45 Summer Songs You Better Have…Or Else

Posted May 28, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features


“Wipe Out”
The Surfaris
#2 pop, July 1963 (Dot)

The mostly-instrumental surf song, a cocktail of heavy percussion beats and repetitive guitar lines, is still considered one of the proudest jewels in beach music. The Fat Boys and the Beach Boys also teamed up in the summer of 1987 to make a remake, resulting in a No. 12 pop hit. The Surfaris’ version, along with remakes of the tune, has been heavily used in television, movies and video games.


“Down Under”
Men at Work
#1 pop, November 1982 (Columbia)

Although released in late 1982, Men at Work’s second No. 1 hit remains one of the most gorgeous demonstrations of smooth Island soul. The band from Melbourne, Australia pays respect to their homeland by creating a stunning visual surrounding a traveling Aussie interacting with the rest of the world. On the chorus, the traveler delivers a resounding sales’ pitch – for better and for worse – to visit Australia. With sweet flutes and breezy Nu Wave accents, “Down Under” proved to be the perfect getaway for those seeking a taste of paradise.


“Hot Fun in the Summertime”
Sly & the Family Stone
#2 pop, August 1969 (Epic)

Sly and his flower power army slowed down the pace of the funk to kick out one heck of a cool mid-tempo summer jam. While capitalizing on their moment at Woodstock during the “Summer of ’69,” “Hot Fun” was rushed out to the public that summer and eventually landed on their 1970 Greatest Hits LP.


DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
#4 pop, June 1991 (Jive)

Will Smith samples another R&B summer favorite (Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness”) and designs one of the coolest summer anthems of all time. Rather than playing the goofy character of his previous hits (“Nightmare On My Elm Street,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand”), The Fresh Prince’s goes for a cool, grown-up sexy approach. It was just another way of quelling the rumors that the rap duo was too square.


“School’s Out”
Alice Cooper
#7 pop, June 1972 (Warner)

For hundreds of high school seniors, “School’s Out” became the official anthem for the first day of summer. Of course, there’s a tint of bad-ass rebellion in the lyrics after being nurtured in Alice Cooper’s heavy metal progressions, but the song ultimately gives nineteen and eighteen year olds the needed break they deserved: “No more pencils, no more books/No more teachers’ dirty looks.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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