The end of summer is a good time for music. The back-to-school rush and build to fourth quarter shopping always motivates smart pop singles. The Chainsmoker's "Closer" (featuring Halsey) and Sia's "The Greatest" embody the nostalgia indicative of early autumn radio.
Let's start with "Closer," which captures the YOLO spirit of fading youth. What I like about this song is its attention to details: the transient nature of early adulthood, a desire for intimacy despite change, and the freedom inherent with being young and broke but happy. When the chorus delivers the hook, "We ain't ever getting older," it's with a bit of sadness because both the band and the audience know youth fizzles. "Closer" captures the ache of late August--everyone returning to reality but with sweet memories in tow. It's no wonder the song has been number one on the Hot 100 for the past four weeks.
Sia's "The Greatest" is a different beast, working in the singer's signature power-anthem tradition. The tune succeeds as a tribute to Orlando victims, but it is also the perfect tune to start a new school year with confidence. Not to mention, LGBTQ audiences need a self-esteem booster after a summer of tragedy and anxiety. The song is destined to be a hit, and I hope it is as big as her current smash, "Cheap Thrills."