There are several things that help define summer: kids in camp, cookouts, beach days, road trips, pool parties, fireworks, ice cream, midday naps after too much sun, and running through sprinklers, to name a few. But the one through-line when it comes to summer fun is undeniably the music that accompanies it. What’s a road trip without a great playlist? What’s a party without some tunes?
If you think back to epic summers in your past, you will most likely have a song attached to those memories. Here’s a look back at some of the best summer songs throughout the years. Which songs have defined your summers? Let us know in the comments!
Yakety Yak — The Coasters
Let’s take it way back to begin. A popular summer song from the 1950s was none other than “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters. You might know this doo-wop song from the movie Stand by Me, but it was pretty popular back in the day.
Sh-Boom — The Crew Cuts
You might immediately recall a scene from Clue when you hear this song, but it was actually a #1 hit in 1954. It seems so mellow when compared to some of the bass-heavy music found on the radio today.
The Twist — Chubby Checker
It seems crazy that this timeless hit was released almost 60 years ago. Wherever it is played, even to this day, you’re bound to find someone twisting their legs a little to the beat. It’s impossible not to.
Loco-motion — Little Eva
Speaking of catchy dances, this song was huge back in the summer of 1962 when it was released.
I Get Around — The Beach Boys
We would be remiss not to include a Beach Boys song on this list. While a lot of their music tends to sound the same after a while, it is undeniable that their tunes conjure up images of summer and beach fun in an instant.
Sherry — Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
There are so many incredible summer songs from the 1960s that it would be impossible to list them all, but Sherry is so much fun and a wonderful hit that can still hold its own on a playlist today.
Margaritaville — Jimmy Buffett
What better cocktail than a refreshing margarita on a hot summer day by a pool? Jimmy had the right idea, and it’s still valid in 2018.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough — Diana Ross
Ms. Ross has had countless hits, and this one was really big in the summer of 1970. What were you listening to that year?
Play That Funky Music — Wild Cherry
From the incredibly catchy baseline throughout the song to the memorable lyrics, it would be impossible to listen to this song this summer (or any, for that matter) and not bop your head to the beat.
Cold Hearted — Paula Abdul
Remember the scandalized people watching Paula and her dancers during the video for this song? How tame they were compared to some videos from today. But chances are that now you can’t get the tune out of your head.
Maniac — Michael Sembello
You might have been a fan of Flashdance when you first heard this song. Its high-energy beat can turn any bumper-to-bumper summer traffic into a good time.
Don’t Turn Around — Ace of Base
Ace of Base didn’t have many hits, but the ones they did have were totally catchy. These Swedes know how to have a good summer time.
Step by Step — New Kids on the Block
Ok, ok, some of you might absolutely cringe at the thought of the New Kids, but if you were like me and my peers, then this song MADE your summer in 1990.
Complicated — Avril Lavigne
This song brings back memories of driving down the shore during one particular summer in college. Lavigne totally nailed summer love.
Boom Boom Pow — The Black Eyed Peas
The 2000s certainly ushered in high-tempo music with lots of bass, and this song is no exception. While it may not be for everyone, it definitely defined summer for some.