When it’s summertime, it feels like the radio — or some modern day version of it — is always on.
If you’re having a cookout or at a block party, there’s music in the air. Logging hours on a road trip to the beach? You’re likely listening to some of your favorite tunes.
We asked readers to help us create a summer playlist featuring women artists. We got more than 80 song suggestions. The big takeaways? Our readers love Janelle Monáe’s latest album, “Dirty Computer.” Multiple people also recommended songs by Lizzo, Awkwafina and Kacey Musgraves. Check out the playlist below, or click here.
Below, our readers share why certain songs are special:
“4EVER” by Clairo
Clairo is only 19 and writes and produces her own music, which is incredibly impressive. “4EVER” is a light, catchy bop with easy-to-sing, happy lyrics. It makes me forget my problems as I bob my head to the beat and pretend I’m walking through a music video.
“Be Easy” by Alice Smith
This is that song you want to play when you’re driving with the windows open on your way to the beach. Her voice is just beautiful.
“Curious” by Hayley Kiyoko
It’s a just a BOP! It oozes this cool confidence and makes me wanna jam out in my room and try out bits of the dance from the music video.
“Inner Voices” by Awkwafina
It’s part song, part stand-up comedy record, and deeply introspective. Awkwafina embraces complexity and contradiction and asks the question, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” while remaining humble enough to admit she doesn’t have the answer. Plus, I love belting out the line, “Nah, that [expletive’s] not dead!”
“Mixtape” by Tift Merritt
It’s about making a mixtape for a new love and picturing them driving around listening to it. Tift’s voice is as good as her songwriting. Plus, it has a good beat, and you can dance to it.
“No Roots” by Alice Merton
It is a fun song that makes me dance and let loose, but it is also meaningful. It is about growing up, always moving around and not having one place to call home. I saw her perform live in June and she put on such a great show, which only made me love her music and this song even more.
“Good as Hell” by Lizzo
It is the best song to start your day with. How can you not wanna scream, “Feelin’ good as hell!” when you walk out the door? Lizzo’s music is so relatable, and that [is] why it’s so easy to love. She is a real lady like me who is just feeling herself.
“Waste” by Lily Allen feat. Lady Chann
This is one of my favorite upbeat Lily Allen songs. It’s a breezy take on cutting out toxic people in your life, with fun dance hall vibes and a great feature from Lady Chann, a female grime artist. “Waste” always makes me want to dance and wave all my cares away.
“Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige
This song is an oldie but goodie. It’s so upbeat and positive that it motivates me to get moving and get out the door. The lyrics make me feel confident when I’m “walking past the mirror,” and ensure that I don’t stress about what my summer body looks like.
“No Talk” by Lowell
Reminds me that just because it’s the summer it doesn’t mean that the usual responsibilities or mental issues I face go away. But it’s making the time to enjoy myself while working towards consistent better days.
“1950” by King Princess
It’s the kind of song you can chill to with some wine coolers and friends at dusk.
“Nobody” by Mitski
It is disco-pop-y and makes me want to dance and cry at the same time. For me, the summer is free, glittery, orange and pink but has also left me lonely and disappointed by its end, just like the ending of the song.
“Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen
What could be more summer than singing Carly Rae Jepsen at the top your lungs? The song is pure joy.
“Fight Like a Girl” by Zolita
It’s a feminist anthem without being cheesy. I feel powerful every time I hear it.
“She” by Alice Phoebe Lou
To me, this song is about escape and strength.
“Hunger” by Florence and the Machine
A beat fit for your favorite exercise class paired with piercing, relatable lyrics.
“California Nights” by Best Coast
This song is the definition of West Coast chill and makes me want to sit around a campfire on the beach.
“Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves
It’s a carefree love song that reminds me of being young and in love in the summer. That happy feeling of finding that someone. You never forget it. I got butterflies when I first met my husband in the summer of 1992.
“Summertime” by Janis Joplin
It’s a take on an American classic that only Janis could do. My summer isn’t complete without it: “Naw, naw, naw, naw — don’t you cry!”
“Don’t Wait Too Long” by Madeleine Peyroux
It’s happy, upbeat, and reminds me to make the most out of summer while it lasts.
“If Only” by Raveena
It’s the perfect lazy, summer song. Summer nights, lounging while having some wine and some laughs.
“The Middle” by Maren Morris
I think this is the perfect summer song because it’s super light and fun, and I love it because it was co-written by top-liner Sarah Aarons, which is notable because very few women are part of the songwriting process of pop music.
“Hole In My Pocket” by Ruthie Foster
Heard Ruthie perform this at Minnesota Zoo (great small venue) and loved it immediately. Also check out her cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. Soulful with a bluesy country vibe.
