Your side of the planet is tilting closer to the sun! So come out of your basement hole and experience the great outdoors. Or get day-drunk on your porch? Whatever you do, we got some hot tracks from 2016 for that summer forever bikini beach party. – Caleb Brennan
Blue Sky – The Allman Brothers
As if the lyrics didn’t say it all… this song is a breezy, cool testament to the vibe that everyone who has ever attended a music festival is searching for.
From Eden – Hozier
Even though I’m not a particularly fervent Hozier fan, I will say the man knows his way around a guitar. Still, what’s more interesting about this song is how he takes an odd time signature (5/4, for our non-music majors out there) and manages to give it a flowing, smooth quality. That cute falsetto on the chorus isn’t hurting, either.
Endors Toi – Tame Impala
Sure, it’s obvious, but listen to this song and tell me you really give a shit.
Got To Be There – Toots & the Maytals
I like to spend my summer mornings listening exclusively to reggae; it starts my days off on a positive note, and helps diminish my cynicism. Toots & the Maytals are a fixture of these listening sessions. On this track, the band grooves effortlessly as Freddie lays down his trademark bluesy Jamaican vocals.
Orange Soda – Vic Mensa
Vic may never release another song as good as this one. The drums are just slow enough that you can fade into them, bouncing back up on the snare hits; Vic takes advantage of this, nearly falling behind the beat but remaining energetic. Think of a sunset (watch the music video for a more explicit illustration.)
Bud Billiken – Kids These Days
This is a summer jam of mine, every summer… I miss the old Vic Mensa.
Sunshine – Atmosphere
Cool and Loving – Barrington Levy
This song sounds a lot better when it’s on full volume.
Wonderful Place – N.E.R.D
Windows – Chance the Rapper
Not just a summer jam, but a summer ANTHEM!
The Magic Number – De La Soul
Perhaps it’s only due to the song’s heavy sampling and interpolation of the Schoolhouse Rock classic “3 Is A Magic Number,” but this De La Soul cut has a youthful enthusiasm made for carefree summer days. Despite incredible lyricism and intricate flows throughout, on “The Magic Number” P.O.S., Maseo and Dave still feel like a group of kids relaxing, having a good time. (The omission of any profanity throughout the song doesn’t hurt this innocent, idyllic image.) If you’re looking for a golden age hip-hop classic to bump with your friends once the sun is shining, this New York trio have got you covered.
Fake Blues – Real Estate
Picking one Real Estate song for a list like this is not the easiest of tasks. Not only does their sound remain relatively unchanged throughout the band’s three albums, but there are also dozens of their tracks that I view as summertime staples. “Fake Blues,” taken from the New Jersey group’s self-titled debut, was chosen largely because that lead guitar part is among the best they’ve written. The song has a pointedly surf-y feel to it, and the production is far less polished than on their following albums, something I think works heavily to their advantage. Real Estate will forever enable that summer laziness that some (myself not included) try so hard to overcome.
That’s All I Need – Magic Sam
We all knew at least one lovesong would appear on this list; after all, few relationships are as heavily romanticized as the brief but deep summer fling. Not to say that that’s what “That’s All I Need” is about, necessarily. In fact, the Chicago blues legend’s song is as vague as can be in terms of the specifics of this love affair. “When I first met you/ you looked so fine.” Relatable? Absolutely. Season-specific? Hardly. Still, the detuned guitar and passionate cries of Magic Sam give this track a looseness that perfectly caters to the wild abandon of the summer.
Sparkle – Tatsuro Yamashita
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve never done cocaine in a car cruising through the city on a sweltering summer day. If I was to pursue this lifestyle, however, Tatsuro Yamashita’s 1982 cut “Sparkle” would undoubtedly soundtrack the experience. The Japanese legend’s sound is very firmly rooted in eighties funk, but sheer songwriting ability and crisp production give it a timeless feel. There’s reason why the future-funk producers of today swarm people like Tatsuro for samples. However, I say cut out the middlemen and experience Japanese pop straight from the greats if you want feel good jam after feel good jam.
And It Stoned Me – Van Morrison
As far as reflective, summer night records, Van Morrison’s Moondance is as good as you’re gonna get. Every track on the album is gorgeous, emotional, and romantic in an intimate way that few other songwriters could ever dream of being. “And It Stoned Me,” the album’s first track, starts the album out on a high note, recounting hitchhiking adventures and fishing trips that drive me to tears whenever I listen. If any record I’ve heard captures “summer magic” in its sound (and if that “summer magic” even exists), Van Morrison’s Moondance is that album.
Money Trees – Kendrick Lamar
(Thank god somebody picked this fucking song – Preston)
Doin’ Time (Uptown Dub) – Sublime
The regular version features a lot of horns and minimal lyrics and while not as popular as its counterpart, it’s still a quality listen. The more popular version, the one everyone knows, is a classic summer song. The opening line, “Summertime, and the living’s easy,” is a perfect opener. Complete with a smooth and relaxed beat and lyrics about girl troubles, it’s quintessential Sublime and should be featured in your summer rotation. “Santeria” is another great summer song, but when it comes time to break out some Sublime and remember how good they are, there’s no better song to start off with than “Doin’ Time.”
Strings – Young the Giant
Roses – Pacific Air
Heavenly Father – Isaiah Rashad
If you want some Summer rap, look no further than Isaiah Rashad to satiate that craving. I still listen to 2014’s Cilvia Demo constantly, and while the entire album features some great cruising songs like “Cilvia Demo” and “Brad Jordan,” the only one that’s going to make you want to put the top down is “Heavenly Father.” With a chill, marimba-sampling beat, this song can’t be skipped in the heat.
Benz Friends (Watchutola) – Future feat. Andre 3000
The chorus sample in the background of this beat can lift the most summer-y of beach bods to start trap-arming and cheer them up even if they find themselves sick in bed with a fever one handre3000 and four.
With You – Tennyson
This is a tightly written and classily performed electronic darling that my good ol’ pal Preston Fulks showed me. This is what the sun feels like, when you touch it.
Lion in a Coma – Animal Collective
When the hook comes on in the song, the only thing I could envision is being with a group of friends on the beach. Scattered around. Staring at the sun. Our faces being sunburnt. This does not bother us. We continue dancing and feeling pleasurable dance happy feels.
Where Are Ü Now (feat. Justin Bieber)- Jack Ü
I only care about the bombastic and surprisingly beautiful hook in this song. It’s huge. It’s sexy. It’s a good time under that sandy ass water at the sandy ass beach with some sandy ass friends.
After the Moment – Craft Spell
If you asked me – which you wouldn’t – it is necessary to include at least one song’s worth of contemporary New Wave sweetness in a list of summer jams. Dammit! Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective would work too. Still – Craft Spell’s “After the Moment” works on a couple levels. Beach love making, poolside bbq, falling off your bike and enduring the pain of hot asphalt chips driving into your knee caps – all of these are appropriate ways in which you can enjoy this catchy-ass tune.
Yeah, so… I was gonna compile all these songs into one playlist for easy, fun, sexy summertime listening. Unfortunately, all these god damn hipsters on this dumb blog picked a bunch of songs that aren’t available on streaming services. So, instead of having a fragmented list, I figured I’d let y’all listen to these on “yr” own and decide which ones would fit best in your summertime playlist. Enjoy. – Preston