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The Songs of Summer
May 24, 2014 6:37 AM   Subscribe

To kick off (in the U.S.) the long Memorial Day weekend (traditionally the unofficial start of summer!) the Boston Globe presents an interactive chart of iconic songs of summer from each of the last 100 years! No word yet on the 2014 earworm to be.
posted by Curious Artificer (60 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hopefully you don't need to be a Globe subscriber to access this - I am, and can't tell. Please delete if that isn't the case!
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:41 AM on May 24


Nope, and it's really well organized.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:42 AM on May 24


It's part of a first 10 article free per month bundle so it shouldn't be too problematic
posted by Renoroc at 6:43 AM on May 24


I don't know that I quite understand the methodology here. These are songs that were either "released" in that summer or "peaked in popularity" during that summer? So they weren't all, I take it, the songs that were actually getting the most play during their respective summers?
posted by yoink at 6:57 AM on May 24


Oh my God, 1999-2004 is just... so many young teen feels (yes I know I'm a baby hushit)
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:57 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


(traditionally the unofficial start of summer!)

So that's why there's no new Game of Thrones episode.
posted by ersatz at 7:01 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I don't want to live in a world where something called Dynamite beats out Tik Tok for mainstream summer jam of 2010 (and yes, it came out on 2009, but took a while to fully saturate).
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:02 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I think it's an either/or methodology, yoink, with plenty of room for fudging. No doubt there were lots of judgment calls in the pre-Billboard Chart years.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:02 AM on May 24


I really can't see any methodology, it seems all to be judgment calls by the editorial staff.
posted by neustile at 7:07 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I love how Google's Youtube is the repository of all these unlicensed copies of songs.

My generation has a lot to answer for, what with Don Henley, U2, and GnR. Fortunately 1989 redeems itself with Public Enemy,
posted by Nelson at 7:08 AM on May 24


My generation has a lot to answer for, what with Don Henley

Hush your mouth. Boys of Summer is awesome.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:12 AM on May 24 [20 favorites]


Some standouts: the haunting one-off with a strange backstory, Nature Boy from 1948 (after a few great jazz tunes in the preceding decades.

Rocket 88 in 1951: Rocket 88! Rock'n'Roll begins!

And then the embarrassments begin. The Ballad of the Green Berets (look it up, youngsters), the first and only pro-Vietnam War song that I remember, issued a year or two before the tide of public opinion turned, the odd, stupid and bombastic In the Year 2525 in 1969, the godawful Tie a Yellow Ribbon by Tony Orlando (who also gave us Knock Three Times, a worse earworm to catch).

After that, a mixed bag and then the last decade or so in which I must have gotten old...
posted by kozad at 7:15 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the charmingly simple waltz by Leadbelly (performed by the Weavers, pre-HUAC), Good Night, Irene. 1950.
posted by kozad at 7:22 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Their picks for the mid- to late '60s are uniformly bizarre:

1969 In the Year 2525, Zager & Evans
1968 Stoned Soul Picnic, 5th Diminsion
1967 Groovin, The Young Rascals
1966 Ballad of the Green Berets, Barry Sadler
1965 I Got You Babe, Sonny & Cher

No, no, no, no, no! The summer of '65 was ruled by "Help Me, Rhonda," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and (hitting #1 in July and immediately everywhere) "Satisfaction"; that of '66 by "Wild Thing" and (duh) "Summer in the City" (I mean, "Ballad of the Green Berets"? is that some kind of joke?), that of '67 by "Respect" and later "Light My Fire" (though "Groovin'" was certainly right up there), '68 by "Mrs. Robinson" (though people were still listening to that powerhouse from January, "Dance to the Music"), and '69 by "Honky Tonk Women" (I don't ever want to hear about Zager & Evans again). This kvetch has been brought to you by Baby Boomers, Inc.
posted by languagehat at 7:35 AM on May 24 [30 favorites]


