use your time off to sort through your bookshelves. Literacy, especially critical literacy, is instrumental in helping individuals become fully participating members of society, after all. Okay.  I’ll stash my soapbox, now.

Paint It Black Friday

Rolling Stones tune strictly optional. If you’re decorating for Christmas this week, grab some ceramic ornaments and acrylic paints and have yourself an ornament painting party. It’s fun and you’ll have decorations when it’s done! If you have more than enough Christmas decor, spread the cheer by dropping off some ornaments with someone who could use a little holiday magic. You can have great ornament painting contests, too — best, worst, weirdest, whatever.

Wiggida Wiggida Wiggida Wack Friday

It’s as true today as it was in the early 90s: Kris Kross will make you jump, jump. But what really makes me jump, jump is this Kris Kross remix. The day after Thanksgiving is all about recombining your leftovers into something that feels new and interesting. It’s also a good day to do the same thing with music. Put on some mashups of your old-school favs and get your dance on — I still like the Girl Talk mixes for this. We can all use a little exercise now anyway.

Baby Got Back Friday

Sometimes it seems like everyone has the opening rap and chorus of this song memorized, but they have no love for the rest of it. Well, today is your day! Sit down with the lyrics and iconic music video until you have this down. Sure, other people are out buying gifts today. I’d argue that having this song in your repertoire is a gift to the world.