Tina Kakadelis
YA Author

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Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

Playlist Fri-Thursday: Young & Reckless

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So, the proverbial "they," whoever they are, say the music you listen to in high school is the music you listen to for the rest of your life. For me, that was a lot of classic rock and The Summer Set. Now most of you probably have no idea who The Summer Set is/was, but they were my favorite band for ten years. They started off driving a 15-passenger van around Arizona and California and putting their music on MySpace. That's actually how they found their lead singer. He answered a MySpace ad for a singer for a band and The Summer Set was born. Sadly, The Summer Set is now over, and fourteen-year-old me is crushed. Actually, twenty-four-year old me is pretty dang crushed, too. I've seen them play in five different states at many different stages of my life.

Their first album, Love Like This, came out when I was getting my learner's permit and license. It was the album I listened to when I officially had my license and could drive on my own.

Their second album, Everything's Fine, came out the summer before I went off to college. I drove to my summer job at a tennis camp blasting it in my falling-apart Jeep Grand Cherokee, whose speakers barely worked even after you smacked the dashboard as hard as you could. In particular, Don't Let Me Go hit a little too close to home that summer.

Their third album, Legendary, came out a few months before I picked up and moved my entire life to Orlando to work at a theme park to live out a childhood dream of mine. I'll always remember driving to work at that unnamed theme park with the windows down and everything feeling alright.

Their last album, Stories for Monday, came out as I was graduating from college and trying to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life. It became the cornerstone to writing my book. As much as I talk about Bruce Springsteen, the real heart and soul of this book came from the first song off Stories for Monday, Figure Me Out. For a long while, that was going to be the final song of my book, but for the main character, it made more sense to be Springsteen's Born to Run. However, for me, Figure Me Out brought me back to the world, and it's why I can say I've written a novel.

So, in celebration of The Summer Set's ten-year-long influence on my life, I'm going to give you the songs by them that you NEED to hear.

Playlist Fri-Thursday: The Summer Set Essentials

  1. About a Girl - The very first time I actually got to see them in concert was at a show  at Virginia Tech, like the second week of college with my dorm neighbor. She had a car, I didn't. The Summer Set was touring their Everything's Fine album and opening for the Plain White T's. I'm also such a sucker for songs that are earnest about falling in love and very upfront that their entire existence is based on a girl. I think F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "I love her and that's the beginning and end of everything." Anyway, this song feels like that quote.
  2. Rescue - This is basically a platonic love song about your friends who will always be there for you. To me, it sounds a little like a song that should be used as the credits to a fun teen comedy. Y'know, like how Bring It On used Hey, Mickey as their credits song and they danced along? That's a high compliment in my book.
  3. Figure Me Out - This was the first song they released after a few years' hiatus and I've never heard a comeback so triumphant. It's half love letter to Born to Run, half love letter to giving it all you've got on the things that matter. Which I guess is also inherent in Born to Run, but whatever. I listened to this and only this for a solid two weeks when it came out. It's just one of those songs I could listen to forever.
  4. Chelsea - For the longest time, every single Summer Set show ended with this song. It was the first big song that got them some traction in the world. It's perfect early-2000s pop punk goodness. Everyone would always go absolutely insane when they would play it. Fun fact, it was actually written about the girl who used to be on the Jonas Brothers Disney TV show. The lead singer wrote it for her and played it live in front of a whole bunch of people, including her, to kind of confess his feelings for her. She was also on Dancing With the Stars and danced to this song. They used a terrible recording of it with a different singer for some reason?? [insert The More You Know rainbow here]
  5. Heart on the Floor - I think this may be one of my favorite love songs of all time?? It's about being lonely and meeting somebody who makes you not want to be alone anymore. It's about the nervousness of putting your heart out there, and good lord is it sweepingly heartfelt. Who am I describing things like that??
  6. The Boys You Do - So this song is genuinely just about being pissed your significant other cheated on you so you get revenge by sleeping with all their friends. It's really not the picture of smart life choices, but the music video is AMAZING. It starts off like The Hangover with all the guys talking about how they met an amazing girl and then they realize they're talking about the same girl. However, none of them ended up sleeping with her because they end up finding her in the drummer's bed. The drummer is a lesbian. It might be my favorite music video ever.
  7. Jean Jacket - Listen, any song with a Clarence Clemons-inspired saxophone solo deserves to be heralded. It's just facts. Plus it's also about feeling nostalgic about jean jackets and I feel that on a spiritual level. Also, when they played their last tour, they preceded this song with a cover of I'm on Fire by Springsteen and it was heaven.
  8. Don't Let Me Go - This one's about leaving home and kind of how everything feels different when you go back. I first heard this as a freshman in college and I felt understood? Like, somehow home was a place you missed and no longer felt like yours anymore. It's the last song on the album and the last lines they sing ("Gone, gone/Will it ever come back?") without any music still take me back in time.
  9. Legendary - This might be the greatest song I've ever heard about How I Met Your Mother. The whole song is about how the lead singer feels like he's lost his way and all he does is stay up too late watching How I Met Your Mother, but he desperately wants to make something legendary out of his life. It reminds me of the quote from Mistress America that I love where Greta Gerwig's character talks about how all she does anymore is watch TV or go online for hours at a time, interspersed with periods of time trying not to do that. At the end of the day, I think we all just need a little help.
  10. Old Mexico - This one I feel like I just put on a playlist recently, but I forget which one, so oh well. It came off an EP where they donated the money to Toys for Tots for the holiday season. I like that it's an honest love song and it's also about Christmas, so it's one of the few Christmas songs I listen to. You'll 100% see it again on my Christmas music playlist, which will be the wildest playlist because I don't listen to many Christmas songs. Anyway, there's something romantic about the idea of old Mexico. I don't know why.

Honorable Mentions

  1. You Belong With Me - As a weird promotion for their first album, they re-released it with five additional songs. The songs came from their Bamboozled set. Bamboozled is this festival where bands cover someone else's songs for their set and The Summer Set covered Taylor Swift back in her Fearless heyday. Dare I say I like their cover more than the original?
  2. Last First Kiss - I don't think this song ever fully saw the light of day, but it is one of my absolute favorites by them. It's about wanting to find the girl who's going to be the last girl ever. My favorite line is "So I walked up to you with a plastic ring/Said drop everything and marry me tonight." I have a very terrible recording of this song on my phone and it's still one of the best songs about love I've ever heard.