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Positive Vibes Summer Playlist

Kathrine Kiersted
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Jumping into Lake Travis

Charlotte Richard and Kathrine Kiersted jumping into Lake Travis on the Fourth of July.

It’s no secret that Houston summers can be brutal. The temperatures skyrocket, and the humidity only intensifies the overwhelming heat. The solution? Water. Whether it’s road tripping to a beach or lake or just heading out to the pool, a refreshing dip in some cool (or likely very warm) water serves as the perfect remedy for the Houston heat. 

As with any getaway, though, a certain level of preparation is necessary. This might include packing a lunch for later, bringing plenty of water, or remember to bring sunscreen and towels. However, it is easy to overlook one of my favorite aspects of a summertime excursion: the perfect playlist. Yes, all those other things are important to remember too, but a playlist is just as crucial. It sets the tone for the trip, it has the power to raise spirits, and it gets everybody in the zone for a summer day by the water. 

Over the years, I have created many a playlist for different moods or occasions, and I’ve come up with a solid formula to create a winning collection of songs each time. So far this summer, I’ve been relying on my already existing collection of music, but after spending the Fourth of July on Lake Travis and struggling to decide what music should play in the background, it became clear that it was time to make a playlist for any future beach, lake, or pool days. 

Here’s my playlist-making process that you should follow, too, for an amazing summer playlist: 

When starting a new playlist, it’s important to start with a specific theme. In this case, the theme is summer days by the water. Summer is the time to have fun, but also relax, especially on a day where you’re trying to enjoy an escape from the heat. The music should match this feeling. I think of upbeat, happy songs that you can sing along to, but also that you can listen to while you lay out and drift off or read a book. It’s important to keep these things in mind the entire time you’re creating (and adding to) your playlist. 

Now that we know what feeling we’re going for, we need to find the right songs. I try to start with a list of say, 10 songs to kickstart a new playlist. Try and think of what genres or artists you love, and seek for songs that match the vibe of the summer playlist. I’ve been loving red dirt country music lately, but also some 70s rock. Definitely explore a mix of modern and older music - you never know what you’ll find. You can find a  ot of great songs from other media that you consume as well (like TV shows, movies, or even scrolling on Tik Tok), so be on the lookout. The beauty of this method is that even if the song genres are wildly different, if it fits the same theme, they work together really well in the playlist!

Now, it’s time to name the playlist. This might be my favorite part of the process, because you can be as straightforward or as creative as you want. I typically try to make my titles a play on words, or maybe take inspiration from a favorite quote or phrase I’ve been looking at lately. For a summery playlist, I’d try to come up with something that captures the feeling of being by the water or finally getting to be on vacation. Think sunshine, summer breeze, and getting away for a while. I chose “Let July be July” for the playlist I most recently made; I got the idea from something I saw on Pinterest, and I thought it emulated the idea of living in the moment of summer and enjoying whatever it is that you’re doing. I like to try and be creative, but you could definitely keep it simple and go with just “2022 Summer Playlist” or "Labor Day Weekend 2022" - totally up to you!

Now that you’ve got a solid list of sumery songs and a title, it’s  ime to pick some cover art for the playlist. I know I said picking the title might be my favorite part of this process, but this step is my actual favorite. Most listening platforms will generate a cover for you (a combination of the album covers of a few songs on the playlist most likely), but I think it’s more fun to personalize this aspect. I love using Pinterest to find inspiration, but you could also use a picture that you’ve taken. Maybe use a picture of the destination you’re going to (whether it be the beach or the pool in your backyard), or a graphic that correlates with one of your favorite songs on the playlist. For my summer playlist, I used a scenic beach photo I liked from one of my Pinterest boards (pictured below). The opportunities here are endless - and you can always switch it up later on if you change your mind. 

At this point, the playlist is mostly complete, and now all there is is to keep growing it! Wherever you can, listen for songs that might fit the theme well that you love. Try listening to some new artists, or listen to different music from artists you already know you love. You could even look at some already existing summer playlists, or the top charts for the summer to get inspiration. Ask your friends for recommendations and share your playlist with them - they might have some great ideas! I find myself continuing to add to playlists even years after I create them, so don’t feel pressure to wrap up this process too quickly! 

Jumping into Lake Travis

Charlotte Richard and Kathrine Kiersted jumping into Lake Travis on the Fourth of July.

Here are some of my personal favorites this summer: 
Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts
Saturday in the Park by Chicago
I Love Rock n Roll by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Alaska by Maggie Rogers
Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry 
Get Down On it by Kool & the Gang
24 / 7 / 365 by Surfaces 
Rich Girl by Daryl Hall &  John Oates
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac 

Listen to the playlist here.

Next time you’re out on the lake or getting ready to tan by the pool, you’ll be fully equipped with excellent background music! 

Editor's note: Earlier this summer, Buzz intern Raigan Clay asked: What's the Song of Summer '2022?  

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