Ultimate summer playlist – 60 sun-kissed songs

There are few greater feelings than being outside in the sunshine with some pals. Whether that’s down the park with some tinnies, at a friend’s garden and the BBQ’s on the go or perhaps just lazing around on the beach – you can’t really beat it. But you need music, obviously. Whether it’s some soon-to-be-classics or stone-cold bangers – these 60 sun-kissed songs will form the ultimate summer playlist for your days in the sunshine.

Drake – ‘Passionfruit’

Drake’s ‘More Life’ is stuffed with some serious vibes – but this silky smooth number is the pick of the bunch.

Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic

Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic
The Atlanta-based auteur’s ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ might just be her most dynamic yet. It’s impossible not to dance to its ‘Hey Ya’ breaks and head-nodding chorus. Hear it now.

Pale Waves – ‘There’s A Honey’

The Manchester newcomers is fulled of sticky, sweet riffs and dreamy vocal. Perfect for laying in the sun, then.


Get Lucky – Daft Punk

Get Lucky – Daft Punk
With vocals from king of cool Pharrell and wicka-wacka guitar from disco don Nile Rodgers, ‘Get Lucky’ is old-school, 1978 D-I-S-C-O with a gut-rumbling Daft Punk bassline. Hear it now.

Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris - 'Slide'

Harris’ move away from EDM may have proved a masterstroke by the producer, as he recruits Frank Ocean and Migos for this sun-kissed pop delight.

Katy B – What Love Is Made Of

Katy B – What Love Is Made Of
Katy B’s on a mission to be an all-round legend – and it’s working. This track is a slinky house number with an irresistibly pouty hook and will have you doing gun fingers before the first chorus. Hear it now.

Paramore – ‘Hard Times’

Paramore, 2017

On ‘After Laughter’, the US trio fully embraced their pop sensibilities with this undeniably banging number.


Disclosure – When A Fire Starts To Burn

Disclosure – When A Fire Starts To Burn
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread. She gonna bring that attitude home. The Brothers Nu-Garage bring home the jewels with their debut album ‘Settle’ and this sunny opener.Hear it now.

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal
This magnum opus from the London producer rises and falls with exquisite beauty and energy. Hear it now.

Jay Som – ‘Baybee’

Jay Som

The Californian artist is intensely involved with every part of her stunning debut ‘Everybody Works’, but lets loose with this weaving indie-pop number.

Miguel and Mariah Carey – Beautiful

Miguel and Mariah Carey – Beautiful
Isn’t it great to have Mariah back? This soulful number with sexy crooner Miguel suggests good things are to come.


TLC – Unpretty

TLC – Unpretty
The sound of 1999’s summer, this track by TLC took the trio to number one after ‘No Scrubs’. Did you know the video cost $1.6million to make? Hear it now.

DIIV – ‘Under The Sun’

Intertwining guitars, hazy vocals and a gentle pace – yeah, this DIIV song will do just nicely.

Tame Impala – ‘The Less I Know The Better’

God bless our saviour, Kevin Parker, for making this banger, packed with what might be the smoothest bassline ever. Like, ever.

Childhood – ‘Californian Light’

Childhood's Ben Romans-Hopscraft

The South Londoners have ditched indie and embraced funk and soul on ‘Californian Light’, which obviously, is drenched with feel-good vibes.

Sky Ferreira – Everything’s Embarrassing

Sky Ferreira – Everything’s Embarrassing
The only embarrassing thing about this slinking, sultry, Dev Hynes-produced slice of sun-bleached pop is how good it is. Hear it now.

Solange – Losing You

Solange – Losing You
Another banger produced by Dev Hynes and his midas touch, Solange’s ‘Losing You’ has gotta be on your summer playlist. Hear it now.

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain
Listen to the wind blow. Watch the sun rise. Always raises a goosebump even on a 30 degree summer’s evening. Hear it now.

The Kinks, ‘Sunny Afternoon’

The Kinks, 'Sunny Afternoon'

The Kinks, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ – If the taxman’s taken all your dough or your girlfriend’s run off with your car, fret ye not, as you’ll always have a sunny afternoon and an ice cold beer “in the summertime”. Hear it now.

The Beach Boys, ‘Surfing USA’

The Beach Boys, 'Surfing USA'

The Beach Boys, ‘Surfing USA’ – Well, it would hardly be a summer songs countdown without it. Who cares if they couldn’t surf themselves? Hear it now.

Canned Heat, ‘Going Up To The Country’

Canned Heat, 'Going Up To The Country'

Canned Heat, ‘Going Up To The Country’ – Ever since they played Woodstock, and this track made it onto the soundtrack and DVD, ‘Going Up To The Country’ has been synonymous with heading to grassy fields to get free. Even if it does usually piss it down when we get there. Hear it now.

MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’

MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’ – Four years on and MGMT’s best track is still one of THE post-millenial summer songs, a gloriously widescreen ode to abandon that will already be on your playlist unless perhaps you’re dead inside. Hear it now.

