The Ultimate Summer Playlist

Summer is finally here, so what better time to ask a load of musicians to name the sunniest tunes known to man?

Here, then, are 40 essential summer songs, as chosen by a panel of artists, including Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay, Madonna and Oasis.


40 Summer In The City

“Why? Simple really. It repeats the word “summer” several times in the song and talks about things being hot.”

39 Limassol

“I’d go with anything from their first record. It’s not exactly summery or breezy, but it reminds me of a good time.”

38 Sit Down


“I may have been swayed subliminally by the fact I’ve just seen them play at Latitude, but this song always puts me in a summer mood, makes me want to go outside and drink beer.”

37 So Hot (Wash Away All My Tears)

“Spacemen 3 are one of my favourite bands and this always reminds me of the sweltering New York City summer.”

36 When I Think Of You

“The key word is ‘fluffy’. Summer for me is seeing a cute girl blocking the glaze of the sun with her head, a corona of gold embracing her big, blonde, fluffy hair. Then we both run in slow motion across fields, playing, laughing, not having a care in the whole world. This song captures all that.”

35 White Light/White Heat

“I never go out in the summer. Once April starts, people go out like dogs, so I stay in. Summer is hell. There are a few songs that remind me how horrible summer is. Like The Velvet Underground’s ‘White Light/White Heat’. It says it all in under three minutes.”

34 That Summer Feeling

“It’s a really summery, happy sounding record, but it’s actually one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. The chorus goes on about how ‘that summer feeling’s gonna haunt you the rest of your life’, it talks about all the great things about summer, but how nothing in your life will ever compare to them.”

33 Strawberry Letter 23

“It has a groove that is impossible to match, and the lyrics make you feel like you’ve started peaking on the best X ever. Shuggle Otis is the beast for hot, sweaty fuck sessions.”

32 Undertow

“We were on tour with Tool for Lollapalooza ’93. They were one of my favourite bands in the world and we played them every day. We were on first and RATM was just beginning to break in the States, and we had loads of adventures. Every day I would go see Tool’s set from the side of the stage ‘cos I thought they were just awesome.”

31 Sex Bomb

“When I think of summer songs I think of the big holiday hits, the kind of songs people hear on holiday, then buy when they get home. I was lucky enough to have one of those with ‘Sex Bomb’, a big hit for me that people still request to this day. Although I’m not playing it at the moment.”

30 Winter

“I hate summer time. I am 300 pounds, not the ideal weight for fun in the sun. This song makes me think of cold desolation, ie paradise.”

29 Shawty Is Da Shit

“The first time I heard it I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it at every party I’d ever been to. It’s just an incredibly sincere but sexy R’nB song that’s out of this world good and reeks of summer.”

28 Happy Hour

“One big summer tune was ‘Happy Hour’ by The Housemartins. Me and my best friend went on a tour in my old car, my Maxi, and that single was on the radio all the time. Must have been about 1986. We made a great film, a road-movie type thing, as we went along, and in one of the scenes that’s on the radio. It’s a good, fun driving song.”

27 Let The Music Play

“It’s nostalgic for me, I used to rollerskate to it at the local rink. Now as a 23-year old grown woman I still can’t unlock the mysterious maze-like groove that get’s me goin’, if you know what I mean.”

26 Bonita Applebum

“I really love ‘Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, but I chose this because it evokes some great memories for me. I first heard it when I was on holiday about ten years ago. It has a light, breezy, sexy feel to it, like all good summer tunes should.”

25 Margaritaville

‘Wasting away again in Margaritaville…’ This reminds me of going to Florida with my parents in the ‘70s. Those were great times. They would leave me at the pool while they’d go to the bar and drink mai tais. They had kids already so they couldn’t really live up to the wild, swinging ways of Jimmy Buffett. He’s got a thing going, Buffett. He’s pretty cheesy.”

24 Cruel Summer

“This is kind of embarrassing to admit to, but we all love Bananarama. It’s the vocals, there’s something so attractive about the way those women sing. This song makes me think of summer every time.”

23 Never Let Me Down Again

“I used to go for long drives in the suburbs and on a beautiful summer day I would roll down the windows, speed up and put this song on. For its duration there’s no wrong in the world.”

22 Surrender

“I remember being on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, drunk as all hell, sitting on a lifeguard chair at 3am and singing that song at the top of my lungs.
And realising that it actually felt good to sing and release like that.”

21 Heroin

“There is one that I think about – and it is maybe not too cool now – and it’s The Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin.’ That was when I was 16 and I was in south of France hitchhiking, and all my stuff got stolen and I just had my guitar and this tape.”

20 Smells Like Teen Spirit

“I never knew what the fuck they were talking about in that song, but there’s that line: ‘With the lights out, it’s less dangerous’. It always seemed like there was a lot of violence and sex put together.”

