The summer brings one of life’s greatest pleasures: a perfect weather to enjoy the beach. And what’s a great combo with any summer activity? A classic summertime playlist. Ditch your new songs for a while and try listening to these epic tunes that defined “party.” Whether you’re on your epic road trip to the shore, packing your bathing suit for the trip, or having a dance jam at the beach, these tunes will get you pumped up and ready to have a good time.
1. “Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys (1964) – (Listen)
The entire catalogue of The Beach Boys seem to evoke that carefree vibe of the summer season. When you listen to “Surfin’ USA,” you will briefly be transported to that laid-back, surfer mentality of the ‘60s that would get you amped up for surfing at Californi-yay. Maybe it’s not yet June, but this song is an ode for being excited for the season, ‘cause we’ll all be gone surfing.
2. “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones (1977) – (Listen)
If you’re a punk soul at heart, this is the surf tune that will speak to you. The Ramones’ 1977 classic “Rockaway Beach” is a bubblegum torpedo ride that’s all about going out of the city and hitching a ride for a day trip to the Rockaway Beach. This particular beach in Queens is a vacation getaway open for anyone and everyone.
3. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1991) – (Listen)
Young Will Smith (famous for being “The Fresh Prince” at the time) and DJ Jazzy Jeff sung these funky and laidback ode to the fairest of the seasons – summertime. This song delivered by these 90s hip-hop icons is the ultimate summer jam that checks off pretty much everything about summer: grooving to your jam in the car, school is out and girls are dressing less, guys out hunting girls, dancing at a barbeque, shooting hoops in the street and reminiscing your first kiss at a barbeque party. But of course, it doesn’t forget what summer is really about: “Time to sit back and unwind,” according to the breezy singers at the chorus.
4. “California Girls” by The Beach Boys (1965) – (Listen)
Before Katy Perry’s released a bop pop song about California girls (which all millennials are probably familiar with), the original people who sung an ode to the beautiful West Coast hotties of California were the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson wrote the melody and the lyrics were written by Mike Love, wishing all girls could be California girls. It’s a fun-loving ode to the tanned women in California you all long for during the summer. If you like a more rocking version of this song, listen to David Lee Roth’s version released in 1985, which marked his debut as a solo artist. You’ll enjoy the nice ‘80’s twist to the ‘60s classic.
5. “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts (1972) – (Listen)
This song is one of Seals and Crofts’ most popular hit ever. Offering the signature soft-rock feels of the early ‘70s, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts perfectly described the lazy, breezy July night. You’d enjoy the soothing innocent melody and bittersweet tug of this tune that was actually played on a toy piano. Nothing says summer like this mellow, harmony-driven folk pop song. “Summer Breeze” made a lot of people fine, and it rolled through the jasmine of America’s mind with the many cover versions released after, from soul faves Isley Brothers to goth-metal masters Type O Negative. Pop rock and soul singer Jason Mraz also released a beautiful cover of this song close to the original version.
6. “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas (1964) – (Listen)
This is the ultimate invitation to dance in the streets, “Dancing in the Street” reinvented the world as giant summertime block party. It’s an exuberant call to get outside and cut loose co-written by a young Marvin Gaye, who also hit the drums on the recording. It’s about a summer that brings a sense of love, asking people all around the world to join the celebration.
7. “Vacation” by The Go-Gos (1982) – (Listen)
With this song, The Go-Gos nailed the feeling of wanting to go on a vacation to get over a crush. Belinda Carlisle was spectacular in this song, and their team waterskiing video created one of the most iconic MTV clips of all time. The radiant keyboard melody with some touches of surf guitar, you’d be getting the beachy ‘80s vibes.
8. “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984) – (Listen)
If you prefer to listen to a “Where did we go wrong?” anthem where you don’t understand what happened to your love, this classic from Don Henley is going to give you the feels. With the beat of an outdated drum and synthetic seagull caws, this is will give you the impression of a real classic ‘80s beach rock. Baby boomers can totally relate to “seeing a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” and feel nostalgia.
9. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper (1972) – (Listen)
“Schooool’s out for summer! School’s out forever!” Alice Cooper said that one of the greatest three minutes of his life included the “last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning,” and this inspired the song. When this song was released in May 1972, it easily became the anthem for kids who really hate school and look forward to vacation. Even if you’re not going to school anymore, this song can make you want to throw your papers in the air and run to the car and drive to the nearest beach to surf.
10. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone (1969) – (Listen)
When “Hot Fun in the Summertime” was released in 1969, it was in the height of the career of the funk trailblazer band Sly and the Family Stone, after their high-profile performance at Woodstock that summer. This song even earned a No. 2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. It was actually autumn when the song peaked, but people are just enamored to the fun in the summer time. Sly Stone’s soulful voice and the funky happy-go-lucky melody of the song perfectly describes the fun in summer. This song was also remade in 1994 by The Manhattan Transfer, adding their lively jazz flavor to the hit.