What makes a great summer song? It has to feel warm, carefree, and languorous – and be sung by The Beach Boys. Those are my usual criteria, but there are exceptions. Songs not sung by The Beach Boys, for a start.
It’s not just a question of ambience. Some of the songs that say summer to you may just be tied up with certain events, certain people, certain amazing holidays, and you might not even like them much. But it helps. Even if ‘The Ketchup Song’ brings blissful memories of 2002 flooding back, you probably don’t want to centre your summer playlist around it. Not if you want to keep your friends.
For me, the reverberating shimmer of shoegaze always means summer, from the swampy haze of Cocteau Twins and AR Kane right up to revivalists like Ringo Deathstarr and Wild Nothing. It’s a combination of time and place and songs that sound dizzy with sunstroke. It’s not shoegaze, but throw Pavement’s ‘Gold Soundz’ in there too – Stephen Malkmus always sounds dizzy for some reason or other.
More explicably, R&B does the trick too, particularly TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ which reminds me of a sweltering afternoon, hanging out with the girl I fancied and her brother. As the object of my adoration sat there gorgeous and ignored, bro and I discussed whether the rumours Prince had written the song were really true. In depth. Way to go.
Anyway, we’ve put our heads together and gathered some favourite summer – or at least summery – songs. Read about the best summer songs ever here and listen to our Spotify playlist below, but most importantly let us know your own picks. We’ll add the best to the playlist.