45 Summer Songs You Better Have…Or Else

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Posted May 28, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features
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“Summer in the City”
The Lovin’ Spoonful
#1 pop, July 1966 (Karma Sutra)

“Summer in the City” plays with Beatles’ psychedelic pop helmed together with a resonate Vox Continental organ. Along with the sweaty, sizzling tone of the opening lyrics (“Hot town, summer in the city/Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty”), a few city-related sound effects including Volkswagen car horns and construction jack hammers ring out on the short instrumental bridge. Luckily, there’s a second verse that cools the song off a little (“Cool town/evening in the city/Dressing so fine and looking so pretty”). The song originated from a poem written by Mark Sebastian (brother of Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian) but was amended by the band to fit the upbeat structure of the song.
 

3

“Summer Breeze”
Seals & Croft
#6 pop, October 1972 (Warner Bros.)

The title cut taken from the soft rock duo’s fourth LP resonated well in the ears of classic rock revelers. It’s a beautifully executed romantic rock ballad containing gorgeous harmonies and poetic images of summer’s opulence (“Sweet days of summer/The jasmine’s in bloom/July is dressed up/And playing her tune”). The song was successfully covered by the Isley Brothers using a more percussion-driven arrangement, giving the single visible presence on the R&B charts (#10) and in the UK (#16).
 

2

“California Gurls”
Katy Perry
#1 pop, June 2010 (Capitol)

Katy Perry searched through Wikipedia to find the perfect West Coast rapper to join her on her candy-coated summer tune. At first, the pairing of Perry and Snoop Dogg seemed totally unconventional and uncanny, but Dogg’s contribution is easy and breezy on Perry’s pop. We call it hip-pop. The song took off in the summer of 2010, becoming Perry’s highest-charted single since “I Kissed a Girl.”
 

1

“Surfin’ USA”
Beach Boys
#7 pop, June 1972 (Capitol)

A summer wouldn’t be complete without the Beach Boys’ ultimate surf anthem “Surfin USA.” The song borrows a very familiar Chuck Berry melody and culls out a map of Cali surfing spots. Released in the spring of 1983, the song soared to the higher portions of the pop charts and earning the band their first top ten hit.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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