29 Of The Best Songs About Summer: Summertime Playlist

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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Next to Christmastime, summer is a part of the year that evokes the most emotion. Perhaps it starts in childhood when school is out, and the world seems full of wonder and adventure. Family gatherings, cookouts, playing with friends, and enjoying nature are many kids’ first memories of summer.

Later in life, romance enters the picture. These emotions attached to summer run deep and are reflected in many popular songs. 

It is hard to choose a few out of the dozens of songs available, but for you, readers, we have here 29 of the best songs about summer. Let’s get started!

Related: For more, check out our post on songs about the seasons here.

1. “Hot In Herre” By Nelly

Summer is all about heat! And bringing down the heat is Nelly in his 2002 summer anthem, “Hot in Herre.”

At its core, this song is all about having fun and partying hard as the singer finds himself in a club. The place is full of women who are looking for a good time, and it’s bound to be hot. And so he calls on them to remove their clothes.

The singer is obviously living the life being “locked at the top of the Four Seasons Penthouse.” He and his homies drive sports cars, drink in the club, and flash expensive things.

2. “Cool For The Summer” By Demi Lovato

Late in the summer of 2015, Demi Lovato released her pop dance anthem “Cool for the Summer.” The idea behind it is similar to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.”

In the lyrics, the female singer makes known her romantic interest in another woman. Throughout the song, she addresses this woman about the possibility of hitting it off. Whether one or both of them are new to it, it doesn’t matter, because she thinks it’s okay.

They’re cool for the summer if the other woman doesn’t tell anyone, even her mother. At the end of what appears to be a summer fling, they will go back to their normal lives.

3. “Summer Of ’69” By Bryan Adams

Here’s a nostalgic song to help you reminisce about your summer adventures. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams reflects on the joys and struggles of a young man trying to figure out his path in life.

He is torn between settling down into a “normal” life and chasing his dream of being a famous rock musician. In between, he ponders his options while enjoying the moments of his youth.

Some people have suggested a racier story behind the song’s title. But likely, it refers to 1969 and the upheaval and changes that went on during that pivotal year in the narrator’s life.

4. “Summertime Sadness” By Lana Del Rey

Some singers get recognized for their edgy songs like Lana Del Ray. Her single “Summertime Sadness” was released in 2012 from her album Born to Die.

The song isn’t explicit in its message, but the music video depicts the true meaning. It’s about a couple who tragically takes their own lives after a breakup and reminisces about better times before they die.

Despite its dark backstory, “Summertime Sadness” ended up being one of the popular dance party songs of 2013. Most people simply enjoyed the beat, and few thought about the grave subject matter.

5. “Summer Love” By Justin Timberlake

At some point, we have experienced meeting someone and knowing they’re going to be a permanent part of our lives. In “Summer Love,” Justin Timberlake talks about meeting that person.

In fact, the moment he sees her for the very first time, she immediately catches his attention. He shows interest in knowing all about this girl, including “where you’re from, what you do, what you like.”

What better way of getting to know each other than going out and having fun? He’ll let her dictate the pace, no matter how slow, but he “can’t wait to fall in love” with her. He’s assured that what he feels for her is beyond a summer love.

6. “Hot Girl Summer” By Megan Thee Stallion Ft. Nicki Minaj

The song “Hot Girl Summer” by rapper Megan Thee Stallion was everywhere in 2019. When the teaser featuring the song’s title got released in July, girls everywhere jumped on the phrase, making the term “Hot Girl Summer” a viral trend.

The song itself is a danceable jam with lyrics about—you guessed it—being a hot girl. While this may seem like a celebration of shallowness, it isn’t all about looks. The lyrics also refer to being educated, resourceful, and talented.

Deeper meaning aside, it’s a song to have fun while chilling around the pool with friends and feeling feisty, so consider adding it to your summer playlist!

7. “Summertime” By DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

One of the finest summer celebration anthems is “Summertime,” a song by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Will Smith). The song was released in 1991 from their album, Homebase.

“Summertime” is about cruising around the Philadelphia neighborhood, observing the summer activities. As the singer cruises around in his car, he observes how people deal with the hot weather. Ladies “are dressing less” and check out the guys.

In Philly, people go to Plateau, a park that women visit to hunt men and vice versa. According to the singer, the summer seems like “a natural aphrodisiac” for these people.

8. “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer” By Nat King Cole

Our next song is the ultimate summer anthem despite being released in 1963. Nat King Cole’s “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” made it to the third spot on the Billboard Middle-Road Singles and sixth on Hot 100.

Lyrics-wise, the singer is calling for the lazy days of summer when everyone feasts on “soda and pretzels and beer.” It’s the perfect time to go to the beach for a picnic and admire girls in bikinis.

Summer is also reminiscent of going to a drive-in for some romantic movie. But, as the singer observes, there’s more kissing between couples who are supposed to watch than on the screen. Nevertheless, he wishes it was always summer.

9. “Summer Breeze” By Seals & Crofts

One of the most beautiful songs by the soft rock duo Seals & Crofts is “Summer Breeze.” Shortly after its release in 1972, the song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone also ranked it 13th on its list of “Best Summer Songs of All Time.”

