With the unseasonably warm weather we are having this week in New Jersey, my mind got me thinking about Summer. Summer being my favorite season, and the fact it is my daughter’s name!
The summer months also bring in happy customers to Windsor Nissan who get unbelievable deals! The sun is shining, the beaches are crowded and the bodies are tanned, which can only mean one thing — Summer 2013 will arrive in the very near future!. To celebrate the return of our favorite season, we’ve scoured the Billboard chart archives and updated this definitive list of the most popular songs about summer ever recorded.
These 30 hot tunes with summer-specific themes are ranked based on each track’s performance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from August 4, 1958 — the inception of the chart — through the chart dated May 26, 2012. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. (For more details on how this chart was compiled, scroll to the bottom of this page.)
Do you agree these are the top rated Summer songs?
30 – Surfin’ Safari
The Beach Boys 1962
As is often the case, the Beach Boys pay homage to their favorite sport in their 1962 pop hit “Surfin’ Safari,” with lines about loading up their Woodie — that’s a ‘board-friendly station wagon for you gremmies — and inviting the world to the best beaches for waves. With a catchy beat and great harmonies, the song reaffirmed surf tunes’ appeal, residing on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks.
29 – Summertime
Billy Stewart 1966
Perhaps one of the most widely covered tunes, “Summertime” epitomizes the season’s lighthearted ethos. Billy Stewart’s 1966 crossover rendition, which is embellished with jazzy horns, bluesy guitar, and funky, scatting vocals, peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100.
Fat Boys and the Beach Boys 1987
The rap-n-surf-guitar track came complete with a skit-y video featuring the ultimate boys of summer, the Beach Boys and the Fat Boys, the ultimate ’80s hip-hop boys of dinner, throwing hula hoops and surfboards into the car for a sojourn to the beach. Not that anyone really needed to see either the Fat Boys in board shorts or the Beach Boys scrachin’ on the turntables. Wipeout, indeed.
27 – Cruel Summer
For summer days when you’re feeling down, Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” is the companion who understands your discontent. The somewhat downbeat dance-pop track, which cozied up to the Hot 100 in 1983, bemoans the harsh heat of loneliness that can make any summer a drag.
26 – Summertime Blues
Eddie Cochran 1958
Eddie Cochran knows how much it sucked to be a teenager, even back in 1958. His slightly rebellious hit “raised a holler” about just how much of a bummer it is to have to work all summer instead of frolicking with your girl and your friends. The tune, appropriately featured in the 1980 film “Caddyshack,” may claim there’s no cure for the summertime blues, but we’d guess it sure beats sitting in school.
25 – A Summer Song
Chad & Jeremy 1964
Capturing the sweet sadness of saying farewell to summer love, Chad & Jeremy employ delicate, simple vocals over chugging drums and rich acoustic guitar plucks. In this tune, which entered the Hot 100 in 1964, the folk rock duo reminds the listener that there are always the memories to keep you warm in the fall.
24 – Suddenly Last Summer
The Motels 1983
For those with any nostalgia for the decade of Pac-Man and leg warmers, The Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer,” which peaked on the Hot 100 in 1983, will satisfy any craving for ’80s summer music. Over a catchy drum beat and spacey guitar, the emotionally distraught Martha Davis explains in a hot, dusty voice that though the seasons change, that doesn’t mean the summer has to end.
23 – Surfer Girl
The Beach Boys 1963
The Beach Boys’ name alone should conjure images of summer, with the Cali group’s many carefree songs about surfing, cars, and girls. Peaking on the Hot 100 at No. 7 in 1963, “Surfer Girl,” a romantic ballad channeling the likes of ’50s doo wop, is no exception, with vocal harmonies that will make you yearn for a summer fling with whom to sway along.
22 – Summer Breeze
Seals & Crofts 1972
When it peaked on the Billboard charts in 1972, “Summer Breeze” focused on a sense of simplicity and clarity in a time of Vietnam war and big cultural shifts. With its soothing combination of soft guitar, banjo, vocal harmony and toy piano, as well as its reflective lyrics, Seals & Crofts’s first hit single is a crucial component of any mellow summer soundtrack.
21 – School’s Out
Alice Cooper 1972
With heavy eyeliner and a snarling, guitar-driven swagger, Alice Cooper took the sweet, innocent idea of the first day of summer break, and turned it into an emancipation proclamation for ditching class permanently. School, he growled, was not only out for summer, “School’s out forever!” The gritty tune peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 in 1972.
20 – Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer
Nat King Cole 1963
Nat King Cole’s rhyme happy 1963 hit is an oldie but goodie in the truest sense of the phrase. Well into the rock era, it peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100. Between the charm of Cole’s warm voice and the “soda and pretzels and beer” he sings about, it’s no wonder this tune is still familiar decades later.
19 – Summer Love
Justin Timberlake 2007
While many summer tunes are relaxed, breezy numbers, Justin Timberlake took his danceable 2007 “Summer Love” in a refreshingly poppy, electronic direction. Timberlake devotees and casual fans alike flocked to the song, giving it a No. 6 climax on the Hot 100.
18 – Saturday In The Park
With brassy horns blowing like a cool breeze off Lake Michigan, Chicago’s “real celebration” of a hot July day in the park took sights and sounds like people laughing and a man selling ice cream all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 1972. “Can you dig it?” they sing. Yes, we can.
17 – Summer Girls
The theme song to many a youthful turn of the millennium summer night, “Summer Girls” is the solid hit from the cheesy dreamboats of LFO. This 1999 lyrical masterpiece (“When I met you I said my name was Rich / You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch,” anyone?) spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 3.
16 – California Girls
The Beach Boys 1965
By the mid-’60s, the Beach Boys were the kings of surf music. In 1965, the west coast poster boys for the genre sent “California Girls,” a sunny paean to the merits of Cali ladies above all attractive women from anywhere else, all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100.
