It’s hot outside. It’s not warm, it’s not nice, it’s hot. Bring a shirt to change into at work hot. Which means it’s summer. Which means it’s time for our annual songs of the summer post. Feel free to share YOUR hot picks for songs of the summer IN THE COMMENTS.
SONGS OF THE SUMMER FOREVER
Ween “Bananas and Blow” Song of Every Summer
I am the world’s least likely Ween fan but I make up for it by being a Ween FAN. My favorite stuff of their is always the sneakily perfect pop nuggets (vs true blue weirdness) and “White Pepper” with its Beatles love worn square on its sleeve (“Stay Forever” 4ever), the Steely Dan send-ups (“Pandy Fackler”) and just genuine hit production values (“Even if You Don’t”) is a pretty spot on summer record. Nestled nicely in the middle of it all is the breezefest that is “Bananas and Blow” a song about being stuck in a cabana, living on the titular sustenances. There are worse summer destinies.
Bruce Springsteen “Spirit in the Night” and “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” Songs of Every Summer
I’d argue that Greetings From Asbury Park is as perfect a Summer album as you’re going to get, but you know, so is Born to Run, and Born in the USA. What seals the deal on Greetings from Asbury Park is that the final two tracks are “Spirit in the Night” and “It’s Hard To Be a Saint in the City,” which together hit every aspect of that blissfully ignorant, aimless but ego-driven, late-teenaged Summer wandering: when your own city reveals secret alleyways and strangers’ apartments and previously unseen possibility; when your days are long and filled with laid-back trouble and backseats and the windows down; backyards and young bodies and suntans and sex; coconut oil and the faint smell of stolen cigarettes; the electric adrenaline buzz of no money and less responsibility, and of climbing a chain-link pool fence while simultaneously pulling your shirt over your head so you can hit the ground running. No thought of the next day, when you’ll fall asleep on a city bus, head on your best friend’s shoulder and with a backpack full of warm beer, or of the day after that, when you’ll sit and take a picture of your bruised legs dangling over the side of the overpass, the click of the disposable camera triggering, for some reason, the taste of his mouth and of chlorine, and it will never once cross your mind that these times are immortal but you are not.
Nelly “Hot In Herre” Song of Every Summer
It’s been a dozen years since Cornell “Nelly” Haynes gifted us with “Hot In Herre,” widely regarded to be his magnum opus. “Herre” is a prime example of what a summer song aspires to be: flirtatious, memorable, and produced by The Neptunes. A perpetual addition to a Summer BBQ mix, I defy you to find a curmudgeon who doesn’t crack a smile at the “I think my butt gettin’ big” line.
The Concretes “Seems Fine (Shuffle)”
Mac DeMarco “Dreamin’” Song of Every Summer
It might have just come out two years ago, but Mac DeMarco’s “Dreamin,’” and all of his second album, aptly titled 2, make me long for summer, regardless of what time of the year I put it on. DeMarco immediately makes me want to be lazy, and “Dreamin’” is such a slow, dreamy song, it almost feels like DeMarco could’ve been dozing off to sleep as he recorded it. Also, I can’t help but also recommend “Passing Out Pieces” from his latest album Salad Days, which goes perfectly with “Dreamin’” and with the summer as well.
Darude “Sandstorm” Song of Every Summer
Back in the day I would listen to endless electronic mixes in the summer and when Dardude’s international smash “Sandstorm” hit, it blew me away. While it was released in November of 1999, the track hit hard in the summer of 2000. “Sandstorm” is hyper cheesy, but it reminds me of everything good about summer.
The Notorious B.I.G. “Going Back to Cali”
Led Zeppelin “Going to California” Song of Every Summerhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ty_WlmIKvY
Liking Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and The Stone’s “Beast of Burdern” does not make you a classic rock fan and will never complete your summer playlist. Use the most lackadaisical of the seasons to broaden your musical palette. This is a softer side of them that people tend to miss if they’ve only heard “The Immigrant Song” or “Ramble On.” Listen on a road trip. On the beach. While dreaming of your soul mate in some Narnia fairy land because the song is just that beautiful.
Shaggy “Oh Carolina” Summer of 1993
I feel badly for people who got into dancehall emcee shaggy by the time he released 1995’s “Boombastic,” 2000’s “It Wasn’t Me” or 2001’s “Angel.” I always felt as though Shaggy is best on 1993’s “Oh Carolina,” and everything after that point, progressively more generic ever since.
