15 Favorite Songs of Summer: Great Hits for Warm Weather

The greatest accessory for summer is not a new bathing suit, it’s not even classic sunglasses, oh no, the only thing you need when the weather gets warm is the ultimate collection of the Songs of Summer.

NPR recently decided to create a massive play-list of summertime songs, spanning all decades and taste levels. According to Eleanor Kagon of NPR, their humongous (yes, it’s a word) list encapsulates only the songs that could be considered ear worms. She describes a candidate for a Song of the Summer as an annoyance, as the song that “runs rampant up and down your radio dial, around your parties, and deep in your brain.”

While there are summer songs that are a bit obnoxious (I’m looking at you “Thong Song”), there are many, many, MANY songs that do a splendid job celebrating the season. I put together 15 of my all-time favorite songs for the summer, but I would love to know what you would add. Together we could make one great mix!

Favorite Songs of Summer:

  • Favorite Songs of Summer 1 of 16
    Best Songs of Summer: Our Ultimate List

    When I think of summer, these are the songs that come to my mind. I'd love to know what songs mean summer to you!

     

    Image Credit: Shutterstock, author art

  • People Got to Be Free – The Rascals 2 of 16
    The_Rascals

    While not a super obvious summer song on the surface, I associate  The Rascals' "People Got to be Free" with the end of the school year.

    "All the world over, so easy to see

    People everywhere just wanna be free

    I can't understand it, so simple to me

    People everywhere just got to be free"

     

    Watch a live performance of "People Got to Be Free."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves 3 of 16
    walking-on-sunshine

    Don't it feel good? Truthfully I can not imagine that "Walking on Sunshine" feels great, but I have always loved the upbeat and bouncy feeling of this song. If summer is happy and energetic for you, this is your power anthem!

     

    Watch the official video for "Walking on Sunshine."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry 4 of 16
    mungo_jerry

    Stop what you are doing right now, bring your kid over to your computer, and play Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" for them RIGHT NOW. I am not even kidding. Put down your mail. Stop multitasking. Put on this song and have a dance party!! It is impossible to not grin while dancing with your kids to this song. 

     

    Sing along with us,

    dee dee dee dee dee

    Da da da da da,

    yeah we're hap-pap-py

    Da da da dee da doo dee da dee da dee da da,

    yeah

    Da da da da da, dee da da dee da da

     

    Watch the video for "In the Summertime." (AND DANCE!!!)

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Saturday in the Park – Chicago 5 of 16
    chicago

    Chicago is one of the best bands ever. Do not even try to disagree with me on this. "Saturday in the Park" is an amazing song on so many levels: the horns, the build, the harmony, the storytelling. I always feel like I am literally talking a walk around a park when I hear the song. As I have never been to Chicago, I use Central Park as my point of reference. It's one of those songs that captures the energy of a season, of people, of a time of day. 

     

    Watch a live performance of "Saturday in the Park."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Firework – Katy Perry 6 of 16
    katy-perry-firework

    Let's make a promise with each other. This song is ONLY allowed to be played on July 4th. Ok? If we can all agree to this I will admit to kind of loving Katy Perry's "Firework" a lot. But if we get into heavy rotation my love will fizzle out. 

     

    Watch the official video for "Firework."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Summertime – Janis Joplin 7 of 16
    Janis_Joplin

    I know many have done versions of "Summertime," but for me Janis is where it is at. Her "Summertime" is a slow rocking chair on the back porch. I picture the  fireflies blinking in the dark and then feel the breeze announce a slow moving storm roll in. It's perfection.

     

    Watch a live performance (yes!) of Janis singing "Summertime."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Soak up the Sun – Sheryl Crow 8 of 16
    sheryl_crow

    Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun" is a total windows down, breeze blowing through your hair kind of song for me. It's one of those songs that connects me to an exact life moment: on location in Los Angeles. I must have listened to the song hundreds of times the summer it was released as I drove to and from set. The song is warmth and my last summer in LA.

     

    Watch an amazing live performance of "Soak Up the Sun."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful 9 of 16
    Lovin_Spoonful

    One of the first songs I think about when I think about summer is "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful. Because I swelter in the heat of a concrete jungle in Philly, I think of the line: 

    "Hot town, summer in the city 
    Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty"

    Watch a live performance of "Summer in the City."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince 10 of 16
    DJ-Jazzy-Jeff-fresh-prince

    I remember when DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (oh hey, Will Smith!) came out with "Summertime." It played on the radio nonstop for the entire summer of 1991. Now that my family and I live in Philly I get a real kick out it. 

    "Back in Philly we be out in the park

    A place called the plateau is where everybody goes"

     

    Watch the video for "Summertime."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Vacation – The Go-Go’s 11 of 16
    GoGos-Vacation

    It's Friday. You don't have to check your email for 24+ hours. You get in your car and fumble around for the perfect song on the radio. The Go-Go's "Vacation" comes on - YES!!!! The chorus for this song is made for friend singing and car dancing. 

     

    "Vacation, all I ever wanted

    Vacation, had to get away

    Vacation, meant to be spent alone"

     

    Watch the video for "Vacation."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Wipe Out – Fat Boys and The Beach Boys 12 of 16
    fat-boys-and-the-beach-boys-wipeout-1987

    In 1987 the world met one of the best mashups EVER. The Beach Boys sang backup to the Fat Boys on "Wipe Out." The song is part of the fourth album from the Fat Boys, Crushin'. Oddly, the album was unavailable for well over a decade and has only just become available for download on iTunes in early 2013. "Wipe Out" has always cracked me up and felt like a great summer party song.

     

    Watch the official video for 'Wipe Out."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles 13 of 16
    Here-Comes-the-Sun

    "Here Comes the Sun" is on my short list for favorite Beatles song. It was the first song I sang to my son and the lyrics of the song are something I think about many mornings at daybreak. 

    "Little darling

    It's been a long, cold lonely winter

    Little darling

    It feels like years since it's been here

    Here comes the sun

    Here comes the sun, and I say

    It's all right"

     

    Watch a live performance of George Harrison (YES!!) performing "Here Comes the Sun." (heads up the audio is a bit loud)

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Summer Nights – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John 14 of 16
    Grease

    If you find yourself at a karaoke joint this summer, you can bet that someone will get up on stage and sing "Summer Nights" from Grease

    "Summer dreams ripped at the seams

    But, oh, those summer nights"

     

    Watch Summer Nights performed in the movie Grease.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • July, July – The Decemberists 15 of 16
    decemberists-july

    "July, July" is a relatively unknown song by the Decemberists. The band often refers to it as their hymn to summer. Since I often refer to myself as a "Decemberist" (as I am not only a fan of the band but born in the twelfth month) I think this is a pretty groovy and rocking tune. 

     

    Listen to the Decemberists perform "July, July" live in Sydney. 

     

    Image Credit: TheDecemberists.com

  • Cruel Summer – Bananarama 16 of 16
    bananarama_cruel_summer

    New wave summer can only be Bananarama with "Cruel Summer." Since summer is my least favorite season, I consider every summer to be cruel. This might be why I love this song so much. I also remember loving the video when it first came out because OVERALLS!!! 

    "Hot summer streets

    And the pavements are burning,

    I sit around Trying to smile

    But the air is so heavy and dry"

     

    Watch the official video for "Cruel Summer."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

More Posts by Dresden:
Must See Summer Movies of 2013
20 Best Performances by Sunglasses in Film
20 Songs That Would Make Great Children’s Books
25 Celebrities You Didn’t Realize Were 50

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