Summer Jams: A Playlist
That Time of Year
When it's warm outside all we can think about is getting outside, cooking out, hanging out, and spending time with loved ones.
We also have to have the perfect playlist for every occasion. Back in the day it was made with mix tapes and mix CDs. Now we have iPods and other MP3's to take our summer songs with us wherever.
This playlist is for remembering the cookouts, picnics, games, and fun that one can have during the summer season.
Fantasy Mariah Carey
I would venture to say Mariah Carey owned the 1990s simply because she was able to capitalize on one of the best times of year to release music: summer. She knew exactly when to release the song to capture our imagination.
While her early career focused on power ballads such as "Can't Let Go" and "Vision of Love", she instinctively took a new direction in the mid-1990s by incorporating contemporary R&B and Hip-Hop Music into her sound.
One of the first results of her change in sound was "Fantasy" which sampled the classic 80s jam "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club. Released on September 12th, 1995- the tail end of summer it reiterated those memories of first crushes and nights chasing fireflies.
The song was a global smash among fans and critics, scoring the honor of being the first song to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 by a female artist and the second song overall next to Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone."
Mariah self-directed the accompanying video which had a backdrop of the Rye, New York amusement park, Playland.
As her ninth number one song among it definitely made its mark in the pantheon of Mariah Carey classics.
Hot Fun In The Summertime Sly and the Family Stone
For all of you Baby Boomers out there, I have not forgotten you. Sly and the Family Stone gave us the gift of irreplaceable music in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s with songs focusing on racism, classicism, heartache, and strife. However, Sly Stone did not completely forget about having a good time.
In 1969, while at Woodstock the group delivered a now-iconic performance of arguably one of the most irresistible summer songs of all time. The aptly titled "Hot Fun In the Summertime" is essentially the best type of earworm for this time of year.
I dare you not to add it to your playlist for your next cookout or picnic.
Wouldn't It Be Nice Beach Boys
It wouldn't be summer without some type of song by the Beach Boys. Even though 'Surfin' USA" or "Fun, Fun, Fun" would be obvious choices, there's something whimsical about "Wouldn't It Be Nice."
The song has a nice melody and sweet lyrics. It's almost as two youngsters evolved from first loves to true loves. Brian Wilson himself described the song as what children everywhere go through.
Either way it's hard to not imagine yourself lying in a field listening to this song and dreaming about what life could be.
Steal My Sunshine Len
The summer of 1999 is to Millenials what the summer of 1969 is to Baby Boomers. Okay maybe that was an exaggeration, but nonetheless several songs defined that year in music.
One song in particular stole the summer. Steal My Sunshine by sibling led band Len sampled the 1976 Andrea True Connection hit, "More More More" and became a hit during the summer of 1999.
Sharon and Mark Costanzo are siblings who were not speaking to each other for several months in the late 90s until Mark wrote this song and sang it to his sister in 1999. Sharon was too intrigued to continue feuding and fell in love with the song. They soon recorded it and at the behest of the record company, immediately released the song with accompanying video.
The song stormed the charts, becoming a top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Len went on to win several awards for the song and album but unfortunately it was the groups sole hit and they soon faded into obscurity.
Summer Love Justin Timberlake
At one point in the summer, no matter how hold you are you meet that one person that makes you think you could live your own version of Grease. While the musical and movie has given us all visions of finding the woman, Justin Timberlake mastered the art of putting one such experience in song.
Much like Michael Jackson and others before him, from the minute the song starts Justin puts you in the middle of his love story with a young lady who happened to catch his eye. From there, the rest of the song is about wooing her in a way that only JT could.
While the story is great, it's hard not to love the boom-clap of the beat- mastered by super-producer Timbaland. Released as the sixth and final single of Justin's smash album FutureSex/LoveSounds it peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. It would be the last single released until JT's 2013 return.
This song sounds and feels like summer no matter how old you are.
Summertime DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Not to be Captain Obvious here but this song had to be included. It's hard to think of any summer barbeque, party, or hangout without this jam courtesy of the man formerly known as the Fresh Prince.
In the early 1990s, a young rapper turned actor named Will Smith was just hitting his stride starring in his own sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. However, he was not going to neglect his day job that easily.
Alongside his partner in crime, DJ Jazzy Jeff, they released the perfect summer anthem soon after the first season of The Fresh Prince aired. The result? A Grammy wining smash that became one of Smith's signature songs.
Summer Breeze Seals & Crofts/ The Isley Brothers
Some songs you know as soon as you hear the first few notes. Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts is one of those songs. Released in the summer of 1972 it became a top ten smash.
However, Seals and Crofts had even more success when the song they co-wrote together was covered by various artists. One group that made a memorable cover was The Isley Brothers. Instead of relying on light harmony, they added a harder, funkier flare and it became a modest success for them.
Other artists who would go on to record the song include The Main Ingredient, The Three Tenors and Jason Mraz. The diversity of these artists only speaks to the subtle power of the song.
No matter what version you prefer, it's nice to hear on a warm summer day with the windows down.