Playlists for the summer: musicians and DJs choose their favourite tunes

Whether your summer is a beach, a boat trip, a roof party or just throwing stones at bottles on a warm night, we have the perfect seasonal soundtrack – thanks to Rag’n’Bone Man, Charli XCX, Ezra Furman, Kesha and others

Rag’n’Bone Man’s playlist for a boat trip

This summer’s been absolutely amazing for me. We’re playing festivals in Australia, Japan, all over. We went to Toulouse, and we played a festival in Switzerland right on Lake Geneva. My whole band and I went out together on a boat and we all got to drive it around, which was pretty incredible, and it got me thinking, “I want to do this again. I wonder how much it costs to have a boat?” It’s probably a bit more than I can afford at the moment, but maybe next year. I mean, just picture yourself going on boat trips in the sunshine with your friends, it’s a pretty cool prospect right? A chilled-out ride, maybe off the coast of Brighton on one of those rare summer days, get a few beers in and everyone can kick back a little bit.

That’s the vibe I wanted to go for with my playlist: a chilled summer mix, mellow but bouncy, with an early 2000s neo-soul vibe. There’s nothing too in-your-face. I wanted it to be soulful but quite hip-hop, something to enjoy with your friends. That’s why I included songs like Rodney P’s The Nice Up, which is a UK hip-hop classic. I came up through the ranks of UK hip-hop and everyone who’s into that scene knows that song. It’s super feel-good – even if you don’t know it, you couldn’t help but move to it.

Rag’n’Bone Man: hip-hop on the water.
Rag’n’Bone Man: hip-hop on the water. Photograph: Dean Chalkley

The Roots’ You Got Me is another classic, one of those singalong tracks that makes everybody feel good at a party. I’ve also got Fatima’s Family in there, which is really interesting – at first you think it’s going to be a housey kind of song but it’s almost got a Latin feel to it. Her melodies are incredibly beautiful. That, mixed with the production, is just lovely.

And then there’s Anthony Hamilton’s Charlene, which is the song you want to play when it’s 11pm, you’ve had four or five drinks, and maybe you’ve got a girl with you. I’m not particularly smooth with the women, I wasn’t when I was younger. Anthony Hamilton definitely helped me along, so it’s one for the ladies. SA

1 Fatima – Family
2 Mura Masa ft A$AP Rocky – Love$ick
3 Roots Manuva meets Wrongtom – Worl’ A Mine
4 Rodney P – The Nice Up
5 Angie Stone – Bone 2 Pic (Wit U)
6 The Fugees – Fu-Gee-La
7 Anthony Hamilton – Charlene
8 The Roots ft Erykah Badu – You Got Me
9 Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?
10 A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario

Rag’n’Bone Man’s Overproof tour is in the UK in November

Click here to listen to Rag’n’Bone Man’s playlist on Spotify

Kesha: playlist for a beach afternoon

Kesha: ‘I love how whimsical these songs are’
Kesha: ‘I love how whimsical these songs are.’ Photograph: PR Company Handout

My favourite way to listen to music is to pull out my old vinyl and take a trip to my music idols. Give me a beach by the ocean, my records and a record player on a lazy summer afternoon and I’m the happiest. There’s a warmth and authenticity to listening to the music I love from the 60s and 70s on the original discs. For me it gets no better than listening to the samples of the Beach Boys eating crunchy vegetables on their song Vegetables.

On this playlist I’ve selected a few tracks from landmark records I’ve listened to my whole life and which inspire my new album. I really dove into learning about how they were made. I love how whimsical some of these songs are. They prove that there is no formula for music, it can be as out there as you want it to be. When you listen to a song like the The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine or Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing you can tell that it’s just pure artistic expression. It isn’t someone in a studio trying to write a radio hit - it’s someone just making art - and you can feel that in the music.

Songs like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, Girl from the North Country, from one of my all-time favourite albums, Nashville Skyline, for me it’s magic captured on wax. The way that Dylan and Cash’s two voices sing together, seemingly totally unrehearsed with an air of wild abandon, is a religious experience every time I listen to it. These are some of the songs that bring me joy and why I started making music in the first place. I hope you enjoy them as well.

