Music serves as a constant background to the activities of summer. Picture relaxing at the pool or beach, gathering around campfires for acoustic song sessions and frolicking across carnival or festival grounds. Whether you’re spending vacation time jet-setting across the world or kicking back at home, you simply must have good tunes locked and loaded in your back pocket.
From industry icons to underrated gems, here are 18 Jewish artists who should definitely be added to your summer playlists!
Release Radar: “OK ORCHESTRA” (March 2021)
Producing accidental mainstream hits like “Bang!”, this band of brothers doesn’t intentionally target the general public with their beats. Instead, they long to welcome fellow dreamers into the stunning universe they’ve designed. They also shout out Tel Aviv in their upcoming single!
2. King Princess
Release Radar: “Hold On Baby” (July 2022)
A fan favorite of the Hey Alma staff, King Princess has certifiably established herself as a trailblazer in queer pop. Synthesizing funky melodies with bittersweet lyrics, they embody a “sad disco” aura. A hit-maker from their debut single to present day, there’s no room for disappointment when it comes to this indie royalty.
3. Billy Joel
Release Radar: “50 Years of the Piano Man” (April 2022)
If you’re anything like me, Billy Joel manifests an automatic smile on your face. While he may seem like a wildcard here, the man who helped shape the music landscape can certainly bring anyone together with his classics — I can almost guarantee that anyone you meet knows at least one of his songs. There’s a reason he’s celebrating over half a century in the game. And, especially with the recent release of the concert film “Billy Joel in Black & White,” now is the time to re-introduce yourself to this icon.
4. Charlie Puth
Release Radar: “Left And Right” (June 2022)
Leveraging his TikTok fame, Charlie invites long-time and newfound listeners to meet the most authentic version of himself with his self-titled album. These slick pop-funk melodies are destined to worm their way into any listener’s brain!
Note: We’re not sure how Charlie identifies, but he made this list due to his maternal Jewish heritage.
5. Japanese Breakfast
Release Radar: “Jubilee” (June 2021)
“Be Sweet” and start your summer off with a dose of indie-alt pop, courtesy of Japanese Breakfast. The band kicked their summer off on Saturday Night Live’s season finale, which featured an all-Jewish guest lineup, and frontwoman Michelle Zauner, whose father is Jewish, was recently named a Time 100 Innovator. The latest album bursts with ethereal joy and satisfying smooth tunes.
6. Doja Cat
Release Radar: “Vegas” (May 2022 single)
While Doja spends her summer recovering from surgery, her discography will no doubt be heard all over. A seamless trifecta of R&B, hip-hop and pop, any song from her acclaimed album “Planet Her” is bound to get stuck in your mind. She’s my go-to for getting into a “boss bitch” headspace.
7. JP Saxe
Release Radar: “Dangerous Levels of Introspection” (June 2021)
JP’s piercingly personal stories highlight every type of relationship in his life: romantic, platonic, familial, etc. As he processes loss, love and pain, his gently honest tones produce music that will pang your heart.
8. Gracie Abrams
Release Radar: “This Is What It Feels Like” (November 2021), Block Me Out (April 2022)
Also known as the daughter of famed director J.J. Abrams and inspiration-turned-opener to Olivia Rodrigo, Gracie has made a name for herself in her own right! Her “born-in-a-bedroom” soft pop-folk sound will draw you in, with her crushingly relatable lyrics validating every insecurity we keep locked away.
Release Radar: “Lost Track” (March 2022)
With their Grammy-nominated album, “Women in Music Pt. III,” which explores each sister’s trials and triumphs, these “women in music” offer up their souls on a silver platter. Their concerts are a bonafide spiritual experience; seeing them on a Shabbat evening recently, I found myself both dancing my troubles away while honoring them.
10. Madeline The Person
Release Radar: “Chapter 3: The Burning” (July 2022)
With a knack for turning pain into pleasurable pieces, Madeline’s relatability boosted her latest song “MEAN!” into a viral TikTok trend. It’s no surprise she’s amassed almost a million followers: She pinpoints the pressure points of adolescence, especially through her perspectives on grief and growth. With two “Chapter” EPs already under her belt, she’s gearing up to deliver a third entry.
Release Radar: “All 4 Nothing” (August 2022)
Looking for a ‘summer love’ soundtrack? Lauv’s got you covered. His newest music is reminiscent of the song that put him on the map (“I Like Me Better”), leveling up with a heightened maturity as he embraces both romantic and self-love.
12. Glass Animals
Release Radar: “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)” (April 2022)
Glass Animals frontman and self-classified “Neurotic Jew” Dave Bayley indulges his nostalgia as the band deep dives into childhood memories on their “Dreamland” venture. Their trippy cool collective is reflected in this recent work; expect the sensation “Heat Waves” to hit especially hard right now.
13. Chelsea Cutler
Release Radar: “When I Close My Eyes” (October 2021)
Chelsea’s making music for herself first and foremost, leaning into a glass half-full outlook on life through tracks like “If I Hadn’t Met You” and “Forever.” Her melodic celebration of life showcases how grateful she is to be happy and alive, even during her tougher moments — what an awesome attitude to approach this summer with!
14. Noah Kahan
Release Radar: “I Was / I Am” (September 2021)
Identifying himself as “the Jewish Ed Sheeran,” Noah Kahan has built a name for himself as an artist and behind-the-scenes as a songwriter. His music is a great choice for any jam session.
15. Jack Antonoff
Release Radar: “Minions: The Rise Of Gru” soundtrack, with Bleachers (July 2022)
If you want to blast to the past this summer, our Grammy Producer of the Year’s got several routes up his sleeve! Jack’s pulling double-duty for the latest Minions movie soundtrack as lead producer and featured artist. Blending classics of the ‘70s with modern dance melodies, he stays true to his mission to infuse flashback sounds into the present landscape of music, a goal which he continues to nail with Bleachers’ artistic expeditions.
16. Kira Kosarin
Release Radar: “goodbye & thank u” (June 2022)
You may recognize Kira from the small screen as a cast member of “The Thundermans” on Nickelodeon. Capitalizing on this fame to launch her music career has allowed her to bounce between her passions. As a singer, her soft-pop songs show off a stellar voice and sincere lyricism.
17. Jeremy Zucker
Release Radar: “CRUSHER” (October 2021)
Jeremy’s your go-to guy if the humidity isn’t the only thing getting you down. Leaning into a darker aura juxtaposed by low-fi beats, his music is poignant and feels like a punch to the gut in a good way. If you’re looking for a cathartic scream at the top of your lungs, check out his most recent work; “No one hates you (like i do)” is my pick for this kind of playlist.
18. Alexander 23
Release Radar: “Aftershock” (July 2022)
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely heard Alexander’s work; he has several credits as writer and/or producer to certified pop stars. In his own work, that snappy and savvy songwriting is evident, paired with instrumentals that naturally make heads bop. His forthcoming album won’t be one to miss, with his singles giving listeners a taste of what’s in store for his debut.