Wham, ‘Club Tropicana’

Wham, ‘Club Tropicana’ – There’s a time and a place for stripping to your Speedos and shaking your ass to Wham, and that time is upon us. Membership to the place is just a smiling face. Hear it now.

Wiley – Heatwave

Wiley – Heatwave
Wiley’s number one single ‘Heatwave’ is as summery as fainting on the tube. The outspoken grime artist told NME that his grandfather inspired him to make the record. Hear it now.

Jamie T, ‘Chaka Demus’

Jamie T, ‘Chaka Demus’ – Most of Jamie T’s output practically commands you to crack open a Red Stripe and head to the sun but this one is particularly potent. Hear it now.

Lovin Spoonful, ‘Summer In The City’

Lovin Spoonful, 'Summer In The City'

Lovin Spoonful, ‘Summer In The City’ – Another classic jam-packed with the hot, dusty and chaotic sounds of a city in the summer. “Come on, come on and dance all night / despite the heat it’ll be alright” indeed. Hear it now.

The Beatles, ‘Here Comes The Sun’

The Beatles, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – One of the most joyful tracks about the emergence of the sun ever written, particularly so when played (as on ‘Abby Road’) just after the ominous ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. Hear it now.

The Libertines, ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’

The Libertines, 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun'

The Libertines, ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ – Here’s another song with useful summertime advice. At least if you do look at the sun, make sure you’re wearing sunglasses. Hear it now.

Janis Joplin, ‘Summertime’

Janis Joplin, ‘Summertime’ – Janis Joplin’s take on the smoky Gershwin swing track fizzes and crackles with latent energy throughout. They don’t make larynxes like that anymore. Hear it now. Spotify Playlist: NME’s Best Summer Songs

The Velvet Underground, ‘Who Loves The Sun’

The Velvet Underground, ‘Who Loves The Sun’ – Assuming you’re not currently suffering from heartbreak, this is a good one. And if you are, well, let Lou and co help ease the pain. Hear it now.

Warren G, ‘Regulate’

Warren G, 'Regulate'

Warren G, ‘Regulate’ – The late, great Nate made this tune what it was – one of the ultimate low riding cruising tunes for a sweltering afternoon. Hear it now. Spotify Playlist: NME’s Best Summer Songs

Weezer, ‘Island In The Sun’

Weezer, ‘Island In The Sun’ – Oh, Weezer. Not only do you make cheery hit songs, but you guys look so darn cute playing with the animals. Take a look at Spike Jonze’s music video for the track to see the guys frolic with chimps and bears on a quiet hill. Hear it now.

Vampire Weekend – ‘A-Punk’

Vampire Weekend – ‘A-Punk’ – Perhaps the most upbeat music video ever? We’ll have some of whatever they’re having. Hear it now.

Paul Simon, ‘Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard’

Paul Simon, ‘Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard’ – There’s been so much debate over what this song’s about, and what mama saw. Heck, even Paul Simon doesn’t know. But all that aside, you can’t help but whistle along as you listen. Hear it now.

Supergrass, ‘Sun Hits The Sky’

Supergrass, 'Sun Hits The Sky'

Supergrass, ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ – Every summer needs a bit of Britpop, no? Wouldn’t you like to see this one being performed on a beach? The music video will have to do for now, though. Hear it now.

Snoop Dogg, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’

Snoop Dogg, 'Drop It Like It's Hot'

Snoop Dogg, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ – Pretty much any Snoop song can be deemed worthy of a summertime playlist, but we’ll go with this one. After all, it was his first Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Go on, drop it and pop it like it’s hot. Hear it now.

Phoenix, ‘Lisztomania’

Phoenix, ‘Lisztomania’ – The video kicks off with them flying a kite (well, a huge Phoenix balloon…). Who doesn’t love a bit of kite-flying on a warm summer day? Hear it now.

Nelly, ‘Hot In Herre’

Nelly, ‘Hot In Herre’ Because the song’s so cool, it deserves an extra “r”. Because it started a bizarre trend of bandaging your cheek. Because it was pretty much the official 2002 summertime anthem. Because it’s a surefire way to get any party started. Hear it now.

Frank Sinatra, ‘Summer Wind’

Frank Sinatra, ‘Summer Wind’ – Every summer playlist needs some Sinatra. Aren’t we lucky that he’s got a song set aside just for this season? Hear it now.

Bryan Adams, ‘ Summer Of ’69’

Bryan Adams, ' Summer Of '69'

Bryan Adams, ‘ Summer Of ’69’ – Whether you think the ’69’ refers to the year or the sex position, it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best summertime rock hits – perfect for an afternoon of fond reminiscing. Hear it now.

Alice Cooper, ‘School’s Out’

Alice Cooper, 'School's Out'

Alice Cooper, ‘School’s Out’ – It’s the definitive song for anyone who’s just wrapped up a year of grueling schoolwork and is ready to throw some textbooks on the floor, snap some pencils in half and go crazy for the short-lived summer. Hear it now.

