A Bouquet of Songs for May Flowers


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Written by the Mamas & the Papas’ John Phillips to drum up excitement for the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, this song by the folk musician Scott McKenzie quickly became an era-defining anthem — although the Coachella generation seems to have heeded its sartorial advice, too.

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Alynda Segarra shouts out some imaginatively named flora — “rhododendron, night-blooming jasmine, deadly nightshade” — on this rollicking track from their 2022 LP “Life on Earth.” (If you’re into this song and new to Segarra’s project Hurray for the Riff Raff, I put together an entire playlist in their honor earlier this year.)

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Yes, this is the Radiohead song with that video of Thom Yorke dancing. And don’t get me wrong: Dancing Thom Yorke forever. But I think that highly meme-able video makes people forget what a good song this is — stealthy, hypnotic and clearly a highlight of the band’s 2011 album, “The King of Limbs.”

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An ex haunts a current relationship on one of the most subdued, and wrenching, tracks from Billie Eilish’s new album “Hit Me Hard and Soft.” “I see her in the back of my mind all the time,” Eilish sings, trading in her signature, understated cool for a more impassioned delivery. “Feels like a fever, like I’m burning alive.”

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I think I’ve recommended this song before, but so be it — it always puts a smile on my face. On this single from her 2023 album “Water Made Us,” the musician and poet Jamila Woods likens living and loving to the continuous work of tending to a small garden. Her energy is so bright that the song itself sounds like nourishing sunshine.

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And finally, we have one of the more pessimistic pop songs ever to be named after a flower. Most love songs take for granted that roses smell sweet, but in Stankonia they smell like … well, you know.



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