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The 100 Best Summer Songs

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100 Greatest Summer Songs

For those of us who don’t live in tropical splendour year-round, the arrival of summer brings with it a certain set of seasonal enjoyments: from holidays spent by the beach to sunning yourself in the backyard – all of which are soundtracked by the warm, airy and carefree songs of summer.

Before the ‘Song of the Summer’ became an official superlative by the music industry, it was merely measured by an instinctive feeling. What makes a great summer song? Well for a start it’s all about the vibe, the feel, every bit as much as it’s about the lyrics.

Ever since the Billboard Hot 100 was christened in 1958, the seasonal hits of each summer have stood as a snapshot in time. A nostalgic mix of memory and sunshine that transport you back to the summers of your youth. Whether it’s Nat King Cole’s feel good, ‘Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer’ in 1963 or the official block party anthem ‘Summertime’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in 1991, there’s a summer song for every era.

For some, it’s all about escapism. From the steel drums of Bob Marley’s ‘Jamming’ to the Bossa Nova rhythms of ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ by Stan Getz, João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto, each creates an atmospheric vibe that’s geared towards maximum relaxation when it’s too hot to move. Other times it’s about celebrating the buoyant and boundless energy of a sunny day on quintessential hits like: Martha & The Vandellas’ ‘Dancing In The Streets’, Katrina And The Waves ‘Walking On Sunshine’ or ‘Hot Fun In The Summertime’ by Sly & The Family Stone.

Speaking of reggae, while Marley is the unequivocal king of sun-soaked island fare, there are endless other summer-ready tunes that stoke good vibrations including Black Uhuru’s ‘Chill Out’, 10cc’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ and Aswad’s poppy cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Don’t Turn Around’.

Another hallmark of summer songs is summer loves. They burn hot, bright and fast just like the season, but are immortalized in song. From Richard Marx’s ‘Endless Summer Nights’ to Mungo Jerry’s lascivious skiffle song, ‘In The Summertime’ and the more indie, ‘Girl’ by Beck, these fleeting dalliances inspire some of the best songs.

While some great summer songs are less lyrically explicit about summer, others embrace the theme head on with endless variations. There’s ‘Long Hot Summer’ by The Style CouncilEddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Summer In The City’ by The Lovin’ Spoonful’…you get the idea.

Not all summer songs are about ‘Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows’. Some capture the bittersweet feeling of summers gone by are more reflective in nature. Whether it’s The Motels’ mysterious, new wave hit ‘Suddenly Last Summer’, or the beautiful harmonies of ‘A Summer Song’ by UK folk-duo, Chad & Jeremy, these are best saved for the end of a summer playlist, so you don’t bum everyone out at your party.

Tell us what your quintessential summer song is and follow our playlist of The 100 Greatest Summer Songs.



  1. Stephen Cleary

    May 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    ‘Our Last Summer’ – Abba

  2. Francis Duprat

    May 21, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    what about “ON the beach” by Chris Rea

  3. Roy Jenner

    May 22, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Sinatra — Summer Wind.

  4. Patrick Longworth

    May 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Summer Nights by Survivor!

  5. Harvey

    May 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    “Summertime” by Janis Joplin. Why it is not on this list I find unbelievable.

  6. Paul

    May 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Blue sky by The Allman brothers band.

  7. Kevin Thomas

    May 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Blue Sky the Allman brothers Band. Great summer song.

  8. Tommy Asplund

    May 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    “Summer in the city” by ABBA

  9. dan

    May 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    great list but how in the world did “beach baby” by first class and “summerfling” by kd lang not make the list.

    • Mike Shulman

      August 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Beach Baby my favorite summer song & Things We Did Last Summer, Summer Breeze by Seals & Croft, Pina Colada Song, not listed.

  10. Ted Johns

    May 22, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Hot Summer Day by It’s A Beautiful Day and Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts

  11. Marilyn

    May 23, 2016 at 3:00 am

    Everybody Loves the Sunshine by Roy Ayers, Golden Lady by Stevie Wonder

  12. John

    May 23, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Where’s “Under the Boardwalk”???

