It's not a genre; it's a lifestyle.Kara Frame/NPR
Dearly beloved: We are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called roséwave.
Since 2017, roséwave been more than mere summer listening; it's been the catchall term for a way of living: the breezy sweatshirt-over-swimsuit days spent on the beach. The impromptu, late-night karaoke session with your ride-or-dies. The soundtrack to a generation-spanning family reunion featuring all your grandmother's classic recipes (and your cousins' drinking games, too). As Lars Gotrich, its inventor, explained: "Roséwave is a one-word joke I made on Twitter that was less about a genre (that does not exist) and more a lifestyle (that very much exists)."
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Last year, of course, we couldn't stomach celebrating; it felt downright wrong to act carefree about, well, anything. And even though oftentimes the very best pop music can help take our minds off our troubles, roséwave didn't feel quite right last summer. But, like an old friend, it was waiting right there when we needed it, chilling to be uncorked at just the right temperature.
Which brings us to 2021. This summer promises to be unlike any other. Vaccinations are widely available in the U.S., but there's still disparity when it comes to access. Travel is returning, but not without some pretty notable differences. Live music – something we've been desperately missing here at Roséwave HQ – will be making a comeback, though it might not initially look like the pre-pandemic festivals we've seen each summer.
But, as always, roséwave is here, and her crowd-pleasing spirit remains. Whether you're ready for Hot Vax Summer or preparing for a more cautious reentry to everyday life, roséwave understands. This year's opening playlist is all about the tracks that got played on repeat in quarantine and you're still not sick of; in 2021, roséwave celebrates the songs that you're ready to blare through speakers when you're finally reunited with far-flung friends.
Naturally, our kickoff playlist features a little something for everyone. This summer, we salute our new patron saints, whose spirits offer summertime inspiration: Gen-Z icon Olivia Rodrigo ("deja vu"), the perfectly-named Rosé, of BLACKPINK ("On The Ground"); the Wife Guy energy of country superstar Luke Combs ("Forever After All"). Silk Sonic (aka Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak) brings breezy seduction ("Leave The Door Open"), while a five-song run featuring Demi Lovato, MF DOOM and more celebrates the very best of besties. There are songs for reminiscing (courtesy of Marvin Gaye and Carole King), plus tracks that have found very 21st-century second lives on TikTok (Ladytron's "Seventeen"; Life Without Buildings' "The Leanover").
And this is only the beginning. As roséwave's self-appointmented guardians, protectors and defenders, we've looked forward to our annual summer revamp: new playlists; new memories; a color scheme du jour. We've been by your side through living room dance parties, helped you share the stereo with your kids and even told you how to parse your zodiac compatibility with your crush. Now that we're back, we'll be sharing playlists – varietals, if you'll permit the parlance – all summer long. For now, we hope these 101songs help soundtrack you feeling a little lighter, cherishing your loved ones and looking forward to what's ahead.
Thanks to NPR Music's LaTesha Harris, Anamaria Sayre and Alex Ramos for their playlist contributions.