Top 30 Summer Songs
Submitted by admin on Thu, 2014-05-22 14:15
The sun is shining, and the beaches will soon be crowded, which can only mean one thing: Summer is underway. To celebrate the return of our favorite season, we've scoured the Billboard chart archives and updated this definitive list of the most popular songs about summer ever recorded.
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These 30 hot tunes with summer-specific themes are ranked based on each track's performance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from August 4, 1958 -- the inception of the chart -- through the chart dated May 31, 2014. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least.
Text by Courtney Baldasare, Melanie Fried, Gabriella Landsman, and Jessica Letkemann
"Surfin' Safari," The Beach Boys
As is often the case, the Beach Boys pay homage to their favorite sport in their 1962 pop hit "Surfin' Safari," with lines about loading up their Woodie -- that's a 'board-friendly station wagon for you gremmies -- and inviting the world to the best beaches for waves. With a catchy beat and great harmonies, the song reaffirmed surf tunes' appeal, residing on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks.
"Summertime," Billy Stewart
Perhaps one of the most widely covered tunes, "Summertime" epitomizes the season's lighthearted ethos. Billy Stewart's 1966 crossover rendition, which is embellished with jazzy horns, bluesy guitar, and funky, scatting vocals, peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100.
"Wipeout," Fat Boys and the Beach Boys
The rap-n-surf-guitar track came complete with a skit-y video featuring the ultimate boys of summer, the Beach Boys and the Fat Boys, the ultimate '80s hip-hop boys of dinner, throwing hula hoops and surfboards into the car for a sojourn to the beach. Not that anyone really needed to see either the Fat Boys in board shorts or the Beach Boys scrachin' on the turntables. Wipeout, indeed.
"Cruel Summer," Bananarama
For summer days when you're feeling down, Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" is the companion who understands your discontent. The somewhat downbeat dance-pop track, which cozied up to the Hot 100 in 1983, bemoans the harsh heat of loneliness that can make any summer a drag.
"Summertime Blues," Eddie Cochran
Eddie Cochran knows how much it sucked to be a teenager, even back in 1958. His slightly rebellious hit "raised a holler" about just how much of a bummer it is to have to work all summer instead of frolicking with your girl and your friends. The tune, appropriately featured in the 1980 film "Caddyshack," may claim there's no cure for the summertime blues, but we'd guess it sure beats sitting in school.
"A Summer Song," Chad & Jeremy
Capturing the sweet sadness of saying farewell to summer love, Chad & Jeremy employ delicate, simple vocals over chugging drums and rich acoustic guitar plucks. In this tune, which entered the Hot 100 in 1964, the folk rock duo reminds the listener that there are always the memories to keep you warm in the fall.
"Suddenly Last Summer," The Motels
For those with any nostalgia for the decade of Pac-Man and leg warmers, The Motels' "Suddenly Last Summer," which peaked on the Hot 100 in 1983, will satisfy any craving for '80s summer music. Over a catchy drum beat and spacey guitar, the emotionally distraught Martha Davis explains in a hot, dusty voice that though the seasons change, that doesn't mean the summer has to end.
"Surfer Girl," The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys' name alone should conjure images of summer, with the Cali group's many carefree songs about surfing, cars, and girls. Peaking on the Hot 100 at No. 7 in 1963, "Surfer Girl," a romantic ballad channeling the likes of '50s doo wop, is no exception, with vocal harmonies that will make you yearn for a summer fling with whom to sway along.
"Summer Breeze," Seals & Crofts
Seals and Crofts' classic is everything the season's about: mellow vibes. The fellas let the wind blow through their locks on this one. Back in '72, this single peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100.
"School's Out," Alice Cooper
With heavy eyeliner and a snarling, guitar-driven swagger, Alice Cooper took the sweet, innocent idea of the first day of summer break, and turned it into an emancipation proclamation for ditching class permanently. School, he growled, was not only out for summer, "School's out forever!" The gritty tune peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 in 1972.
"Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer," Nat King Cole
Cole's bouncing seasonal cut makes the kind of demands we can appreciate: "Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer." Yes, we'll get right on it!
"Summer Love," Justin Timberlake
While many summer tunes are relaxed, breezy numbers, Justin Timberlake took his danceable 2007 "Summer Love" in a refreshingly poppy, electronic direction. Timberlake devotees and casual fans alike flocked to the song, giving it a No. 6 climax on the Hot 100.
"Saturday In The Park," Chicago
With brassy horns blowing like a cool breeze off Lake Michigan, Chicago's "real celebration" of a hot July day in the park took sights and sounds like people laughing and a man selling ice cream all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 1972. "Can you dig it?" they sing. Yes, we can.
"Summer Girls," LFO
The theme song to many a youthful turn of the millennium summer night, "Summer Girls" is the solid hit from the cheesy dreamboats of LFO. This 1999 lyrical masterpiece ("When I met you I said my name was Rich / You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch," anyone?) spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 3.