19 Hindou

“El Guincho grew up in the Canary Islands, before moving to Barcelona, where we are also based. This is one of the best summer tracks you can imagine.”

18 Everybody’s Talkin’

“I remember going to America in 1983, my first big adventure. I was on a Greyhound bus and this guy beside me said, ‘Do you want to listen to this?’ I put it on and it was playing ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ just as we were going over a big bridge. It was a special moment.”

17 Beautiful & Dangerous

“The Trojan back catalogue is amazing music for summer. You know when you get a compilation and you think, ‘God, there’s hundreds of records out there like this and I bet they’re all this good’? There’s one song called ‘Beautiful & Dangerous’ by Desmond Dekker And The Aces, and it’s probably that.”

16 Rebel Music

“Bob Marley’s ‘Rebel Music’ reminds me of being nine years old, walking round the school playground with my girlfriend and a ghetto blaster on my shoulder, blasting out the Marley.”

15 Sound And Vision

“I love the original, but I actually prefer a cover version by The Sea and Cake. It’s a seamless rendition of the Bowie favourite. Sam Prekop’s vocals take nothing away from the original version but do add a quality previously unheard. This, coupled with John McIntyre’s production aesthetic and massive skill behind the drumkit, could only create a classic of a classic”.

14 The Adventure And The Resolution

“This is one of the most bad-ass songs I know. No vocals except for some soft ‘ooh’-ing. It’s got an amazingly sinister and sexy vibe and it will give you a rush if you listen to it driving fast on a summer night.”

13 Madness

“I don’t know where the fuck it is now, but I used to have this Prince Buster CD of all the best singles. I remember a friend of mine had this Land Rover and he parked it in the middle of the beach and turned the stereo up and we just had Prince Buster all night on the beach. And that’s my favourite summer music experience. Then the tide came in and he was too wasted to move the Land Rover.”

12 Regulate

“All those West coast records are kind of soaked in Californian sunshine. It reminds us of when we first learnt to drive, just driving around in someone’s mum’s Fiesta, listening to ‘Regulate’.”

11 Boyfriend

“I cannot get this song off my iPod. It’s just the perfect song for summer. In fact the whole album is great, I’ve been recommending it to everyone.”

10 Don’t You Want Me

“This reminds me of the days of Danceteria, New York. I lived in a tenement apartment and I didn’t have a record deal. I used to go to Danceteria every weekend, trying to meet the DJ or an A&R person to give my tape to. I’d spend all night on the dancefloor in some hideous outfit while all the skinny, fashionable girls threw their drinks on me. But when that song came on, I forgot my humiliation.”

9 I Luv U

“Dizzee Rascal, ‘I Luv U’. This tune is true lairyness. Dizzee Rascal is the real deal.”

8 Rockaway Beach

“This is such an amazing summer song. It was all about New York, and it came out in 1976 – which was my first summer living like a penniless teenager in New York. All I did was hang out at CBGBs and see the Ramones and Patti Smith and stuff. So that song was a real soundtrack to the time.”

7 Heart Of Gold

“In high school all I listened to was The Birthday Party or whatever, just radical music. But when my friend and I were driving from Massachusetts to Maine to visit someone, we listened to Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ the whole time. It was the summer feeling after I graduated so I was feeling liberated, driving my parents’ station wagon at, like, 180mph, listening to that record.”

6 Slide Away

“That time when ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Slide Away’ came out was just so exciting and the music enhanced it all so much. I was in Ride then, we were just splitting up and my life was getting kind of empty in that way.
Often we’d go on a road trip and all we’d need was the Oasis tape and a stereo. We’d stick it on, drink loads of vodka then go out to a club where they’d be playing it too.”

5 Hot In Herre

“This is an amazing summer song. Sometimes I listen to it and think, ‘God, we haven’t got a song as good as that.’”

4 The Universal

“We’ll start with ‘Love Street’ by The Doors, which is a great, really sweet song. After that it’s probably ‘Cool It Down’ by The Velvet Underground from the ‘Loaded’ album, which is quite laid-back and lazy. The last one has to be The Small Faces’ ‘The Universal’, to wrap it all off nicely.”

3 Mr Tambourine Man

“I remember that song from the summer of ’67; that and Love’s album ‘Forever Changes’ as well. What made it so great? Well, I was young. When you’re young, you’re free, you’ve got nothing to worry about, every summer’s a great summer.”

2 Higher Than The Sun

“As you could probably imagine, my record collection is chock-a-block with summer anthems. I bought Primal Scream’s ‘Higher Than The Sun’ the day it came out, though was I higher than the sun?
Probably not… oh, actually I was, but I’m not going to talk about it. I was only 14. I went to see them around that time and they were outrageously good. That’s probably the best single of the 90s.”

1 She Bangs The Drums

“The best summer song? Dodgy, ‘Staying Out For The Summer’. No, I’ll go with ‘She Bangs The Drums’. That whole album. Best summer ever. Mad for it.”

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