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I’ve never especially prided myself on my taste in music, but I think I know a thing or two about quality tunes vs formulaic pop. The Summer Set are without a doubt the latter. Their melodies are simple and repetitive, and every time you hear a new song of theirs you think you’ve heard it before because all their songs sound pretty similar both to each other and to the other generic pop playing on the radio. And yet something about their music just speaks to me deep inside.
Some of their lyrics are cliché and trite but still manage to be satisfying. Take: “Throw our hearts in the air, hearts in the air, hearts in the air, we’re catching lightning in a bottle, don’t give a f--- about tomorrow.”
Some just seem to be factually inaccurate. For example: “If I was James Dean, you could be my Audrey / ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ for two.” I’m pretty sure James Dean was not in that movie. (Also, don’t get me started on the grammar here; that clearly should have been the subjunctive mood.)
But there are some real gems in their songs, such as “We couldn’t make it to the bedroom / So you pushed me to the ground / Said, I must confess this ain’t my house / But my ex is not around.” Or the tragically relatable: “Lately I stare into the mirror and I say to myself / I’ve spent too many nights watching ‘How I Met Your Mother’ alone / Now I’m searching for my yellow umbrella, hoping I’ll take her home / Maybe I just want to be legendary.”
There are also unexpectedly moving lines like, “Cause I believe that we gotta be good for something / I believe that the moment will come / But if we die and find out it was all for nothing / Least we know that youth wasn’t wasted on us.”
I sometimes entertain the theory that The Summer Set are really providing a very postmodern commentary on the tropes that make up pop music and on the cultural shallowness of contemporary youth. Maybe their music is so cliché and yet so catchy because they are self-consciously cliché. Regardless of the objective quality of their melodies or the refinement of their lyrics, The Summer Set will always hold a special place in the musical shelf of my heart.
—Staff writer Kay T. Xia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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