0 Love It
Save it

The 50 best summer songs ever made

The sun is out and the beach is a bus ride away. Just don't forget to bring our playlist of the best summer songs ever!

It’s summer time! Whether that means heading to the best beaches near NYC, tracking down the best BBQ you can sink your teeth into, or posting up on the stoop, pouring a summer drink and soaking in some of the best summer songs ever made, we’ve got you covered with a soundtrack for all occasions. Now roll down the windows, crank the stereo up, and let’s make this the hottest summer ever! Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in NYC this summer

Best summer songs: 1–10

1

“Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (1991)

You don’t have to live in the L.A. sunshine, dress like the Fresh Prince or even remember the ’90s especially well to recognize this song as the ultimate summer jam. Delivered by ’90s hip-hop pop heroes Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, this dreamy ode to the fairest of the seasons checks off pretty much every summer essential, from shooting hoops on the street, to dancing at a barbecue and reminiscing about the first person you kissed—but the real joy of “Summertime” is that it’s so easy. “Time to sit back and unwind,” trill the breezy singers at the chorus. We thought you’d never ask.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

2

“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (1966)

The Lovin’ Spoonful begins its brilliant rock portrait of urban mood swings in a prelude of pent-up anticipation. Three quick pullbacks on the musical slingshot, each followed by a bang of drums like a backfiring car—and then it’s straight into the fast lane, with hard-driving verses that barely come up for air. In tautly evocative language, the song limns a Jekyll and Hyde portrait of a city split into sweltering days (“All around, people looking half dead / Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head”) and cool, exhilarating nights of randy tomcats on the prowl. Real street sounds (car horns, a jackhammer) add texture to the midsong musical interlude, which lets the song catch its breath before launching back to the urgent rhythms it renders so urgently.—Adam Feldman

Download on Amazon

3

“Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1957)

“Summertime” is a gorgeous lie. As written by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward for the seminal 1935 American folk opera Porgy & Bess, it’s a lullaby sung by a poor young mother in the slums of South Carolina, assuring her child of a tranquil world that is nowhere around them. (Fish don’t jump on Catfish Row, and the living sure as hell isn’t easy.) Originally sung in a classical soprano range, “Summertime” has been reinvented in many modes, including Janis Joplin’s achingly desperate 1968 account. But it’s hard to beat the warm, soothing version that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded for their 1957 Porgy & Bess album. Curled in the warm voices of these peerless vocalists, you’re transported to a gentler place, with the Daddy and Mammy of jazz standing by.—Adam Feldman

Download on Amazon

4

"Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts (1972)

Nothing says summer like a little harmony-driven folk-pop, and this 1972 AM Gold staple epitomizes that mini movement about as well as any track we could name. We’re not sure what Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were getting at when they sang of the “jasmine in my mind”—or what strain of weed might’ve inspired that trippy turn of phrase—but there’s no resisting the bittersweet tug of this tune, covered by everyone from Cincinnati soul faves the Isley Brothers to ’90s goth-metal masters Type O Negative.—Hank Shteamer

Download on Amazon

5

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)

Maybe the most wrenching of all the “Where did we go wrong?” baby-boomer anthems, this 1984 triumph finds the Eagles kit man mourning not just the summer love that got away but the dashed ideals of an entire generation. Some might chuckle at those synthetic seagull caws and dated drum-machine tones, but anyone who claims not to feel a chill when Henley recounts seeing “a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” probably needs a pulse check. This is beachside existentialism 101.—Hank Shteamer

Download on Amazon

6

“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran (1958)

“I’m a gonna raise a fuss, I’m a gonna raise a holler,” Eddie Cochran sings in this ode to the pressures of summertime unemployment and its pressures. The Who would go on to record a titanic cover live at Leeds, while Blue Cheer’s crunchy version amounted to nascent heavy metal, but the original has a rockabilly twang all its own.—Steve Smith

Download on Amazon

7

“Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones (1977)

If ever there was a surf tune that catered to the punk soul, the Ramones’ 1977 classic “Rockaway Beach” is it. Penned by bassist Dee Dee Ramone, the only proclaimed “beachgoer” of the group (yes, the thought makes us laugh too), this tune channels the Beach Boys but does it Ramones-style: amped-up and rambunctious.—Rachel Sonis

