Hidden Gems & Summer Surprise: A Playlist of Radio Fodder’s Top Summer Releases

For Radio Fodder's debut playlist for 2023, here are the hidden gems of the summer that still take us by surprise.


At some point, summer must end: we head back to our familiar work-study schedule and start the grind of the new year. But as we go, there’s no better time to reminisce on the small, perfect memories of the season. And there’s no better way to do that than looking back at the summer’s hidden gems and surprise-song-releases. That surprise is particularly rare in Aus: you only have to glance at Triple J’s Hottest 100 to see that the American industry dominates our ears Down Under. But those hidden gems do exist, and finding that perfect song that mirrors your mood at the right time must be remembered.

For Radio Fodder's debut playlist for 2023, here are the hidden gems of the summer that still take us by surprise.


‘Feel Good’ – Slowthai

By Jaz Thiele  

Having lurked generally on the fringes of hip-hop until now—always a little too experimental and Trainspotting-esque to fit in—Slowthai marks his pivot towards a new sound with ‘Feel Good’. And it works: Slowthai’s signature accented vocals sound perfectly at home on a rock track, laid over heavy percussion and string, and within ten seconds the heads start bopping (see the music video for proof). Within its overall optimism remains Slowthai’s unflinching honesty and character, as well as the presence of hardship: ‘Feel Good’ knows that pain is inevitable, but reminds you that you can find your way to happiness again. In doing so, ‘Feel Good’ itself becomes cause-and-effect: you can’t help but feel better after listening.


‘Teacher’s Pet’ (Cover) – grentperez

By Lochlainn Heley


Epic and playful, grentperez’s cover of ‘Teacher’s Pet’ from 2003’s School of Rock spins a film classic into a groovy track that demands any listener get up and dance. Showcased in his Like A Version alongside his 2022 single, ‘Ego’, the Sydney singer  constructs his cover by softening the song’s rock-gospel style into indie rock: he lets the driving guitar chords breathe with dreamy strumming, but keeps the original tempo. Jack Black’s wild and raw energy is still woven through the cover: Perez regularly includes punchy brass and rhythm hits and has the audacity to replace the guitar solo with a trumpet battle where he plays mouth trumpet.  The result is a song coloured with unbridled whimsey, the perfect match for summer vibes.


‘portal’– daine

By Joanne Zou

‘portal’ by daine was dropped on 1 February, ahead of their mixtape shapeless—and has been on rotation for me ever since. I’ve been following daine for a while now and they make consistent hyperpop bangers, combining finely curated sounds with some iconic lyricism and just the right shade of emo sentiment. ‘portal’ is sleek and addictive, capturing a frenzied restlessness fitting for the feeling of summer’s end. The song moves effortlessly between a sweeping chorus—“wake up, I been falling away from the sun”—and more plaintive verses, all anchored by a perfect sung-spoken drop telling us, “the portal’s open, so / walk through at the right time”. 


‘$20’– boygenius

By Chelsea Daniel

Over the summer, indie rock group boygenius announced their surprise return. Comprised of prominent indie musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, the trio released three singles ahead of the March 31st debut album release. While ‘Emily I’m Sorry’, led by Phoebe Bridgers, is currently the most streamed out of the three releases, the song ‘$20’ is the true standout, managing to capture what makes the trio tick and mean so much to fans everywhere (especially myself).


Fronted by Baker, ‘$20’ captures the reckless abandonment of emotions that accompany reminiscing over childhood while being broke and restless. Lyrics of rebellion and desperation are sung and screamed over a soft punk melody, backed with Dacus’ and Bridgers’ angelic vocals. ‘$20’ is the perfect song to understand what makes boygenius unique in the current indie rock landscape while also being the perfect soundtrack to stagnant summers spent at home.


‘Blood and Butter’ – Caroline Polachek

By Chelsea Daniel

To define Caroline Polachek is to exclude most of what makes her, her. To choose one song from her 2023 album, Desire I want to turn into you, is to limit her. In saying that, ‘Blood and Butter’ was a summer release I couldn’t and still can't get enough of, partly because of how it captures Polacheck as an artist and her most recent album. 


‘Blood and Butter’ is a big, breathy love song, almost cheesy in its lyrics, and unabashed in being itself and open, a reflection of Polachek’s self-awareness and love for romance. The lyrics are whimsical, if at times nonsensical (“Look at you, all mythical, logical / And Wikipediated”), and its trancey pop dance production is interrupted by bagpipes throughout, allowing the listener to both fly and come down to earth. It is all at once comforting and boundary-pushing. 


‘Ditto’ – NewJeans

By Jaz Thiele

Following their insanely successful mid-2022 debut, NewJeans have, once again, broken K-pop industry conventions with ‘Ditto’. The track manages to feel simultaneously calm and impossible not to dance to, or at the very least play on repeat. With ‘Ditto’’s hazy synths, wistful vocals and crackly camcorder visuals, NewJeans have created an atmospheric vaporwave byproduct that taps in on the Y2K resurgence, all without compromising their authentic, youthful concept. Along with its upbeat partner track, ‘OMG’, ‘Ditto’ retains the sound and style that has made NewJeans feel, at once, like a breath of fresh air and a dreamy dose of nostalgia. 

(And a special shoutout, of course, goes to its two Australian members.) 


'Midnight' – Sadie Mustoe

By Jessica Fanwong

Soulful and breathy, Sadie Mustoe’s ‘Midnight’ evokes the vibe of a hazy and dreamy summer night. From its soft, almost whispery opening, the song builds up overtime to a passionate falsetto section that conjures the image of smoke shooting up before dispersing into the air—adding to the feeling of impermanence. The soft, mellow undertones emphasise the loneliness and dream-like quality of the song, reminiscent of a just-woke-up voice, caught in the in-between state of dreaming and waking. This in-betweenness is present in the lyrics too, which is interspersed with juxtapositions between urban-life versus starry beaches, being lonely versus wanting company, freedom versus wanting to belong. Finally, the ending’s return to the opening lines conveys the impression of coming full circle. The deep pining for something that seems so near but unattainable remains unanswered and haunts the song with heart-wrenching nostalgia; an iconic recollection of a fleeting summer moment.


‘Doormat’ – Hope D

By Jaz Thiele

Located somewhere between rueful folk and alt-rock, ‘Doormat’ is Hope D at her peak. Between its riffs and instrumentals, Hope D manages to place the vulnerability and striking honesty of her songwriting on the back of a banger. At first, Hope D’s voice is breathy, shaky and filled with longing, before the power of her vocals takes centrestage in a head-bobbing, 2000s-pop-punk burst of energy that just keeps going up. ‘Doormat’ has the potential to catch the eye of the “sad girl” obsessed without ever compromising Hope D’s authenticity and style, resulting in a song that somehow feels both like a rainy day and a sunlit drive to the beach. 


Listen to the full playlist here:

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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