The Songs Of The Summer
May 25, 2019 1:14 PM   Subscribe

In which NPR examines the concept of "The Song Of The Summer" and provides a Spotify playlist of their 100 songs of the summer since 1962, plus a list of the top songs (2-6 per year) they they've defined as one of that year's Songs Of The Summer.

Surprises to me: U2 seems to be the only group with two in one year, from their Joshua Tree summer. Also, Amy Grant scores a mention, probably well deserved.
posted by hippybear (43 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Payola and other underground forces surely make the results of this suspect, though?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what there is to be suspect about a list of songs that have ended up being somehow very present across the summer months in the US. It's not an election, it's a list of music.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2019 [10 favorites]

I literally just came in to scan the list and complain that "Steal My Sunshine" wasn't on there, but it's on there. I'm part of the problem. Anyway, that is somehow the song that is the center of this category for me, in that it's a song that if I were out in a crowd on a sunny June day drinking a beer I would experience this song as the greatest thing ever recorded, and all the rest of the time I'm like "why do I think of this as a song I love?"
posted by escabeche at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

1983 "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas isn't on the list? That is summer's song!
posted by Carol Anne at 1:35 PM on May 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

We here at NPR Music wondered what we might discover when we put all the Songs of the Summers of the past 50 years or so in one place.

Or so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Math is hard. It took me until #50 (or so) on the list to recognize a song because I am in my 40's (or so). None of my numbers are actually correct because why bother to add, subtract or even recognize simple numbers when you can "or so".

Also a summer song list with only one song from The Police on it is some bullshit. They pretty much invented picnics!
posted by srboisvert at 1:38 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really like that they include multiple songs from each year*. It makes the list less of something to argue about (The Single Best Hit of the Summer!) and more of a fun list of summer songs.

*except for 1975

On preview: Too late!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Think of me babe, whenever some sweet-talking girl comes along, singing her song
posted by hippybear at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Too hot to go outside. Winter is the new summer.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:47 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Boy, remember when we were all hangin’ on the beach playing volleyball listening to Sammy rock “Candyman” in ‘72?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Hmmm. To me, the song of the summer is not necessarily the song that was number one on the pop charts that summer. It's much more specific than that. The song of the summer is that song that you, specifically, heard all the time in a particular summer, and that's going to depend a ton on where you were and what radio station you listened to and where you were hanging out. I am 100% sure that "Nothing Compares 2 U" was the song of the summer of 1990. That's the soundtrack to every memory I have of that summer, but it's not on that list. Similarly, I remember How Bizarre as being definitely the song of the summer of 1995, but apparently that didn't chart at all in the U.S. because of some dumb technicality.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2019 [16 favorites]

the fact that the list has Huey Lewis' "The Power of Love" on it almost makes up for the fact that it doesn't have Bruce Springsteen's "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
posted by chavenet at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

...or Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer"
posted by chavenet at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Paul McCartney's the only performer with three different credits (Beatles, Wings, and solo with Stevie Wonder) and has five songwriting credits total. Unless I'm missing one Max Martin song (and I probably am because who the hell can keep track), McCartney has also written most songs of the summer.
posted by Kattullus at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

...or Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer"

Released as a single in October of 1984. Wrong release date to be SotS.
posted by hippybear at 3:20 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Childish Gambino’s pre-Memorial Day frayed-nerve "This Is America" is a “song of the summer”, but the July-released chill “Feels Like Summer” is not?! I question NPR’s chronology as much as their taste.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:53 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Odd that the only George Michael song is Monkey. I don’t recall that being big at all, in comparison with like everything else off that album. I get that maybe it was just timing, but ... weird.
posted by greermahoney at 4:24 PM on May 25, 2019

posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 4:24 PM on May 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

*except for 1975

I remember '75... the Captain and Tennille were indeed unavoidable, especially for a college Soph who was transferring TO a college with a radio station that didn't play it and simultaneously trying to get work at any professional station and pondering whether I HAD TO include that song in my audition tape and whether I could get away with a couple wisecracks in the intro and outro ("the Captain and Tin Ear..." "Love and a few extra bucks will keep us..." "Sedaka's backWHAT...") Well, it got me a part-time job answering the phones for a talk show....
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I always felt like "Steal My Sunshine" was maybe the ultimate summer song, and I was a grown adult when it came out. I remember driving around L.A. that summer and hearing it and thinking they had just nailed it, one of those flukes that's hard to beat. It's completely ridiculous, ridiculously catchy, and sounds like they weren't even trying, like some stoned people fucking around with Garageband. This interview is pretty funny. There's also a pregnant woman in that video who hopefully has a 20 year old kid.
posted by bongo_x at 6:12 PM on May 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

You know how when you smell something that sparks a memory and it’s like you’re back in time for a second? Music does that to me, too. And looking at the dates of the songs on here, it’s amazingly obvious the line where I got old enough to listen to and enjoy popular music and the line when I got too old to keep up with everything. That sweet spot was the 90s (which obviously had the best music).
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:03 PM on May 25, 2019

Also, agreed on Steal My Sunshine.