Wait. 2009 was dominated by Animal Collective? That seems like a band that I should at least know more about if it was that popular (being somewhere on the mainstream side of the hipster spectrum) and yet not only did I not know this song charted, I haven't even heard it before. I mean, these days even my hipster-fu is failing me, but I didn't realize it was THAT awful. Where do I line up for my old sadsack card?
posted by chrominance at 7:51 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


No, chrominance, I think in 2009 one dude's iPod was dominated by Animal Collective. We just know where he works, now.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:56 AM on May 24 [12 favorites]


As usual with these things, it proves that I lost contact with popular music somewhere around the early nineties. I only recognize two or three from the last fifteen years. (this is where my wife rolls her eyes at me since she we probably have all of them on our shared music network drive).
posted by octothorpe at 8:05 AM on May 24


I agree with others that this list is a great way to see when one has lost touch with popular music.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:30 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I was a radio announcer from '68-'88. I consider myself on the right side of the bell curve in popular music knowledge. I've gotta agree that this is an odd list; as someone said, some Boomer kid went back through charts and grabbed an eclectic collection.

I have no clue on the '08-'11 groups. I'm either out of the loop or whomever compiled this list is out of said loop....
posted by CrowGoat at 8:41 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


So far for me 2014's is Danity Kane's comeback "Lemonade."
posted by klangklangston at 8:46 AM on May 24


No Beach Boys? FAIL
posted by tommasz at 9:08 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


The only song/artist that didn't ring a bell for me was animal collective. And I'm talking going back to the summer of 69.
posted by birdherder at 9:12 AM on May 24


No, no, no, no, no! The summer of '65 was ruled by "Help Me, Rhonda," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and (hitting #1 in July and immediately everywhere) "Satisfaction"; that of '66 by "Wild Thing" and (duh) "Summer in the City" (I mean, "Ballad of the Green Berets"? is that some kind of joke?), that of '67 by "Respect" and later "Light My Fire" (though "Groovin'" was certainly right up there), '68 by "Mrs. Robinson" (though people were still listening to that powerhouse from January, "Dance to the Music"), and '69 by "Honky Tonk Women" (I don't ever want to hear about Zager & Evans again). This kvetch has been brought to you by Baby Boomers, Inc.

Heartily agreed. I was a kid in the 60s and that's exactly the way I remember it.

And as much as "Roadrunner" is a classic song it was never heard enough on the radio in 1976 to be even recognized by the majority of pop radio listeners.
posted by Ber at 9:33 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


There's not a new Daft Punk album this year so 2014's summer anthem was called off.
posted by planetesimal at 9:40 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


They're oddly dead on for some years, and totally miss on others.

In urban Minneapolis in 1986, everybody and their sister were listening to Word Up. When I took Biology in 1987-8, the guy who had the book the year before penciled in word bubbles by every head saying how much they liked the great song Word Up, by Cameo.

It wasn't Where the Streets Have No Name, it was With or Without You or Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Nothing at all from Licensed to Ill? Christ, we broke two of those tapes. Cannonball? Fucking Vogue? All (both) the Madonna fans I knew were done with her before that album came out. No Cure? No Nirvana? As much as it pains me to say it, no Hip Hop Hooray? No Run DMC?

Anything after 1999, I feel too old to comment on. Except I feel that they hit the nail on the head with Crazy in Love and Crazy. My cousin got married that fall of '03 and they put Crazy in Love on at the reception and the place exploded. Old, young, it didn't matter.

Crazy I just love because I can falsetto a mean Gnarls Barkley.
posted by Sphinx at 9:51 AM on May 24


What languagehat said. Also, they misspelled Bossanova.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:06 AM on May 24


Raising my fist for Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012.
posted by Beardman at 10:20 AM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Some summers don't have just one song. I would dispute easily a dozen in the first forty years alone. I mean, I really love Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill, but it didn't have nearly the presence that a song of the summer requires, for me. Not like Beyoncé's Crazy in Love, for example, which epitomises the characteristics of a Song of the Summer for me, in its ubiquity, replayability and managing to swat every other contender for that year away easily.

But not every year is a 2003. And, of course, that's only from my experience.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:21 AM on May 24


What, they couldn't print "Fuck You" on a family web news source, or did it come out too late in 2010 to be considered? The radio-friendly version was called "Forget You", even!

