There are so many great songs about the summer, but what really belongs on your playlist?
Whether you’re simply facing the high temperatures on the your daily commute or taking a road trip, there are songs that perfectly capture the mood for the season – from hip-hop classics to new electric dance hits.
To help you out, INSIDER picked the 20 best summer songs of all time.
See what made our list below (in no particular order):
1. “Hot in Herre” by Nelly
The summer 2002 single was anything but subtle with the lyrics: “It’s getting hot in herre, so take off all your clothes.” Whether you were at a nightclub, a beach, house party, or anywhere without an air conditioner, you related to this song in some way or another.
2. “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
Not only was this song one of Beyoncé’s first hits as a solo artist, but this was her first collaboration with current husband (then-boyfriend) Jay-Z. According to Rolling Stone, “Crazy in Love” stayed at the top of the charts for 27 weeks after its release in May 2003. The track also became the first song that Beyoncé and Jay-Z danced to at their wedding reception in 2008.
3. “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland
A song about a girl in tiny bikini was definitely the summer anthem of 1960. The idea for the single came from songwriter Paul Vance who was inspired by his two-year-old daughter Paula who he took to the beach in her new bikini. Oddly enough, Brian Hyland was a 16-year-old sophomore when he recorded the song for Vance, according to Songfacts.
4. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” by Michael Jackson
The Michael Jackson song was released in the summer of 1983, and was the fourth single off Jackson’s popular “Thriller” Album. “Wanna Be Startin Something” was nominated for a Grammy for best R&B song and was the No. 10 most-played song that summer.
5. “Wild Thing” by The Troggs
When writer Chip Taylor wrote the 1965 hit “Wild Thang” for The Troggs, he didn’t take the lyrics too seriously.
“I was on the floor laughing when I was through,” he told Rolling Stone.” “It’s still inspired, even in its own dumbness.”
Taylor may have thought it was dumb, but the song was successful enough to be the No. 5 most-played summer song of that year.
6. “Umbrella” by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
Although released in March of 2007, Rihanna’s single “Umbrella” became a hit later that summer. The song was responsible for launching the singer into super-stardom just a year after her debut album, with the help of her mentor and rapper Jay-Z.
7. “Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston
Sean Kingston knew his 2009 summer single, “Fire Burning,” would be a success because he spent time listening to his audience. The singer, who released his breakout hit “Beautiful Girls” in the summer of 2007, told The Boom Box that the club vibe is what he was going for with “Fire Burning.”
“That’s what’s going on right now,” he said. “I’m big on the computer. I like to read blogs and like to listen to radio and see what’s working right now. I feel like the club is where it’s at.”
8. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dog
Katy Perry’s 2010 breakout hit not only pays homage to The Beach Boys original hit of the same title, but she was also inspired by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Perry told MTV News that she wrote the hit out of jealousy that there hadn’t been an anthem about her home state for a while.
“I love New York girls,” she said. “I think they’re hot, and I think they have a lot of attitude. But I’m telling you when it comes wintertime, they’re all gonna be singing ‘California Gurls.'”
9. “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
Bill Withers’ inspiration behind the 1972 hit was based on leaving behind his support system back home after moving to Los Angeles. According to Rolling Stone, Withers learned a lot about helping family and neighbors when they needed you while growing up in the coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia .
10. “Macarena” by Los Del Rio
Before the “Cha Cha Slide,” there was “Macarena.” And even today, it’s still one of the best breakout synchronized dance tunes. “Macarena” gained popularity so fast that even Hilary Clinton clapped along as delegates danced to it at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
11. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John feat. Kiki Dee
According to Songfacts, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” ended up being Elton John’s first No. 1 song in the UK. John realized he hit the jackpot by collaborating with Dee, so he did it again on another song called “True Love” that ended up being the No. 2 song in the UK.
12. “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas
Before “I Gotta Feeling” came out in the summer of 2009, Fergie told Marie Claire that the future hit was going to be a party song.
“It’s dedicated to all the party people out there in the world that want to go out and party. Mostly every song on the Black Eyed Peas record is painting a picture of our party life,” she said.
13. “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has Taylor Swift to thank for the success of her single “Super Bass.” The song was originally released on Minaj’s late 2010 album “Pink Friday,” but was buried within bonus tracks that were only available on certain editions. When Swift got wind of the song, she became an immediate fan and even invited Minaj to one of her tour dates to rap the lyrics with her.
“She tweeted that she liked ‘Super Bass’ and then all of her fans who had never heard about Nicki Minaj went and purchased it. After Taylor tweeted that, ‘Super Bass’ climbed up 80-something spots the same day on iTunes,” Minaj told Entertainment Tonight
The track eventually became the song of the summer in 2011 reaching No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
14. “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey’s first single ever reached more than just the top of the charts in 1990. The New York Daily News named it one of the 100 greatest love songs and named it most influential vocal performance of all time.
15. “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys
The Backstreet Boys have admitted that their 1999 summer single makes no sense. But it still didn’t stop it from becoming the fifth most-played song that summer. Nick Carter told the Huffington Post that he and the band ended up writing different lyrics for the song to make more sense, but ended up going with the original.
“We hired some really well known producers at the time to redo the song,” Carter said. “So there was another version of the song out there and then we listened to it back. Then, we as a group voted on it and said, ‘No.’”
16. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot
It’s been 25 years since we first heard this song in 1992. And since then, the song has become a pop culture staple for many of your favorite TV and music moments. From being featured on the show “Friends” and even in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” music video.
“I’ve never been ashamed of this song, ever. I’d love to say I knew the whole time [that it’d be an enduring hit], but there’s no way you can know a song is going to last that long,” he told USA Today.
17. “Waterfalls” by TLC
The 2002 hit that was written by the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, spent seven weeks at No.1 on Billboard. The song also scored two Grammy wins and had endless airtime on MTV in it’s time, according to Ask Men.
18. “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
A fun fact you may not know about the “Jessie’s Girl” is that the Jessie’s real name was Gary. Rick Springfield told Songfacts that the only reason he didn’t keep it that way was because it wasn’t appealing enough.
“The only thing I remember is his name was Gary, so I changed the name, because ‘Gary’ didn’t sing very well.”
19. “It’s Gonna Be Me” by N’Sync
Not only is “It’s Gonna Be Me” one of N’Sync’s more notable songs, but today its iconic music video still get plenty of plays on YouTube. According to Forbes, the spike happened in 2012 when several memes poked fun at how Justin Timberlake says the word “me” in the song, pronouncing it like the month “May,” causing fans to go back and listen closely.
20. “One Dance” by Drake
“One Dance” is one of the few Drake songs that no matter how old it may get, you never get tired of hearing it at a nightclub. The single from the rapper’s “Views” album debuted in 2016 and rose to the top of the charts the summer of that year. As of October 2016, “One Dance” is the most streamed track on Spotify with more than 880 million streams.
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