By: Callie Copeland
For me, the stretch of late May to early August is the prime time to explore my love for music. From days out by the pool, to long, late-afternoon drives with the windows down, I find myself making a playlist for any and every summertime activity. With no school commitments demanding early wake-up calls, it’s easier to stay out at concerts, find the time to search for new artists, and discover different sounds to enjoy.
This year has set records for music—especially through the summer. The comeback of many live shows, viral hits, and new, emerging artists on the horizon gave a lot to take in. As we’ve been settling into the new school year over the past few weeks, I’ve personally interviewed several Central students about what they listened to in our months away. Here’s what they had to say.
“This summer I listened to a lot from Die Lit by Playboi Carti, Childish Gambino, Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler, the Creator,” Alyssa Richardson (senior) recalled. Evidently, the senior found herself enjoying a variety of rap and hip-hop. With the recent releases of Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me if You Get Lost and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, there were a lot of new songs for her and other fans to enjoy over the summer.
Hank Wells (junior) said, “I got into the new Steve Lacy album, and a lot of Denzel Curry. Mac Miller’s I Love Life, Thank You was released, so I listened to a lot of that.” The last album of Miller’s was Circles in 2020, so the drop of I Love Life, Thank You was highly anticipated and acclaimed by fans of the late rapper, including myself.
Several students I spoke to attended live shows during the break. For many, they were there to enjoy strictly the artists’ talents. However, some other of Central’s concertgoers appreciated further aspects. When talking about Kendrick Lamar’s show, Audrey Dewey (8th grade) said, “I liked how there were a lot of set changes and a lot of background dancers. I felt like it was very well put together with the lighting—and everything.” She emphasized how these details added dimension to the experience.
When talking about her experience at the Big Time Rush show, Elena Peck (freshman) added, “I loved the amount of stuff they did. They didn’t just sing, they talked to the crowd and had different people come on stage.”
Matthew Smith (junior) expressed how he really enjoyed being exposed to other artists at the “Big Steppers” show, including Baby Keem and Tanna Leone.
Ashlyn Dewey (junior) felt similarly about the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. The junior gushed, “It had a really great atmosphere. They had The Strokes and Thundercat open for them, and they both did really, really good.”
Central Chronicle editor, Aubrey Walters, attended Tennesee’s very own Bonnaroo festival. “My favorite artist was Stevie Nicks, obviously,” the junior dished. “But It was a lot of fun. There were actually a lot of people my age, and I made friends with a lot of them.” It’s evidently not difficult to find buddies at concerts. After all—you do have a mutual interest and love for the artist.
Aubree Pelham (junior) explained her similar experience at the 5 Seconds of Summer show. “When me and my friends were in line we started talking to a girl our age—and we’re still friends with her to this day.”
Pop and rap music wasn’t all that was enjoyed by our students over the summer months, however. Student Jacqueline Harris is a big fan of country. In fact, the senior went to a Cody Johnson concert nearing the end of July. She and other country-lover listeners anticipated hearing tracks from his latest double-album, Human. “He performed well—he just didn’t sing my favorite songs, ‘I Don’t Know a Thing About Love’ and ‘God Bless the Boy’.” Apparently, those tracks were a bit too slow and melancholic for Johnson to include in the set.
Speaking of the sad-cowboy stylistic, however, a country artist with songs of that sound found lots of fame over the summer. American Heartbreak, 34-track album by singer Zach Bryan, was released in late May. “He’s fire,” Gunnar Earnest (senior) exclaimed. “I really like his lyrics—and the great sound is a bonus.” Additionally, Bryan dropped an EP, Summertime Blues, in July. There was a lot of the artist’s woeful work for fans to appreciate and relish.
Katie Narrell (junior) also expressed how she enjoyed immersing herself in more desolate tracks. “Even though summer songs are supposed to be ‘elite’, I think Sad Girl Summer songs work too,” she said. Ella Bracy apparently found sorrow in some of her listening, too. The junior went to Rex Orange County’s show in May. The singer was on tour for his album Who Cares?. She said, “I sobbed so hard for Pluto Projector. He did it for the encore, which was awesome.” A live version of one of my favorite sad songs? As one of the final tracks played? I would’ve lost it, too.
Katie further mentioned how she also sought after feelings of nostalgia through what she listened to. Old Disney songs and other tracks from albums her parents would play when she was young flooded her playlists. “A lot of Pink Floyd albums—The Final Cut especially,” she recalled. “It’s a whole anti-war album, so I don’t know why my parents played it for me, but listening to it again was very comforting.” Music can allow us to feel a variety of emotions, and unlock the corners of our distant memories, which is a part of what makes it so beautiful.
While all-time favorites will always be easy for fans to enjoy, discovering newer voices was also common among listeners this summer. Madison Gobert (senior) gushed about artist they found, Remi Wolf. “I first saw her in April—I went to the Lorde concert, and she opened for her. My brother first got me into her music, but once I saw her live, it really kickstarted the obsession.” When pinpointing what they love so much about the artist’s music, Madison explained they find it fascinating that it’s a unique sound, and unlike any one specific genre. “It’s new and it’s different than everything else I’ve listened to, and it really captivated me. I couldn’t find any other artists like it.” Madison also added that through the similar track Autoplay feature of Spotify, they found the artist Payday. “It has, to me, the similar weirdness of Remi Wolf, but instead of more chill music, it’s rap—which is really cool.”
New and old, genres of all kinds, and infinitely many differing artists—we each seemed to manage to find something we adored this summer. Music speaks to each of us uniquely—through every season. However, I hope you’ve appreciated a look into what some of Central’s population discovered themselves enjoying in the warmer days. Who knows? Maybe their sounds of summer might just inspire what songs you turn to next.