On Wednesday (April 22), Michael Franti & Spearhead announced their 11th studio album, Work Hard and Be Nice, is coming on June 19. In the meantime, Franti has shared two new songs – “I’m On Your Side” and “How We Living” – and he’ll hit YouTube at 8 p.m. ET today (April 22) to screen his documentary Stay Human in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day; Franti will take fan questions via YouTube during the movie.
And as we all hunker down in quarantine, Franti also created a stay-at-home pool party playlist to make your “bathroom feel tropical, funky, warmly melancholic and yet utterly hopeful.”
“There’s a lot of musical terrain covered here because there’s a lot of mixed emotions in the souls of all of us during this time,” Franti says. “I hope wherever you are, you’re with the ones you love and have a few moments in your life to enjoy an imagined beach in your bathtub, or just let the music wash over you.”
Check out the songs — and Franti’s thoughts on them — below.
1. “Suzanna” – Sauti Sol
If you’ve never heard of this Kenyan supergroup, do yourself a favor and check them out. In this song about a woman who’s lost her way and those who long for her return, the uplifting guitar riff will make you feel the love and help to get your morning dancing, even on the most dreary day.
2. “Anybody” – Burna Boy
From his Grammy-nominated album African Giant, Burna Boy comes with a super sexy keyboard melody and sax-laden track so thick that it rivals the best songs the legendary Fela Kuti ever recorded. Burna masters the art of right now and immediate timelessness on this cut.
3. “Orphans” – Coldplay
Who would have thought that Coldplay, known for their piano syncopation, would come with one of the sauciest bass lines on the planet with this track that is funk-fueled, a bit of Paul Simon “Graceland” vibes and some of the best reverb choir vocals I’ve ever heard. Joyful!
4. “Love” – Gina Dirawi
Gina loops one word, “love,” throughout the entire track in this anthemic coffee house jam (is that even possible? Yep, she did it!) that is a tribute to the owning of your own emotions, fears and power.
5. “So This Is Goodbye (Pink Ganter Remix)” – William Fitzsimmons
William Fitzsimmons rarely records his voice above a whisper, and yet with this glitchy club remix, he’s able to transform a song about lost love into something that will turn your bathroom into a dance party. Great track to jump around to in the glow of a single candle that doubles as a spliff lighter.
6. “How We Living” – Michael Franti & Spearhead
“How We Living” is about taking the time to celebrate the fun side of life (says the guy who wrote it). The inspiration for this song was really the break that all of us need and deserve from the chaos of our daily grind, and in gratitude for all the joy that life brings us despite all the hurt in the world. It’s also a gentle reminder that ‘If you’re looking for the problems in this world, you’re gonna find ‘em, all you’ve gotta do is look out the door. But if you’re looking for that good stuff, it’s already up inside you, all you’ve gotta do is just let it show.’
7. “Shine On” – Ethyène
8. “Crave You” – Flight Facilities (feat. Giselle)
9. “Sorri, Sou Rei” – Natiruts
This track came out in 2009, but it sounds like everything that’s on the radio right now. A super funky guitar riff with a dancehall inspired beat and lyrics right in your face. Natiruts are legendary in their native Brazil, so you might not be familiar with them, but this track is one that will make you want more, which makes the fact that this song sounds so fresh even better.
10. “Slow Down” – Poolside
It’s hard to make a playlist for your Bathtub Pool Party without including the pool party supergroup Poolside. The backing track would be great for Kanye to spit lyrics on, but when you’re in your bathtub with your sweetheart trying to chill, or your 18-month-old baby making bubble beards, you’re gonna want the original vocals on it. All good vibes!
11. “GOOD TIME” – Niko Moon
Niko opened for me on tour back in the day and has since become one of the top songwriters in country music. On this track, he picks up an old acoustic guitar with an 808 drum machine and lays down an awesome country hip-hop anthem. Even if you don’t listen to country, it’s hard not to love this track!
12. “Without You” – Oh Wonder
I love this duet. Every word of it. A man and a woman singing note for note. Some moody organ and a drop heavy backbeat. “Come back into the good life…I’m a little bit lost without you.” Subtle magic in this one!
13. “If the World Was Ending” – JP Saxe (Feat. Julia Michaels)
I mean lately, it’s been feeling like it is. This is all piano, and the vocals carry the meaning, the beat and the melody on this gorgeous track.