Everyone I know was singing that song by August, and even older people I knew were grooving to the old school sound of it, even if they stopped themselves from saying the word itself!
posted by droplet at 10:21 AM on May 24


1976 is a major fail there, not because it's a bad song, but because at the time it was getting no radio play or anything.

Some earworm of the summer nominees for that year (working down the BB Top 100). Not comprehensive, this depends on your definition of "earworm" and/or "summer":

Wings/Silly Love Songs
Elton John-Kiki Dee/Don't Go Breakin My Heart
Wild Cherry/Play That Funky Music
Starland Vocal Band/Afternoon Delight (yes, plodding and awful, but an earworm, and very 1976)
Bee Gees/You Should Be Dancing (might be more associated with Saturday Night Fever a year or two later)
Peter Frampton/Show Me the Way
Brothers Johnson/I'll Be Good to You (okay, a sentimental favorite)

My hunch is that consensus would fall on Elton, Frampton, or Wild Cherry.
posted by gimonca at 10:22 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Alternate explanation: Jonathan Richman + Boston Globe = A Regional Thing in 76.

If a middle-aged Minnesota-based person compiled this, they'd probably be tempted to sneak in Alex Chilton by the Replacements in 1987 or so.

And it would be awesome
posted by gimonca at 10:29 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Another side note: I think I Fall to Pieces by Patsy Cline was just in the "songs that should have been top 10 but weren't" post a couple of weeks ago.
posted by gimonca at 10:31 AM on May 24


I agree with others that this list is a great way to see when one has lost touch with popular music.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:30 AM on May 24


For some of us, this list only confirms that we were never in touch with popular music in the first place.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 10:43 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take this quick moment to plug a summer mixtape set that spans decades, courtesy of a friend that works at Popdose.
posted by Kitteh at 10:49 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


gimonica is totally right about 1976. I was all of eight years old, and that list of songs yanked me right back to my older sisters arguing about whose turn it was to pick the next 45 to play on the turntable.
posted by ambrosia at 11:01 AM on May 24


Here in the Indianapolis area, Memorial Day kicks-off to the sound of Jim Nabors singing Back Home Again.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:12 AM on May 24


"Gangnam Style" instead of "Call Me Maybe"? Fuuuuuck that.
posted by naju at 11:37 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Yeah as much as I love Animal Collective's "My Girls" and was jamming that in '09, surely the zeitgest song of that summer was Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling."
posted by naju at 11:56 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


"Gangnam Style" instead of "Call Me Maybe"? Fuuuuuck that.

Which song had a billion plus views on Youtube again?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:58 AM on May 24


Which song had a billion plus views on Youtube again?

Sure, but that was the song that everyone was laughing about, and watching the amazing video for. You weren't putting it on at your summer barbeques (probably), it wasn't soundtracking summer flings and fleeting love.
posted by naju at 12:03 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


surely the zeitgest song of that summer was Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling."

Exactly, I was just coming back to say that. If you weren't sick of BEP yet, by August/Sept of 2009, you definitely were. As in, I've locked myself in an underground nuclear waste bunker thousands of feet below the surface, and I can still hear it.
posted by gimonca at 12:13 PM on May 24


We should make a game from this, because I'm pretty sure you can tell how old someone is if they pinpoint the year when, for them, the list goes from "Right on!" to "Fuck that noise!", and then subtract 21.

For me, that was 1998 (though fuck that noise, Macarena). I was born in 1977.
posted by OHSnap at 12:25 PM on May 24


Now that I have a moment to compile this, here are my ratings of the ratings. My pop music awareness stretches back to the early-to-mid 70s. I'll defer to people earlier that the choices for 63 to 72 are mostly awful, I think that's correct.

