Are you ready to have a Jimmy Buffett summer?


For the better(opens in a new tab) part(opens in a new tab) of a(opens in a new tab) decade now, culture observers have lamented the disappearance of the song of the summer. I could walk you through why that is — the death of monoculture, Spotify killing radio, TikTok trends downsizing the attention span for hit songs — but that’s not the main point here. Culture no longer centers around singular pieces of art; instead, we wander through vibes. That’s how we got hot girl summer(opens in a new tab), Meg Ryan fall, and the sudden rise of pickleball.(opens in a new tab)

As a culture connoisseur myself, I’ve felt the winds of change and settled on the aesthetic of this upcoming summer — and it sounds a lot like steel drums. That’s right, the summer of 2023 is the Summer of Jimmy Buffett (SJB). Get your ass to a Tommy Bahama immediately.

Now you might reason, if you knew me, that this is wishful thinking. Admittedly, I am a big fan of Jimmy Buffett and ascribe to the whole Margaritaville vibe, yet I’d argue I’m just better attuned to the summer to come because of that fact. One might say I was born to write this post. I’m not saying it, but I’m also not not saying it.

And, to be clear, I have evidence to back up this theory, which I explain at length, below.

Parrothead fashion is in

Look around at what’s cool in clothing right now. What’s “in” and trendy, especially for menswear? Hawaiian shirts(opens in a new tab) and camp collar(opens in a new tab) linens. Florals are also in and leaning more maximalist, attune with the culture’s “growing love for novelty—if not outright camp,” according to Marie Claire(opens in a new tab). Even baggy cargo pants(opens in a new tab) and shorts are stylish again. Everything, in general, is trending toward flowy and light.

All those items are extremely Margaritaville couture. It describes, exactly, what one would wear to a Jimmy Buffett concert.

You know what else is having a moment? Margaritaville-branded Crocs. Look on Twitter, TikTok(opens in a new tab), or in my closet. People love them and are posting(opens in a new tab) about(opens in a new tab) them(opens in a new tab) a lot. And, not for nothing, look at the gauche gorgeousness of these things.

If that’s not evidence of the coming SJB, what is?

Jimmy Buffett culture is leaking into online trends

OK, first we have to laugh at the phrase “Jimmy Buffett culture.” I understand how silly that sounds and, in reality, how silly it is.

However, there is a specific vibe to the Buffett fandom. It’s a lazy, sun-kissed, sunset feeling. It frequently involves consuming alcohol, maybe even marijuana. It’s not that you don’t have responsibilities, it’s that you’re choosing to ignore them. Any problems can be handled by an undefined future version of you. You exist only where your feet are, and those feet are likely barefoot. Your only problems are the small ones immediately at hand, such as(opens in a new tab) a blown-out flip-flop or lost shaker of salt. That is the essence of Buffetcore.

I saw a viral TikTok — that has since accumulated more than 2 million views — about having a “fun uncle” summer. The post from @patrickmazuca(opens in a new tab) reads: “No hot girl summer, it’s fun uncle summer. Be the fun uncle of your friend group. Get inappropriately drunk at the wrong times. Comfort over fashion all summer long. Spray tan, if necessary. Make people second guess how you can afford your lifestyle. Maybe buy a boat. We’re having fun 100% of the time.”

The song this thesis was set to? “Margaritaville.”

And goddamn if that paragraph doesn’t nail the Buffett vibe. It’s being loose and having a good time while remaining unproblematic. You’re the uncle with nothing weighing him down who everyone is thrilled to see at the cookout.

Lots of other folks on social media went viral making similar(opens in a new tab) (or outright copies) of the “Fun Uncle Summer” post. TikTok user @sarahalessa got more than a million views on a post(opens in a new tab) in April for their “Beer Uncle” playlist set to, what else, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

There’s also been a steady increase in Buffett content online. This past April, comedian-actor Dan Soder took to TikTok(opens in a new tab) to talk about the Buffett banger “He Went To Paris.” Look around the internet and you’ll find memes about the Buffett revival.

