The Memorial Day holiday in the United States generally marks the unofficial beginning of summer. So we take summer up a notch by looking at the top 10 greatest summer songs.
10. LFO “Summer Girls”
Very few songs instantly take me back to my high school years quite like LFO‘s “Summer Girls.” The track was released at the end of my freshman year and it became a huge hit which was inescapable no matter how hard I tried. So over a decade later, I have come to embrace the song as must-have on any summer playlist.
MP3: LFO “Summer Girls”
09. Mungo Jerry “In the Summertime”
When you listen to Mungo Jerry‘s “In the Summertime,” it sounds like something from the 1950s from the same era as “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” “In the Summertime” was actually released in 1970, when good music had actually been invented and it still became a hit. The novelty of a British band singing ridiculous lyrics about swimming and chasing girls caught America’s attention enough to make it a huge hit.
MP3: Mungo Jerry “In the Summertime”
08. Death Cab For Cutie “Summer Skin”
Summertime generally means things like girls in swimsuits, barbeques, and general fun. Only Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie could turn that into melancholia. “Squeaky swings and tall grass/The longest shadows ever cast/The water’s warm and children swim/And we frolicked about in our summer skin.” It sounds so sweet, why does it make me want to cry? Thanks a lot, Ben!
MP3: Death Cab For Cutie “Summer Skin”
07. Justin Timberlake “Summer Love”
Considering he has only released two albums, it is hard to believe how many hits Justin Timberlake has. When I think of singles from FutureSex/LoveSounds, I remember “My Love,” “SexyBack,” and “What Goes Around… Comes Around.” It is easy to forget after that string of hits, he released “Summer Love.” The heavy hand-clapping beat with those synths and Justin’s silky vocals, it is no wonder it became the fourth top 10 single from the album.
MP3: Justin Timberlake “Summer Love”
06. Pavement “Summer Babe (Winter Version)”
Pavement is one of those bands that gets a lot of indie cred but rarely gets mainstream recognition. One such mainstream recognition was Rolling Stone’s inclusion of their track, “Summer Babe (Winter Version),” on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The track only came in at #286 but it is better than nothing.
MP3: Pavement “Summer Babe (Winter Version)”
05. Sly & the Family Stone “Hot Fun in the Summertime”
In the wake of their legendary Woodstock performance, Sly and the Family Stone released their single “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Even though it was August when the song was released, it still became the summer hit of 1969. The track peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
MP3: Sly & the Family Stone “Hot Fun in the Summertime”
04. Bananarama “Cruel Summer”
“Cruel Summer” is one of those songs that spans generations. Bananarama released the original track in 1983 but it became a hit after its inclusion in 1984’s The Karate Kid. In 1998, Ace of Base released a cover of the track which reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold. Two generations all growing up on the same pop song about the darker side of summer.
MP3: Ace of Base “Cruel Summer (Ryan Evans born in 83 Remix)”
03. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John “Summer Nights”
Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, it was recorded by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John for the big-screen adaptation of Grease. The track is the ultimate big screen summer song. It climbed to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and #1 on the UK charts.
MP3: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John “Summer Nights”
02. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince “Summertime”
Hip hop has always been a genre torn between gritty street stories and fun-loving party music. For all the party songs hip hop has put out over the years, there is no summer anthem in hip hop like “Summertime.” The track won a Grammy Award for best rap single in 1991 and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it is not its critical merit that makes it number two on this countdown, it is the fact that 20 years after its release, the track still gets a party live.
MP3: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince “Summertime”
01. The Lovin’ Spoonful “Summer in the City”
“Summer in the City” first came into my consciousness because of its use in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Some people might know “Summer in the City” for its use in The Karate Kid, Part III or The Simpsons. The fact is The Lovin’ Spoonful is one of rock’s more immortal songs, not just “summer songs.” Its keyboard part is considered one of the most recognizable in music.
MP3: The Lovin’ Spoonful “Summer in the City”
No Sam Cooke, “Summertime,” or Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze,” or Elvis Costello, “Other Side of Summer,” or John Wesley Harding, “Summer Single”…not to mention no Sinatra, “Summer Wind”?
I can not even imagine your disappointment with me for missing “Summer Wind.” Deepest apologies.