15 – Summer
War’s 1976 soulful slow jam “Summer” earned its peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 with then up-to-the-minute lyrics about cruising around town “with all the window down / eight track playin’ all your favorite sounds.” Including bongos, apparently. Do they make bell-bottom shorts? The tune starts at 2:24 in the video.
14 – Under The Boardwalk
The Drifters 1964
In the summer of 1964, the Drifters saw their dreamy tune about catching some shade and some steamy good times literally under the boardwalk at the beach spent lots of quality time on the Hot 100. The tune has become a summer staple covered by many, including Bruce Willis and the Tempations.
13- Summer Of ’69
Bryan Adams 1985
A mid-’80s Bryan Adams, who had a clear penchant for leather and tight jeans, released “Summer of ’69” in 1985 and sent it to No. 5 on the Hot 100. This anthem of playing his “first real six-string” and meeting a summer sweetie at the drive-in is a classic, nostalgic ode to the summer of the “the best days of my life.”
12 – In The Summertime
Mungo Jerry 1970
The boys of Mungo Jerry handed the world the ultimate laid-back summer track when they released the vaguely tropical jam “In the Summertime” in 1970. The U.K. group’s only major U.S. hit, the tune also scored lots of chart love for Shaggy in the summer of 1995. His remake rose all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100.
11 – The Boys Of Summer
Don Henley 1984
“I can tell you my love for you will still be strong / after the boys of summer have gone,” croons Don Henley as he patiently awaits the departure of his estranged love’s summer flings so he can regain his ex’s affection. The 1984 top five hit, which ironically hit the charts during the holiday season, also scored Henley the Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal performance.
10 – Summer Nights
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John 1978
Popular everywhere from bar mitzvahs to karaoke bars, “Summer Nights” is one of those great movie songs that appeal to everyone. Made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton Jones in the movie “Grease” in 1978, the legacy of Danny and Sandy’s summer fling lives on in the faux-’50s tune that warmed up to the top five at the height of the disco era.
9 – Hot Fun In The Summertime
Sly & The Family Stone 1969
With a mellow, funky horns and bassline and soulful vocals, Sly & the Family Stone’s easy-going hit entered the Hot 100 the same month the group played the most iconic summer festival of all time, Woodstock. In the tune, each member expresses a line about what they love most about summer, however they all agree, “That’s when I had most of my fun… those summer days.” Particularly the summer days when you manage to be part of music history.
8 – Surfin’ U.S.A.
The Beach Boys 1963
Namechecking every popular surfing spot, The Beach Boys certainly did their research for summer jam “Surfin’ U.S.A.” They sang they’d be gone all summer, and hey, if they didn’t make it back before school starts, “tell the teacher we’re surfing.” The song, a reworking of the tune from Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” reached the top five of the Hot 100 in 1963.
7 – Summertime
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince 1991
“This is the Fresh Prince’s new definition of summer madness,” rapped Will Smith before he was an international movie star back in 1991 when he was still the rapping cohort of DJ Jazzy Jeff and a newly-minted sitcom actor. Smith was giving props to their sample of Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness,” and that hook helped the duo earn a No. 4 peak on the Hot 100.
6 – Endless Summer Nights
Richard Marx 1988
“Endless Summer Nights” finds Richard Marx waxing hopeful about a summer fling he wants to develop into more, despite his girl’s resistance. This ballad must’ve done the trick, because he later married the woman he was on vacation with when he was inspired to write the song. “Endless Summer Nights” reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1988.
5 – Surf City
Jan & Dean 1963
“We’re goin’ to Surf City / ’cause its two to one” sing Jan and Dean of the girl-to-guy ratio that awaits them in some tasty beachside locale – that is, if their ’30 Ford Wagon doesn’t break down along the way. The surf rock track rode the airwaves to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1963.
4 – Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini
Bryan Hyland 1960
Decades before Yoplait turned it into the soundtrack to a commercial about achieving your summer perfect beach body, in 1960 Bryan Hyland hit with this ode to one girl so shy about showing her daring two-piece swimsuit at the beach that she sat wrapped up in a blanket and then hid in the water until she turned blue.
3 – Wipe Out
The Surfaris 1962
Summer anthems are often defined by the sing-a-long factor. Aside from the manic laugh and shriek of the song’s title at the beginning, The Surfaris’ “Wipeout” is the exception to the rule, with almost 3 minutes of surf-guitar instrumental magic and one of the most memorable drum beats of all time.
2 – Summer In The City
The Lovin’ Spoonful 1966
“All around, people lookin’ half dead… But at night, it’s a different world,” sings John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful, contrasting a New York summer’s day with the vibrant nightlife of rooftops cats out looking for kitties he much prefers. “Summer in the City,” complete with honking cabs and jackhammers, scored the band a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 in 1966.
1 – California Gurls
Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg 2010
With an unabashedly synthy beat and breathy vocals about a “warm, wet and wild” place and the women you find there, how could Katy Perry’s perfectly timed hit — with a smooth assist from Snoop Dogg, not have been the top song of summer 2010? In fact the song was so huge, it leapt from No. 18 when we first published this chart in May 2010 to No. 1 just one year later, beating out over 50 years of other hot summer songs.
Text by Courtney Baldasare, Melanie Fried, Gabriella Landsman, and Jessica Letkemann
How This Chart Was Created
The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Prior to the Hot 100’s implementation in 1991 of enhanced radio and sales information from Nielsen BDS and Nielsen SoundScan, songs had shorter reigns at No. 1 and shorter chart lives. To ensure equitable representation, earlier time frames were each weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those decades and the turnover rates that have occurred since the advent of Nielsen Music data.
Which song is your favorite?