Summers end the second you leave school. Those longed-for, endless weeks of nothing but bad television and ice creams, walks on the beach and shoe shopping, daydreaming and worrying about it all coming to an end, well, come to an end. The gaps in the scholastic calendar are plugged with badly paid jobs until eventually the badly paid jobs become all you have and those six weeks of summer are swapped for maybe six days off work if you're lucky and if you're even luckier you might be able to afford the chance to spend two of them somewhere doing something that isn't joylessly watching Stacey Dooley Investigates in bed with a grab bag of Wotsits and a bout of overdraft induced misery for company.
Which is probably why we're all so desperate to bang on about summer jams — in lieu of actually spending any quality time outdoors, and no, drinking a nine quid negroni on a rooftop in Peckham doesn't count as 'quality time outdoors', we've become obsessed with the idea of a sound of the summer. This largely fruitless attempt at making summer a reality, a tangible, real thing, only serves to remind us how terrible most summers are. Still, we try through song, try to make it happen despite the rain and the gloom and the inevitable ending.
However, If there's one true summer jam, one record that genuinely deserves to blast out of an iPhone at every dismal BBQ held in grassless gardens and dog shit littered parks that you're going to sit through this summer, then it isn't Jamie xx's snorefest with Popcaan and Young Thug, or anything else from 2015. It's the perfectly titled "Summer Jam" by German-Belgian group the Underdog Project.
Everything about it is utterly, unfathomably unbeatable. It soars majestically, like an early morning easyJet to Palma, Majorca. From that absurd opening — the vocal telling the listener to "Get on the floor!" before demanding us to "Put your hands up!" over and over, over those those pitch-perfect chords that could be straight off a Floorplan record — to the gentle fade out — that echo'd "alright!" — it steamrolls over everything else that's ever thought of itself, or been described as, a summer jam. Everything and anything else is a cop-out, a facsimile of a day spent drinking Lilt under lilting palm trees, a straight to Netflix version of the real thing, a cheapo choc ice when there's a Magnum on offer.
Why? Well, firstly, it's got the most infectious vocal hook imaginable. It has been scientifically proven (possibly) that it's literally impossible to not croon along to in an approximation of the singer's weird atlantic-euro singing voice. Try it. Put on "Summer Jam" right now and tell me you didn't involuntarily just go "THIS AIIINT NOTHUN' BURT A SUMMER JAAAAAM/BRONZE SKIN AND CEEEENAMON TANS WOAH-OOOH-OOOH-AAH." That's right, you did, even in the office, and now everyone around you is scrambling over to YouTube to listen to it. In minutes the place'll be engulfed in an out of time chorus of mellifluous voices. All together now, "WE'RE GONNA PARDAY AS MUCH AS WE CAN!" After that stack of admin is done, obviously.
Secondly, it holds back on the kick drum for a good minute and a half, which is utter lunacy in a song that's only just over three minutes long in the first place. It works though. Why? Because summer only really makes people happy because it's not winter. We like being warm only because being warm is nicer than being cold. It's the oppositional, fleeting, ephemeral nature of a succession of hot days on an island where the weather — the fucking weather — tends towards the dismal more regularly than Gail Platt, that brings us out in the Umbro shorted, tarmac-slapping flip-flopped, delirium.
Thirdly, this is one of those rare summer jams where the verse is just as good as the chorus. The verses tell a simple story of the kind of beach-based longing we've all experienced or dreamed of experiencing. "Can't get you outta my mind/I can't lie/'Cause a girl like you is so hard to find," they sing. This is pop music in microcosm: it's a long history of yearning, of pining, of wanting that which we don't have and probably never will. Given this, the group's name is fitting — our narrator is an observer, watching those "hotties wearin' Prada skirts" roll past, wondering if they'll ever give him a first look, let alone a second. It's summer dreaming in excelcis.
I could bang on about this record for another thousand words but I'll spare you. In short, there we have it: if you don't think "Summer Jam" is the best summer jam ever you don't even deserve to enjoy summer. You don't even deserve a Cornetto eaten in the backseat of the car on a dismal August afternoon.