Summer is in full swing and we’re all pining for beach days, outdoor activities, and road trips. Taking a dip into the pool is one of my favorite summer interests but unfortunately, it clashes with one of my other favorite hobbies – music. What I also love during summertime is lying under the sun with my headphones on blasting the best tunes that remind me of the season. My iPod boasts over 50 summertime favorites so let’s glide through the selection and pick out the highlights.
Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A.
These music legends recorded this definitive summer anthem over 50 years ago and millions just like me are still listening to it today. Beach Boys namedrop a number of famous beaches all over the globe while singing the art of riding the waves. The ultimate wipeout song that sets the tempo for the rest of your playlist.
Billy Talent – River Below
After you’re all surfed out, it’s time to get rockin’. These Canadian punk rockers burst onto the scene in 2003 with their self-titled debut album. The first single, Try Honesty got moderate radio and airplay but it was the follow-up single that gave them their big moment. It’s also very appropriate for the hot weather.
Big Country – In A Big Country
Who knew one of the catchiest songs of the 80’s would be performed by a couple of native Scots? In a Big Country is aided by the stinging bagpipes making it easy listening for any summer afternoon. Be warned though, it may be tough to stop listening to after just one play.
Catch 22 – Supernothing
Nothing screams summer more than some good ska! Trumpets, trombones, and saxophones mixed with pop-punk is a winning combination for any beach day. Catch 22’s debut Keasby Nights is one of the best ska records ever. Interestingly, half the line-up quit after its release, formed a new band (Streetlight Manifesto), and re-recorded the album. I don’t care too much for the Streetlight Manifesto version myself but that’s a neverending debate among fans. Nevertheless, Supernothing beautifully starts off relaxing trumpet playing before picking up and a heavy rockin’ finale in its final minute.
Chris Cornell – Preaching For The End of the World
The Soundgarden frontman recorded his first solo LP following the break-up of the group in the late 90’s. Euphoria Morning yields a number of soft hitting melodies but the most appropriate for the weather would probably have to be Preaching for the End of the World. The acoustic guitars with the ambient sound coupled with the apocalyptic themes instantly brightens your mood after sweaty your face off in the office all day. Cornell had to prove that he can still write good music without his brothers in Soundgarden but sadly for him, the album was quickly forgotten about after its release. It wasn’t until Audioslave dropped a few years later that Cornell got another chance in the spotlight.
Counting Crows – Omaha
Adam Duritz and his band of misfits seemingly wrote a bunch of summer coolness but the standout for me is Omaha from their 1993 debut, August and Everything After. The accordion leading into Duritz’s quiet vocals make it the ultimate road trippin’ song. I actually took a road trip to Nebraska in 2010 and unceremoniously blasted this track. No regrets
Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
Eagle Eye Cherry is probably the most forgotten one hit wonder of the 90’s. The son of musician, Don Cherry, wrote and recorded Save Tonight in 1998 which helped his debut album, Desireless, go platinum. After that, Cherry seemingly fell off the planet but I’ll be damned if Save Tonight isn’t one of the catchiest tunes ever. I love to blast when cruising down the highway in my mustang (ok, it’s a civic!).
Face To Face – Blind
Finally, a taste of California punk. These guys always hold a place in my heart for their 1996 single, I Won’t Lie Down (which I embarrassingly first heard in remixed form on the Moral Kombat: Annihilation soundtrack) but really, their entire self titled album is essential summer play. I suggest Blind because it’s from this track on where the album really starts to take off. Number 3 of the ‘96 record is where it picks up serious steam and doesn’t let up until the conclusion of the final song.
Gorillaz – Re-Hash
The animated brainchild of Blur’s Damon Albarn and comic book artist, Jamie Hewlett, first hit the scene in 2001. Gorillaz consisted of four unique characters drawn and illustrated by Hewlett with music written by Albarn. With these virtual members at the forefront, they released their first single Clint Eastwood, a combination hip-hop/soft rock hit. It was the opening track though from their debut, Re-Hash that set the tone for the rest of the record and colorful season.
The Honorary Title – This City’s Summer
How could this song written for anything other occasion than a summer jam? It has the word “summer” in it! C’MON! In all seriousness, when I first heard this song in 2008, it instantly became one of the my premiere summer anthems. The Honorary Title has since broken up but this song (the “Yeah” in the beginning is so catchy) still gets a lot of play on my iPod whenever I’m in a breezy mood.
