brooke bates returns with her favorite popular and obscure summer songs.
One of my final college papers contained the statement that music is,
more than any other season, summer. Maybe I just think that because I would spend entire summer days in the swimming pool with the radio
resting on oldies and classic rock.
Summer must start, of course, with the Beach Boys. It can’t be
Christmas until the DJs start playing “Rocking Around the Christmas
Tree” and it’s not summer until I hear “Surfin’ USA.” Here are some of
my other favorites:
1. School’s Out for Summer – Alice Cooper
2. Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
3. Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful
4. Daydream Believer – The Monkees
5. Green River – CCR
6. Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen
7. Sunshine Superman – Donovan
8. Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles
9. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
10. Groovin’ – The Rascals
That’s my throwback list. But since you’re here to learn something new
– and this is Under the Radar Love, after all – here are my obscure
1. Yellow Sun – The Raconteurs
It’s a song all about the sun and how it affects your feelings, for
one. And two, it’s sprightly bright pop that rolls and bounces like a
summer day. IMHO, this is one of the strongest songs that came from
the sweet union of rock and melody between Jack White and Brendan
2. July, July! – The Decemberists
Colin Meloy is always one for painting pictures with his lyrics, and
here he aptly sets the scene for summer with the opening lines: “There
is a road that meets the road / that goes to my house / and how the
green grows there.” Tell me that doesn’t transport you to the summers
of your childhood, complete with imaginary fortresses in forests.
Beyond the obvious summery title, The Decemberists’ lushly orchestral
acoustics simply sound like a match for warm weather.
(start watching at 1:00)
3. Staring at the Sun – TV on the Radio
The pretty rhythm that starts this song seems to echo the ocean. So
when TVotR break into their staticky series of clicks, buzzes, whirs
and blips, the sounds seem to mimic the gritty spray of standing in
the sea, staring at the sun. Top it off with this trippy video, and
you should be good to veg out for a while.
4. Burned By the Sun – Beulah
Never mind that this song is about sunburns (I think); Beulah’s
super-sweet pop delivery of it makes it all the more fit for a summer
soundtrack. Miles Kurosky’s smooth, clear voice is the audio
equivalent of an ice cream cone. And if you know me at all, you know I
never turn down ice cream.
5. Where is My Mind? – The Pixies
From the opening chords of this song, I feel like I want to start
swaying around like I’m by a campfire on the beach. Spinning around
on your head in the Caribbean – sounds like my idea of a good
vacation. Plus, any song that contains a literary trick as quick as
“coy koi” gets my vote.
6. Sun Giant – Fleet Foxes
This is the serene side of summer, the side that sits peacefully and
appreciates the season through the homage of Fleet Foxes’ refined
harmonies and pastoral solemnity. I love thinking of the sun as
personified in these lyrics: “What a life I lead when the sun breaks
free/ as a giant torn from the clouds/ what a life indeed when that
ancient seed/ is a berry watered and plowed.” I’m not quite sure what
it means, but it sounds warm and delicious.
7. Soul Meets Body – Death Cab for Cutie
First, this song screams summer because I discovered it the summer I
interned in Vail, Colo. It was on Tevanthology Vol. 4, a compilation
CD they passed out at the Teva Outdoor Games in Vail, Colo., a
competition of crunchy mountain men kayaking and whatnot. This is one of few Death Cab songs I can really dig because it’s so crisp and
catchy, truly “a melody softly soaring through my atmosphere.”
8. Don’t Look Back into the Sun – The Libertines
What would summer be without a little edge, a little attitude…and
plenty of hard drugs and alcohol? Ah, Pete Doherty, the true essence
of partying. If I take my advice from anyone, I’m taking it from him.
So no, I will not look back into the sun…without shades.
9. Wolf Am I! (And Shadow) – mewithoutYou
This song triggers flashbacks of my roommate and I cruising around in
her car with the windows down, the music cranked and us belting along, not paying attention passing by pedestrians overhearing our attempt at aping Aaron Weiss’s strange mix of singing and screaming. Summer demands fun sing-alongs and I mean, come on, the first line is, “It’s the smell of hot summertime trash.”
10. The Way We Get By – Spoon
Spoon is great for blasting through open windows. I realized that last
summer when this song climbed my must-hear charts on trips to the
beach. It’s catchy, campy, and just the right amount of rebellious.