The ultimate summer playlist, in two parts.

Silhouettes of young group of people jumping in ocean at sunset

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.

Related Articles