Summertime! Having come of age in Florida, I didn’t truly appreciate the importance and beauty of a cloudless bright sunny day until I moved north to Virginia. In Florida, except in January, every day is cheery and sunshiny. Now I know that for the rest of the country, these summer months are provided by the Universe to help us forget about shoveling snow and heating bills.
I’ve been a bit lax when it comes to my personal summer prepping. Just this week I finally got around to a cute short summer haircut, assessing the bathing suit situation, and the whole shaving above the knee procedure.
One of the summer traditions that I love is the emergence of the quintessential summer song. You know the one, it comes on the radio – yes I still listen to the radio, I’m middle-aged, sue me – and your immediate reaction is OMG, I LOVE this song! I road trip a lot over the summer to and from the lake house – yep, we have a lake house, THAT is a whole other story – and the perfect summer song on the radio makes the four hour trip go by a helluva lot easier.
It’s hard to define, exactly, what makes a song a great summer song. It just has that certain something. It has to be irresistible, a catchy tune that you can’t get out of your head. It’s a melody that immediately lifts your spirits and makes you feel happy and carefree. The song doesn’t have to be about summer, but it doesn’t suck if ‘summer’ or ‘sunshine’ or ‘hot’ are in the lyrics.
Every summer seems to produce one or two great songs – remember Call Me Maybe in the summer of 2012 – it was everywhere. Yeah, it kind of got a bit overdone, but that’s what happens to memorable summer tunes, they get played until you’re sick of them – but you don’t forget them.
Being firmly grounded in Club Fifty, I’ve experienced and accumulated a broad range of fun, summer songs. They’re not necessarily songs that were released in the summer months, but they’re my go-to tunes that make me wanna sing along and sometimes even dance in the sunshine. What follows are ten of my favorite picks. I can already hear my son groaning…
1. Everyday People (Sly and the Family Stone, 1968). The movie Definitely Maybe opens with Ryan Reynolds walking along a busy city street, earbuds tucked into place, strolling to the rhythms of this great song. I’m going back aways for this one, but it has that instant “love this song” quality. Of course watching Ryan Reynolds stroll along makes me happy too – #embracethecougar, it’s a thing.
2. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves, 1983). This tune pulls double duty for having ‘sun’ in the title and also being a peppy little ditty.
3. Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet, 1978). Come on, who doesn’t know ALL the lyrics to this song? No karaoke machine is complete unless this tune is on the play list.
4. Schools Out for Summer (Alice Cooper, 1972). A nod and a throw-back to my 1970’s rock roots, this one makes me want to toss my head back and forth and bang on the car dashboard.
5. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston, 1987). Whitney had bigger hits, but, this is the one that makes me get out of my chair at a party and head to the dance floor.
6. Wipeout (Surfaris, 1963). You can’t have a summer playlist and not include this song. It may not be the best song to dance to, but it should come with this warning: caution, listening to this song while driving can lead to speeding. Trust me, I speak from experience.
7. Heart And Soul (Huey Lewis and the News, 1983). This one probably isn’t on many people’s summer playlist. However, I have a little bit of a personal bias here: Huey is hubs’ cousin. So, when this comes on the radio, I gotta turn it up!
8. Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum, 1969).I’ll admit, I had to look up Norman on Wikipedia. Fun little fact, Norman is Jewish, and the song sure sounds like it’s about Jesus. Makes me love this one a little more now.
9. Feels Like the First Time (Foreigner, 1978). Love, love, love this song. Freshman year of high school, nuf said.
10. Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells, 1968). I do like Billy Idol’s 1987 remake. Either way, it’s a catchy tune.
What are some of your favorite summer songs? What would you add to this list?
Wishing everyone a radiant summer filled with lots of great music.
Kimba is the author of I Was In Love With a Short Man Once, and she blogs at The Middle-Aged Cheap Seats.