The 50 best summer songs ever made

The sun is out and the beach is a bus ride away. All you need is our best summer songs playlist and you’re good to go.

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40
Brad Paisley

“Beat This Summer” by Brad Paisley (2013)

Everyone has summers that they feel nostalgic about, whether it’s a beautiful childhood memory, the freedom of college or a first love. On “Beat This Summer,” Brad Paisley beats himself to the punch of missing summer by feeling nostalgic about the season before it even passes him by. The sentiment is earnest, almost saccharine, but the rollicking guitars and echoing harmonies help flesh out a sweet summer bummer track.—Caitlin White

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39

“Summer’s Comin’ ” by Clint Black (1995)

“Nothin’ on earth that’ll get me hummin’ / Like a heat wave comin’ and I’ll come runnin’.” Country music is hardly lacking for summertime odes, but none pack quite as much punch as this snappy hit by one of the biggest stars of the big-hat generation. Bonus: The video stars Howie Mandel, out cruising for girls—who all turn out to be boys.—Steve Smith

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38

“Roosevelt Island” by Eleanor Friedberger (2011)

Friedberger, one half of the brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces, called her first solo album Last Summer; the tune that we think best evokes the season is this single, named for the wee island in the middle of the East River. Over a funky, sunny beat, Friedberger sings about traveling to Coney Island, riding the Cyclone and how much better it is to be out in the sun than riding the subway.—Amy Plitt

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37

“Coffee” by Sylvan Esso (2014)

This is the kind of song you need to play on summer evenings when things are beginning to wind down and the mood turns contemplative. Anchored by Amelia Meath’s rich alto and deeply personal, nostalgic lyrics, it neatly contrasts the depths of winter cold and hot coffee with “blazing summer” and cold coffee, using the seasons and their alternating temperatures to tell a larger story about the inevitable passage of time, loss and memory.—Caitlin White

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36

“The Girl from Ipanema” by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz (1964)

Composed in 1962 by bossa nova pioneers Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, this wistful air—a longing look a beautiful girl as she walks off to the sea—has become a staple of lounge culture, covered more often than almost any other song in pop history. Yet the definitive version remains the one that made it famous. In this musical ménage à trois, the melody is first delivered in Portuguese by João Gilberto, in a honeyed croon; then by his wife, Astrud, singing artlessly in English (with lyrics by Normal Gimbel); and thirdly by Stan Getz’s gentle, gauzy tenor sax. A real-life affair between the latter two brought their collaboration to a close soon after, but the song blows on like a cool breeze on the beach.—Adam Feldman

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35

“Too Darn Hot” by Mel Tormé (1960)

Cole Porter turns the notion of overheated sex on its head in this ditty, the second-act opener of his 1948 musical Kiss Me, Kate. But the erotic languor described in the lyrics is cutely contradicted by its toe-tapping music and the energetic dance number that it was designed to entail. (In the movie, it’s used as a saucy showcase for a scantily clad Ann Miller.) Mel Tormé’s swinging version, from his 1960 album Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley, makes the most of the song’s hot-and-cold dynamic, tossing off effortlessly quick and smooth demurrals even as his band gets cooking.—Adam Feldman

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34

“Summertime Clothes” by Animal Collective (2009)

Embedded in freak-folk posse Animal Collective’s mainstream breakthrough LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion, this rubbery ditty testifies to some of summer’s stickier situations: hot nights, sweaty sheets, midnight munchies, clothes stripped off and dancing aglow with sweat because there’s nothing else to do.—Steve Smith

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33
Parquet Courts

“Sunbathing Animal” by Parquet Courts (2014)

For those who don’t want their summer playlist devoted to the pop side of things, try “Sunbathing Animal,” from the noisy Brooklyn quartet’s album of the same name. This song is the perfect, punky foil to some of the more radio-ready songs of the summer, with grueling guitar solos and plenty of throwback moments.—Caitlin White

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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

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31
War

“Summer” by War (1976)

With couplets like “riding round town with all the windows down / eight-track playing all your favorite sounds” and “rapping on the CB radio in your van / we’ll give a big ten-four to the truckin’ man,” this 1976 slice of AM gold is a time capsule of a track, to say the least. But the tune—a rare mellow cut from the California funkateers of War—evokes a timeless warm-weather vibe, perfectly captured by its laid-back groove and gorgeous chord progression. As the song says, “Summer time is the best time any place”—and we couldn’t agree more.—Bruce Tantum

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Watch the videos: 40–31


Users say

14 comments
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

jh
jh

where is--- Surf City by Jan and Dean, and Margaritaville by Buffett. also, Day of the Locusts by B Dylan. i could only read down to # 47. TONY website is always technically F*&^% up

Bill Blagger
Bill Blagger

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

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

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. 


Laura C
Laura C

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

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

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