I’m kind of into the songs that come out every summer. Having Songs of Summer is like having a class song. Whenever you hear it, you remember its summer. Remember these?
2013: “Get Lucky”, Daft Punk & “We Can’t Stop”, Miley Cyrus
2014: “Problem”, Ariana Grande & “Fancy”, Iggy Azalea
Of course, one never knows the true songs of summer until summer itself has distilled to a fine memory. But, while in the heat of the season, you can get some pretty good ideas.
The summer songs of 2015 aren’t the feisty, uppity, in- your- face jams of last year (Sorry, Iggy). This season’s songs are low- key, lighthearted and perfect for taking it easy. Here are my favorite 2015 releases, plus some classic tunes for hot days, warm nights, and that special summer magic.
“Lean On (feat.MØ)”, Major Lazer & DJ Snake
“Blow a kiss/ Fire a gun/ All we need is somebody to lean on”.
It’s the 21st- century- version of “Lean On Me”! (Okay, not quite). This track has the requisite beats and synth bridge that liken it to Tove Lo and Sam Smith.
“Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)”, OMI
“Do you like me, do you think I’m pretty/ Do I make you feel like cheating? I say no, not really”
I love the sultry sax and the Hot Cheerleader paradigm. Every boy in high school wants to date the cheerleader, right? But this girl is also a LIFE cheerleader. I’m a dork. But I love this song. So chill. So summer.
“One Last Time”, Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has the voice of an angel. I backed my car into a garage door listening to this song and I still like it.
“Shut Up And Dance”, Walk The Moon.
The first time I heard this song, I immediately turned it up and wondered where it had been my whole life. (Answer: Not written). This tune gets me instantly pumped. Entertainment Weekly wrote up Walk the Moon in a feature called “How To Write A Summer Pop Hit”. The band describes their sound as “kooky and dorky” and lead singer Nicholas Petricca says he vibes with bands like Talking Heads and Tears for Fears because “the 80’s were a time that celebrated the bizarre”. He says the song was inspired by an incident when a girl at a bar in a red backless dress and Chucks told him to eff the alcohol and dance away his woes. This is the song your inner self has always wanted to rock out to, but couldn’t. Because it wasn’t written yet. Thanks for writing this, guys.
“Bitch Better Have My Money,” Rihanna
“Bitch better have my money/ Pay me what you owe me/ Don’t act like you forgot.”
This song is quickly becoming the underdog jam of the year. Fans weren’t impressed by Rihanna’s stripped- down “FourFiveSeconds”, but they fully embrace the ratchet factor of RiRi’s Bitch Better Have My Money. The perfect anthem for anyone who told a ho they’d buy concert tickets/airplane tickets/ rent/ drinks/ drugs, and then never got paid back.
“Truffle Butter”, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne
The trifecta of Nicki, Drake & Wayne is proving potent as they assault the season with the 1-2 punch of “Truffle Butter” and “Only”. If you don’t know what “truffle butter” refers to, don’t find out. Just enjoy the expert sampling of Maya Jane Cole’s song “What They Say” and lavish in a beat that’s perfect for literally anything.
And now, some classics for your playlist…
“Boys of Summer”, Don Henley
“I can see you/ brown skin shining in the sun/ You’ve got your hair pulled back and sunglasses on”.
Don Henley personified summer in this song.
“In The Summertime”, Mungo Jerry
“In the summertime when the weather is hot/ You can stretch right up and touch the sky/ When the weather’s fine / You got women, you got women on your mind”.
Who doesn’t? This song doesn’t take summer too seriously.
“Summer In The City”, The Lovin Spoonful
“And hey, don’t you know it’s a pity/ the days can’t be like the nights in the summer/ In the city”
This song is so short, you can listen to it about 5 times in a row. Those who have ever spent summer in the city know this song totally nailed it. The structure embodies summer in the city: The days are tense, long, and unbearably hot, like the strained staccato verses. The nights are free- flowing and nostalgic, like the chorus.
“Ventura Highway”, America
“Ventura Highway/ In the sunshine/ Where the days are long and the nights are stronger than moonshine”
The easygoing riff is perfect for a sunset summer drive.
“Last Dance with Mary Jane”, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
“I feel summer creeping in and I’m tired of this town again”
I always find myself turning to this song towards the end of summer, around the late August/ September period. It’s bittersweet, pensive, and has a complex narrative, making it a little more thought- provoking than your average summer song. It still has sun, girls, and reefer, though.
“Island in the Sun”, Weezer
“On an island in the sun/ We’ll be playing and having fun/ And it makes me feel so fine I can’t control my brain.”
Bless Weezer. Their Blue album is one of the greatest albums of all time, but they’ll be most remembered for this easygoing track off the Green album. Probably because is was featured in hundreds of pre- teen movies. Listen to this song and you’ll immediately be transported back to days when you sat by the pool and imagined it was the beach.
“Ride Wit Me”, Nelly
AKA “Hey Must Be The Money”. Ride wit Nelly, ride wit bae, ride wit your best friend, ride wit your mom, just have the windows down and this song playing.
“Summer Girls”, LFO
“I think it’s fly when the girls stop by for the summer.”
I don’t care how dumb you think this song is, or if you can never remember who sings it, or that this song rhymes “rich” with “Abercrombie & Fitch”. LFO made a summer classic and you know it.
The bossa nova beat has me reaching for the pina colada. Elle Girl magazine put it on one of their summer playlists and I never took it off mine.
I couldn’t tell you a single word to this song, but when I hear it I feel like this:
“Girl From Ipanema”, Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz
“Tall and tan and young and lovely/ the girl from Ipanema goes walking”
This song launched a bossa nova wave back in the 60s, but its soft beat and image of a hottie strolling through the streets of Brazil is timeless. Check out the Portuguese version for extra flavor.
“Summertime Sadness”, Lana Del Rey
“I just wanted you to know/ Baby, you’re the best.”
Another one for the end of summer. Who’s not sad when summer ends? Nobody.