Summer is here! At least where we are. Summer is the time for school vacations, sun, heat, beaches, parties and most of all music!! What better time to have our first summer music list. You can listen to it at pool parties, BBQs, work outings, or while reading a book in the backyard. By no means are these 20 songs a comprehensive list, but it will give you a head start and who knows, maybe we will do a sequel next summer.
I like the summer like anyone else, but it’s overrated. The fall and spring do it for me, I like it slightly cooler than most. Fall sports are so much better and the kids are off the streets – I kid. Summer music, though, is still great, almost like summer movie blockbusters. Summer songs have been a staple ever since there was music with lyrics. “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess or “Beach Blanket Bingo” for examples. So kick back and enjoy.
- “In the Summertime”, Mungo Jerry (1970) – Not sure whether there is a summer song more classic than this one-hit wonder by the awesomely named Mungo Jerry. The mellow beat just screams summer.
- “Blister in the Sun”, Violent Femmes (1983) – Not specifically about summer, but a good party sing-a-long just the same. The Femmes most famous song is probably their most catchy. I have no clue what they are talking about, but who cares?
- “Catch a Wave”, The Beach Boys (1966) – I could have picked 50 different Beach Boys song, they are the epitome of Summer Bands, they play each year on July 4th and sing about sun, beach, and girls. “Catch a Wave” is one of my favorites, even though DJ don’t surf.
- “School’s Out”, Alice Cooper (1972) – Every kid’s favorite song come June. Who didn’t sing this glam/horror band’s song in the 70s and 80s as school was ending? And for graduates, you could sing the line “school’s out forever!”.
- “Steal My Sunshine”, Len (1998) – One of those classic 90s one-hit wonders, just gives me those sunshine feelings. Len was a Canadian brother-sister act, but they sound like So Cal, even the video looks straight like it’s shot at the Santa Monica pier.
- “Summer in the City”, Lovin’ Spoonful (1966) – Another classic track, this one making me think of a hot summer city where kids are opening fire hydrants and dancing in the water they provide. Kids are playing stick ball in the streets while old man sweat – ok I grew up in the burbs’ but that’s how TV and Spike Lee movies present it.
- “Party in the U.S.A.”, Miley Cyrus (2009) – A summer song from over ten years ago, just a great song. I am more of a Miley fan then a Perry fan, so this is the pop diva song I pick for my summer BBQ’s in the U.S.A.
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, Justin Timberlake (2016) – So here we go, proof that summer movie songs aren’t dead, even if it’s for animated junk like Trolls. This came out before the film and did not make me excited to see the film. A song that can even make these old legs dance – did I mention, in another life, I want JT’s life?
- “The Other Side of Summer”, Elvis Costello (1991) – No one is as cynical as Elvis Costello, and here he documents the dark side of summer. He even uses the time to criticize John Lennon. Who criticizes a Beatle not named Ringo? Despite its cynicism, it’s disguised as a catchy hook laden joy of a song.
- “Summertime”, The Sundays (1996) – Just a happy sounding song with the beautiful voice of Harriet Wheeler. An underrated band and one of my favorite low-key bands. Only three albums, but all pleasant to listen to on a summer’s eve.
MG: I am also a big fan of JT, but “Cant’ Stop The Feeling” was just too saccharine for me to enjoy – kind of like when Dunkins makes my coffee wrong and puts in too much sugar. You have a good mix of genres and themes here, even if I don’t gravitate to many of the tunes. I would have picked “Steal My Sunshine” if you hadn’t. I do admit to liking “Party In The USA” as a guilty pleasure. I would have put money on Beach Boys making your list, but I was surprised no classic 80s/90s movie soundtrack tunes. I forgot about The Sundays. Was a huge fan of “Here’s Where The Story Ends” and “Wild Horses”.
While I am also more of a fall guy, the arrival of summer brings a special type of excitement. Especially if you are young, summer is the most fun time of the year: long days, vacations, hitting the beach, parties and romance. When I was a kid, I so looked forward to summer blockbusters at the movies – that was practically my religion. I miss the days when songs were specifically written for a movie soundtrack, and often used to hype the movie in advance. Thankfully, movie theaters are opening up again, so we can grab some popcorn and check out a movie to get a reprieve from a 90 degree day. Here are my personal songs of summer:
- “The Heat Is On”, Glenn Frey (1984) – From the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. MTV loved to start playing videos in May for songs from upcoming summer blockbusters (videos that contained clips of the movie, of course). It worked for me though, got me pumped to see movies like View To A Kill, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Terminator 2, etc.
- “My Wave”, Soundgarden (1994) – This became a bit of a surfer anthem when it came out. I’m not much of a surfer, but it’s a good song for a day at the ocean. From the same album, see also “4th of July”, although it’s not all that patriotic feeling.
- “Magic”, The Cars (1985) – “Summer, summer, summer/It turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer/It’s like a merry-go-round.” If I recall, the video starts off at a pool party.
- “Rock Lobster”, The B-52s (1979) – You can practically smell the “tanning butter” when you listen to this song. Don’t hit the beach without this track.
- “The Boys of Summer”, Don Henley (1984) – This is one of those iconic tracks they will still be playing 30 years from now. For my money, this is one of the best written songs of all time.
- “Stay (Wasting Time)”, Dave Matthews Band (1994) – I am partial to this song because it was our wedding closing track, but the lyrics are perfect for lazing about on a hot day with someone you love.
- “Stone In Love”, Journey (1981) – “Those summer nights are calling/stone in love”. It’s a classic about that summer fling you will always remember.
- “Panama”, Van Halen (1984) – Probably my favorite driving song, this is a great one to crank up when you are driving on a warm, humid night with the windows down – just enjoying the road…
- “Summer Nights”, Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta (1978) – This hit off the Grease soundtrack was one of the one of the few songs I ever did karaoke to. It was a duet with my wife at a sushi bar at a hotel in Disney World (after a few drinks, of course).
- “California Gurls”, Katy Perry (2010) – I know, Katy Perry again on a song list of mine. But it is a quintessential track about So Cal, where it is perpetually summer. I spent an entire winter there, and it was nice to do once, but that will be the last time. I need my four seasons.
DJ: “Stone in Love” is a great track, the whole Escape album could be a summer play. Not a fan of “Panama” but like it more than I used to. Van Halen is a summer band, think “Summer Nights” off of 5150 or even David Lee Roth’s remake of “California Girls”. Never a Don Henley fan but that is a quintessential summer song and would be remiss not to mention baseball songs being potentially summer songs. Boys of summer is a term for baseball players and so “Centerfield” by John Fogerty or you know all those other baseball songs. I like how you have two Eagles but no actual Eagles songs, did Joe Walsh not have a summer song?