Download on Amazon

8

“Cruel Summer” by Bananarama (1983)

To any fan of The Karate Kid—in which this icily funky 1983 dance-pop hit soundtracked Daniel LaRusso’s disastrous attempt to fit in at his new high school—“Cruel Summer” will forever symbolize those sweltering dog days when the sun’s beating down and you just can’t catch a break. To everyone else, it’s a ready-made anthem for whatever warm-weather blues might have you bumming.—Hank Shteamer

Download on Amazon

9

“Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Released in August 1969, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by funk trailblazers Sly and the Family Stone dropped at the height of the band’s career, after its legendary performance at Woodstock earlier that summer. It even landed the group the No. 2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, as well as No. 3 on the Billboard soul charts in the autumn of 1969. And how could it not? The song’s happy-go-lucky melody, coupled with frontman Sly Stone’s soulful tone, makes for a tune that perfectly encapsulates the mood of every summertime to come in a just a two-and-a-half-minute time span.—Rachel Sonis

Download on Amazon

10

"Lovely Day" by Bill Withers (1977)

Sun, rain or hurricane, it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, cue up this classic gem from revered soul man Bill Withers and you’ll agree that it is indeed a lovely day. Fun fact: Near the end of the song, Withers holds a single note for 18 seconds, which is purportedly the longest note in a U.S. Top 40 single in history. We can only assume the tune’s inescapable buoyancy is what lifted him to such a feat.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

Best summer songs: 11–20

11

“That Summer Feelin’ ” by Jonathan Richman (1984)

No one does wistful nostalgia and pure, unadulterated joy quite like Jonathan Richman, the reformed punk godfather turned wide-eyed purveyor of childlike wonder. Still, there’s a knowing edge to Richman’s recollections: “That summer feeling’s gonna haunt you the rest of your life.”—Steve Smith

12

“Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas (1964)

Martha and the Vandellas already appear on this list, for their 1963 Motown breakthrough, “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave.” But their even more enduring contribution to the estival catalog is 1964’s “Dancing in the Street,” an exuberant call to booty-shaking action cowritten by a young Marvin Gaye (who also played drums on the recording). In this case, it’s not love that brings a sense of summer, but summer that brings a sense of love: an occasion for people “across the nation” and “around the world” to join in celebration. This democratic attitude took on civil-rights overtones when “Dancing in the Street” was appropriated as an unofficial anthem of the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles. But Martha Reeves insisted that it was not intended in that spirit. “My Lord, it was a party song,” she said, and whatever else it might have become, no one can argue with that.—Adam Feldman

Download on Amazon

13

“Wipe Out” by the Surfaris (1963)

A high-pitched laugh, a drum fill that inspired thousands of kids to annoy parents at the dinner table and an instantly recognizable guitar riff: This is how you start a song. Interestingly, “Wipe Out” was originally penned as a last-minute B-side—only to became arguably the most recognizable surf-rock cut ever. And 50 years after it’s release, it still sounds fun as hell.—Tim Lowery

Download on Amazon

14

“School’s Out for Summer” by Alice Cooper (1972)

These days, shock-rock godfather Alice Cooper’s idea of summertime fun is hitting the links at some tony country club. But back in 1972, Cooper and his rough-and-tumble band perfectly captured the rowdy spirit of the last day of school—which Cooper rated as second only to Christmas as the most important day on the calendar.—Steve Smith

Download on Amazon

15

“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (1985)

The facts might be a little fuzzy—Bryan Adams was only nine years old in the actual summer of ’69—but it’s a safe bet that the Ontario song man was speaking from experience when he looked back on the twin pleasures of rock and romance in this 1985 roots-pop staple. Though Adams himself has tipped fans off to the cheeseball innuendo in the title, we prefer to think of this one in PG terms: an all-purpose ode to the endless possibility of three gloriously school-free adolescent months.—Hank Shteamer

Download on Amazon

16

“Summer Babe” by Pavement (1992)