1 The Beach Boys– Vegetables
2 The Beatles – Yellow Submarine
3 Sweet – Fox on the Run
4 William De Vaughn – Be Thankful for What You Got
5 The Kinks – Victoria
6 Iggy Pop – Nightclubbing
7 Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
8 T Rex – Cosmic Dancer
9 Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash – Girl from the North Country
10 Dolly Parton – Just Because I’m a Woman

Kesha’s album Rainbow is released on Tuesday on RCA

Click here to listen to Kesha’s playlist on Spotify

Theresa Wayman of Warpaint’s playlist for a country hike

Theresa Wayman of Warpaint
Theresa Wayman: these tunes were made for walking. Photograph: Brian Rasic/WireImage

I would die if I didn’t get a little bit of summer, but I also like to stay inside and work on projects and think about life and be emo. But I do enjoy the outdoors, and I love hiking. I like that it’s active but also kind of pensive at the same time.

There’s a lot of good hiking in and around LA: Griffith Park, Angeles National Forest, Malibu, Topanga. I don’t really take it super-seriously – I don’t backpack into campsites or get up really early. Sometimes you see rattlesnakes and it’s kind of frightening. A rattlesnake bite is no joke – it will ruin your day.

I picked songs I felt had a pep in their step or almost a marching sort of feel, and also a few stop-and-smell-the-roses songs. I feel like the entire playlist could just be Hard-Boiled Babe over and over again – it’s that good. I love it when music makes me feel the way I feel when I look out at a sunset or at a flower and I’m in awe of the natural beauty, and I love how humans can create things that give off that same feeling.

There’s a really good momentum to the Slits song – they always seemed wild and feral, so they go well with the atmosphere of a hike. And Patti Smith to me is like a little bit of a wild animal, so she fits in nicely. I’ve only just discovered this cover and I really like it – it’s thoughtful, but also has power and movement.

The Lightnin’ Hopkins song is one for looking out at the view once you’ve reached the top of the mountain – I think it’s important to remember to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. And I love blues because of the raw emotion, and that’s why I think that’s important to the playlist. When you’re out in nature it can bring you to some kind of stillness or silence, and someone like Lightnin’ Hopkins is going to bring those emotions to the surface. KB

1 Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good at Being in Trouble
2 Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Hard-Boiled Babe
3 Fela Kuti – Expensive Shit
4 Cyndi Lauper – Iko Iko
5 The Slits – Instant Hit
6 Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit
7 Van Morrison – Sweet Thing
8 Lightnin’ Hopkins – Awful Dreams
9 Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
10 Link Wray – Rumble

Warpaint’s new album, Heads Up, is out now on Rough Trade

Click here to listen to Theresa Wayman’s playlist on Spotify

Jorja Smith’s playlist for a road trip

Jorja Smith: ‘I listen to weird stuff’
Jorja Smith: ‘I listen to weird stuff.’ Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

I was born in June, so I like summer and my favourite part of a sunny day is when the sun sets. I’ve never been on a real road trip, although I’ve sat in a van with my band going to venues. I don’t do the driving myself – I failed the day before I moved to London – but I don’t want to drive anyway, I prefer to be in the back. I used to watch a programme about Route 66 in America and it looked so fun. A road trip in Cuba is probably top of my list.

This playlist is the songs I listen to the most right now. I listen to weird stuff and it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing – like in the gym I listen to slow music. I’m going to some festivals this summer, so I’ll be playing these songs on my way there. I picked the Charlotte Dos Santos song, which samples an old jazz song called Red Clay [by Freddie Hubbard], because it’s chilled out. If you don’t want to think too much when you’re on the road it’s a nice song for that. Charlotte’s voice is so beautiful and she produces a lot of stuff herself, which is great.

I was travelling from Walsall to London and I listened to Ama Lou’s TBC the whole two-hour journey. I kept rewinding. It’s a beautiful song, haunting – her voice is actually quite eerie. Sonder are also fab. They’re this very, very real R&B music; it’s so nostalgic. I think they’re quite influenced by 112 and Ginuwine. When I found New Chain by Col3trane, honestly I couldn’t stop playing it. It’s a good road trip song because the beat just drives on. The vocalist has a beautiful voice and he’s only 18. I’m not sure how to describe it – it’s a bit soul, R&B-ish, from the UK. But I think they’re creating their own sound. KB

1 Charlotte Dos Santos – Red Clay
2 Ama Lou – TBC
3 SZA ft Travis Scott – Love Galore
4 Col3trane – New Chain
5 TE dness – Saucy
6 IAMDDB x INKA – Leaned Out
7 Toro y Moi – Girl Like You
8 PartyNextDoor – Low Battery
9 Sonder – Too Fast
10 Kelela – Rewind

Jorja Smith’s single Teenage Fantasy is out now

Click here to listen to Jorja Smith’s playlist on Spotify

Ezra Furman’s playlist for throwing rocks at bottles

Ezra Furman: ‘Happiness just takes over when summer shows up’
Ezra Furman: ‘Happiness just takes over when summer shows up.’ Photograph: Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns

Summer’s a time when I start to detach from reality, like a balloon that’s been let go. It was my favourite season when I was a child because school let out, but even without that circumstance summer has an anarchic force, like a tornado or the Rapture. So I like to do rapturous things in the summer. I like to throw rocks at bottles lined up on a rail and watch them explode while I recite romantic poetry.

