Summer 2021 Will Be The Summer of Butter

·6 min read
Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

Summer is nearly upon us, and since we essentially didn’t get one last year, this one has some heavy lifting to do. We’ll be mixing and mingling for the first time in fifteen months, debuting our new post-Covid aesthetics, and having some good, solid panic attacks in the weeks to come. Expectations are high for a sexy and dramatic season, and I personally cannot wait.

Summers do best with a brand: the Summer of Love, the Summer of Sleaze, Hot Girl Summer. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into, to isolate a theme around which you may organize your thoughts and outfits. And while Chet Hanks has offered one option in the form of White Boy Summer, it doesn’t seem to be catching on the way he might have hoped (largely because, historically speaking, it has never not been White Boy Summer).

But we don’t always get to choose our themes. Sometimes they choose us. And so it is for this long-awaited, heavily-freighted double summer: we had no way of predicting this even twelve hours ago, but as of Friday, May 21, the summer of 2021 is officially the Summer of Butter.

Behold:

BTS “Butter”

Sweet mother of Jesus, this song is irresistible. Our winter issue cover guys have come for your summer, and I don’t care who you are, how you feel about pop music in general, or what you think you think about BTS in particular, you’re going to give it to them. After their first English-language single “Dynamite” blew up last year, BTS hit number one with the laid-back “Life Goes On,” but never quite got the radio support they deserved. They’ll probably get it this time around, but they’ll dominate either way. “Butter” percolates with the joy we’ve deferred since last March; it demands to be played at a pool party, it begs to be danced to in a crowded setting, it restores a person’s faith in the magic of pop music. “The virus is getting longer and longer, so we thought we needed another summer song,” RM told Apple Music this week, “and ‘Butter’ was perfectly fit for that, and now we’re here.” And now I’m hooked.

And that’s before we even get to the video. It is a dance and fashion blockbuster, a direct love letter to BTS Army, and a testament to the power of proper skin care. My bias has been wrecked at least three times, and I am dangerously close to finding out whether I can pull off dangly earrings like Jimin. The video premiered just over 12 hours ago, has over 75 million views so far, and will reach 100 before I finish this sentence. You guys, BTS is very good at this.

Counting Crows Butter Miracle, Suite One

They are a perplexing band, Counting Crows, but they’re ours. The band occupies a completely unique place in American culture: not quite classic rock, not quite a ‘90s throwback, not the easy punchline that Hootie and the Blowfish immediately became. My feelings about this band– oh who am I kidding, my feelings about Adam Duritz– are complicated, and I have attempted to work them out, but my reaction to this four-song EP is quite simple: I’m in. They’re not doing anything new here, but I’m glad they’re doing what they do. Butter Miracle is for after the pool party, when the crowd has boiled down to just your inner circle. It’s for when you’re around the fire pit with the handful of friends who comprised your quarantine bubble, the ones with whom you’re suddenly bonded for life. It’s familiar and lived-in that way. The single “Elevator Boots” feels like something you’d have put on a mixtape for a crush in 1995. The EP is dad rock, to be sure, but Dad’s had a tough year. Let him rock.

Counter Butter

My partner and I made a very important purchase last summer, and the honeymoon is still not over. Balmuda: The Toaster—no, really, that’s the name of the product—is a truly life-changing toaster oven, an appliance so perfect that I honestly sometimes feel like I don’t deserve it. Here’s the deal: you fill a little tiny container with water and pour it into a slot on top, so that the machine steams the bread before the toasting process begins. The result is toast that is crispy on the outside and tender within, a perfect mix of textures and temperatures, perfect toast. And the process itself is satisfying: you get to watch the toaster fill up with steam, and then the heating element glows in a series of toasting stages. I invited a friend to watch it recently, and he was riveted. “The toasting has, like, a narrative arc,” he said, which is right on the money and also a relief to hear because it means I’m not actually crazy.

But after all this, the idea of putting cold butter onto such a fully-realized piece of toast, frankly, is fucking disgusting. So we made another important purchase recently: a butter dish. We now keep a stick of butter right next to Balmuda: The Toaster, on a dish, under a cover, so that we have constant access to room-temperature butter, all the better for easy spreading. You should do the same. Your grandmother was right all along.

Is this a stretch, a third thing shoe-horned into this piece to make it a trend? Yes. Shut up. Don’t be a bummer in my Summer of Butter.

“Butter of ‘69” Butter 08

But I will also take any opportunity to share this forgotten classic from the summer of 1996 (the Summer of Twister!). Butter 08 was an indie-weirdo supergroup, featuring the drummer from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, both women from Cabo Matto, and Mike Mills, not the one from REM but the one who would go on to marry Miranda July and write and direct Beginners and 20th Century Women. They only made one album—on the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label!—but sometimes you just get it right on the first try. This single is the sound of the city on a muggy August afternoon, it never fails to put me in a good mood, and if I have never known what the hell it’s about, I have also never cared.

“Butter of ‘69” should have been a hit, and with the music industry as chaotic as it is right now, maybe it still can be. Turn it on, turn it up, share it with a friend. It’s what the Summer of Butter demands.

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