Ah, the long, sepia-tinged days and hot, sheet-twisting nights are upon us, and so you’ll be needing a soundtrack to all that sun, sweat, sand, surf, and if you’re lucky, a bit of summer love. With that in mind, we’ve put together two playlists. For the literal-minded (i.e. they cite “summer” in their title), there’s a list of classic songs aplenty with a few left-of-centre detours thrown in. But for those looking for something a little more contemporary, the sort of breezy, catchy tracks that’ll make you thrum your fingers on the car rooftop, then column B should be your cup o’ tea…
Songs that spell summer
Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful
On oldie but a goldie, it’s got the rattlesnake groove and a hook to match.
Summertime – Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince (Hybrid remix)
Before he was Will Smith, he was the rapper from Bel Air, and this remix rocks.
Boys of Summer – Don Henley
Ah, the ol’ Eagles singer’s plaintive ode to fleeting youth. Enjoy the irony.
Summertime – New Kids on the Block
Now that NKOTB are middle-aged, you can reminisce about the halcyon days of boy bands. Until One Direction choose to cover it.
One Summer – Daryl Braithwaite
An Aussie classic, the high-singing Sherbert singer’s hit still sounds great.
Summer Nights – GREASE Soundtrack
Go on, sing along. You know the words. Everyone does.
Jewel of the Summertime – Audioslave
Chris Cornell wailing over Tom Morello’s funktastic chops. Very cool.
Sunrise – Norah Jones
Was there ever a chanteuse more sultry than Ms Jones? Doubtful.
Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey
She sounds kind of loopy as always, but it captures the maudlin moments of the sunny season.
In the Summertime – Thirsty Merc
A song that should have been the soundtrack to a Coke commercial. Catchy as they come.
All Summer Long – Kid Rock
Gotta give the Republican redneck rocker some credit – he can pen a killer tune.
Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams
By our calculations, this makesBryanvery, very old. But hey, a bona fide classic.
Summer Babe – Pavement
The shoegaze veterans kick out the jams with this jangly ode to a pretty girl.
Summer Love – Justin Timberlake
No man should be this talented. Or have a falsetto quite this high. But still, cool.
School’s Out (for Summer) – Alice Cooper
Why isn’t this the anthem for Schoolies Week? Oh, that’s right.Aliceis ancient.
Summer Skin – Death Cab for Cutie
See, told you we’d throw in an obscure B-side from an indie artist. And we did.
Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
Worth it for the major melodies and George Hamilton’s shimmery solo.
Endless Summer Nights – Richard Marx
Guessing it must’ve been pretty sweaty under Richard’s mullet during the hotter days of the year.
All Summer Long– The Beach Boys
C’mon, this one’s a no-brainer. Can’t get more summery. Unless … d’oh, Kokomo!
Songs that sound like summer
Riptide – Vance Joy
This Melburnian troubadour’s ukelele-strummed anthem sounds sorta familiar… hmm… could it be on the Medibank ad?
You Don’t Know Me – The Polyphonic Spree
This 25-piece ensemble may also be an evil cult, but this song makes us want to drink the Kool-Aid.
Come Together – Sons of the Sea
Pure pop splendour, Brandon Boyd’s smooth tones never sounded so sexified.
Young Blood – The Naked and Famous
So summery it was on a summer commercial. Slinky synths, dreamy vox. Awesome.
Bom Bom – Sam and the Womp
Okay, so it’s on another TV ad. But it bounces, and the girl singing sounds like a hoot.
Commentators – City and Colour
Dallas Green doesn’t care here if he’s written a pop jingle. In fact, that’s what the lyrics are exactly about.
Love This – Cosmo Jarvis
With jazzy guitars, rolling melody, playful words and a viral hook, yup – we love this!
I Don’t Care – Icona Pop
Oops, one more car commercial song. But how cool is that squelchy, descending synth, and you cannot help yelling out the chorus.
Forget – Lianne La Havas
Not only is she the most talented songstress about, this quirky little pop gem is ear candy.
Borderlines & Aliens – Grouplove
How do you make a hook out of the Japanese word for “thank you”? Listen here.
S.O.S – Bluejuice
They don Ghostbuster suits and then zap bad guys. What more do you want from a summer song?
Mercy – TV on the Radio
Driving beats, palm-muted gee-tars and catchy lines – theseBrooklynhipsters smash it out of the park here.
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
Is there a better pop tune this year? Pharrell Williams guides the French electro gods back into the charts.
When I’m Alone – Lissie
Straw-blonde hair and a voice that’ll make you shiver, this folksy rocker works a treat.
The Fox – Ylvis
Two Norwegian comedians pen a joke song, and it becomes a global anthem. Hear it to believe it.
Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat – Fatboy Slim
A repetitive monologue. A simple dance structure. And hey presto, the superstar DJ has another instant hit.
Royals – Lorde
This Kiwi ingénue sounds older, wiser and more jaded than her years should allow, but the song sticks with you.
You & I – Crystal Fighters
This Pommy electro act incorporate Basque folk music with dubstep and make a stupidly good summer song.
Lost – Frank Ocean
Downbeat, mumblecore hip-hop at its best, this is one you’ll hit repeat on.
Anything by Sublime
These guys’ ska-infused pop classics still reign supreme. It’s summer, and you need to play them.
Anything by Bob Marley
Same goes for the Rasta king. There’s really no such thing as a bad Bob Marley tune.
The ultimate summer playlist, in two parts.