45 Summer Songs You Better Have…Or Else

Posted May 28, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features


“Saturday in the Park”
#3 pop, August 1972 (Columbia)

Chicago keyboardist Robert Lamm was inspired to write the fun summer song while recording their Chicago V album in New York City after witnessing a walking carnival of people celebrating on the Fourth of July. The lyrics are upbeat and engaging, creating the ultimate bar mitzvah of fun (“People dancing, people laughing/A man selling ice cream/Singing Italian songs”). Can you dig it? Yes we can.


The Champs
#1 pop, March 1958 (Challenge)

Penned by the song’s prominent star, saxophonist Danny Flores, the 1955 instrumental surf song remains an iconic staple in the hallways of golden age rock and roll and opened up the floodgates for Chicano rock. The Champs, signed to Gene Autry’s Challenge label, had very little success after releasing this Grammy-winning gem, but manage to give birth to “Limbo Rock,” a song that went gold in the hands of Chubby Checker.


Los Del Rio
#1 pop, September 1990 (SBK)

“Macarena” was originally born in 1992, but reached international acclaim when the song earned remix treatment by the Bayside Boys and getting extra English verses from an unaccredited group of Spice Girl-esque singers in 1996. All of a sudden, the summer of 1996 had a new dance craze propelled by its addictively-charming music video and Los Del Rio sold 11 million copies. It ended up being the Mexican bands’ only hit single.


“Car Wash”
Rose Royce
#1 pop, December 1976 (MCA)

With disco in power and former Motown producer Norman Whitfield anxious to show the world his newest act, he pushed “Car Wash” as the lead single from the 1976 film with the same name. The film, released in October 1976, was a critically and commercial disappointment, even though in later years it became a popular cult film due to its superstar list of actors, but “Car Wash” exploded, selling two million copies and giving the group their first No. 1 pop and R&B hit. The summer-themed tune, unveiling a story about the neighborhood car wash, where “everything is always cool,” created enough heat to warm up the chilly New York discos that winter.


“Rock the Boat”
Hues Corporation
#1 pop, September 1974 (RCA)

Carnival cruise ships were hip to cash in on the Hues Corporation’s voyage advertisement (“Our love is like a ship on the ocean/We’ve been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion”). Although it was released in early 1974, radio failed to play it, leaving only the New York discos to pick it up. Radio responded by adding it to their Top 40 playlists. It finally soared to number one pop in July 1974. It ended up being one of the earliest disco songs to top the charts. Shockingly the song was succeeded by George McCrae’s disco classic “Rock Your Baby;” another song with a “rocking” theme.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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