Iron & Wine – Naked As We Came
Sam Beam, the North Carolina based singer-songwriter is one of the artists in my library that I always look forward to listening to. The man who performs under the moniker, Iron & Wine, produces many light melodies and folk masterpieces. The most summer-yearning track though, would be Naked As We Came.
Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy
The trio from Buffalo have been a cohesive unit for over 20 years. These guys pretty much embody summer music as they come around my area only once a year to play an outdoor set in July or August. Their 1998 album, Dizzy Up The Girl, was a massive chartbuster producing singles that are heard at every wedding you’ll ever attend. Having said that, the opening track, the eponymous Dizzy is a short little number that sets the tone for summer.
Lit – Lovely Day
Lit was one of my favorite briefly when I started heavily getting into music. My Own Worst Enemy was one of my favorite songs in 1999. A Place in The Sun is a decent album with some pretty good tunes but the song, Lovely Day, reminds me of having… A Place in the Sun! I saw Lit live in concert in 2012 and I think I had more fun than I probably should have during their set.
Nine Days – Absolutely (Story of a Girl)
One of the biggest hits of the 2000s came from a little band from Long Island. This song was EVERYWHERE when it hit radio and MTV. Despite it’s previous overexposure, the song is just so unbelievably catchy that I just can’t hate it. Summer loving is not complete without Nine Days in rotation on your car trips or daily commutes.
Oasis – She’s Electric
Britain’s Oasis hit the big time in 1997 with their sophomore effort, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?. They were already fairly well known from their first album, Definately Maybe but Champagne Supernova and Wonderwall skyrocketed them to the top. The band were headed by brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher, who famously shared a legitimate, mutual dislike for one another outside the studio and touring. Despite their difference, they were able to help Morning Glory become a terrifically constructed album that spawned many hits. One of my favorites though was little known tune, She’s Electric. Such a sweet sounding, female praising tune that’s catchy as all hell.
Phantom Planet – California
The piano in the intro along the melodic guitars and the opening lyrics “We’ve been on the run/Driving in the sun/Looking out for number one/California, here we come” pretty much makes this a no brainer hence why it was theme to the former Fox network series, The OC. An interesting fact about this song is that the drums are performed by actor, Jason Schwartzman!
Ramones – California Sun
One of my absolute favorite songs of summer. The Queens, New York natives were able to pound out a short but sweet car cruising song with three guitar chords. For a long while, this was MY song for the summer. It perfectly defines everything. References to summer activities, soft rocking with lots of attitude, only two minutes long, and high replay value.
Sublime – What I Got
You’d probably expect me to choose Santeria as my Sublime summer jam like everyone else would but no sir, What I Got is the better track. Almost everyone I know lists Sublime as mandatory summer listening and for good reason. Hailing Long Beach City, the band’s musical repertoire consisted many “fun in the sun” tinged tracks. What I Got starts with several verses by the late Bradley Nowell but then it morphs into a hyping rap that pumps you up for the rest of your listening session.
They Might Be Giants – SenSurround
The fun-loving duo are known for their quirky humor as well as the children’s music albums they release for kids. Well, in 1995 just every other kid in the world, I was a huge Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers fan. After I saw the first movie adapted from the series in theaters on opening weekend, I begged my mother to buy me the soundtrack. TMBG contributed a song to that very CD about….what else…but film audio!. The song is pretty much never performed by the group and most people have never even heard of it but it was one of my favorites before I really started getting into music and it remains a fun little ditty to listen to while sipping tropical drinks on the boardwalk.
Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want
Now here’s another band that had one big hit, another minor hit, then disappeared at the turn of the millenium. Vertical Horizon took the music world for an unexpected ride with the release of their first single, Everything You Want off the album of the same name. It became a surprise chart topper and a effective song to listen to when you’re out chasing a lover in the park… and I think I should probably quit with all these cliched summer scenarios! It’s just a great song that reminds me of summer!
311 – Flowing
311 is another band many people will deem necessary summer listening. Combining rock, reggae, and hip-hop quintet were close comrades with Sublime as the comparisons between the two in the 1990s were endless. The group put out a lot of summer inspiring songs but one of the most glaring examples was from their 1999 album Soundsystem and it was entitled Flowing. This keyboard-tinged, rocker contains the lyrics “to stop my mind flowing away” which is exactly what you do during summertime. Just relax and set your mind free to the cool sounds of birds, the ocean, and of course, the ice cream truck!
Credit to www.macleans.ca for feature image