Music Notes

11 Songs That Will Instantly Tune Up Your Summer Playlist

Every season needs a soundtrack.

Though not officially the start of summer, Memorial Day signals a time when many Americans embrace the heat, start taking vacations, and bring out the bikinis and board shorts.

But just as important as packing sunscreen and mosquito repellant is planning out a playlist for the special occasions that will take place throughout the season. After all, there's going to be many days on the beach, spent by a bonfire, or grilling at a cookout that will require a soundtrack to celebrate the summer scenes.

We've got a few must-adds that should be included on your playlist to set the mood. So, after you've read this, head over to iTunes or Spotify to gear up for the summer.


DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "Summertime"

If anything encapsulates the chill vibe we all long for during the hot days of the summer season, it's Will Smith's 1991 hit "Summertime." Smooth in its delivery and playful in its lyrics, Smith and then-partner in crime DJ Jazzy Jeff crafted one of the must-hears at cookouts and family reunions, borrowing a bit of Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness" in the process.

Kid Rock - "All Summer Long"

Take Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and mash it up with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," and you get one of Detroit rocker/rapper Kid Rock's biggest hits. The tune's soothing strums may appeal more to fans of rock and country music, but the jam is filled with fun and good feelings that resonate with everyone during the warm season.

LFO - "Summer Girls"

Lyte Funkie Ones — better known to you as LFO — scored a spot on this roundup thanks to the nonsensically lyriced "Summer Girls." Though sometimes silly in what it has to say, it does much to get us in the mood for summer, thanks to the nostalgia-inducing lyrics and the breezy melody underneath them.

OMI - "Cheerleader" [Felix Jaehn Remix]

Jamaican-born OMI became a superstar in 2015 after his tune got remixed by German DJ Felix Jaehn. The result was a tropical-flavored, trumpet-infused jam that blends seamlessly with electronic dance music elements, making for a bouncy, sing-along-style tune that'll keep listeners as warm as the weather.

Sheryl Crow - "Soak Up the Sun"

With a music video that was shot on the shores of Hawaii, how can one not think of summer when listening to the lackadaisically strummed guitar meshed with the roaring, riff-filled chorus? OK, maybe if you listen to the lyrics, you'll come away with a deeper meaning. Don't — just take the song's sun-kissed visuals and title, and roll with them.

Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg - "California Gurls"

The Beach Boys may be the act most associated with the phrase California girls, but Golden State native Katy Perry made her own mark with this 2010 hit. Yeah, the video might be a bit trippy with its walking and rudely gesturing gummy bears, but the spirit of the summer flows through the track, demanding that it blast out of your car stereo's speakers.

Bryan Adams - "Summer of '69"

Listening to Adams' long for "the best days of my life" should serve as a warning sign for all of those people not (purposely) wasting away the summer sun. Whether your day involves playing some chords, visiting drive-ins, or getting into trouble some other way, "Summer of '69" is still a relevant piece of your soundtrack.

The Surfaris - "Wipe Out"

The 1962 instrumental — unless you count the maniacal laugh and teasing "wipe out!" at the beginning of this classic — is some of surf rock's best, instantly inspiring thoughts of catching waves, beach blankets, and tanning in the sun. And even though it's been around for more than five decades, it still rocks hard and showcases some dynamite drumming from Ron Wilson.

Calvin Harris - "Summer"

Before becoming Taylor Swift's boyfriend, Scottish DJ-producer Calvin Harris was known for his ability to keep folks moving on the dance floor. The groove-worthiness of his 2014 track "Summer" is a testament to that ability, encouraging smiles with its heat-raising, pulse-pounding thump that reminds us of the early summer months.

Smash Mouth - "Walkin' On the Sun"

With surf rock sensibilities, it's easy to see why one could be tempted to set foot on the big yellow star that warms our little old planet. But Smash Mouth's "Walkin' On the Sun" has far more simple ambitions — namely, it wants you to party, and demands that you don't waste time getting one started. 

Seals and Crofts - "Summer Breeze"

While most of the other tracks on this list are party-ready, make you want to pump your fist, or otherwise celebrate wildly the arrival of the summer season, Seals and Crofts' Gap-featured, '70s soft rock classic epitomizes the chill we all strive for during the summer months. After all, while it's fun to galavant around the globe and party the nights away, an appointment in a hammock in the shade while being caressed by slight breeze is a welcome way to recover from the year's busier and stressful months.

What would you add to our playlist? Let us know in the comments!

Cover image via YanLev /


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