One of the finest examples of lyrics that made no sense making perfect sense (“I saw your girlfriend and she was eatin’ her fingers like they’re just another meal”), this slacker anthem broke hearts and starred on mixtapes for many a summer after its 1992 release. The true meaning of the song, of course, comes together when usually deadpan singer Stephen Malkmus howls, “Don’t gooooooooo!!!!” and a thousand crush-wounded teenagers collapsed face-first onto their beds.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

17

“Ask” by the Smiths (1986)

“Spending warm summer days indoors…” Oh, you know the type—maybe you’ve been the type—the kind of melancholically minded, poetic youth who simply can’t risk your delicate complexion or even more delicate disposition in the dazzle of sunshine and the risk of actual fun. Morrissey—the scrooge of summer—we salute you for this 1986 Smiths classic, urging shy types to come on out of their shells: “If there’s something you’d like to try, ask me, I won’t say no, how could I.” It is summer, after all.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

19

“Summer Nights” by John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and the cast of Grease (1978)

What would summer be without summer flings? Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey capture the magic of transient teen romance in this clever doo-wop number from their 1972 musical, Grease, which achieved even greater cultural ubiquity in its blockbuster 1978 movie adaptation. The song’s playful he-said-she-said structure enacts (and lightly spoofs) 1950s gender roles: The guys are all about sex and braggadocio, while the girls want to hear about tenderness and status. And the sing-along choruses make “Summer Nights” an ideal vessel for groups at karaoke bars, where you can hear it every night, all year round.—Adam Feldman

Download on Amazon

Read more
20

“In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry (1970)

A giddy, unguilty pleasure of a one-hit-wonder track, this 1970 best-seller bounces with a feeling that positively radiates effervescent summertime fun. Because of one lyric in particular—“have a drink, have a drive / go out and see what you can find,” the tune also surfaced in a U.K. public service campaign against drunk driving.—Steve Smith

Download on Amazon

Read more

Best summer songs: 21–30

21

“Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks (1966)

This is 1966 anthem is probably the only tune on the list that doubles as a tongue-in-cheek protest against high progressive taxation: “The taxman’s taken all my dough, and left me in my stately home,” sighs Ray Davies’s bon vivant narrator, adding, “And I can’t sail my yacht, he’s taken everything I’ve got.” Wry and funny. “Sunny Afternoon” is also one hell of a summer tune. From its languid melodies to Davies’s hypnotic vocals, we might as well all be “lazin’ ”—or “blazin’,” depending on how you hear it—“on a sunny afternoon in the summertime.”—Rachel Sonis

Download on Amazon

Read more
22

“It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube (1992)

This chilled-out ode finds O'Shea Jackson (Ice’s given name) recounting a particularly nice day over the smooth groove of the Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark.” The second single from the gangster rap icon’s third solo album, it’s arguably his best-known song and best suited for backyard barbeques and cruising slow with the windows rolled down.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

23

“Summer Madness” by Kool & the Gang (1974)

Madness isn’t exactly the emotional state that this gorgeous, easygoing 1974 instrumental track evokes; instead, it’s the perfect soundtrack for a sultry afternoon spent lazing in the park. Its swooning synth, shimmering Rhodes piano and hazy-day melody have been sampled countless times—notably for DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s ode to backyard barbecuing, “Summertime”—but more than that, the track has served as inspiration for pretty much every chill-out act worth its downtempo groove, from Air to Zero 7.—Bruce Tantum

Download on Amazon

24

“Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers (1967)

“All summer long, we spent dancin’ in the sand,” sings rock & roller Johnny Rivers on this urgent, romantic 1967 hit, “And the jukebox kept on playin’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” While your teenage, sandy embraces may have been soundtracked by something far more modern, it’s a blissful head trip to imagine yourself in the middle of this song.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

Read more
25

“Suddenly Last Summer” by the Motels (1983)

Despite being named for a particularly grisly one-act play by Tennessee Williams, this ubiquitous staple of early MTV caught on because of its wistful nostalgia for transitory pleasures—and, let’s face it, for the sultry voice and bedroom eyes of singer Martha Davis, who claims she was thinking about ice-cream trucks passing by.—Steve Smith

Download on Amazon

Read more
26

“I Know Where the Summer Goes” by Belle and Sebastian (1998)