  13. vaughnj

    May 23, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    What about “Lonely Summer” b/w “Slow LocoMotion” by The Four Buddies? ? ? ?

  14. Leprchn36

    June 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    I’d include “Starless Summer Skies” by Marshall Crenshaw; but no one asked me.

  15. dan

    June 15, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    can’t hear a thing

  16. BOB

    June 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Summer of 69 -Bryan Adams,love it when he sings it at gigs
    In the summertime -Mungo Jerry
    Summertime (from Porgy and bess) -Jack Jones
    Summerwind- Frank Sinatra
    here comes summer- Jerry keller

  17. Chris

    June 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    One rare but one of the best summer songs is The Pretty Things-Summertime

  18. chief flapper

    June 22, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    All Summer Long-Beach Boys
    LoveLand-Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
    Friends- Beach Boys
    Summer in the City-Lovin’ Spoonful
    A Summer Song- Chad and Jeremy
    California Nights- Lesley Gore
    If you Will-Cold Blood
    I Drove All Night- Cyndi Lauper
    Sunset Grill-Don Henley
    Florida Room & Walk Between the Raindrops-Donald Fagan
    Summer Wind-Frank Sinatra
    I Get the Sweetest Feeling-Jackie Wilson
    Sittin’ in the Park-Billy Stewart

  19. Luke

    July 7, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Summer Heat by Chunk! No, Captain Chunk

  20. Rayboy

    July 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Where’s Mr Blue Sky??? It ain’t summer without Mr Blue Sky!!

  21. Peter Avella

    July 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Hear come,s summer Craig Douglas.

  22. Iris

    August 12, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Like Ice in the Sunshine Beagle Music Ltd.
    Happy Hawaii ABBA
    Walking on Sunshine Katrina and the Waves
    Let your love flow Bellamy Brothers
    Rio Maywood
    Sunshine Reggae Laid Back

  23. Michael

    August 14, 2016 at 11:16 am

    “The Heat Is On” by Agnetha Faltskog

  24. Bernie

    June 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

    The Most Wonderful Summer of My Life

  25. Bill Collins

    July 13, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Summer Means Fun–Bruce and Terry
    The ultimate summer surfin’ song ’63

  26. Jane

    July 13, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Under the Boardwalk.

  27. Gerald Benecke

    July 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Surfin USA & California Girls – Beach Boys

  28. val

    July 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Saw a lot of my favorites although the list was a little too long and seemed forced with some of the selections. Others have noted some oversights. I would add the Doors “Light my Fire” that may not have had a ‘summer’ reference but was played from spring thru summer. Below are my favorites from the Best Songs list –
    Summer in the City
    Sunny Afternoon
    Summer Rain
    Dock of the Bay
    Sloop John B
    Summer Nights
    Sunshine Superman
    Under the Boardwalk

  29. Ray Goodrich

    July 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Spanky / Our Gang – Lazy Day
    Hermans Hermits – Sunshine Girl
    Dino Desi / Billy – Under A Beach Boy Moon

  30. Geir Asheim

    July 21, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    San Francisco – Scott McKenzie

  31. Graham

    July 21, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Theme From A Summer Place by Jackie Rae (a vocal version)

  32. Alberto

    July 22, 2017 at 8:27 am

    JJ Grey & Mofro: The sun is shining down

  33. Bob

    August 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Nothing from the “king of summer music” Jimmy Buffett! What’s a summer play list without Margaritavillle??

  34. Geir

    August 26, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    San Francisco. Scott Mckenzie

  35. Stan

    August 29, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    As a diehard Deadhead, let me offer a couple of Grateful Dead summer classics: U.S. Blues & Sugar Magnolia.

  36. Thomas Dorazio

    August 31, 2017 at 12:42 am

    No Paper Sun by Traffic? Released in the Summer of Love 1967! Also Bummer in the Summer by Love, same yeat

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