I was 15 years old in the summer of 1993 and a camper at Pocono Mountains-based Camp Shohola for Boys in Greeley, Pennsylvania. A van filled with horny teenage boys was headed to Camp Netimus for Girls – aka Shohola’s “sister” camp – for what was our first “brother-sister” dance of the summer. Whomever the counselor was behind the wheel had whatever top-40 station was in the area blasting, and “new rap jam” “Oh Carolina” was introduced. The drums kicked in, the horn sample blared, and Shaggy’s patois had me jamming in my seat. I think by the end of the song me and my buddies (who had formed “Five Alive” – Camp Shohola’s first hip-hop dance crew) had already started singing the hook and had decided it was our anthem.
At some point in that summer, I think that “Five Alive” ended up at a shopping center (I think we won a dance contest and were taken to play miniature golf as the prize) and we purchased an “Oh Carolina” cassingle. I still own said cassingle (it’s in my mother’s basement), and one look at it brings back a flood of memories of wack pickup lines at “brother/sister” dances, doing the Roger Rabbit, that time I fell down a flight of steps trying to impress the teenage girl who was the on-site staff babysitter, and the horrible matching knockoff Hugo Boss and Champion outfits my mother packed for me to take to camp that summer. Oh, to NOT be 15 again…
G. Love & Special Sauce “Cold Beverage” Summers of 1995-1998
I am in a near-constant state of defending my love for G. Love & Special Sauce. I get it. He kind of almost falls into that weird Sublime fan area where you almost can’t like the music because you detest most of the folks who love it (looking at you Dave Matthews Band). Here’s the deal, it’s fun. You can dance to it. Garrett is easy on the eyes. So, enjoy this nice “Cold Beverage,” on a hot summer day. (Bonus Depressing Thought: Garrett “G. Love” Dutton turns 42 this year)
Levy “On The Dance Floor” Summers of 2006/Forever
Gah! This makes me feel so old and like I have to manage a filthy 401k, two mortgages and I’m breastfeeding every 30 minutes.
Summer 2006. First internship/real job and I’m still partying till 4am every morning and waking up at 8:30am to get to work. This was easily the soundtrack to that incredible summer of my life.
Peter, Bjorn and John “Amsterdam” Summer of 2007
“Young Folks” was for the kids, “Amsterdam” was for the kids that weren’t as cool as the kids that liked “Young Folks.” A mid-tempo song with whistling, clapping, lyrics about travel and more whistling. So slow. So slow.
Delicate Steve “Sugar Splash” Summer of 2012
You probably don’t know Steve Marion, even under his moniker Delicate Steve. But you really, really should. The native New Jersey guitarist crafts mind-blowing instrumental music that draws from so many influences I hardly bother trying to explain anymore. “Sugar Splash” is off his 2011 album Wondervisions, and will forever remind me of summer days spent driving aimlessly with the windows down – because there was nothing else to do in suburbia. Lyrics are out, poly-rhythms are in.
Icona Pop “I Love It” Summer of 2012
You can’t help but jump on your feet and sing along with this song. It is the anthem for your carefree summer. Plus, I will never forget when Icona Pop performed at FreeFest and the rain started at the most perfect time during this song. These Swedes have figured out how to control the weather.
SONGS OF THE SUMMER 2014
Charli XCX “Superlove”
Charli XCX was part of last summer’s 3rd biggest hit with Icona Pop and she deserves her own this year, even if this song came out 8 months a go. It is pure sugar but the video is somewhat lifechanging in its brattiness and even if you play it 85 times in a row, it doesn’t get boring. I know this because I tried.
Todd Terje (feat. Bryan Ferry) “Johnny & Mary”
For those more leisurely summer days. If there was any justice in the world, this song (this whole “It’s Album Time” record! I mean, there are songs called “Leisure Suit Preben” AND “Deloreon Dynamite”) would be HUGE this summer (and every summer in general). Todd’s summer beard (in full bloom) is just an added bonus.
Future Islands “Seasons (Waiting On You)”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ee4bfu_t3c
Baltimore pride. LA sound. Epic sound. “Epic”-esque vocals. The sound of anticipation. The sound of a veteran band ‘making it.’ Regardless of how you know this band and this song, the version the band played on Letterman became an instant classic.
Usher “Good Kisser”
One of the lightly-respected artistic gems of Marvin Gaye’s career is his 1976 album I Want You. If an R & B aficionado it’s a classic, but if more in love with Gaye’s 1970 album What’s Going On, this album is what goes on when you roll that album’s success up into a joint or put it up your nose. One of the heaviest jams on I Want You is “After The Dance,” a romantic ode to post-disco dancing foreplay.
