With Labor Day now well behind us, it’s tough to say goodbye to summer, even if this has been a pretty unique one. As for us, we are going to hold on as tight as we can until the official end of the season on September 22nd, but as school starts up (if only virtually in some places) and the temperatures start to drop, we know we can’t stop the inevitable. To sooth the passage into autumn, we talked to some experts in the music industry and gathered a little “goodbye to summer” playlist. Some of the recommendations are oldies. Some are mellow, some are funky, and some are songs you’ll want to belt out in the shower.
Billy Stritch is a Grammy-winning composer, musical director, and performer who, despite being one of the most talented performers of his generation in his own right, may always be known for accompanying the legendary Liza Minnelli for 23 years. “For my money, you can’t go wrong with anything Brazilian. I’m particularly fond of all music by João Gilberto or Antonio Carlos Jobim but the sultriest summer song ever is Estate (Summer), performed by the great singer Shirley Horn. Sensual and incredibly hypnotic!”
Music director Alex Rybeck is a composer, arranger, and pianist with Broadway and Off-Broadway credits on his resume; working with cabaret superstars like Karen Mason, Tommy Tune, Jeff Harnar, and both Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway. Rybeck adds Stevie Wonder’s heartbreaking, Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer to our list (which we think feels like a Labor Day anthem), as well as Blame It On the Summer Night, from Rags, a 1991 musical about turn of the century immigrants in New York City. The London Cast recording was just released in July.
You may know Destin Pfaff from his hit Bravo show, Millionaire Matchmaker, where he and his wife Rachel Federoff help “the financially elite and socially awkward find love.” Sounds like the perfect person to add some romantic spice to our mix. “Stay away from music that’s misogynistic, overly vulgar, or scary,” says Pfaff. Think about what your summer night will be and who it will be with. Like chocolate, music is sex. It tightens your senses, smooths your nerves, and gives you release. Think about the music that makes you happy, and sets your mood: hers will follow.” From Pfaff’s date night soundtrack we pulled Toxic by Kehlani (“Throbbing,” says Pfaff), and I Feel Love by Donna Summer. “Don’t knock it. It’s amazing.”
Freddie Atlas is an up and coming musician and performer. While you can find his music here, like any struggling musician, Freddie has had to play his share of weddings and bar mitzvahs to fund those expensive recording sessions and music videos. “For weddings people love anything from the 1960s up to the 2010s; radio classics. Songs like I Can’t Take my Eyes Off of You, Brown Eyed Girl, and Bring Me Up Buttercup.” We’ve added another Stevie Wonder hit, For Once in My Life from Freddie’s special event set list (in fact moved it to the opening spot), but then also dipped into his personal listening space: “When I’m at home I listen to Vaporwave music. It’s not very mainstream and emulates the 1980s. Think riding a motorcycle through the streets of Miami in the ‘80s. It’s my mood music.” Freddie points out that some of the best is found on platforms like Soundcloud because the artists don’t always have the rights to the tracks they’re picking up. To keep it safe, we’re adding Based Frequency’s Summer Vacations (Summer Vacations).
Alvin Anthony is a music producer, songwriter, and guitarist who has worked on projects for Sony, Interscope and Simon Cowell’s Syco. He has also had songs on heavy rotation on New York City’s Power 105.1 radio station and Canada’s CBC Radio. “Reggae is making a comeback,” says Anthony, and Drill is the new hip-hop sound that is going to take over. It started in the U.K., then hit Brooklyn: it’s going mainstream in 2021.” Anthony adds some updated reggae to our playlist with Skip Marley’s collaboration with H.E.R. on Slow Down for a decidedly updated sound that builds on Jamaica’s trademark mellow rhythms. Anthony also turns onto Doja Cat’s Mooo! for a smooth sound and a theme that harks all the way back to Kelis’s 2003 hit Milkshake.
DJ Corey Craig is a fixture on the New York and international nightlife scene, renown for his podcast Coreyography. When we approached him for his thoughts on the topic of summer soundtracks, his response was to do what DJs do, and create this Date Night Coreyography playlist on Spotify, which includes sultry numbers by a variety of artists. We’re going to choose his pick I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On by Cherrelle from 1984, and then we’ll slow things down with another song titled Slow Down, this one by Maverick Sabre, featuring Jorja Smith.
Finally, because we couldn’t resist, we’re throwing in a few old favorites just to complete the transition. What would Labor Day be without Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic September? Can Autumn Leaves be far behind?
|For Once in My Life||Stevie Wonder|
|Blame It On the Summer Night||Rags: The Musical|
|I Feel Love||Donna Summer|
|Summer Vacations (Summer Vacations)||Based Frequency|
|Slow Down||Skip Marley, featuring H.E.R.|
|I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On||Cherrelle|
|Slow Down||Maverick Sabre, featuring Jorja Smith|
|Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer||Stevie Wonder|
|Estate (Summer)||Shirley Horn|
|September||Earth, Wind & Fire|
|Autumn Leaves||Ed Sheeran|
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