Summer rewind: a look at the summer’s recent releases, greatest hits


Mira Littmann

With theaters just opening, many films were viewed from home on popular platforms such as Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBOMAX etc. Marvel’s Black Widow was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and starred Scarlett Johansen as the powerful female lead. Another summer movie with a female protagonist was Disney’s live-action Cruella, which told the rich backstory behind one of the most classic Disney animated movies: 101 Dalmatians.  More kid-geared Disney+ films included Luca and Peter Rabbit 2.  

“I really liked [Luca], I thought it was a really cute and fun summer movie,” Kodie Winkler, ETHS Junior, says, “I know a lot of people were thinking that is wasn’t like a typical pixar movie that has some greater meaning about life and existentialism, but it was really cute and really sweet. It was colorful – I loved the animation.”

Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights was a musical success.  Based on the musical he wrote as a sophomore in college, it sheds light on the lives of members of the Latinx community of Washington Heights, New York.

“It was so vibrant, and filmed so well that it almost felt like you were sitting on a bench in Washington Heights looking at everything – it didn’t feel like you were watching a movie.” Junior Sammi Lewis says.

Popular sequels/next in series  include F9, and A Quiet Place Part II. F9, so named for being the ninth installment of the Fast and Furious series, follows Dom Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his team as they face an enemy like never before – Jakob (John Cena) – a trained assassin who happens to be Dom’s brother. A Quiet Place Part II, meanwhile, returns to the Abbott family (with lead Emily Blunt) and their struggle for survival as the creatures that surrounded them became more and more aggressive. 

What’s summer without reality TV? After Matt James’ dramatic season, the Bachelor franchise began the summer off with two bachelorettes (both from Matt’s season), Katie Thurston and Michelle Young who will both star in their own, separate seasons. Another popular series in the dating/romance category was season two of Netflix’s risque Too Hot to Handle. Netflix teen shows, Outer Banks, Never Have I Ever, and Atypical also got new seasons this summer.  

If anyone enjoyed the 2007-2012 Gossip Girl series, they might enjoy the new 2021 version of the show available on HBO Max. The reboot portrays a more diverse and modern take on the original story centered around New York’s upper east side high schoolers. 

“Though the writing isn’t the best,” says junior Caroline Klearman, “it’s interesting to see social media’s effect on a version of one of my favorite shows. I also love that there is so much more diversity than in the original.”

For the Marvel fans, Loki (Disney+) was a popular series that focuses on everyone’s favorite evil Asgardian brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Captured by the Time Variance Authority organization, Loki embarks on an adventure to fix a “time variant” that threatens to erase him forever. Like Wandavision, episodes of Loki were released every week from June 9th – July 14th, finishing in a classic Marvel cliffhanger. Also released on Disney+, The Mysterious Benedict Society premiered June 25th with stars Tony Hale, Ryan Hurst, and Kristen Schaal. 

Hit shows Cruel Summer and Young Rock premiered on Hulu and Amazon Prime this year. Cruel Summer episodes alternated following popular Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and awkward Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) in a story of abduction, betrayal and abuse. Young Rock, a sitcom, imagines Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson running for president, flashing back to see Dwayne grow up, graduate and begin a career. 

Students had their own recommendations for summer shows:

“I watched Lucifer. It was good and I would recommend it to people who like mysteries and comedies,” Jack Zebala, ETHS freshman, says of the show that aired new episodes of season 5 on May 28.

“Kim’s Convenience! It’s funny, realistic, [and] full of life and culture!” Ella Gutierez recommends.

As we slid open our music apps or turned on the radio, we found fantastic new summer songs and albums at our fingertips. Although summer 2021 saw a small share of festivals and concerts, most of our music consumption was in our bedrooms, cars or out and about. As the weather began to warm, songs like “Butter” (BTS), “Levitating” (Dua Lipa), “good 4 u” (Oliva Rodrigo), “Peaches” (Justin Bieber) and “Kiss Me More” (Doja Cat) ran on repeat.  

“I’ve been listening to a lot of BTS,” agrees Sophomore Tyler Tang, “it’s interesting to see how their music and overall sound has gradually changed to appeal to more western audiences.”

“good 4 u” is part of Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour, which gained much attention this summer.  The album features 10 songs including radio hits “drivers license” and
“deja vu”.  Being only 18, her recognition has grown, and the actress/singer even visited the White House to promote vaccinations among young people.   

“‘good 4 u’ just has this energy that makes me feel hyped up.” Winkler says “I haven’t listened to the whole album [Sour] yet, but the songs that I have heard from her [Olivia Rodrigo] I really like.” 

Along with “Kiss Me More”, Doja Cat has many other songs that have grown in popularity over  the past year.  Specifically through Tiktok, her songs have gotten more recognition.  The artist released Planet Her on June 25 with 19 songs.  Some artists featured in her album include SZA, Ariana Grande, and Young Thug. 
Other artists released new music more recently.  Ed Sheeran’s song Bad Habits came out June 25, and is already being played frequently on top radio stations.  Taylor Swift’s re-recorded version of her _legendary/ground-breaking/popular_ album ‘Fearless’ is now available.  She is planning to re-record her other albums as well.

Drake’s new EP, Scary Hours 2 featured songs “Wants and Needs”, “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” and “What’s Next”. Billboard announced in March: “Drake is the first artist ever to debut three songs in the top three simultaneously.” His sixth studio album Certified Lover Boy is expected to come out later in the year. Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” also hit Billboard charts, becoming a number-one hit, the second for the artist after “Old Town Road”. On July 23rd, he released “Industry Baby” with Jack Harlow. The music video, with more than 40,000,000 views, follows the rapper as he is sentenced to prison, dances naked in his cell and escapes donning a bright pink uniform.