We asked our favorite songwriter, Simon O'Conner, to share the buzzing in his ears
1. Split Enz - Six Days on a Leaky Boat
I rarely listen to songs more than 3 or 4 times EVER, but, according to my itunes play count, I have listened to this jam 37 times since I first acquired it. Right off the bat this song grabbed me - such a powerful, straight-to-the point opening (on the album version - the video has some weird intro). Though certainly akin, I find this song to be more honest than Electric Light Orchestra's "Turn to Stone" or "Boy Blue." I don't know... I always felt like Jeff Lynn's goal was to write a decade (plus) long opera in many different movements. Split Enz may have actually SPENT six months on a leaky boat. They are from New Zealand. Listen to that arpeggiating synth flute! How else does one get to (and from) New Zealand? 'Nuff said.
PS: Way better than Crowded House
2. Disco Inferno - The Last Dance
This is from the nineties. Could this be considered "Retro" if the time and style it fetishizes/aims to emulate is but 5 years prior? I guess we should ask Simon Reynolds: http://www.amazon.com/Retromania-Pop-Cultures-Addiction-Past/dp/0865479941
Disco Inferno rule. While I like the 5 EP collection, I recommend that a new listener begins with their "In Debt" LP. This is not really a "Summer Jam."
3. Usher - Climax
Very rarely does a corporate megapop giganto smash come along that catches my attention in a Britney's "Toxic" sort of way... Kudos to you Usher! Unfortunately he was flat on the falsetto notes during his SNL performance which means two things: (1) This recording is Usher at his best and cannot be duplicated. (2) Usher does not use Autotune during live performances (or it was a sound-guy screw-up).
4. Vic Chestnutt - Flirted With You All My Life
Maybe the saddest song ever written. At first you think, "oh man, this is some sad shit," and when you realize what he is actually talking about you are like, "holy fuck, this is ridiculously depressing." Doesn't help that he spent the majority of his life in a wheelchair and died pretty soon after this song was recorded. NOT A SUMMER JAM.