Because, yes, summer is fun—but good gosh can it be melancholy, too. Beloved Scottish indie troupe Belle and Sebastian won over legions of sensitive fans with this swoonsome number from 1998 EP This Is Just a Modern Rock Song. As if its odd little Proustian sensory rushes weren’t enough (“the smell of hot desk”), just get two minutes into the song, when angelically voiced Stuart Murdoch sings a line where “flowering cherries rain on kids like you—” and all the music stops for just long enough to stall your heart.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

Read more
27

“Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (1972)

According to fellow Chicago founding member Walter Parazaider, Robert Lamm penned this 1972 single after a particularly inspiring jaunt through Central Park, while the band was in NYC recording their fifth studio effort, Chicago V. The song remains one of the outfit’s signature tunes and, as you maybe could have guessed, the perfect soundtrack for a sunny afternoon in the park.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

28

"Sun is Shining" by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1971)

This track might open with the reggae icon singing, “Sun is shining, the weather is sweet / Make you want to move your dancing feet,” but it’s more likely to inspire you to lay outside with a frosty beverage in hand than get down. Mellow even by Marley & Co.’s standards, it's a perfect soundtrack choice for a chilled-out afternoon.—Tim Lowery

Download on Amazon

29

“Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayers (1976)

“My life, my life, my life, my life / In the sunshine”—summertime odes don’t come much simpler, sweeter or sexier than this 1976 slow jam by jazz vibraphonist turned soul sensation Roy Ayers. Even if you don’t think you know this classic tune, you’ve heard it sampled by Mary J. Blige, Common, P.M. Dawn and plenty of others.—Steve Smith

Download on Amazon

Read more
30

“Drop it like its Hot” by Snoop Dogg, featuring Pharrell (2004)

Whether you hate it or love it, it is no secret that every ultimate summertime party playlist needs this 2004 smash on it. From Pharrell's tounge-clicking to Snoop’s nonchalant instructions to just drop it, park it and pop it like it’s hot (in any situation possible), you can’t help but bump to this song as soon as it starts to play.—Rachel Sonis

Download on Amazon

Best summer songs: 31–40

31

“Easy” by the Commodores (1977)

Motown soulsters the Commodores scored a crossover hit with this bittersweet soft-rock ode. The Lionel Richie–penned ballad details leaving behind the pain of a stifling love affair to “be free, just me.” With its soulful piano, drifting backup vocals and grounded yet funky electric guitar solo, it’s the perfect tune to bid the cold weather farewell and glide into the warmth of summer.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

32

“Peaches” by the Stranglers (1977)

Sex. It’s what the Stranglers made a name trading in, musically, and it’s what made this song so notorious in the U.K. in 1977, even giving the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” a run for its money. What’s going on? Oh, singer Hugh Cornwell’s just eyeing up the ladies on hot day: “Walkin’ on the beaches, lookin’ at the peaches.” The song’s innuendo and language may have been shocking, but the way the Stranglers matched Cornwell’s ridiculous machismo with even more ridiculous, Muppets-style nonsense noises makes the song impossible to take too seriously.—Sophie Harris

Download on Amazon

Read more
33

“Chamakay” by Blood Orange (2013)

This tune started off Dev Hynes’s acclaimed sophomore album as Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe, which is a bit counterintuitive since it’s essentially a musical sunset, as evidenced by the perpetual dusk of the song’s video, shot in Hynes’s mother’s home-country, Guyana. We recommend letting the airy vocals (Hynes is joined by Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek on this tune) and sultry sax solo wash over you as you watch the sun sink beneath the waves.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

34

“Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn (1974)

There’s no escaping the smooth allure of this tune’s signature line, “Diamond in the back, sunroof top/ Diggin’ the scene with a gangster lean.” Ludacris, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Parliament-Funkadelic, Massive Attack and Rihanna have all referenced the 1974 hit by the little-known Washington D.C. singer-songwriter, who may as well have been singing to New Yorkers when he said, “You may not have a car at all… Just be thankful for what you’ve got.” Come summertime, that’s plenty.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

35

“Water Get No Enemy” by Fela Kuti (1975)

