It’s officially summer, pop music’s favorite season, and the only time of year when songs get entered into an unofficial competition to reign supreme over car stereos, playlists and the like.
But rather than debate the merits of this year’s Song of the Summer — like “Call Me Maybe” needs any more press — we thought we’d take a look back at some summertime classics of yore. Ah, but with a twist: They all have to have the word “summer” in the title.
Here we’ve laid out some of our favorite “Summer” songs from over the years, from standards to old-school R&B to indie rock. Check them out here, or listen to them all (plus a few bonus tracks for which we couldn’t find YouTube embeds) as a Spotify playlist by clicking here.
Got some favorites we left off? Drop ‘em in the comments below. Happy listening, and happy summertime.
Jane’s Addiction, Summertime Rolls
The gentle opening chords have always reminded me of waves lapping onto the shore.
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Summertime
Will Smith’s No. 1 summer blockbuster.
Queens of the Stone Age, Feel Good Hit of the Summer
Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol. It’s certainly a recipe for… something.
Girl Talk, Summer Smoke
A frantic mash-up that segues from Amerie’s “1 Thing” to Naughty by Nature’s “Hip-Hop Hooray” and briefly marries ELO and Kanye West.
Pavement, Summer Babe – Winter Version
Oddly, the second song on this playlist (following “Summertime Rolls”) that mentions fingers.
Best Coast, Summer Mood
Is Best Coast ever in any other kind of mood?
Deftones, My Own Summer (Shove It)
Will someone get this guy some shade?
The Sundays, Summertime
A summertime beauty.
An elegant instrumental from Moby’s most rewarding creative period.
Bruce Springsteen, Girls in Their Summer Clothes
They pass him by.
Fountains of Wayne, It Must Be Summer
Power-pop perfection with a chorus that wallops like a heat wave.
Justin Timberlake, Summer Love
Fun fact: This actor used to make music.
Kid Rock, All Summer Long
Michigan’s unofficial summer anthem.
Bananarama, Cruel Summer
Kanye West is reportedly calling his upcoming album with his G.O.O.D. Music camp “Cruel Summer,” and we’re praying for a sample of this 1984 smash.
Sly & the Family Stone, Hot Fun in the Summertime
Those summer days…
Mungo Jerry, In the Summertime
The musical equivalent of a slide whistle.
Kool & the Gang, Summer Madness
The Fresh Prince gave his new definition of Summer Madness, but the original still soars like a climbing barometer.
The Isley Brothers, Summer Breeze
Makes me feel fine.
Sam Cooke, Summertime (Pt. 1)
A haunting summertime lament.
Frank Sinatra, Summer Wind
The Chairman! If only this song had a verse from 2Chainz, that would truly make it a classic.
The Lovin’ Spoonful, Summer in the City
Truth: This song always reminds me of the opening scene in “Die Hard With a Vengeance.”
Chad & Jeremy, A Summer Song
Oddly this song has always sounded more like autumn to me.
Stevie Wonder, Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer
Nothing’s worse than a summertime breakup.
Bryan Adams, Summer of ’69
It may or may not be about the year. Discuss.
LFO, Summer Girls
Dumb, yet oddly enduring.
Lady Gaga, Summerboy
Pure fun. We miss this Gaga!
Don Henley, The Boys of Summer
Don’t look back, you can never look back.
Aberfeldy, Summer’s Gone
All good things must come to an end.