The Journal’s summer 2019 playlist

Songs for pool parties, bike rides, and long drives with the windows down

Image by: Amelia Rankine
Summer is the best time for upbeat indie music.

After what felt like endless months of winter coats and final exams, summer is finally on the horizon. Even though the seasons don’t officially change until the end of June, it’s never too early to start thinking about the best season of the year.

No matter what you’re doing over the next couple of months, these upbeat indie songs are guaranteed to put you in a sunny mood—even if the weather doesn’t follow suit.


“Daylight” by Matt and Kim

Vocalist and keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino are a perfect musical duo, best proven by their song “Daylight,” a buoyant hit with a wonderful blend of lyricism and percussion. 

This song has been used in a handful of television and movie productions since its 2008 release, which makes it instantly familiar and adds to the nostalgia of its lyrics—you’ve probably heard this song somewhere, but can’t quite place it.

With lyrics like, “We cut the legs off of our pants / Threw our shoes into the ocean / Sit back and wave through the daylight” and “Open hydrant, rolled down windows / This car might make a good old boat,” it’s impossible to listen to this song without thinking of the freedom that summer brings.

“Daylight” is about the liberty of summer in the city, endless possibilities, and cramming as much fun into the day as possible. If you’re looking for a love song about summer, this is it.

The crux of “Daylight” comes with the echoing final lines of the chorus, when Johnson sings, “And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone / ‘Cause in the daylight anywhere feels like home.” 

“Drive” by The Well Pennies

This sweet, folksy love song about summer drives, written by husband-and-wife duo Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool, is an ode to relationships under the summer sun.

The verses’ lyrics, sung mostly by Sarah, describe helping a loved one when they’re struggling. She sings, “When you’re feeling empty / When the skies are grey / I will be your honey / And chase the blues away.” 

The song’s chorus proposes a remedy for this melancholy, repeating the words, “Let’s go out for a drive / Need a little sunshine, need a little sunshine / What a day for feeling alive.” The Well Pennies would rather embrace the beauty of the world than dwell on its downsides.

The gentle banjo strumming in the song’s background keeps the sadder lyrics of the pre-chorus from weighing down the track, and gives “Drive” a uniquely folk feel. 

“Sunstroke” by Wylder

Instrumentals and vocals blend together seamlessly in this song by Virginia-born band Wylder from their 2016 album, Rain and Laura. “Sunstroke” describes waiting for a lover that never comes.

Despite being about unrequited love, the song is dotted with warm-weather imagery, like when lead singer Will McCarry sings “Sinkin’ down into the street / In the summer in the heat / Wishin’ I could just tell ya now.” The use of violin in the chorus gives the song an even sunnier vibe.

However, too much sun can be dangerous—the title, “Sunstroke,” suggests that the singer’s obsession with “waiting in the sun” for his lover may do him more harm than good. 

The outro echoes the singer’s promise to “wait in the sun and I know that I love you,” as the cheerful instrumentals backing most of the song fade away. The once-upbeat lyrics stop abruptly at the song’s melancholy finish.

Despite its pessimistic conclusion, “Sunstroke” is impossibly catchy and demands to be sung. The chorus and backing vocals are sung in multi-part harmonies—even if you’re alone, it feels like you’re singing with others.

“T-Shirt Weather” by Circa Waves

Circa Waves, an English indie rock band, truly embodies nostalgia in this song about thinking back to youth, friendship, and warm summer days. 

“T-Shirt Weather” has a catchy and repetitive chorus—it’s so easy to remember that, by your second or third listen, you’ll be singing along.

Lyrics like “We were singing our lungs out / In the backseat together / And the seatbelts were burning our fingers” are so full  of tactile imagery that you can’t help but be mentally transported to a hot car on an even hotter 

summer day. 

What’s doubly ironic is that this song is the perfect candidate for singing your “lungs out.” The singer almost shouts the lyrics, and the background instrumentals are the perfect upbeat blend of rock and indie vibes.


Whether you’re jamming in your car or lounging under the sun, these upbeat songs are the perfect background music. For over an hour of indie summer hits, including these four great songs, check out The Queen’s Journal Lifestyle section’s ultimate summer playlist.


songs, summer

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