Pretty much any selection from the oeuvre of the revered godfather of aArobeat would suffice for setting a funky, chilled-out vibe at an afternoon shindig, but this cut from Kuti’s lauded twelfth studio album, Expensive Shit, is probably his best known. Clocking in at eleven minutes, a full five and a half minutes pass before Kuti even sings a note. By the time he does, there’s no escaping the groove.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

36

“Seasons” by Future Islands (2014)

This stunner kicked off more than the Future Island’s fourth studio album: It introduced the synth rockers to the nation when they served up a riveting performance of the song on the Late Show with David Letterman. Frontman Samuel T. Herring’s slick shimmy and guttural roar inspired a fair bit of memes, which were outnumbered only by the critical accolades (just try to find a 2014 year-end list that doesn’t include this tune). Cue it up the next time you’re in the mood for a little quiet contemplation in the sand.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

37

“Good Vibrations” by Beach Boys (1966)

Teeming with key shifts, complex harmonies and unorthodox instrumentation (it features a cello, a jaw harp and an electrotheremin), this Beach Boys classic was a feat of both composition and production. It took seven months, four different recording studios and over $50,000 to create this sunny masterpiece, which eventually landed at No. 6 in Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

38

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles (1969)

In his autobiography, I, Me, Mine, George Harrison describes writing this ode at the close of a particularly punishing winter, while strolling through Eric Clapton’s garden. It was included in Abbey Road and, in tandem with his other contribution to the album, “Something,” established Harrison as a skilled songwriter on par with his revered bandmates. Nearly four decades on, it’s still the perfect way to herald the return of summer.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

39

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac (1977)

Okay, so technically the lyrics reference rain, not sun, but just listen to that wispy guitar, warm, ambling bass and shimmering keys. This tune is made for hazy summer evenings. Written by Stevie Nicks, the rest of the band was purportedly hesitant about recording the song (keyboardist Christine McVie described Nicks’s first draft as “boring”), but they ultimately consented. It's a good thing they did: “Dreams” went on to become the band’s only Billboard No. 1 single.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

40

“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

Download on Amazon

Read more

Best summer songs: 41–50

41

“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

Download on Amazon

Read more
42

"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves (1985)

Just try—go ahead! try!—not to bop your body when the brass kicks in at the ten-second mark of this jolt of pure pop joy. Katrina and the Waves’ 1985 radio hit isn’t literally about summer at all; it’s about the excitement of awaiting a visit from someone you love (and the thrill of knowing that he or she loves you in the first place). But the song’s irresistible feel-good energy suggests that summer is less a season than a state of mind that can be tapped into anytime—even, in the original music video, on a cold and cloudy London day.—Adam Feldman

Download on Amazon

43

“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

Download on Amazon

Read more
44

“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

Download on Amazon

Read more
45

“Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses (1987)

One second you’re lying on a towel drifting in and out of sleep, and the next you’re kicking sand in your friend’s face, shredding air guitar. What happened? Odds are this GnR blazer is to blame. The song’s sing-along lyrics and blistering guitar solos (it’s lead guitarist Slash’s favorite song to play live) have been elevating chill summer hangouts to hard-rocking parties since it first appeared on the band’s debut album, Appetite for Destruction, in 1987.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

46

"I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)" by Jamie xx (2015)

London’s Jamie Smith, otherwise known as Jamie xx (of lauded indie-pop outfit the xx), cites NYC’s own Hot 97 as the inspiration for this upbeat, Persuasions-sampling tune. During the xx’s residency at the Park Avenue Armory in 2013, Smith listened to the station on his daily commute from Williamsburg to Manhattan, prompting him to try his hand at making something that could sit among the freewheeling hip-hop hits he heard. The result was this sunny gem featuring Atlanta rapper Young Thug and Jamaican dancehall phenom Popcaan. It’s a departure from the celebrated producer’s signature heady amalgamation of dance and rave influences, but a masterfully executed one and guaranteed recipe for good times.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

47

“Before I Let Go” by Maze (1981)

Few tunes can set off a backyard barbeque like this R&B classic by California soul band Maze. Countless hip-hop artists have sampled it, including Keith Murray, Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh, Eve and 50 Cent. With the sublime pairing of Frankie Beverly’s buttery croon and that funky guitar groove, you’d be hard pressed to find a better soundtrack for a sunny afternoon soirée.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