“Top of the World” by Shonen Knife
This remake of the old Carpenters song by a great band of women musicians is the cut I crank up to 10 and sing in celebration of summer.
“Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai
The song just have that “summer feel.” Plus, the summer is the perfect time for relationships.
“Crazy Classic Life” by Janelle Monáe
It has that summer-feel, like floating up in the clouds. The synth sounds plus the carefree lyrics make it positive and groovy. Plus, Janelle Monáe’s voice just pulls you in.
“Tender Love” by Meshell Ndegeocello
She does the sound track for “Queen Sugar.” She is an amazing bass player, cool beyond words, has decades of composing and being true to herself. We all need to follow her path, just like we all need to read The Lily. Check out “Fool of Me” from “Love and Basketball,” too.
“I Love Myself Today” by Bif Naked
This is a power anthem song by a woman that makes you feel like you can take on the world; or at least claim your space on the beach.
“The Life I Own” by Porch Party Mamas
Great song by a fantastic all-women ensemble. Marvelous blend of styles and the whole band is superb.
“Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
It’s a super up beat song that always gets me going. Additionally, the subliminal feminist messages just really add to the song and make it just that much better.
“Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Sigrid
It’s a fun song to sing and dance around to, and it’s also empowering.
“NYC Bi-----$” by Awkwafina
Although this song is over 5 years old, it’s like a classic, empowering song for city girls, busy girls, all women.
“The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” by Anna von Hausswolf
I can really boogie down to this song.
“Val’s Cabin” by Laurie Lewis
Poignant memories of childhood summers written and sung by Grammy-nominated and International Bluegrass Music Award female vocalist of the year, Laurie Lewis.
Here are Team Lily’s contributions to the summer playlist:
CHVRCHES’ newest album, “Love is Dead,” is lovely in its entirety, but my favorite track is the opener “Graffiti.” Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry takes us on a nostalgic ride, suitable for a summer evening spent reflecting. Other highlights include the songs “My Enemy,” with an appearance from The National’s Matt Berninger, and “Miracle.”
—Amy King, Lily editor in chief and creative director
Cardi B. caught my ear a little over a year ago with “Bodak Yellow,” but I was pleasantly surprised to hear her new album and find her take on an old sound. In “I Like It,” she plays with one of the best-beloved boogaloo standards, “I Like It Like That,” and refashions it into the backbeat of an infectiously catchy rap number. Cardi B.’s lyrics are the centerpiece of the track, which also features appearances from Bad Bunny and J. Balvin. Her delivery is unrushed and unbothered, which when coupled with the track’s slightly slowed down speed, makes the song feel like a chill number to dance to. Well, more chill than the original’s fast-paced boogaloo dancing.
—Monica Castillo, Lily writer
I have felt sheepish about my love for Chloe x Halle, two sisters who are still in their teens. (I can see by following them on Instagram that Halle just graduated from high school.) On their first full-length album, “The Kids Are Alright,” they sing about sharing secrets with loves in the bleachers, and I think to myself, “Why are you listening to this at 28?”
Yet, I’ve been playing the entire album on repeat since it came out in March. Their voices are soothing and perfect for all things summer-related: Driving with your windows down, lying in the grass and late-night runs to escape the heat. My favorite tracks are “Hi Lo” and “Everywhere,” even though it leaves me wondering how these two young women have “money everywhere / falling off the trees,” whereas I am just looking up at the actual trees in a park.
—Ashley Nguyen, Lily multiplatform editor
I discovered Teyana Taylor relatively recently, and I’m so glad I did. She has a soulful voice that reminds me of SZA and Kehlani. Her latest album “K.T.S.E.,” which stands for Keep That Same Energy, features seven catchy songs that I’ve been blasting on repeat, whether I’m jamming out on the bus or making dinner. But not all of the songs are good for general summertime company (unless you want to listen to “3Way” at your family BBQ). “Rose in Harlem,” one of my favorite songs on the album, is versatile and can work with different crowds.
—Rachel Orr, Lily senior art director
Janelle Monáe’s music makes me feel powerful, sexy and cool. I’ve been listening to “Dirty Computer” on repeat since its release in April, right when the weather started turning around. “Pynk” makes me think of walking past Prospect Park on a breezy day to meet fellow Lily team member Monica Castillo at a coffee shop. It makes me think of dancing alone in my apartment while putting on makeup (I leave my blinds more open than I should. I’m sure my neighbors have witnessed this).
This song is more than ten years old now. Really. But it reminds me of a time in life when summer meant having no responsibilities (homework) and spending hours with friends poolside and in backyards. It sounds easy — just like summer time.
—Amy Cavenaile, Lily art director