45 Summer Songs You Better Have…Or Else

Posted May 28, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

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“Under the Boardwalk”
The Drifters
#4 pop, July 1964 (Atlantic)

The sweet doo-wop romantics and Boardwalk imagery of this summery tune seems to age gracefully with each passing decade. Even though it’s been covered by countless American Idol finalists and pop superstars, the ‘60’s original – with its gorgeous violins, strings and Spanish güiro – continues to trump the others.


“La Bamba”
Los Lobos
#1 pop, July 1987 (Slash)

Ritchie Valens successfully recorded the Tex-Mex/Chicano rock Top 40 pop hit “La Bamba” in 1958 and became an early rock and roll classic. For the Valens’ 1987 biopic (La Bamba), Los Lobos re-recorded the song, turning it into a number one pop hit. It proved to be the perfect memento to an unsung rock legend and one of the summer’s big hits.


Peter Gabriel
#1 pop, May 1986 (Geffen)

Along with some funky Stax-inspired horns, Peter Gabriel takes on some obvious “sock it to me” innuendos, referencing roller coaster rides, steam trains, bees and pollination. It’s apparent that the English musician was working up his mojo on this record. In May 1986, he wasn’t alone. Thanks to millions of music lovers and the folks at MTV, the song successfully soared to number one pop on the shoulders of a popular Claymation-stop motion music video.


“Hot In Herre”
#1 pop, May 2002 (Fo’Reel)

Nelly’s beastly summer jam “Hot In Herre” brought spring break fun, sizzling flirtation and loads of sexy to 2002. When the chorus kicks in after Nelly borrows a few pointers from Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose,” the female singer creates eargasms with her sexy coos. By the end of the summer, everybody was taking their clothes off to Nelly’s tune.


“Freeway of Love”
Aretha Franklin
#3 pop, July 1985 (Arista)

Aretha zooms down the interstate with her best upbeat track since “Rock Steady.” On top of that, legendary sax man Clarence Clemons make a surprise visit and turns up the heat on the uptempo Narada Michael Walden production.
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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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