73: Nailed it.
74: Legit.
75: Nailed it.
76: Regional favorite, or totally wrong, you make the call.
77: Legit.
78: Nailed it.
79: Legit.
80: A weird year. This might be legit.
81: Legit.
82: Several contenders, this is legit.
83: Nailed it.
84: (Disclaimer: Minneapolis resident here) This is legit.
85: Nailed it.
86: Legit. (Also would have accepted "Sledgehammer".)
87: More for the album, maybe? But legit.
88: A truly awful year at the top of the charts. Legit.
89: Legit.
90: Nailed it.
91: Nailed it.
92: Legit/Nailed it.
93: A great year in indie rock. But I sense regional pride here again. But who doesn't like Kim Deal? So, therefore, legit, I'm not going to argue against it.
94: Nailed it.
95: Nailed it.
96: Blergh. Nailed it.
97: Hmmm. I'll say legit.
98: Legit.
99: Nailed it, unfortunately.
00: Legit.
01: Not sure.
02: Nailed it.
03: Not sure.
04: Nailed it.
05: Hmmmm. I love Spoon, but too many other big contenders here. (Since U Been Gone, Hollaback Girl, Gold Digger, Pussycat Dolls, etc.) Not legit, sorry.
06: Legit.
07: Legit.
08: More for the band than this track? Possibly legit, not sure.
09: Discussed earlier. Not legit.
10: Dunno.
11: Legit (but also would have accepted "Moves Like Jagger", others)
12: Legit, FWIW.
13: Legit.

Final tally, mostly legit with a few monster clunkers. This is fun, it's like being the Robert Parker of earworms.
posted by gimonca at 12:33 PM on May 24


I also can't believe that we, as a society, got from Baby Got Back to Sabotage in so few moves.
posted by OHSnap at 12:37 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Arguing against myself here, but 93 was also when this came out.
posted by gimonca at 12:55 PM on May 24


I actually think "My Girls" isn't as bad a choice as people make it to me-- it probably wasn't as ubiquitous as some of these songs, but I remember it being everywhere that summer, not just among hipster kids. Probably the only time Animal Collective has or will break into the mainstream.

Also, while "Blurred Lines" is an appropriate selection for 2013, the most accurate answer there would be a tie between it and "Get Lucky."

I love Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, and this was five years before I was born, but I can't imagine "Roadrunner" being big enough to be considered the song of the summer (except maybe by people who are in love with Massachusetts, and the neon when it's cold outside...)
posted by nath at 12:57 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


2009 was Boom Boom Pow by BEP. I'm not even a huge BEP fan, and that one was EVERYWHERE. Just because some Globe intern got his first blowjob in 2009 to My Girls doesn't mean it was the sound of summer.

2008 was probably either Flo-Rida's Low or Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl.

2005 was either Gold Digger by Kanye or Dontcha by Pussycat Dolls.

2001 was either Lady Marmalade or Bootylicious

… ugh, I'm putting too much thought into this.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on May 24


Whatever skewed metric is in use here (it's not #1 hits or longevity) it's a total fail for skipping Spoonful's "Summer in the City" for '66.

The inclusion of "Green Beret", "Girl from Ipanema" and "2525" is hair-raising. No surf songs OR girl-groups OR Beatles OR Simon-Garfunkle in the early-mid 60s totally makes further analysis futile.
posted by Twang at 1:17 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Which song had a billion plus views on Youtube again?

Sure, but that was the song that everyone was laughing about, and watching the amazing video for. You weren't putting it on at your summer barbeques (probably), it wasn't soundtracking summer flings and fleeting love.


Also, I don't recall ever hearing Gangham Style until about September of that year. I think it peaked in popularity/became A Thing well after summer proper had run its course. Meanwhile, Call Me Maybe had wormed its way into my ear by sometime in June. I associate Call Me Maybe with that time period a lot more strongly.

Google Trends corroborates my memory, for what it's worth -- "call me maybe" peaked as a search term in June 2012, while "gangham style" peaked in October.

Call Me Maybe (plus parody iterations) was also the subject of a few FPPs. Come on, the USA Olympic Swimming Team did a parody of it leading up to the Summer Olympics.

