Best Summer Songs

Summer is a time that conjures up images of the sun, the beach, and fun. Over the years, countless songs have been released to honor that season. To me, the songs featured here are some of the best to capture the season of summer.

The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ USA”:  While the band recorded a number of songs during their career about summer and the beach, this one, in my opinion, really captures the essence of the season. The song is a call to the listener to go to the beach and enjoy the waves. When I listen to this song, I can visualize young people having fun at the beach, with the surfers getting their boards ready for surfing.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – “Summertime”: This song was a hit during the summer of 1991, and it really captures a summer day. Musically, there’s a light and airy sound that evokes the laid-back feel of summer. Lyrically, the rap depicts various activities that are associated with the summer season.

First Class – “Beach Baby”: This 1970s hit has the light and airy sound one would expect from a “summer song.” Lyrically, the song is set at the end of the summer, and the speaker is looking back at all the fun they had during the season.

The Go-Gos – “Vacation”: While this song may not specifically be about summer, it has the musical sound one would expect from a “summer song.” Also, vacations tend to be more typically associated with the summer season than with any other time of year.

The Jamies – “Summertime, Summertime”: This song was originally released in the late 1950s, and then was re-released in the early 1960s. In the lyrics, the song talks about various things associated with the summer season. Musically, the song incorporates a doo wop vocal sound combined with pop versions of sacred harp styles. This combination makes this an upbeat, fun song that evokes the feeling of the summer season.

The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Summer in the City”: This 1966 hit is an upbeat song that talks about some of things that take place in the city during the summer nights. The speaker of the song is looking for a girl to spend some time with during the summer evenings.

Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime”: This classic has the light and airy sound associated with “summer songs.” In the song, the speaker talks about how laid back their summer is and about the various things they’re doing.

Seals and Crofts – “Summer Breeze”: This is another song that captures the light and airy sound associated with “summer songs.” It’s a song about how the summer breeze makes the singer “feel fine,” and they come home to their significant other, who is waiting for them at home without a care in the world.

The Surfaris – “Wipeout”: While this song may not specifically be about summer, the song evokes images of surfing. And surfing, in turn, tends to evoke thoughts of the summer months. Plus, the upbeat sound of this song would fit in perfectly with any summer-themed playlist.

The Underdog Project – “Summer Jam”: This song was released during the summer of 2001, and it’s a dance song with the light and airy sound of summer to it. The speaker of the song evokes images associated with summer, intertwined with pining for a girl that they like.

En Vogue – “Hold On”

“Hold On” was released as the lead-off single from En Vogue’s 1990 debut album, Born To Sing. The single was released commercially on March 5, 1990, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was in the ninth grade and about to turn 15 years old when this single was released. However, it seems like pop radio waited until a little later in the spring to start playing this song, because I really don’t remember hearing it on radio until April or May of 1990. The a cappella intro to “Hold On” really grabbed my attention, and it showcases that these ladies were born to sing. When the music kicks in, you hear a smooth and nearly sultry vibe that complements the members’ voices. It’s hard to explain, but there was just something about the combination of the musical arrangement and the vocals that grabbed my attention as a teenager. I have to admit that 25 years later, I still enjoy “Hold On” just as much as I did when I first heard it.

The music video isn’t bad for what it is, but its aesthetics and effects do date it. You can look at this video and tell that it was made in the early 1990s. But the video complements the song and it seems to accomplish what the director was aiming for.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Best Graduation Songs

Every year, high school seniors decide on a song to serve as their class’ “graduation song.”  Four themes show up in these songs: the good times had during high school, friends that will be missed, saying goodbye, and heading toward the future.  Here are, in my personal opinion, the ten best graduation songs of all-time:

Vitamin C – “Graduation (Friends Forever)”: Since 2000, this has become a big graduation song, and touches on the theme of friendship.  “And as our lives change / Come whatever / We will still be friends forever.”

Boyz II Men – “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”: This song touches on saying goodbye and the uncertainty of the future.  “I don’t know where this road is going to lead / All I know is where we’ve been and what we’ve been through.”

Carpenters – “We’ve Only Just Begun”: This song has a sense of optimism for the future.  “Before the rising sun we fly, so many roads to choose / We start out walking and learn to run / And yes, we’ve only just begun.”

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”: This song expresses a high school senior’s fondness for high school.  “I’ve had the time of my life / No, I never felt this way before.”

Madonna – “This Used to Be My Playground”: This song is about saying goodbye to childhood.  “This used to be our playground / This used to be our childhood dream / This used to be the place we ran to.”

Sarah McLachlan – “I Will Remember You”: This song evokes the idea of wanting to remember others after saying goodbye.  “I will remember you / Will you remember me? / Don’t let your life pass you by / Weep not for the memories.”

Garth Brooks – “The Dance”:  This is a song about looking back after saying goodbye.  “And now I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end / The way it all would go.”

Green Day – “Time of Your Life”:  This song talks about going separate ways, and hoping everyone goes on to have the time of their life.  “So take the photographs and still frames in your mind / Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time.”

The Beatles – “In My Life”: This is a song about looking back and remembering important people from the past.  “Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before / I know I’ll often stop and think about them.”

