Summer is a time for gatherings, from small-scale kick-its to full-on parties. No matter the event, a perfect summer playlist is required. Even if you’re on your own, you need some sweet tunes to help justify the puddling sweat and summer’s other toils. Here are some of the most timeless summer tunes, perfect gems to add to any growing playlist. Slap on your sunscreen and turn up the stereo!
“Love Shack” by The B-52’s
This song is timeless because even if you weren’t around when it came out, this song is sure to make everyone dance to it. It’s slightly scandalous in nature without being too much and is a good throwback song to get a good summertime party going. It’s essential to any DJ’s arsenal.
“Sunshine” by Atmosphere
A classic, feel-good hip-hop tune about overcoming epic hangovers, brushing off the stress, and getting your ass outside, this is one of the few songs we know that no one actively dislikes.
“Badfish/Boss DJ” by Jack Johnson
Though Jack Johnson’s entire gentle, acoustic discography is pretty much perfect for summer, his medley cover of these two classic Sublime songs is a match made in heaven and perfect for all your best beach days.
“The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
Anyone who was figuring out their adolescence during the 2000’s remembers this song, about throwing away your troubles and “forgetting yesterday” to just be free for one night. This is one of the essential songs of summer, especially for those just getting out of school for the year or for celebrating time with friends. It in itself is an escape, and it’s a beautiful one at that.
“Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean
This lush, SoCal-flavored song by Frank Ocean is just one fraction of channel ORANGE, an album which is perfectly suited to summer. Every time we hear it, we wish we were dipping our toes in the pool with a ridiculously fruity cocktail in hand.
“Brothersport” by Animal Collective
This is the go-to jam for when the party has almost hit that peak level of craze. We like our summer jams to feel like sunshine—warm, spirited, energizing. This song is the naturally caffeinated sweet tea every summer hippie needs.
“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest
Another truly chill, laid-back track that acts as a perfect score to any beach day, rooftop party, or road trip. Something about the relaxed beat just makes us want to kick it.
“Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa
Windows down. Air blowing through your hair. Try not to sing along to Salt-N-Pepa’s truth machine lines (“Girls, what’s my weakness / MEN!”). Anyone who tries to tell you Salt-N-Pepa hasn’t been cool since the nineties is a troll or generally probably pretty lame. We want to sit on the curb with a Rocket Pop and play this song on a boom box all summer long.
“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
A no-brainer. The guys literally call themselves the Beach Boys! Have you ever tried to listen to Pet Sounds in January? We tried to once and ended up crying in the corner. This song can only be heard and appreciated correctly with sun-kissed skin, summer cocktails and lots and lots of laughter.
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
In title, beat, melody, and lyrics, this song screams summer. It’s simple, positive, and it makes us hap-happy.
“This Magic Moment” by The Drifters
Perhaps this was by no means the summer song of our youth, but it was in all the movies that came out when we were kids about our parent’s childhood. And if “The Sandlot” was not an integral part of your life, well, find it, rent it, and watch it “FORREEVVVEEERRRRR.”
“Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald
If anyone could make you feel the heat in your bones and the cool breeze washing over your face as you slowly perspire on a porch swing overlooking ripe summer fields with the cicadas singing, it’s Ella Fitzgerald’s voice and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
It ain’t no disco or country club, but pure bliss. We love this song because it makes for easy relaxed dancing, and casual beer sipping. All Sheryl wants to do is have some fun, and we think that we can all have some fun with her by jamming out to the song at a summer party.
“Wildfire” by John Mayer
From his recent folksy, wanderlusty album “Paradise Valley,” John Mayer’s poppy summer tune, in all its hand-clapping glory, celebrates fireside parties with friends and definitely captures the classic summer outdoorsy adventure vibe.
“Smooth” by Santana ft. Rob Thomas
This was the quintessential summer jam of 1999, perfectly mixing Santana’s signature Latin flavor with the classic pop radio vocal stylings of Matchbox Twenty’s own Rob Thomas. Mixing themes of hot weather and fine ladies, it’s pretty much built to last through summers eternal.
“Steal My Sunshine” by Len
Another gem straight outta 1999, Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” is quirky, poppy, and seems to capture the idyllic boy/girl, spring break/summer vibes peddled by all our favorite 90s teen films. If you don’t know this song by name, you’ll know it when you hear it.
“Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz
True, the Gorillaz were referencing a different type of sunshine rather than the summer sun, but this song is still a must. For real, if you want to chill out and get a sun coma (this is what we call when the sun makes you just a bit delirious), then go ahead and play this tune.
“Call Me” by Kimbra
Perhaps known best for her contribution to Gotye’s smash hit “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Kimbra is an excellent artist in her own right and “Call Me” is the perfect song for relaxed summer romances. The song is bright and optimistic, and kinda makes us wanna organize a pretty sick synchronized dance with our friends. Maybe in the pool.
“A Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy
Play this song when you want to frolic in pretty dresses, find shapes in the clouds, and lazily munch on watermelons. This classic 1964 rings with an almost bitter sweetness, but it is a poetic summer song.
“The Summer” by Coconut Records
First heard this on a summer-themed episode of “Gossip Girl” and y’all, it’s the real deal. Especially if you’re from Alabama (a reference you’ll understand when you listen to it.)
“Lust for Life” by Girls
This just might be a perfect summer song. A little lo-fi buzz, shimmering backing vocals, wistful lyrics, and a totally danceable beat. It only becomes more perfect as the summer days slip away.
“Buzzin’” by Schwayze
Also from (maybe the same?) summer-themed episode of “Gossip Girl.” The light beats and references to block parties will make you feel like it’s the middle of summer all year round.
“Last Night At The Jetty” by Panda Bear
A spacious, echoey soundscape pairs perfectly with contemplative lyrics and a steady beat. “Didn’t we have a good time?” the song asks. “I know I had a good time.”
“The Charging Sky” by Jenny Lewis
The ambling beat, playful slide guitar, and cheerfully confessional lyrics are irresistible, and you’ll find yourself singing along in no time.
“Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest
If you have never danced at night after a long day of summer heat, then you need to remedy this immediately. “Dancing In The Moonlight” makes it impossible to not wiggle your butt at least a little bit, and is the ultimate summer song.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something
A song about finding common ground in an Audrey Hepburn film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is upbeat and catchy—the perfect tune to sing while trailing your fingers through the breeze in an open car window.
“Time to Pretend” by MGMT
This song is all about the possibilities of being young and reckless and taking advantage of the break from the normal routine brought on by summer. For those of us lucky not to have to worry about full-time careers quite yet, this is our anthem.
“Daylight” by Matt and Kim
This song begins with lines about jumping into the ocean and isn’t that what everyone looks forward to in the summer?
“Here (In Your Arms)” by Hellogoodbye
This song could be like any other pop jam, but Hellogoodbye’s music video solidifies this tune as a summer must-hear. To all the camp counselors out there, do me a favor and make this video a reality.
“Summer Girl” by Leighton Meester
This was in “Country Strong” and aside from really disliking that movie we loved the soundtrack. It encompasses everything summer is in the south. Especially in high school and college when summer is really your own. Listen and jam out.
“Summer Girls” by LFO
Not to be confused with the last song, “Summer Girls” by LFO was the original 90s summer jam. This song has been on our iPods since we “looked like a girl from Abercrombie & Fitch” (aka most teenage girls in the early 2000s) and will forever be on all of our past, present and future summer playlists.
And so you can take these on the go—the complete playlist on Spotify! Make sure to follow us there for all our awesome playlists!