There are even tweets about it being a Jimmy Buffett Summer. What other people in their 70s are trending on TikTok beyond, you know, current or former heads of state? That’s the power of Jimmy.

Google Trends even shows a rising interest in Jimmy Buffett this month. (And no such rise for Hot Girl Summer… just saying.)

Credit: Screenshot: Google Trends

Something is in the air and on the internet. Guess what, pal? It’s the coming collective realization that it’s the Summer of Jimmy Buffett.

Why the Summer of Jimmy Buffett makes sense in 2023

Assuming we are heading toward Jimmy Buffett Summer, I think it adds up. The summer of 2020 arrived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the culture embraced the post-vax aesthetic of Hot Girl Summer. And last year, we were in the midst of a late 90s, early Y2K revival that ultimately gave way to the clean aesthetic(opens in a new tab). So it makes sense that this year we would overcorrect into relaxation.

This summer, we are all Jimmy Buffett. And you know what? There are far worse things to be.

If all you know of Buffett are campy hits like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” then I’d argue you’ve got a bit to learn. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those songs. They’re fun and kitschy, a perfect summer soundtrack. But as that TikTok from Soder hints at, Buffett is a prolific songwriter with tracks that pack an artistic punch. Listen — really listen — to my favorite Buffett song, “A Pirate Looks at Forty.”

It’s a perfect distillation of a certain American malaise. It tells the story of a man with no direction who believes he was born to float along the seas in some forgotten version of the world. He’s stumbled into and out of small fortunes running drugs and catching a buzz. He’s lost and fortunate and wiling away the days in all the comforts of American excess. It is, I’d argue, a perfect picture of late-stage-capitalism and imperial America in 2023 — and it was written 48 years ago. And if you think I’m overanalyzing this, just know Bob freaking Dylan and Joan Baez covered this song(opens in a new tab).

That’s why Buffett is a perfect symbol for this moment in time. If you want, you can just enjoy the campy, Hawaiian-shirt vibes. You can shut down and chill out. But think about the atmosphere in the U.S. (and world at large) right now. Rightwing state legislators are rolling back LGBT rights(opens in a new tab), we’re staring down the barrel of a third toxic(opens in a new tab) presidential election in a row, and it feels like everyone is worried about(opens in a new tab) their ability to stay financially afloat. Oh, and COVID still exists, and the world is still slowly burning.

There’s a tenor of happy nihilism in Buffett’s songs.

So, yes, ignoring these big worries for a minute with “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” makes sense. But don’t forget that Buffett often Trojan-horses sharp social commentary into his music. 1978’s “Manana,” for instance, called out Anita Bryant, a singer and antigay activist who campaigned for laws in Florida that allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQIA+ community. He has a song with “I Don’t Love Jesus”(opens in a new tab) in the title and wrote the lyrics(opens in a new tab), “Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people / Television preachers with bad hair and dimples.” He tells stories of people(opens in a new tab) that’ve suffered tremendous loss but found the beauty in life. OK, and yes, he writes about drinking on boats(opens in a new tab), too.

There’s a tenor of happy nihilism in Buffett’s songs. Everything seems pretty fucked, but we can hang out with our pals to pass the time. “Margaritaville” is explicitly about happily wasting away.

That’s the undercurrent of what we’re seeing in the culture. Being the “fun uncle” is temporarily pretending your responsibilities and worries don’t exist. If [gesture at the world] things seem bad, wearing soft clothes with loud designs is a small comfort.

A wise man once wrote(opens in a new tab): “‘Cause I’m livin’ on things that excite me / Be they pastry or lobster or love / I’m just tryin’ to get by bein’ quiet and shy / In a world full of pushin’ and shove.”

That’s the vibe we’re reaching for in the summer of 2023. We’re leaning into excess, and relaxation, and minding our own goddamn business.

Fire up the blender.


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