There’s a special spirit in the air when summer hits. With the gorgeous weather that calls us to be outdoors, the season creates the ideal environment for fun and connection. Like Christmas tunes, summer songs have a way of capturing the season. From the rebellious spirit of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” to the sweetness of “Strawberry Wine” by country darling Deana Carter, here are eight songs across genres to add to your summer playlist.
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1. Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful
The Lovin’ Spoonful effectively captures the contradiction between the blistering heat of summer days with the free-spiritedness of summer nights on their 1966 hit, “Summer in the City.” The first verse acknowledges how people are looking half-dead and hotter than a matchhead. Yet when the sun goes down and nighttime falls, the streets come alive with people dancing. And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity/The days can’t be like the nights/In the summer in the city, they profess in the summer song that translated across decades.
2. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper’s most widely known song also serves as the perfect setup for summer. Cooper makes rebelling against the establishment look cool as he casts away the pencils, books, and dirty looks with such iconic lines as School’s out forever/School’s out with fever/School’s out completely/School’s out for summer. No matter how old you are, this song continues to resonate across generations. Let Cooper be the rock god that welcomes you into summer.
3. “California Love” by Tupac
Tupac’s “California Love” is a classic that can be enjoyed all year round, but there’s something about the spirit of the song that makes it feel like summertime. With a dance-friendly hip-hop beat, coupled with Tupac’s distinguishable voice, the song’s vibe invites you to roll down your window while coasting down the highway as the summer breeze whips through your hair. There’s never a wrong time to listen to “California Love,” making it a welcomed addition to a summer playlist.
4. “Hot Summer” by Prince
If Prince declares that it’s going to be a “Hot Summer,” then you know it’s true. Recorded in 2010, “Hot Summer” features Prince’s fierce guitar skills alongside lyrics, See the people gathered all around / Dancing to a futuristical sound / All deserve a hug and a pound / ‘Cause it’s gonna be/A hot summer / As long as you’re my company. In typical Prince fashion, the song is cool and edgy and is bound to get you in the summer spirit.
5. “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts
It wouldn’t be summer without the sound of “Summer Breeze” coming through the radio. The lyrics evoke images of being on a boat on the open water without a care in the world. The duo offers a sense of comfort as they peacefully sing, Summer breeze makes me feel fine / Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind. It’s as if you can feel the gentle breeze on your skin while listening to the song which makes for an ideal addition to any summer playlist.
6. “Watermelon Moonshine” by Lainey Wilson
Lainey Wilson paints a picture of young love with “Watermelon Moonshine.” The singer transports the listener inside her summer romance, making you feel as though you’re sitting on the truck bed with her first love that blossomed over a mason jar full of watermelon moonshine. Wilson believably tells the story, making “Watermelon Moonshine” a modern country summer love song.
7. “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter
Before there was “Watermelon Moonshine,” there was “Strawberry Wine.” Deana Carter’s soft and sweet voice stands out among ’90s country music, particularly with “Strawberry Wine.” The song about a young woman spending the summer on her grandparents’ farm and falls in love for the first time evokes all the nostalgia. It’s the type of song that makes you think of summer and has solidified itself as a country classic.
8. “Hot Girl Summer” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign
Even though it was released in 2019, every summer is “Hot Girl Summer” when this smash by Megan Thee Stallion comes on. From the throbbing bass to the fiery lyrics where Stallion is confidently showing off her hot girl summer energy, this song is begging to be pumped through the speakers all summer long. It’s a modern hip-hop summer classic.
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