With the fall semester almost in the rearview, students will soon be headed off-Grounds, some traveling hundreds of miles to visit their families for the holidays. Interstate scenery can be monotonous and dull, but luckily, long drives are the ideal setting for new music discovery.
Here is a 15-minute energy shot of sonic caffeine, bottled up into a road trip playlist to snap a fatigued driver out of highway hypnosis.
“Dance” by Jay Safari
It’s all in the name. Jay Safari’s “Dance” is impossible not to groove to, promising to loosen the student body’s stiffened joints after weeks of sedentary studying.
Released as a single in February, the track strays from Safari’s former melodic rap sound, pulling from the 2000s hip-pop era and Pharell-esque production. Serving as a pivot in artistic direction, the track was included on Safari’s sophomore album “Bad Decisions,” an R&B record released this November. The song has earned nearly four million Spotify streams since its release, helping to raise the 20-year-old talent to new audiences.
On the hook, Safari lures listeners to the dance floor, singing, “Yeah, the club about to close / If you wanna get down, we can get down / While we’re running out of time.” The sensual lyrics exude a carefree, lighthearted vibe, joined by syncopated funky guitar and punchy drums.
If the itch to dance like nobody’s watching must be scratched, keep in mind that car windows are indeed transparent.
“At All” by KAYTRANADA
Grammy-winning DJ and producer KAYTRANADA is no stranger to flipping old-school disco hits into club bangers, borrowing from a formula spawned by house music pioneers born decades previous.
Just as DJs in Chicago’s underground dance club scene did in the late 70s, KAYTRANADA speeds up sample loops of old-school disco hits, adding modernized electronic drums to revitalize a classic sound. “At All” pulls from a lively sample of a song titled “I Know You, I Live You (Reprise)” by Chaka Khan, renowned 70s R&B and disco singer.
Nodding to its origins in disco, the track features an infectious four-on-the-floor drum rhythm. The bass is atmospheric, its current oscillating in time with a rising synth arpeggio and entrancing sample loops.
Make sure the window defoggers are on, as this track is sure to heat up the atmosphere on your drive home.
“Melancholy” by Human Tetris
Human Tetris — a four-piece alternative band from Moscow, Russia — released “Melancholy” in 2018 as the fourth track off their second studio album, “Memorabilia.”
From the outset, “Melancholy” defies the thematic connotations of its title. The track opens with an upbeat, kick-snare drum pattern, building for eight bars before diving under a dreamlike, whimsical guitar lick.
In the spirit of “Hey Ya!” by Outkast, the song’s euphoric soundscape overshadows its gloomy lyricism, beginning with the lines “Endless days / Lonely nights.” Lead vocalist Arvid Kriker’s deep, droning voice adds to the track’s eccentricity.
The instrumental is frenetic and intoxicating, its momentum driven by a fast-paced whirlwind of eighth note hi-hat cymbals accenting the off-beats. The breakneck track could easily serve as the soundtrack to an indie race car scene, potentially inducing a case of lead foot just by listening.
“50//50” by Vantage
If a song were to ignite the second wave of the dancing plague of 1518 — in which hundreds of French townspeople are fabled to have danced themselves to death after grooving uncontrollably for months without rest — the global hit “50//50” would be the provocateur.
Tokyo-based future funk producer Vantage samples the 1982 disco hit “The Big Guns” by Heatwave, playing with the original song’s structure and raising the tempo. Vantage infuses “50//50” with elements of EDM, from electronic drums to tension-building bridges and beat switches.
Partially due to its traction as a viral TikTok sound, the feel-good song has amassed over 44 million streams on Spotify since its release. This track makes for a great rest stop dance break, as its boogie-inducing flavor cannot be contained by a seat belt.
On Repeat is a column from the Arts and Entertainment Desk that provides readers with songs related to the University student experience, from toughing it through finals season to walking around Grounds and more.