Ah, summer. A time for patio drinking, long road trips, and getting sunburnt on the beach.
While all of these are part of having a successful season, the most important part of summer is the music. It’s the kind of music that you want to get day-drunk on pitchers of sangria to; the kind that says roll the windows down and push the speed limit, but also the kind of music you can chill on a beach to.
Summer songs are hard to define, much like when summer — not the season determined by the sun — actually starts. Is it the first day you wear flip-flops, or is it when the patio opens? Our friends at Billboard say summer is from mid-May to mid-September, and put together handy lists of summer songs based on their charts.
But are any of these actually capable of capturing the feelings of summer, and what I expect from a summer song? Based on my super biased, feelings-based definition of what a summer song is, here are my five best, and worst, summer songs of the past 10 years — presented in chronological order.
“Lose Control” – Missy Elliott feat. Ciara and Fatman Scoop (2005): OK. Stick with me for this one. At first listen it doesn’t have the classic summer song vibe, but the more you listen to it you realize it has the perfect mix of upbeat and chill to make a great summer jam.
“I Kissed a Girl” – Katy Perry (2008): It might be overplayed now, but when it was released it was fresh and perfect for the summer, with its fun yet slightly chill vibe.
“Give Me Everything” – Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer (2011): I could solely be saying this is a great summer song for nostalgic reasons, but this was the song that summer. I road-tripped, drank on patios, and got sunburnt on the beach to this song.
“Summer” – Calvin Harris (2014): This is just a really fun summer song. Harris knew what he was doing when he named it “Summer,” even if it does come across as a little self-aggrandizing for a song title.
“Lean On” – Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. MØ (2015): This is a summer jam. It’s fun and screams ‘Let’s get turnt,’ but is also chill so you won’t get kicked out of anywhere for getting too turnt either.
“You and Me” – Lifehouse (2005): We get it, this song was big in the summer. But if I remember slow dancing to it in middle school and high school, it’s not a summer song.
“Unfaithful” – Rihanna (2006): Ah, nothing says summer fun like breaking your SO’s heart so much that you feel like you are killing them. Well, not really — but hey, summer is when the song came out.
“Hey There Delilah” – Plain White T’s (2007): No. Not fun, not summer, and super overplayed. But to be fair, even when it was new it was never a summer song.
“Bleeding Love” – Leona Lewis (2008): I do still think of being stuck inside working at Safeway during the summer when I hear this song. But this is just too depressing to be a good summer jam.
“Fight Song” – Rachel Platten (2015): It’s empowering, but I didn’t like it as a summer song when it was new last year. It doesn’t give a fun, carefree, I’m-just-here-to-have-a-good-time vibe.