And I now have an incredible urge to go watch 90’s era music videos.
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:07 PM on May 25, 2019

Everybody kept on playing Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...
posted by emf at 7:48 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

It was never summer in Seattle...
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:01 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Steal My Sunshine is where I first learned about butter tarts.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:03 PM on May 25, 2019

Melancholy power level 12. Adulthood and child be damned; so want to go out drink dance and be fool! Arrrrgh! .
posted by Afghan Stan at 9:26 PM on May 25, 2019

Slate’s Culture Gabfest has been doing this for a while, but they call it the “Summer Strut.”
posted by Drowsy Philosopher at 9:33 PM on May 25, 2019

Planet Money had a podcast about this a while back.
posted by knoxg at 9:44 PM on May 25, 2019

I saw Black Eyed Peas open for U2 on their 360º tour, and there were 90,000 people in the crowd and the energy was so intense and it was the summer of I Gotta Feelin', and holy shit, the crowd became one giant single organism.

I'm even an #old, but I knew that song. That was so much fun!
posted by hippybear at 9:54 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hi Hi Hi Hi There
posted by bz at 11:59 PM on May 25, 2019

For some reason I remember exactly how I was introduced to the song of the summer concept and, fittingly enough, it was via NPR (circa summer 1997). The piece was about the song "Fly" by Sugar Ray and how it was an exemplar of the form. "Fly" isn't on the list linked above.

Et tu, NPR?
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:11 AM on May 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Someone I once knew used to call these songs Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hits. TUSHes.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:35 AM on May 26, 2019

The Blue Maxi "Here Comes Summer" missing from the list.
posted by james33 at 5:56 AM on May 26, 2019

Has it really only been two years since Despacito was inflicted upon the world?
posted by schmod at 7:24 AM on May 26, 2019

I don't know why this album is my summer jam, but it is. "Summertime's here babe, need something to keep you cool. Look out now, Dave's got something for you." (WARNING: DO NOT APPROACH THE ICE CREAM TRUCK WHEN DIAMOND DAVE IS DRIVING)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

There is only 1 true song of the summer, all summer, never ending, until twitter dies.

I follow Limmy on twitter and it went through annoying and back to incredibly funny years ago.
posted by hfnuala at 3:22 PM on May 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hmm, I can really tell from the list when I stopped listening to radio at all, even in the car, as the only ones I recognize from the last decade are the ones that managed to become cultural phenomenons like Despacito.
posted by tavella at 3:26 PM on May 26, 2019

It's fun to start at the bottom of the list and scroll up until you can identify the exact year where you lost the thread of popular summer music.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:40 PM on May 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

All that this NPR thing makes me wonder is: how did the "song of summer" meme get started?

So I found this Marketplace piece suggesting but not saying conclusively that it came out of Tin Pan Alley in NYC somewhere in the early 20th century.
In the early 1900s, newspapers were writing about the latest summer hits. [...] Soon, the papers were crowning THE song of the summer — the one hit everybody seemed to be singing.
posted by glonous keming at 5:54 PM on May 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

suggesting but not saying conclusively that it came out of Tin Pan Alley in NYC somewhere in the early 20th century.

Thanks, because people were blowing my mind acting like it was a recent thing, or not a thing. Which is like saying summer movies is not a thing.
posted by bongo_x at 7:56 PM on May 26, 2019

Although wasn't it Jaws that started the summer blockbluster trend? Which, granted, was a while ago now.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:58 PM on May 26, 2019

1983 "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas isn't on the list? That is summer's song!
I can't get to Spotify from where I am, but 1983 would have been the Bowie/Jagger version. That said, Wikipedia tells me that was 1985 (not 1983), and Martha and the Vandellas was in '64.
posted by phrits at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2019

"Dancing in the Streets" was released as a single on July 31, 1964, but didn't peak on the charts until October, making it more of a Song of the Autumn I suppose. Unless it got a lot of radio play in August.
posted by Mothlight at 7:22 AM on May 29, 2019

« Older Includes Venger   |   Discards, dumping, downsizing, and the afterlife... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments