Summer can be typified by plenty of wonderful things. When the sun starts hanging in the sky longer, like it doesn’t quite want to miss out on the fun, I get all jazzed up with that feeling of freedom. Summer plays in my mind like a vibrant montage, and every year I add more scenes–more reasons to keep believing in its loveliness.
It started as a kid doing cannonballs and scarfing down mozzarella sticks by the pool at the Claremont–walking barefoot to the snack bar with my dad as he all too willingly bought me ice cream sandwiches or popsicles–sometimes both. (Clearly I was really into food as a child?) Then it progressed to sleepovers and late night TP-ing, skinny dipping in the lake and freezing cold movie theaters, hands moving closer together in the darkness. Lifeguarding all afternoon at the big pool on my side of town, riding my bike on hot asphalt all the way home. I kept getting older and summer kept right on humoring me, showering me with something better each time the hills turned a brittle gold. Most perfectly, summer was peeling around town with all the windows down, my long hair flying out the driver’s side as I hollered his name from the street while I drove by. Summer was sweating beers and blackened skin, kayaking down the river then sleeping on big, toasty rocks.
But what was playing in the background while all this magic occurred? While he broke your heart and you broke his, while you were wild and beautiful and enviously untethered? The songs of summer, baby! And I’ve spelled out a very random assortment of my favorites over the years…
Under the Sun- by Sugar Ray– Not quite sure what it is about this song, but it makes me nostalgic for things I didn’t even live through. “I’ll always remember Run DMC.” I mean damn…I feel like I will, despite the fact that I grew up roughly fifteen years after Run DMC was making music. Sugar Ray’s beachy tune plays like the best of teenage sonnets. Anyone who ever was seventeen and had a pumping heart beneath their bikini top surely will find something to love in this.
Catch My Disease- by Ben Lee– This song sounds like the way a road trip to the lake feels. It also warrants being repeated five hundred times until you reach your destination.
Anna Sun- by Walk the Moon–I’m still convinced this song is the anthem to any house party worth a damn. Whether you just graduated from high school, or have been working the nine to five grind for more decades than you would care to admit, this song will make you sick with love for your youth.
The Hills- by The Weeknd– I’ve never been entirely confident of what this song is even about, but its whiny, angsty, convoluted sound will make you want to roll the windows down.
Indian Summer- by Jai Wolff— It’s entirely impossible to be in a bad mood while listening. The lyrics aren’t even actual words, but sometimes words aren’t unnecessary, amiright?
Say My Name- by ODESZA–Odesza anytime, anywhere.
Great Summer- by Vance Joy–Some say it’s kind of a bummer, but I think it deserves to be on this list because it speaks to that terrible sugar crash feeling that late August brings, even though you know full well that each second of summer’s cruel games were worth it.
Florida Kilos- by Lana Del Rey–Thank you, Lana, for this underrated gem. Three years old and I still think it sounds like a perfect summer party on the beach.
Summer Love- by Justin Timberlake–Timberlake belongs on all lists if you ask me. Enough said.
Just Hold On We’re Going Home- by Drake–Just hold on, we’re going wherever the hell Drake decides to take us and I am entirely on board with that situation.
Kings of Summer- by Ayokay–Ayokay’s summer anthem is *perfect* and I’d happily float in a pool listening to it until fall rudely interrupts me.
Million Voices- by Otto Knows–And a million reasons to bounce around to this upbeat tune.
Sexual Healing- by Kygo–Kygo is a genius and Marvin Gaye is a god. Put them together and you’ll never want to hear anything else.
Stay- by Maurice Williams and the Zodiac–As far as I’m concerned, Dirty Dancing should be watched at least seven times every summer and this song should be played at every BBQ, beach party, and gathering of any kind forever and always.
Good Vibrations- by The Beach Boys–Always necessary!
Jessica- by Major Lazer–Leave me in a hammock with a very tall drink and repeat this song until my name is Jessica.
For the Love (Big Wild Remix)- by Griz–Five seconds into listening and you’ll be dancing and air-conducting the uncountable instruments featured in this song.
Easy Love- by Sigala–MJ’s voice and a terrifyingly addictive beat is like the auditory version of doing hard drugs.
Despacito-by Luis Fonsi–Por dios, hay bendito! God bless Puerto Rico and this gift of a song.
(Photo: Property of Elle Singapore)