Cast of Rent – “Seasons of Love”: This song evokes a celebration of friendship, a theme that’s important to high school seniors.  “Let’s celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends.”

Alannah Myles – “Love Is”

“Love Is” was released as a single from Alannah Myles’ self-titled 1989 album. The single peaked at number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Back when I wrote about “Black Velvet” a few months back, I had mentioned that the song hadn’t grabbed me when it had first come out, and that it had grown on me later, “Love Is” ended up being a different story. Unlike “Black Velvet,” “Love Is” was a much more pop-friendly song and I thought it was catchy. I also thought then, and I still do now, that “Love Is” also had a great vibe for a summer song, since the song would be peaking on the charts during the summer months.

Unfortunately, radio programmers and the listening public in the United States didn’t share my opinion of “Love Is.” Since “Black Velvet,” which was a very blues-oriented song, became a big breakout hit for Alannah Myles, people were wanting another “Black Velvet” out of her. But “Love Is” was as far away from “Black Velvet” as you could possibly get, which I believe ended up disappointing people at the time.

Of course, the music video for “Love Is” probably didn’t help matters. I re-watched it for the first time in nearly 25 years before writing this piece, and I saw just how cheap it looked. It also didn’t help that there were shots of an ostrich and other animals intercut throughout the video which seemed to have nothing to do with the song. All in all, it was a rather unimpressive music video.

I am embedding the music video for “Love Is” below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown – “She Ain’t Worth It”

“She Ain’t Worth It” was released as the lead-off single for his 1990 self-titled album. The single was released on May 5, 1990, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and in the ninth grade when “She Ain’t Worth It” was released. It’s a song I liked the first time I heard it, due to how catchy it is musically. I also enjoyed Glenn’s vocal performance. Bobby Brown’s rap is decent, but it was ultimately Glenn that sold me on this song. Admittedly, the song does sound a bit dated now, but I still enjoy listening to it 25 years later. When I hear this song, it reminds me of the summer of 1990.

When it comes to the music video, it hasn’t held up quite as well as the song has over time. When you watch the video, it’s obvious just how dated it is. It’s not just the clothes and dancing that date it, the visual effects that appear in it emphasize when it came out. They’re visual effects that you really wouldn’t see being used now. Also, I have to say that Glenn isn’t much of a dancer. He’s better than I am, but singing is definitely his strong point.

I am embedding the video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Brent Bourgeois – “Dare To Fall in Love”

“Dare To Fall in Love” was released as a single from Brent Bourgeois’ 1990 self-titled solo album. Prior to this album, Bourgeois had been a member of the band Bourgeois Tagg. “Dare To Fall in Love” became a minor hit for Bourgeois, but it was the only hit he had from the album.

I was 15 years old and in the ninth grade when “Dare To Fall in Love” was released. I don’t know what it was about this song that grabbed me at the time, but I really liked it. 25 years later, I can understand why I would still like it as an adult. Perhaps it was Bourgeois’ vocal delivery, combined with the musical arrangement, that grabbed me when I was 15. While “Dare To Fall in Love” is a great song, it’s not something I normally would have gravitated to as a young teenager.

I never saw the music video for “Dare To Fall in Love” on MTV when the song was receiving radio airplay, and my cable company hadn’t picked up VH1 yet, which is where the video received airplay. So I just watched the video for the first time right before working on this writeup; after seeing it, I can say that I didn’t miss much by not seeing it 25 years ago. The video looks rather strange, and I didn’t truly see how it fit with the song. To be honest, if I had seen the music video 25 years ago, I might not have liked the song as much as I did back then.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Louie Louie – “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury”

“Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury” was released as the lead-off single from Louie Louie’s 1990 album, The State I’m In. The single was released in 1990 and peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A interesting little piece of trivia about Louie Louie: he played Madonna’s boyfriend in the music video for her song, “Borderline.”

I was around 15 years old and in the ninth grade when “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury” was released. I enjoyed the song at the time it came out, because I found it to be really catchy. The song reached its peak of popularity in late spring/early summer of 1990, it had the perfect sound to fit in with that time of year. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time, so I watched the video on YouTube right before writing this up, and I have to say that the song is still catchy but it definitely hasn’t withstood the test of time. There are some choices that were made for the arrangement that date the song now. “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury” isn’t necessarily a bad song, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I did 25 years ago.

Unfortunately, Louie Louie truly earned a title of being a one-hit wonder with this song. He did have a follow-up single titled, “I Wanna Get Back With You,” but it didn’t make any real impression on the Top 40 charts. Back then, I liked “I Wanna Get Back With You” and actually liked it more than I did “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury.” I haven’t heard it in years, so I can’t say if I still like that one as much now as I did 25 years ago.

As I was doing research for this write-up, I discovered that the music video for “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury” was directed by (yes, the same Michael Bay known for directing the Transformers live-action films). Much like the song, the music video also feels dated. Between the clothing styles, dance moves, and background choices, it was obvious to the viewer that it was made in the early 1990s. But I have to give Louie Louie credit for his dancing, even if the moves do look rather dated today.

I am embedding the music video for “Sittin’ in the Lap of Luxury” below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.