The 50 best summer songs ever made

The sun is out and LA's best beaches are calling. All you need is our best summer songs playlist and you're good to go.



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“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock (2008)

We know, we know—you’re probably hoisting a finger cross right now, and it’s true, this Southern-fried Bud-hoister is one of the tackier hits the aughts have spewed forth. But there’s something about the aw-shucks nostalgia of the Kid’s delivery here, not to mention his lovably tasteless mash-up of Skynyrd and Warren Zevon, that gets us a little misty-eyed about our own bygone summer revelries.—Hank Shteamer

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“Summertime” by Beyoncé (2003)

A solid decade before her tour de force self-titled album BEYONCÉ came out, the R&B icon was co-starring in a romantic comedy with Cuba Gooding Jr. The Fighting Temptations didn’t do much in the way of blockbuster sales, but this somewhat hidden gem in Beyoncé’s discography revels in a summer love that lasts. Featuring P. Diddy, the song was released as a B-side to “Crazy in Love.” For those who miss Beyoncé’s classic Destiny’s Child sound, this is the perfect summer playlist addition.—Caitlin White

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“Paradise” by Tove Lo (2014)

This one encapsulates the breathless swell of summer love in enormous, electro pop fashion. Tove Lo is the latest Swedish diva in a long line of forbearers, and her tracks undulate between utter puppy love adoration and the pain of losing it all. But “Paradise” remains on the upswing of that pendulum, rescuing the trope of love-as-heaven with huge drums, soaring vocals and siren-like synths. This is a huge jam, and given the success of her predecessors like Icona Pop, or the more subdued Lykke Li, this song will quickly become ubiquitous.—Caitlin White

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“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden (1994)

Perhaps no one relates to the idea of the sun as a black hole as much as New Yorkers. Sure, we slave through the winter, toiling through snowdrifts and ungodly temperatures, wishing for summer, but once the humidity hits, temperatures are just as unbearable on the opposite end of the thermometer. Soundgarden’s 1994 classic sums up both our desire for the summertime, and the inevitable tinge of darkness that usually accompanies summer in New York.—Caitlin White

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Fucked Up

“I Hate Summer” by Fucked Up (2011)

Fucked Up are well known for going against the grain on a lot of things, and odds are there’s a contingent of people who are equally eager to embrace an incendiary rant against summertime. Damian Abraham’s signature, grizzled vocals lead the charge against summer’s usual peaceful landscape, and the song is spurred on by gunning drums, riveting guitar solos and an all-around dose of aggression.—Caitlin White

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“King of the Beach” by Wavves (2010)

Wavves frontman Nathan Williams is like a modern incarnation of the fun-loving beach bums that the Beach Boys sang about four decades ago—if those dudes had also had an affinity for Blink 182 records and weed by the sackful. Nowhere is this more clear than on this 2010 single, all sunny surf-rock guitars with a gnarly pop-punk twist.—Amy Plitt

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“In the Sun” by Blondie (1976)

Turns out the Ramones weren’t the only New Yorkers who yearned to hit the beach.… This deep cut from Blondie’s debut LP conjures rolling waves and warm nights effortlessly, thanks in part to twangy surf guitars and Clem Burke’s rumbling drums.—Steve Smith

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Conway performs in support of Ellie Goulding at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2014.

“Big Talk” by Conway (2013)

“Big Talk” has one of those soaring, euphoric choruses that makes it the ideal summer jam, and the tongue-in-cheek bite of Conway’s lyrics also makes it the perfect kiss-off to awful bosses, mind-numbing jobs or boastful exes—all the things summer demands we ditch in embrace of pure pop bliss.—Caitlin White

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“Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas (1963)

It may be that the only thing better than a summer fling is relishing the memory of a summer fling, and one spin of soulstresses Martha and the Vandellas’ 1963 classic “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave” will likely bring it all back. One of Motown’s many precious gems, this tune was produced by Hollan-Dozier-Holland and made the Vandellas the first Motown group to receive a Grammy nod. A fling with wings, no less!—Rachel Sonis

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“Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters (1964)

This song is deceptively simple—there aren’t many verses, and there’s a pretty long instrumental interlude right in the middle—but few tunes are as evocative of summer as this one. You can almost feel the sand crunching beneath your toes and the ocean waves in the background as you listen to all of its talk of hot dogs, the sun beating down on a tar-papered roof and getting cozy on a blanket with your beloved.—Amy Plitt

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Time Out summer songs playlist on Spotify

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