In the winter I’m a down-to-earth person; I probably listen to George Jones, or something with a structure and easy-to-understand words. And then in the summer it’s the Yamasuki Singers. This sounds like a bunch of Japanese kids singing with a martial arts expert leading the choir, and they’re screaming war-like exclamations. That’s summer music to me.

The Daniel Higgs one will last you for a lot of bottles, depending on your aim. It’s long and I really like that about it. It feels like Daniel is just living on this one chord and he’ll never live anywhere else. It reminds me of the locusts that come out in the summer in Chicago. They don’t care who’s listening and they have not thought that people might get bored with their one and only chord. I want to be more like that.

I like Happiness Won Me Over because I love the idea of giving in to happiness, like you’ve been resisting it and it finally wins. That’s a very summery idea to me. Happiness just takes over when summer shows up. Not that I feel happy all the time in the summer; far from it. But happiness takes on an easily available quality. Sometimes on a hot summer night I get the feeling like nothing could ever hurt me or make me feel bad. And I go to the lot by the rail and gather some rocks and bring some empty bottles from my collection of unremarkable bottles. And I throw rocks at them and I know that I am loved by an all-encompassing mysterious presence.

1 The Yamasuki Singers – Yamasuki
2 Daniel Higgs – Hoofprints on the Ceiling of Your Mind
3 Pixies – Tame
4 Tristen – Gold Star
5 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues
6 Jens Lekman – A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill
7 Neil Young – Ambulance Blues
8 The Moldy Peaches – What Went Wrong?
9 El Perro Del Mar – Happiness Won Me Over
10 CocoRosie – Surfer Girl

Click here to listen to Ezra Furman’s playlist on Spotify

Charli XCX’s playlist for a day by the pool

Charli XCX: ‘Recently I’ve been going through a real Macarena phase’
Charli XCX: ‘Recently I’ve been going through a real Macarena phase.’ Photograph: Atlantic

I like the summer – it’s when all your friends get together and the best parties happen. Swimming pools remind me of late-night house parties – you can be in the pool, out of the pool, you can bomb in the pool, and there’s always someone in there with their clothes on. Public pools are definitely fun too: I remember when I was younger, going to one of those with the fake wave machines – pretty wild. I haven’t been to one for ages.

At this pool party there’s definitely a barbecue, hot dogs, ice-cream. And good cocktails, that is a must – fruity, icy drinks. In this playlist I’ve got some of my favourite party jams and there’s something for everyone, multiple genres and multiple emotions. It’s like a journey: when people are arriving you’re playing the Beach Boys and Gin and Juice, and later you’re on the Vengabus with the Vengaboys going to Ibiza, or dancing to Alma, who’s a great DJ and really does know how to party.

Recently I’ve been going through a real Macarena phase, not only playing the song but also doing the macarena to every song that comes on. It started with me and Dua Lipa at Glastonbury doing it to Major Lazer. You can even do it in the pool, like aerobics. I’ve seen more people doing it out and about recently, so watch out, it’s about to be a viral sensation.

Wild Thoughts is one of my favourite songs currently on the radio. The video is crazy good and Rihanna is so sexy in it, and I love the sample [Maria Maria by Carlos Santana]. It just gives me summer vibes, and it’s also my mum’s favourite song right now.

Aqua’s Barbie Girl has a special summer memory for me: when I was about four years old I was on a cruise with my family and I performed it in the talent show, but they didn’t have the backing track so I just sang it a cappella, which was probably really weird. I was also the only person who entered, so I won.

1 The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
2 Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice
3 Katy Perry – California Gurls
4 Los Del Rio – Macarena
5 DJ Khaled ft Rihanna, Bryson Tiller – Wild Thoughts
6 Aqua – Barbie Girl
7 2Pac ft Dr Dre – California Love
8 Alma – Chasing Highs
9 Chance the Rapper – No Problem
10 Vengaboys – We’re Going to Ibiza!

