Although when we think of a night out, we think of going to a club and thrashing around under a booming speaker, Freshers is first and foremost about making friends, and it’s at the pre-drinks with the party games and the outfit reveals that that part actually happens and you’ll need a playlist of cool ice-breaking tracks to keep the conversation and the drinks flowing.
Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar
An anti-drinking-drinking song for the ages, the biggest radio hit that Kendrick Lamar’s best album to date, Good Kid M.A.A.D City produced, this rap ballad about arriving at a party and getting pressured into drinking more than you should is a counter-intuitively good drinking anthem. It’s a great moody playlist opener as you make promises not to drink TOO much tonight and it’ll show your friends what good taste in music you have. See, you were listening to Kendrick Lamar before Black Panther!
Deep end – alt version by Lykke Li
Sticking with the swimming pools theme we have the remixed version of Lykke Li’s deep end. Like Skrillex and Ty Dollar $ign’s version of two nights, I thought the EP version of Lykke Li’s moody track was even better than the album version. Her cute, sad vocals are better served by the slower tempo to this version and the pretty mundane trap snares are replaced with a gentle piano and synth line.
101 FM by Little Simz
A sweet nostalgic and chill track off one of the best albums so far this year, Little Simz’s Grey Area. 101 FM throws back to her low-income adolescence growing up in Islington, referencing autobiographical details about her family life, smoking her first joint, playing classic PS1 titles, her influencers like Dizzie Rascal and Busta Rhymes and her come up on council estate pirate radio stations over a laid-back Asian chime beat.
Slide by Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos
Calvin Harris’ last album Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 threw together a lot of the hottest acts in music, often in very strange combination, easily the most eclectic and most surprisingly effective musical collaborations on the album, or in recent memory, was pairing flossy rap group Migos with experimental arthouse RnB singer Frank Ocean. Each hot off their recent successes, Migos commercially with their number one hit Bad and Boujee and Ocean with Blonde, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last decade. Now personally, I’m not a huge fan of either of these acts, but throw them together over a groovy Calvin Harris beat and it brings out the best in them both and in Harris himself. Feels was pretty great too.
Too Much by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen’s recent release Dedicated, as with all her work post Call Me Maybe, didn’t receive anything like the chart success it so clearly deserves from listening to it. She has delivered once obvious smash hit after another and yet remains the queen of the backpacker pop playlist. This was my favourite single off of Dedicated, thematically similar to Lorde’s Liability about being too much for your friends and partners to be around for very long, only with a more upbeat pop sound. Give it a listen and make your friends listen too.
Gone by Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens
However, the title of art-pop’s most slept on princess goes to Charli XCX, who, after two mix tapes, an EP and multiple singles, finally returns in 2019 with her third studio album, her first since 2014’s 90s retro-inspired Sucker. At time of writing the album has produced four great singles, including ironic bubblegum throwback 1999 and her joint with one of 2019’s biggest breakthrough stars Lizzo, Blame It On Your Love which is still my favourite single of the year. The most acclaimed single though is this, her glorious synth-pop anthem with Christine and the Queens. Forget Bieber and Sheeran’s I Don’t Care, this is the real song of the summer duet about being at a party with people you don’t like.
Paper Planes by M.I.A.
Out of a back catalogue that is a music backpacker’s dream, who doesn’t love this song? Before you delve into M.I.A.’s incredible back catalogue, remind yourself of possibly the best song of 2008, her cheerfully ironic satire of migrant stereotypes that much like Kendrick’s song, she actually made one of the best gangster hits ever with her attempt to parody that perspective.
Get It Right by Diplo feat. MØ
Having collaborated with M.I.A. producing the previous track, Diplo went on to produce a tonne of chill, fun future bass, among which this is in my opinion the best and most unique track. A soft, aching piano instrumental with some beautiful empowering lyrics from MØ soon gives way to a stunning, anthemic electro drop of vocals distorted into a gorgeous trumpet solo. It sounds simultaneously traditional, like nothing else I’ve heard and yet is utterly perfect.
You should see me in a crown by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish’s unique brand of goth trap was one of the most refreshing new sounds of 2019, and as memeable as her funky big hit Bad Guy is, the haunting you should see me in a crown was the stickiest low tempo banger on the album.
Attention by Todrick Hall
And if you need a not-so-subtle way to tell your new housemates that “yes, you are…” and disturb the neighbours at the same time, you could do a lot worse than self-released concept album diva
Todrick Hall’s deliciously tasteless queer banger Attention. The full album comes later this year, and this track will certainly turn some heads and get you pumped up for the club.