48

"Hot in Herre" by Nelly (2002)

For summer '02 pretty much the entire planet was Nellyville, and the St. Louis rapper exhorted people of all genders (but mostly women) to strip down for their own good. A typical first response would be apprehension—from the man with the Band-aid on his face?  But logically speaking, his argument follows (if heat, then no clothes), and he was smart enough to tap the Neptunes for the song's frisky production. After enough listens, it's impossible not to agree, whether your "herre" is a sweaty club, a hot summer night or, the argument could be made, anywhere on our globally warming earth. Hot, it certainly is.—Andrew Frisicano

Download on Amazon

49

“California Gurls” by Katy Perry (2010)

You can't help but jam out to the absurdly cheery, bubblegum-smacking melody and catchy lyrics in this global megahit (featuring Snoop Dogg, no less). Perfect for driving down the highway with your windows down, "California Gurls" is a summer tune for the ages, even if you are a die-hard, true-blue New Yorker (it's a retort track to Jay-Z's and Alicia Keys' NYC anthem "Empire State of Mind").—Rachel Sonis

Download on Amazon


50

“Sunshine Superman” by Donovan (1966)

This sunny tune served as the title song for Donovan’s third album and marked a departure from the acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter’s previous folk offerings. Featuring a pre–Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page on guitar, it’s regarded as one of the first psychedelic pop hits—and a quintessential summer tune.—Kristen Zwicker

Download on Amazon

Listen to Time Out's 50 best summer songs playlist on Spotify

Comments

17 comments
Annemay S
Annemay S

***The best song of the summer is:  SUMMER IN THE COUNTRY by. HOME FREE (World's 1st Country A Cappella Band/Winners of The Sing Off Seas. 4).  Also, listen to their incredible viral vids:  RING OF FIRE or ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD, etc.. :)

.

Ryan B
Ryan B

Seriously? No Beach Boys?

ariana H
ariana H

guitar songs like jason mraz or james blunt. Love guitars when it's summer!

Bradley H
Bradley H

Nice collection but no summer song list is complete without including "Summertime is Great" by Three Beat Slide.  This song is the very epitome of what Summer is all about and is a timeless classic.

Sophie M
Sophie M

I would say, anyone going to the beach with kids must bring plenty of sand toys to engage their kids while they enjoy the beach, the sun and these awesome beach tracks.

Alex P
Alex P

You forgot this one! :) 

Martha Johnson
Martha Johnson

The real kick comes from seeing how good a song makes people feel, not making a "best ever list". Still it wouldn't hurt when you do see your song in there with some of these epic summer hits. I sang the original lead vocal on 'Martha and the Muffins' song ECHO BEACH and here it is 33 years later and the song endures. That's satisfaction. MJ

Tim A
Tim A

@Martha Johnson  Really? That is on most of my summer playlists. Not sure if you are still in Toronto but they play you a lot on Sundays on 102.1. From 11-5 they go back to the glory days. 


This list is pretty junk anyway. 


Bill Blagger
Bill Blagger

Did I miss Echo Beach? Did I miss Echo Beach? So far away in time.

Laura C
Laura C

@Jason Howell In the Summertime is on the list :)

Paul Czekaj
Paul Czekaj

Hi my name is Paul Czekaj, Singer/songwriter from New Jersey. I've just released a new music video called "At the Beach." It shows all the fun and interesting things one can do where the sand meets ocean. I hope you enjoy it and add it to your beach list. here's the link: http://youtu.be/yd93dZXatWk Thanks!

Jen
Jen

Well, I must say I was rather disappointed to see Sinatra's "Summer Wind" omitted from this list as well as not one Jimmy Buffet song being included. And have NO clue why that Meatloaf song is on a summertime song top 50 list. However, you redeemed yourselves by including my favorite band of all time...The Ramones. Oh, did "Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole make the list? I forgot if it was on here, if not then that should have been on here too.

Jack Watters
Jack Watters

"Summertime" by The Sundays is better than about 20 songs on this list. Perfect summer pop song!

Tammy sharpe
Tammy sharpe

Thanks it really helped! We as at a bar and grill and a band was taken requests for songs to sing or play!!! I love surf city, NC;P