Charli XCX’s new single, Boys, is out now

Click here to listen to Charli XCX’s playlist on Spotify

Clara Amfo’s playlist for a roof party

Clara Amfo
Clara Amfo: ‘There’s always something happening on someone’s roof.’ Photograph: to come

I am absolutely and unequivocally a summer person. I can’t stand it when people complain, “It’s too hot.” Enjoy it! I just came back from a holiday in Bali and I fell in love with it – it’s very much a “no worries” country. I had a great time climbing mountains, visiting waterfalls and drinking the local coffee, which is made from civet poo.

I like roof parties because there’s a certain freedom to them. It’s the quintessential London summer thing to do: looking over the city, enjoying good company and music. If you’re not hanging out in a park or going to some kind of festival, there’s always something happening on someone’s roof. With this playlist I’m going for that moment before it all kicks off with the big dance tunes – I want a chilled, laid-back soundtrack, so I went for some classic and current soulful songs I enjoy.

There isn’t a single day that I don’t listen to a song produced by Pharrell Williams – they were such a massive part of my growing up and going out – and I absolutely love Clipse. With I’m Good in particular, the production is incredible and I just love the hook. My friend Manny played it at my birthday party, and it reminds me of feeling good.

Pretty Baby by Sister Sledge gives me a lot of great memories from one of my favourite nightclubs, Plastic People in east London, which sadly has closed. I’ve met some of my best friends for life there, and this was one of the songs we’d always hear on nights out. It was produced by Nile Rodgers and it’s got that classic Chic production style. It’s just the type of song I’d want to twirl to on a rooftop.

I love the Spice Girls with no faux irony at all – they’re one of the most joyous pop exports this country has ever had. I loved that this was produced by Darkchild, who’s a proper hit machine – he’s done songs with Destiny’s Child, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston. Whenever this comes on, everyone just goes, “Oh my god!” It’s such a feel-good tune. KB

1 Clipse ft Pharrell – I’m Good
2 Sister Sledge – Pretty Baby
3 SZA – Go Gina
4 Solange – Losing You
5 Thundercat – Them Changes
6 Spice Girls – Holler
7 Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves the Sunshine
8 Mac Miller ft Anderson .Paak – Dang!
9 A Tribe Called Quest – Butter
10 Beyoncé – Party

Clara Amfo hosts the Live Lounge month on BBC Radio 1 in September

Click here to listen to Clara Amfo’s playlist on Spotify

Stevie Parker’s playlist for a train journey

Stevie Parker
Stevie Parker: ‘The train journey from Bristol to London is incredibly beautiful.’ Photograph: Burak Cingi/Redferns

I usually love the summer, but I’ve recently moved into a new flat in Bristol and it’s a bit of a hellhole in the heat. So that’s kind of put me off summer for the moment. I’m going away to Greece in a few weeks, though, just to unwind. It’ll be good to disappear for a bit.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on trains while I’ve been working in London. The journey from Bristol to London is incredibly beautiful, one of the best. I’ve been lucky enough to do it hundreds of times, and it never really gets old. It’s so peaceful and the scenery rolling past is such a joyous thing. I like to use music to boost my mood and give me some momentum for the day because travelling can make me feel quite introspective and, if I reflected that too much in my music choice, I’d spend the rest of the day feeling overly zen and a bit out of it. So I tend to listen to more uplifting stuff, like Lissie’s When I’m Alone, which is one of my favourite songs ever. It’s a perfectly crafted pop song with just the kind of mood for travelling and watching the world go by.

Pumarosa’s Dragonfly is also a good one for soaking up the scenery as it goes by – it’s very atmospheric and makes me think of colours in an almost synaesthetic way. Anything that transports me to another world when I’m travelling is a good thing. Gabrielle Aplin’s Miss You is the perfect song to hum along to, it’s really catchy and uplifting and relatable. And Flamingods’ Kewali is another good one for when you’re working or staring out of a train window: textured, worldly, and full of interesting sounds with lots of actual real instrumentation – nothing synthetic or electric. SA

1 Haim - If I Could Change Your Mind
2 Wolf Alice – Your Loves Whore
3 Lorde – Sober
4 Gabrielle Aplin – Miss You
5 Flamingods – Kewali
6 Pumarosa – Dragonfly
7 Yuna – Used to Love You
8 Maggie Rogers – Alaska
9 Lissie – When I’m Alone
10 Harry Styles – Woman

Stevie Parker is touring in September and October. The Cure is out on Virgin/EMI

Click here to listen to Stevie Parker’s playlist on Spotify


Interviews by Sam Anderson and Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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