Kim Petras performing in Washington DC in 2018Ted Eytan/Flickr

With May Week comes a peculiar mixture of emotions: relief at having finished exams, eagerness to embrace your newfound freedom to party, a sudden onset of sadness ten hours into a May Ball and the horror of seeing another year fly by. In this playlist, Varsity’s music team have endeavoured to include something for every moment. From Beyoncé to Black Country, New Road, here are seven tracks to soundtrack your May Week.

Sergio Niblett-Morales: ‘Pure/Honey’ – Beyoncé

How better to party through May Week than with Beyoncé’s anthemic banger ‘Pure/Honey’? While the genre of house is well-trodden, ‘Pure/Honey’ distinguishes itself by incorporating lyrics that call upon listeners to let go and have fun. Moreover, its infectious chorus makes it impossible not to dance along. While any song from Beyoncé’s seventh album Renaissance would have been a suitable choice, ‘Pure/Honey’ expertly blends the heavy house beats and 70s disco flourishes that punctuate the entire record. It is the perfect track for hitting the club and dancing like nobody’s watching.

Zachary Dickerson: ‘I Don’t Want It At All’ – Kim Petras

I Don't Want It At All - Kim Petras (Official Music Video)YouTube (Kim Petras)

Kim Petras is arguably today’s queen of pop and her single from 2017 is as poppy as it gets. Upbeat, fun, and repetitive, the track is about Petras wanting all her clothes to be designer but wanting “someone else to buy ’em” – and who can’t get behind that? I remember blasting this after finishing my final exam for undergrad last year and feeling like the weight of the world was off my shoulders and I was hurling towards a summer of fun and picnics in the park. This is one that I will definitely have on repeat as I hit submit on my MPhil diss.

Alexander Brian: ‘Moment In The Sun’ – Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean - Moment In The SunYouTube (Sunflower Bean)


Mountain View

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Brooklyn rockers Sunflower Bean are not known for their joyful music. However, during Covid-19, they cheered us up with this nostalgic single that looks back on a summer well spent while declaring that “a moment in the sun with you” is worth more than “everything I’ve dreamed about.” Because of lockdown, the band had to work with a demo. This gives the track a raw feel, which renders starker the emotions of frontwoman Julia Cumming, who had recently entered a new relationship. Cumming’s relationship with this track is complicated, having later separated from this partner before being constantly reminded of the ordeal when the song blew up after featuring in Heartstopper. Nevertheless, this track oozes the freedom of May Week with an unforgettable synth riff and funky bassline.

Emmy Warr: ‘Silk Chiffon’ – MUNA ft. Phoebe Bridgers

MUNA - Silk Chiffon (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)YouTube (MUNA)

“Life’s so fun, life’s so fun,” proclaims ‘Silk Chiffon’, MUNA’s sunshine-clad, joyously queer contribution to guitar-pop, featuring none other than the people’s indie princess, Phoebe Bridgers. It’s far from an obvious combination, but Bridgers’ melancholy vocals add surprising depth to the Californian three-piece’s dance beats and top-40 synthesisers. ‘Silk Chiffon’ manages to be as light and bright as its title suggests, without approaching shallowness. Whether you’re leaving it all on the dance floor, or stumbling home as the sun rises, this song is the perfect feelgood anthem for your May Week playlist.

Dylan Sudworth: ‘Wakin On a Pretty Day’ – Kurt Vile

For me, the best thing about May Week isn’t the parties, the far-too-expensive balls and events cobbled together at every college; it’s the absence of work. Waking up to a hot summer’s day (presumably at around 1pm), to the knowledge that I have no lectures, no supervisions, no deadlines hanging over my head like a thick, grey cloud makes Cambridge (just about) worth it. I like to imagine Kurt Vile writing ‘Wakin On a Pretty Day’ lounging on the side of Emmanuel’s outdoor pool with a cider in his hand. It just works.

David Quinn: ‘The Place Where He Inserted the Blade’ – Black Country, New Road

Never has a song been so perfect for 4am tears in a glorified tent. Beginning with melancholy piano followed by a lilting guitar line, this track will soon have you belting out its choral refrain with every bone in your drunken body. No other song contains every possible emotion you could feel at a May Ball.

Anna Metzger: ‘Going Going Gone’ – Lucy Dacus

Once the parties are over and the crushing existential dread of another year having flown by sets in, it’s time to put on Lucy Dacus’ Home Video. In an album based entirely on her girlhood diaries, ‘Going Going Gone’ acts as a haunting lyrical reminder of the fleetingness of youth and young love. The title of this camp-fireish, gentle acoustic track recalls an auction chant, pinpointing the moment at which childish innocence is traded for adulthood. Perhaps a bit of a maudlin choice for a May Week playlist, I think this song is the perfect accompaniment for watching a mid-June sunset in Grantchester meadows when we’re forced to confront the reality that we are, in fact, growing up.

Listen to all these and more on this Spotify playlist.