The Isley Brothers, ‘Summer Breeze’

The Isley Brothers, 'Summer Breeze'

The Isley Brothers, ‘Summer Breeze’ – Their cover of the 1972 Seals And Crofts song turned a folk hit into a funky, sexy soul song, perfect for a breezy summer day. Hear it now. Spotify Playlist: NME’s Best Summer Songs

Caribou, ‘Sun’

Caribou, ‘Sun’

Caribou, ‘Sun’ – Sometimes you might as well just celebrate the bleedin’ obvious. ‘Sun’ praises the, er, sun and gets stuck into a wub-wub groove. Hear it now.

St Vincent, ‘Cruel’

St Vincent, ‘Cruel’ – The catchiest riff this side of the great barrier Keef and a dreamy cooing turn from the dreamy cooing Annie Clark. Hear it now.

Cornershop, ‘Don’t Shake It (Let It Free)’

Cornershop, ‘Don’t Shake It (Let It Free)’ – Big beat meets Sesame Street as Tjinder and Ben service the joyous grooves and Bubbley Kaur sings about… something. Well, we don’t know – it’s Punjabi. Hear it now.

Sublime – ‘What I Got’

Sublime - 'What I Got'

Sublime – ‘What I Got’ – This ska-infused punk anthem celebrates love, weed and living life to its fullest. What more could you need for a perfect summer? Hear it now. Spotify Playlist: NME’s Best Summer Songs

Gold Panda, ‘Same Dream China’

Gold Panda, ‘Same Dream China’ – Some marimba madness from Derwin Schlecker to sex up that first sunshine beer of the weekend. Hear it now.

The Rolling Stones, ‘She’s A Rainbow’

The Rolling Stones, ‘She’s A Rainbow’ – The Stones at their most flower-child, skipping gaily along to lovely trilling piano from Nicky Hopkins and strings arranged by Led Zep’s John Paul Jones. Hear it now.

Eels, ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’

Eels, ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’ – “Goddamn right, it’s a beautiful day” – that one sentiment is enough, but Mr E’s meandering bassy blues are warm and fuzzy too. Hear it now.

Brian Eno, ‘Deep Blue Day’

Brian Eno, ‘Deep Blue Day’ – Kick that Trainspotting toilet sequence out of your mind and instead imagine you’re on an impossibly expensive yacht in the Caribbean. Hear it now.

Primal Scream, ‘Higher Than The Sun’

Primal Scream, ‘Higher Than The Sun’ – To Bobby Gillespie, the sun’s not as important as the medication that gets you there, but this still glows with blissed-out vacation vibes. Hear it now.

El Guincho, ‘Hindou’

El Guincho, ‘Hindou’

El Guincho, ‘Hindou’ – More steel drums are replicated on this choice cut from Pablo Diaz-Reixa’s ‘Piratas De Sudamerica’ EP. Hear it now.

Crosby, Stills & Nash, ‘Marrakesh Express’

Crosby, Stills & Nash, ‘Marrakesh Express’ – Road trip! Well, rail trip. Grow your walrus ‘tache and hop on board with the kings of West Coast harmony. Hear it now.

Fred Neil, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’

Fred Neil, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’

Fred Neil, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ – Ideally you need to be heading for New York on a Greyhound bus to properly appreciate this, but anywhere where the sun keeps shining will do. Hear it now.

Here We Go Magic, ‘Collector’

Here We Go Magic, ‘Collector’ – Top down, breeze tickling the hair, barreling down the freeway to the sound of Paul Simon hooking up with Belle & Sebastian. Hear it now.

SWV, ‘Right Here’

SWV, ‘Right Here’

SWV, ‘Right Here’ – With the Michael Jackson ‘Human Nature’ sample shimmering away, SWV bring the New Jill Summer Swing. Hear it now.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, ‘Round And Round’

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, ‘Round And Round’ – Aural sunstroke with a glorious, disoriented chorus from LA’s finest psyched-out yacht-rocker. Hear it now.

Cults, ‘Go Outside’

Cults, ‘Go Outside’ – It’s the only sane thing to do when the sun’s out and Madeline Follin’s warning us not to “sleep the light away”. Hear it now.

A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Bonita Applebum (Why? Edit)’

A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Bonita Applebum (Why? Edit)’

A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Bonita Applebum (Why? Edit)’ – The sample from Carly Simon’s Nile Rodgers-penned ‘Why?’ really makes the record, with steel drum synths softening Q-Tip’s leery rhymes about a girl’s behind. Hear it now.

The Avalanches, ‘Since I Left You’

The Avalanches, ‘Since I Left You’

The Avalanches, ‘Since I Left You’ – Get a drink, have a good time, welcome to paradise. The elusive Avalanches announced themselves with the ultimate beach party starter. Hear it now. Spotify Playlist: NME’s Best Summer Songs