"California Girls," The Beach Boys
By the mid-'60s, the Beach Boys were the kings of surf music. In 1965, the west coast poster boys for the genre sent "California Girls," a sunny paean to the merits of Cali ladies above all attractive women from anywhere else, all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100.
War's 1976 soulful slow jam "Summer" earned its peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 with then up-to-the-minute lyrics about cruising around town "with all the window down / eight track playin' all your favorite sounds." Including bongos, apparently. Do they make bell-bottom shorts? The tune starts at 2:24 in the video.
"Under The Boardwalk," The Drifters
In the summer of 1964, the Drifters saw their dreamy tune about catching some shade and some steamy good times literally under the boardwalk at the beach spent lots of quality time on the Hot 100. The tune has become a summer staple covered by many, including Bruce Willis and the Tempations.
"Summer Of '69," Bryan Adams
A mid-'80s Bryan Adams, who had a clear penchant for leather and tight jeans, released "Summer of '69" in 1985 and sent it to No. 5 on the Hot 100. This anthem of playing his "first real six-string" and meeting a summer sweetie at the drive-in is a classic, nostalgic ode to the summer of the "the best days of my life."
"In The Summertime," Mungo Jerry
The boys of Mungo Jerry handed the world the ultimate laid-back summer track when they released the vaguely tropical jam "In the Summertime" in 1970. The U.K. group's only major U.S. hit, the tune also scored lots of chart love for Shaggy in the summer of 1995. His remake rose all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100.
"The Boys Of Summer," Don Henley
"I can tell you my love for you will still be strong / after the boys of summer have gone," croons Don Henley as he patiently awaits the departure of his estranged love's summer flings so he can regain his ex's affection. The 1984 top five hit, which ironically hit the charts during the holiday season, also scored Henley the Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal performance.
"Summer Nights," John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
Popular everywhere from bar mitzvahs to karaoke bars, "Summer Nights" is one of those great movie songs that appeal to everyone. Made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton Jones in the movie "Grease" in 1978, the legacy of Danny and Sandy's summer fling lives on in the faux-'50s tune that warmed up to the top five at the height of the disco era.
"Hot Fun In The Summertime," Sly & The Family Stone
With a mellow, funky horns and bassline and soulful vocals, Sly & the Family Stone's easy-going hit entered the Hot 100 the same month the group played the most iconic summer festival of all time, Woodstock. In the tune, each member expresses a line about what they love most about summer, however they all agree, "That's when I had most of my fun... those summer days." Particularly the summer days when you manage to be part of music history.
"Surfin' U.S.A.," The Beach Boys
Namechecking every popular surfing spot, The Beach Boys certainly did their research for summer jam "Surfin' U.S.A." They sang they'd be gone all summer, and hey, if they didn't make it back before school starts, "tell the teacher we're surfing." The song, a reworking of the tune from Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," reached the top five of the Hot 100 in 1963.
"Summertime," DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
"This is the Fresh Prince's new definition of summer madness," rapped Will Smith before he was an international movie star back in 1991 when he was still the rapping cohort of DJ Jazzy Jeff and a newly-minted sitcom actor. Smith was giving props to their sample of Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness," and that hook helped the duo earn a No. 4 peak on the Hot 100.
"Endless Summer Nights," Richard Marx
"Endless Summer Nights" finds Richard Marx waxing hopeful about a summer fling he wants to develop into more, despite his girl's resistance. This ballad must've done the trick, because he later married the woman he was on vacation with when he was inspired to write the song. "Endless Summer Nights" reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1988.
"Surf City," Jan & Dean
"We're goin' to Surf City / 'cause its two to one" sing Jan and Dean of the girl-to-guy ratio that awaits them in some tasty beachside locale - that is, if their '30 Ford Wagon doesn't break down along the way. The surf rock track rode the airwaves to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1963.
"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, Bryan Hyland
Decades before Yoplait turned it into the soundtrack to a commercial about achieving your summer perfect beach body, in 1960 Bryan Hyland hit with this ode to one girl so shy about showing her daring two-piece swimsuit at the beach that she sat wrapped up in a blanket and then hid in the water until she turned blue.
"Wipe Out," The Surfaris
Summer anthems are often defined by the sing-a-long factor. Aside from the manic laugh and shriek of the song's title at the beginning, The Surfaris' "Wipeout" is the exception to the rule, with almost 3 minutes of surf-guitar instrumental magic and one of the most memorable drum beats of all time.
"Summer In The City," The Lovin' Spoonful
"All around, people lookin' half dead... But at night, it's a different world," sings John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, contrasting a New York summer's day with the vibrant nightlife of rooftops cats out looking for kitties he much prefers. "Summer in the City," complete with honking cabs and jackhammers, scored the band a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 in 1966.
"California Gurls," Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
With an unabashedly synthy beat and breathy vocals about a "warm, wet and wild" place and the women you find there, how could Katy Perry's perfectly timed hit -- with a smooth assist from Snoop Dogg, not have been the top song of summer 2010
? In fact the song was so huge, it leapt from No. 18 when we first published this chart in May 2010 to No. 1 just one year later, beating out over 50 years of other hot summer songs.
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