It's Beach O'Clock Somewhere: Songs of the Southern-Hemisphere Summer

6. RAN "Hari Baru"
Indonesia

Southeast-Asian pop markets tend to be friendlier to sunny guitar music than the rest of the world, and Indonesia's RAN is among the best at that job description. The name is an acronym for the three members: Rayi (lead singer), Asta (guitarist), and Nino (singer). They're veterans of the Indo-pop scene, having been established since 2008, but are still only barely older than the members of One Direction, whose floppy, huggy, bouncy music is their closest Western analogue. "Hari Baru," with its Motown stomp and twinkly accents, is a wide grin of a pop song, regardless of the listener's language.

7. Aaradhna "Lorena Bobbitt"
New Zealand

From one '60s throwback to another, but rather than sunshine pop a girl-group sway. Aaradhna is of Samoan and Indian descent, and began her career singing modern R&B. But her recent turn inhabiting the classic American sound ranks her nearly on the level of Brits like Adele or the late Amy Winehouse. Here she even manages some of the latter's mordant bite, delivered as cheerfully as Mary Wells.

8. Ary "Ti Tonico"
Angola

I last wrote about Ary in company with Angola's premier transgender rapper, Titica; her solo material isn't quite as boundary-pushing, but it's still very accomplished. Famous for her kizomba (a ballad form related to the Franco-Caribbean zouk) and semba (African samba) material, here Ary jumps into a tango, taken at the speed of modern kuduro. It's a song about juggling romantic relationships and family ties—a transliteration of the title would be "Unc' Tony"—a perennial topic in traditional pop forms.

9. Bajofondo "Pide Piso"
Uruguay

The band used to be called Bajofondo Tango Club, during the early-'00s tango revival among European yuppies. There's still a tango overlay to their glitchy funk, but the rhythm here is for the most part pure disco. The eight-bit graphics of the video lends the electronic instrumental something of a narrative: Even when the beat falls away into romantic moodiness, you get the sense that the rhythm won't be gone for long.

10. Mixtape ft. Eva "Je Te Veux Tout Près de Moi"
French Polynesia

French island music has tended to cross-pollinate productively in the Internet age; there's a certain amount of Martinican zouk and Hatian compas in this Taihitian ballad. The primary ingredient, though, is American R&B of the past 20 years, particularly as it intersects with hip-hop. The title means "I want you next to me," and the song doesn't need to both open and close with the sound of a heartbeat to indicate that it's very serious about the sentiment. Eva acquits herself better than Mixtape, but singing a ballad is a much less thankless task than rapping one.

11. Dear Reader "Down Under"
South Africa / Germany

I've included two South African videos because 20 years after apartheid there's still a strong enough cultural divide that it might as well be two countries. Dear Reader is the indie-pop project of Cherilyn MacNeil, a South African singer-songwriter currently living in Berlin. It would be possible to draw a line from African tribal musics to the heavily rhythmic and repetitive elements of "Down Under," but it would probably be a stretch; it shares those elements with half the English-language indie music on the market today.

12. Chileswing "Tren al Sur"
Chile

Summer nights on either hemisphere should always end with jazz when possible; Chileswing's big-band variation will do nicely. This is a cover of a popular 1990 Chilean new-wave song by Los Prisioneros, and by turning the rhythm into a cool-jazz riff, the group pull off a credible rendition. It's not the furthest thing from kitsch, but that, too, is a summer tradition.

Presented by

Jonathan Bogart is a writer based in Chicago whose work was included in Best Music Writing 2011. He is on Tumblr at jonathanbogart.tumblr.com.

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