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.

0

Comments

Add +
30

“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

29

“Theme from A Summer Place” by Percy Faith (1960)

Max Steiner, who scored Gone with the Wind and Casablanca, composed this dreamy strain for the 1959 drama A Summer Place as the love theme for the teenagers played by Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. The song does have lyrics, but it’s the orchestral version—by Canadian bandleader innovator Percy Faith—that became an easy-listening classic. (It held the top spot on the Billboard chart for nine weeks in 1960, still a record for an instrumental single.) The wholesome sense of yearning captured in this recording—the piano beating like an eager heart, as the strings breathe in and out above it—goes beyond the elevators and waiting rooms to which it’s long been consigned.—Adam Feldman

 Download on Amazon

28

“This Summer’s Been Good from the Start” by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (2000)

Obscure, yes, but utterly lovely, this song opens an acoustic mini-album by cult Welsh group Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, which switched up its luscious psychedelia for dreamy, delicate country music. “Well we slept underneath August stars,” sings Euros Childs, “And we talked about girls seen from afar.” No other song captures the joy and dewy longing of a first crush quite like this.—Sophie Harris

 Download on Amazon

27

“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

26

“This is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan (2014)

For those who have somehow managed to remain unaware of Florida Georgia Line so far, their monster collaboration with Luke Bryan will assuredly change that. “This is How We Roll” is all about being young, partying and being in love—all the things that the best summer songs embody. Choice lyric, “We’re burning down the night, shooting bullets at the moon” is poetic enough to even give their haters pause.—Caitlin White

 Download on Amazon

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

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

23
Kool and the Gang

“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

22

“The Joy” by Kanye West, Pete Rock and Jay-Z

Yeezy really spoiled us back in 2010, with his G.O.O.D. Music Friday giveaways, and this track was easily the finest of the set. Together with production genius Pete Rock, West put together an exquisite summer kiss of a song that sampled Curtis Mayfield’s dreamy “The Makings of You” and a snip from Syl Johnson’s “Different Strokes” (that “uh!” sample). Add into that a flow from West that conjures hot sidewalks, sticky summertime sex, and the urban grind, and then a guest spot from Jay-Z. It’s almost too much, too excessively luscious and grimy—just like summer in the city.—Sophie Harris

 Download on Amazon

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


Watch the videos: 30–21


Users say

15 comments
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

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

Read more music features

Interview: Tory Lanez

The multi-talented rapper, singer and artist chats with us halfway into his first headlining tour

Interview: Julian Casablancas and Karen O

These New Yorkers, who both recently launched new solo ventures, get together for a chat on their home turf

Interview: John Lurie

The Lounge Lizard, Jim Jarmusch star and all-around NYC alt legend gets a tribute worthy of his multimedia brilliance

The best fall concerts in NYC

Get ready for a busy season this fall, with shows from arena heavy-hitters to indie gems

Afropunk fest 2014: Our favorite photos

Sharon Jones, Bad Brains and Shabazz Palaces wowed at the Brooklyn blowout

See more in Music