Music

Orange Popsicles and Lemonade: 20 Timeless Songs of Summer

Whether you're at the beach or just hanging out in the backyard, these timeless summer classics are sure to make the summer sun shine a little bit brighter.

Except for a couple, most of the picks on this list are at least 20 years old. It takes a while for a song to become timeless. In this case, listeners often need a few summers to absorb a song in order to begin relating to it as a seasonal staple.

While the list incorporates some songs that most listeners would immediately associate with summer, there are a few that speak of the season without being obvious. In an effort to make the collection as varied as possible, well-known songs are included as well as a few that have flown under the radar over the years. This means there are a lot of big summer hits (e.g.: “Cruel Summer“ by Bananarama, “Summer Breeze“ by Seals and Croft, anything by the Beach Boys, “Under the Boardwalk“ by the Drifters, etc.) left off the list in order to make room for some lesser-known gems.

 
20. The B-52's - "Summer of Love"

What could be more summertime than a lyric like “Orange popsicles and lemonade“? In 1986, The B-52's' New Wave, surf pop ditty “Summer of Love“ was the first single released off of Bouncing off Satellites. While many would probably consider “Rock Lobster“ to be the band's biggest summer hit, “Summer of Love“ is so balmy with its airy keyboards, you can almost hear the sun shining.

 
19. Pixies - "Ana"

The Pixies' surfer babe, Ana “undressing in the sun“ and about to surf a wave “eleven high“, paints the ultimate picture of summer. In fact all of 1990's Bossanova, the alt-rock band's third studio release, could have been included in this list for its preoccupation with California and rockabilly guitar. What makes “Ana“ so special, aside from the dreamy guitars and Black Francis's spellbound vocals, is that the song is an acrostic, wherein the first letter of each line of the song spells “surfer“. Very clever, Mr. Francis.

 
18. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - "Summertime"

In this Grammy-winning tune from 1991, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince recount classic summer diversions in their hometown of Philadelphia. Fresh Prince Will Smith's vocals are layered over samples of Kool and the Gang's mellow instrumental, “Summer Madness“, giving the tune a laid back vibe. The official video to the song depicts Smith and Jazzy Jeff riding around Philly and hanging out with folks dancing, grilling, and shooting hoops. You can't get more “summer“ than that.

 
17. Jimmy Buffet - "Margaritaville"

When you're “living on sponge cake“ and “watching the sun bake“, there's no better tune to have coming through the speakers than Jimmy Buffet's laid-back “Margaritaville“. Inspired by the time he spent in Key West, the song captures the summertime blues of one man and his mission to drown them in tequila. Written in 1977, “Margaritaville“ has come to epitomize Buffet's career, even inspiring the musician to open his own chain of restaurants named after the song. As overplayed as it is in dentist offices and waiting rooms across the U.S., this booze cruise anthem is perfect for when you're sipping a tall one or lounging by the beach.

 
16. The Dandy Warhols - "Horse Pills"

In the sixth track off their classic Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia album, the Dandy Warhols paint a vivid picture of aging beauty in Hollywood and the money and excess used to offset its demise. In his snarkiest voice, Courtney Taylor-Taylor sings about “itsy-bitys-teeny-weeny-riding-up-your-butt“ bikinis and “cruisin' and boozin' and rocking on the horse-sized pills“. Guitars grind while band members call out wisecracks and a chant of “pills, thrills“ repeats in the background. Unfortunately, the video for the song is a snooze. A song this colorful demands an equally vibrant video.

Next Page

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image