Summer songs stick with us because these popular hits remind us of our hot, lazy, sun-filled days when the days are longer and filled with fun activities. Released specifically for the season, these tunes are usually upbeat and designed for listening during summer fun.
Summer Songs of the 1960s
Songs about sun, surf and cars dominated the charts each summer during the ’60s. The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and the Safaris all sung about surfing, the beach, driving the coast and having fun. The decade started with Brian Hyland’s iconic novelty song from 1960 about a shy girl wearing an “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” to the beach.
Dance crazes like the Watusi were big in the 60s and Little Eva had everyone doing “The Loco-Motion” to her hit song of the same name in 1962. Penned by song-writing legends Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the song is notable because it has been a Top 5 hit for three different artists in as many decades: Little Eva, 1962; Grand Funk Railroad, 1974 and Kylie Minogue in 1988.
Summer Songs of the 1970s
The ’70s ushered in an era of more serene, slower hit songs during the hot summer months. Though everyone was still dancing to disco hits from the Bee Gees, Elton John and KC & the Sunshine band, artists like James Taylor had hits with mellow songs like with “You’ve Got a Friend” in 1971. (This song was written by the legendary Carole King who also released it in 1971 as a single, though it went to #1 for Taylor.)
However, no other song reflects this laidback time than the Commodores with their song “Easy” from 1977. Written by Lionel Richie, this song helps bring him to the forefront and helped pave the way for his solo career in the 80s.
Summer Songs of the 1980s
The ’80s brought us MTV and the dawn of flashy music videos when artists produced mini-movies like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Prince dominated the charts in 1984 with “When Doves Cry” from his Purple Rain soundtrack and again, in 1985, with the song “Raspberry Beret.” Duran Duran personified the ’80s and their summer hits include “The Reflex” from 1984 and “A View to a Kill” in 1985.
Summer Songs of the 1990s
The 90s gave us happier, warmer anthems, starting with “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince in 1991. This light and breezy tune is about sitting back and rewinding, hanging on the basketball court, kids playing outside, the heat and cruising through the neighborhood. Every lovely idea about summer is summed up in this one song.
The ’90s also brought us powerhouse singing groups like Backstreet Boys, Boys II Men, TLC and Destiny’s Child. “Waterfalls” by TLC spent seven weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 in the summer of 1995. This is recognized as the band’s signature song and comes from its second album, CrazySexyCool.
For these and other songs about the lazy, hazy months of June through September, be sure to listen to Pop-Daze radio for the best of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and sign up for our Fan Club for games, discounts and special merchandise bundles. Also, check out Part 2 of the Hits of Summer for more great tunes!