Gangham Style got an FPP, too, and it was definitely popular, but c'mon, "Call Me Maybe" was the song of that summer.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:06 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Uh, they left out the #1 Summer Jam.
posted by ignignokt at 3:36 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd have to say 1987-1995 is pretty spot on (I'd maybe swap out Young M.C.'s Bust a Move for 'Fight the Power'). That's some Grade-A formative years nostalgia right there, 8th grade through college. Perhaps 'Macarena' explains why I checked out in 1996. (I'd have chosen Beck's Where it's At for summer 1996.)

I could list my own personal summer songs/albums going back probably 25 years, but more often than not they were a few years out of date by the time I started listening to them. I'm only a few months behind the times heading into this summer, though - I've had St. Vincent's Digital Witness stuck in my head for a solid week now.
posted by usonian at 8:05 AM on May 25


These are songs that were either "released" in that summer or "peaked in popularity" during that summer?

Maybe that's an implied goal but there's issues, clearly. As they were my best years for music I zoomed in on the mid-1960s and I share languagehat's perplexity. For 1966,
that of '66 by "Wild Thing" and (duh) "Summer in the City" (I mean, "Ballad of the Green Berets"? is that some kind of joke?)
Completely agree but The Green Berets was a huge number 1, my little brother couldn't get enough of it but that was a Winter song from many months prior to the summer of '66. And for 1969,
"Honky Tonk Women" (I don't ever want to hear about Zager & Evans again)
I don't either but it sure got a lot of airplay that summer, and people remember it from that time, unlike Honky Tonk Woman which became part of the classic rock canon and hence less fixed to any specific summer. And now I'd prefer Country Honk instead, if we must go there.
posted by Rash at 10:08 AM on May 25


Having finally had the chance to go over the selections in greater detail myself, I've got to disagree with most (but not all) of the complaints from those, like me, of a Certain Age. These were not songs chosen to be the best song of a particular summer, or even the most memorable, but which were, for better or worse, seemingly inescapable in that particular summer. By that metric, yes; it's a shame to omit all the other better, more memorable songs of 1969, but no one can deny that "In the Year 2525" was fucking everywhere at the time.

That said, the inclusion of "Roadrunner" does reek of blatant homerism, and despite the merits of choosing "Green Berets" on the basis of the metric described immediately above, the exclusion of "Summer in the City" is practically criminal.
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:51 AM on May 25


> I don't either but it sure got a lot of airplay that summer, and people remember it from that time,

> no one can deny that "In the Year 2525" was fucking everywhere at the time.

OK, fair enough. I am rendered irrational by my dislike for the song. (Don't get me started on "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.")
posted by languagehat at 12:25 PM on May 25


> Tony Orlando (who also gave us [K.T.T.]
How could you? Have you no sense of decency?
posted by morganw at 12:57 PM on May 25


OK, fair enough. I am rendered irrational by my dislike for the song. (Don't get me started on "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.")
posted by languagehat at 2:25 PM on May 25 [+] [!]

Nothing irrational about disliking that crap. I totally agree that the less said about RKFOMH the better.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:32 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Smash Mouth's All Star came out summer of '99, but it's hard to argue against that Ricky Martin song. But it was all over the place again two summers later because of Shrek. That's when the world collectively said, "No. No more Smash Mouth, please."
posted by dirigibleman at 6:31 PM on May 25


2009 was Boom Boom Pow by BEP. I'm not even a huge BEP fan, and that one was EVERYWHERE. Just because some Globe intern got his first blowjob in 2009 to My Girls doesn't mean it was the sound of summer.

Yeah, I would've said "I Gotta Feeling" over "My Girls" (I don't remember "Boom Boom Pow" but Billboard says it was just before so either could be valid). And I HATE the Black Eyed Peas. Way more than I would ever hate Animal Collective, anyway.
posted by chrominance at 8:21 PM on May 25


The pre-summer season's favorite for this year was most assuredly Pharell. Pouring out of every club and storefront from Thanksging to Memorial Day, 24-7. GET HAPPY NOW DAMMIT.

Sorry, mildly overexposed.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:42 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


So straight people thought "Dynamite" was a bigger song than "California Gurls"? Interesting.
posted by psoas at 2:41 PM on May 27


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