Speed ahead almost four decades later and Usher provides us with the perfect anthem to describe what happened after Marvin Gaye’s foreplay. In fact, if you count Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” interpolation of “Got to Give It Up” in the conversation, we’ve seen a whole night at the disco completed from cheap come on to intercourse in little over a year. As far as Usher’s attempt at borrowing Gaye’s legacy, any song with a hook that involves first describing the male orgasm as “bang bang bang,” and involves getting “lipstick on [Usher’s] thigh” is absurd in a way that induces an exasperated shaking of the head, rolling of the eyes and eventual sing along.
Before anything else, a guilty pleasure must be filled with the guiltiest of behavior, and this one absolutely takes the cake.
Chromeo “Sexy Socialite”
I’ve resisted Chromeo’s cheesesynth shtick for sometime, but “Sexy Socialite” finally broke me. Taking a very, very, very obvious cue from Hall and Oates, “Socialite” winds itself through Daft Punk Discovery-era electrofunk before colliding head-on with a heady verse by a demurring female emcee and the duo’s signature gratuitous talkbox use.
Willie Nelson “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”
My prediction is that we come to our collective senses and realize that Pharrell’s “Happy” is a sad departure from our American roots. We all scrape the Thicke shit off our boots, saddle up, and get back on the trail.
Jeremih ft. YG: “Don’t Tell ‘Em”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbbqX2RKKD8
“I need a companion / Girl, I guess that must be you” is less a pick-up line than a shrug and some real talk. But, you know, he’s got a point: No one wants to spend the summer alone. Also, updating a previous item: Rhythm is still a dancer. Some things never change.
The War on Drugs “Under the Pressure”
Last year, Kurt Vile smartly released Wakin On A Pretty Daze in April, perfect for the summer months with long ten minute slow grooves. What better way to follow that up with Vile’s original band – and the frankly much better – The War on Drugs. Their newest album Lost in the Dream is already my frontrunner for album of 2014 and I doubt any album will come close to toppling it. Their 2011 release Slave Ambientis one of my go-to summer albums, and this one will be no different. If you asked me in 2024 what is my consistent go-to summer album, I’d be damned surprised if I didn’t go Lost in the Dream, or any other The War on Drugs’ album. The album’s opener “Under the Pressure” is a near nine-minute thing of beauty, compressing all the elements you’ll love throughout this album in one wonderful song that also just feels like summer. The piano sounds alone are made for that moment when you first arrive at the beach, roll down your windows and breathe in that first gasp of ocean air.
Eddy Grant “Electric Avenue”
For my next pick not only did I not go into the future but I went further back into the past. Anyone who knows me understands I forgot to listen to most music after 1999, and that’s okay! I recently purchased (ON VINYL HUMBLEBRAG GOD I’M GROSS) the soundtrack to Valley Girl starring a young Nic Cage (Fun Fact: This was his first role where he was billed as Nic Cage). The record is a Japanese import (KILL ME I’M AWFUL) so it’s written half in English, half in Japanese, and includes a ton of useful information about the film (YOU GUYS LIKE KNOWLEDGE?). This song is on the soundtrack and is never not something you should dance to. Also, there is an Electric Avenue in Venice Beach, CA which is a place of always summer. So what are you waiting for? Rock down to Electric Avenue.
Ariana Grande feat Iggy Azalea “Problem”
The definitive song of the summer 2014 is Ariana Grande’s wrecking ball “Problem.” Grande’s made waves last year with her debut album, but it doesn’t even compare to the monster that is “Problem.” Produced by pop maestro Max Martin, the track is a feast for the ears with slick horns and a Ying-Yang Twins aping whisper from Big Sean. It is easily the best song Sean has ever been on, and his vocal is just cutting room floor material. With the assist from hot-as-shit rapper Iggy Azalea, “Problem” has won the title of song of the summer, game, set match.
Washed Out “It All Feels Right”
This track from Ernest Greene’s indie-electronic project Washed Out is chill enough to combat even the hottest DC afternoons. The swirling lethargy of strings and reverb-drenched vocals blur together in a mess of trippy goodness. It’s the destroyer of bad moods, and my personal song of the summer.
Cherub “Doses & Mimosas”
The lyrics literally say “slow, slow, slow” and all I’m thinking is that Sunday wandering, waspy post-brunch groove. Put juice in drink. Put body in sun. Forget world.
Julian Perretta “Generation X”
This track was released a while ago but since his new album is finally (hopefully) dropping this year it is the perfect time to revisit this song.
your picks in the comments-GO