Every summer has a soundtrack, and every song about summer has its themes. Love and loss. Fun in the sun. Dancing.
We've put together an alphabetical playlist of songs about the hottest time of the year, and we went with the classics — each song is at least 10 years old. We'll let your memory, and the songs, speak for themselves:
1. 'The Boys of Summer': Don Henley, 'Building the Perfect Beast' (1984)
This one, a smash by the former frontman of The Eagles, details the loss of a woman and the passing of summer (or, some suggest, growing older). The video won MTV's Video of the Year.
I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that hair slicked back
And those Wayfarers on, baby
2. 'Dancing in the Street': Martha & The Vandellas (1964)
Thought by some to be a civil rights call to riot, this Motown single is just what it appears to be: a dance song. Later covered by Van Halen and, in 1985, a David Bowie-Mick Jagger duet.
Summer’s here and the time is right
For dancing in the street
They're dancing in Chicago
Down in New Orleans
In New York City
3. 'In the Summertime': Mungo Jerry, 'Electronically Tested' (1970)
This debut song by a British rock band employed banjos, an upright bass, glass jugs and other non-rock instruments. It's a catchy toe-tapper that sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.
In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
4. 'In the Sun, Blondie': Blondie, 'Blondie' (1976)
A young Deborah Harry pulsed as the lead singer for this new wave/punk band in its debut album. The song was written by Blondie guitarist and one-time Harry paramour Chris Stein.
In the sun, it's for everyone
In the sun, were gonna have some fun
In the sun, were gonna shoot the tube
I'll do it for you, my paka lola luau love
5. 'Summer': War (1976)
The California funk band that brought us "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "Low Rider" used some signature bongos, horns and a clear Latin influence for this laid-back summer single.
In Atlantic City or out in Malibu
Or anywhere between, I'm telling you
When you feel those balmy breezes on your face
Summertime is the best time any place
6. 'Summertime': Beyonce (featuring P. Diddy) (2003)
Written for the Beyonce film "The Fighting Temptations" (though it never appeared in the movie), this hip-hop love song single became a favorite in Queen B's live shows in the early 2000s.
When you touched my hand (yeah yeah)
The sun got brighter then (brighter then)
Trusting you I closed my eyes
And felt our love begin
7. 'Summertime': DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, 'Homebase' (1991)
Just as he started out in TV's "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," but before his movie career exploded, Will Smith and his mostly silent pal penned this rap ode to cruising and chillin' in Philadelphia.
Back in Philly we be out in the park
A place called The Plateau is where everybody goes
Guys out hunting and girls doing likewise
Honking at the honey in front of you with the light eyes
She turn around to see what you beeping at
It's like the summer’s a natural aphrodisiac
8. 'Summer Nights': Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (1978)
This song busted the charts when the stage musical "Grease" hit the silver screen, with Sandy (Newton-John) and Danny (Travolta) recounting different versions of their summer fling to their friends.
He got friendly holding my hand
Well, she got friendly down in the sand
He was sweet, just turned eighteen
Well, she was good, you know what I mean
Summer heat, boy and girl meet
But, uh oh, those summer nights
9. 'Summertime Blues': Eddie Cochran (1958)
Country star Alan Jackson made this a No. 1 hit single in 1994, but the original is from a rockabilly pioneer who co-wrote this light-hearted song decrying a summer lost to working a job.
I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I'm gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well I called my congressman and he said quote
"I'd like to help you son but you're too young to vote"
Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do
But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues
10. 'Under the Boardwalk': The Drifters (1964)
The Drifters gave a nod in this R&B classic to a previous hit, "Up On the Roof," suggesting a cooler summertime getaway for lovers. The single was later covered by the Rolling Stones.
From the park you hear the happy sound of a carousel
Mm-mm, you can almost taste the hot dogs and French fries they sell
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea
On a blanket with my baby is where I'll be
Need to round out the playlist? Consider these other worthy additions:
- 'Cruel Summer': Bananarama (1983)
- 'Heat Wave': Martha & The Vandellas (1963)
- 'Hot Fun in the Summertime': Sly & the Family Stone (1991)
- 'Let's Twist Again': Chubby Checker (1961)
- 'Rock Lobster': The B52s (1972)
- 'School's Out': Alice Cooper (1972)
- 'Summertime': Sam Cooke (1958)
- 'Summer Breeze': Seals & Crofts (1972)
- 'Surf City': Jan and Dean (1963)