by Vijith Assar
Last year’s putative “Song of the Summer” was a national embarrassment; as a result, American songs — and for safe measure, all songs in English — are no longer eligible. Each month, until summer has died, the Awl will present alternatives.
“Bare Min” by Morgan Sulele
#1 in Norway (VG-Lista)
Check it out, I brought you a Scandinavian bizarro-world Jason Mraz clone! You’re welcome. Much like summer flings, summer pop songs are certainly allowed to be both appropriate in the moment and absolutely insufferable later; this one drafts a few dozen schoolchildren into a caterwauling choir almost as if to peer pressure you into enjoying it. The kids probably just don’t know any better, but their maestro’s unreasonably cheery spirits are probably going to be the song’s undoing when winter and seasonal affective disorder show up in a few months. In the meantime, you are still clearly better off than you’d be with the regular Jason Mraz, whatever he’s up to.
“A Noite (La Notte)” by Tiê
#6 in Brazil (Shazam)
You may catch a whiff of Belle & Sebastian in between the piano and the shivering drums — specifically, a peculiar childlike exuberance that should be logically impossible on a professional endeavor. That’s what makes this strangely self fulfilling: If she’s not yet cynical enough to roll her own eyes at a trick like the elongated vocal trajectory during the chorus, perhaps we shouldn’t do it either. In a world teeming with earnest YouTube bedroom confessionals, maybe finding the good ones becomes more rewarding? Everybody please take care when stampeding down to the pawn shop to buy ukuleles.
“Playback” by Juju
#1 in Japan (Tokio Hot 100)
It may be sparse, but this entire production is obviously constructed for the sole purpose of highlighting her vocal tic — which is one for the ages, on par with the New Age Girl barking or Eddie Vedder’s most incomprehensible fits of steamroller mumbling. Count yourself lucky that she lapses back into English for that most important split second, giving you a lyrical handhold so you won’t feel like a jerk forever after it imprints in your memory purely phonetically.
More in August.