Songs of Summer


A song of the summer isn’t the same thing as a song about summer. Anyone can write a song about summertime — the Fresh Prince (“Summertime” from 1981) did it, and so did Jonathan Richman (“That Summer Feeling” from 1984) and Hüsker Dü (“Celebrated Summer” from 1984) and Bananarama (“Cruel Summer” from 1984). The challenge is recording a song that the culture (and the radio) adopts as the song of the summer. Every once in a while someone might manage to record a song about the summer that also manages to become the song of the summer (“Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful from 1966), but that almost seems like too desperate a plea for attention. The trick is to come up with a combination of chords and rhythm and word sounds optimized to make everyone you know blare it at pool parties and from open car windows, regardless of what the lyrics are actually about. Hey, if Rick Springfield did it, how hard can it be (“Jessie’s Girl” from 1981)?

Here’s a sampling of songs from past summers, all available through the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Warning: the following may trigger involuntary spasms of nostalgia.

“Wild Thing” by The Troggs (1966). Sometimes you can write a song of the summer with fifty words or fewer. Formats: CD | Digital

“Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce (1973). Because even a feelgood summer jam can be meaner than a junkyard dog (and involve minor bouts of dismemberment). Formats: CD | Digital

“Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes (1981). There was in fact another song called Marty Feldman Eyes, but it didn’t chart nearly as high. Formats: CD | Digital

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police (1983). Nothing puts you in that summery mood like sunscreen, popsicles, and stalking. Formats: CD | Digital

“When Doves Cry” by Prince (1984). Dig if you will my guitar solo, feel how it melts your face. Formats: CD | Digital

“Waterfalls” by TLC (1995). I’m more of a “No Scrubs” guy myself, but the summer knows what it wants. Formats: CD

“Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera (1999). If I found a genie in a bottle, at least one of my three wishes would definitely be for toe-tapping innuendo. Formats: CD

“Crazy in Love” by Beyonce (2003). I heard this on the radio approximately two gajillion times that summer and it never did get old. Formats: CD | Digital

“Umbrella” by Rihanna (2007). Such a resilient melody, it even sounds good acapella. Ella. Ella. Formats: CD | Digital

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen (2012). Remember way back in 2012 when people used to call each other on their phones instead of Snapchatting? Love this song? Check out the remixes via hoopla. Formats: CD | Digital


Written by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Eric P.

Featured Image Credit: Sun by Eric P.

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