When it comes to the lyrics, the singers celebrate the joy of life. They describe all the things that make summer memorable. First of all, there’s the summer breeze giving them a nice feeling. On one of those summer nights, they can hear music from the neighbor.

At the end of the day, they come home to see the smile of a loved one and a nice warm meal waiting for them. It’s a good way to end a summer night.

10. “Endless Summer Nights” By Richard Marx

Lots of romances begin—or heat up—during the summer. Unfortunately, many of these summer romances don’t last long. They’re often infatuations built on physical attraction and naturally fizzle out.

“Endless Summer Nights” is Richard Marx‘s ode to a summer relationship that ended too soon. It talks about his sense of loss after the breakup and how he wishes he could be back in his days of carefree lovemaking and happiness.

It’s a pretty standard “love and loss” song. But many folks can identify with it, judging by the song making it to #2 on the charts in 1988.

11. “All Summer Long” By Kid Rock 

For many of us, the summers of our youth stand out as enduring memories. With school out and friends around, the nights are long and the possibilities seem endless.

That’s the spirit that Kid Rock reminisces about in his 2007 song “All Summer Long,” from his album Rock n Roll Jesus. It became a hit and somewhat of a comeback for the singer.

The song’s lyrics describe Kid Rock’s youth in Northern Michigan. He and his buddies spent the summer at the lake, flirting, drinking, and getting wild. The upbeat sound of “All Summer Long” features the catchy rhythm of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

12. “Surf City” By Jan and Dean

If you live in a “Surf City,” then you know it feels like summer all year round. The music duo Jan and Dean celebrate this fictitious place and surfed their way to the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. This is the first surf song ever to reach the top spot.

In the lyrics, the singer describes Surf City as a place where there are “two girls for every boy.” This means that a lot of girls flock down the area. With his old but trusty ’30 Ford wagon, he drives down to the beach to celebrate and, with luck, have fun with girls.

And if ever his car breaks down, he plans to get his surfboard and hitch a ride to the beach where the first thing he’ll do is find a surfer girl.

13. “Summer Nights” By John Travolta And Olivia Newton-John

From the movie Grease came a duet about “Summer Nights” between the lead characters John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. In the movie, the characters meet and have a summer love affair which soon ends upon learning that she’s moving to Australia.

In the lyrics, Danny (Travolta) and Sandy (Newton-John) go to their respective friends to share about meeting each other. They recount the first time they met and the impression they had of each other.

Danny talks more about the physical aspect of their relationship. On the other hand, Sandy tells her friends about the emotional side of it.

14. “Under the Boardwalk” By The Drifters

There’s no better way to spend a summer day than with the person you love. The Drifters agree to this, as shown by their hit 1964 hit song “Under the Boardwalk.” It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Lyrically, the song follows the singer and his lover meeting for some quality time away from everybody. They find the perfect place under the boardwalk as it affords them privacy while at the same time giving them shelter from the scorching sun.

In addition, the spot is nearby the park, where they can hear the sounds and even smell the food. Even with the people above the boardwalk, down on the blanket with his beloved is the place to be.

15. “Summer Wind” By Frank Sinatra

Our next song, “Summer Wind,” was a German song rewritten into English by Johnny Mercer. It was popularized by Frank Sinatra, who released his version in 1966.

The song uses the sirocco wind as a metaphor for the passage of time and changing of seasons. At the end of the summer, sirocco passes to Southern Europe from North Africa. The warm wind accompanies the singer as he spends the summer with his amigo.

But the summer days and nights pass by, along with it, his friend. Autumn and winter pass by as well, but the loneliness stays with him.

16. “Rockaway Beach” By Ramones

The punk rock band Ramones released “Rockaway Beach” in 1977 as part of their album, Rocket to Russia. Though it peaked at only #66, it certainly deserves a spot on our list for being an ode to Rockaway Beach in New York.

The song finds the singer making his way to this famed stretch of beach on a hot summer day. The lines are repetitive as he sings about hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach and complaining that the bus ride is too slow.

Surprisingly, only one member of the band was a beachgoer. The band’s songwriter, Dee Dee Ramone, apparently loved spending time on Rockaway Beach.

17. “The Boys Of Summer” By Don Henley

In 1984, Don Henley, the vocalist and drummer of the rock band Eagles, released “The Boys of Summer.” The lead single off the Building the Perfect Beast album, it peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #12 on the UK Singles Chart.

The song tackles the passing of time from youth to adulthood and recounts a past relationship. The singer recollects a past summer, remembering a girl with whom he had spent a memorable time.

He declares his love for her, even after time has passed. And he’s resolved to make sense of what happened to their relationship and get her back.

18. “Summer Rain” By Johnny Rivers

To continue our list, we have “Summer Rain” by American musician Johnny Rivers. The pop-rock appeared on his 1968 album Realization.

With wistful lyrics, the singer talks about his lover and references “the summer love” of 1967. This refers to the phenomenon when around 100,000 people, most of them young people, congregated in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, California.

In the lyrics, the singer professes his love for his woman, whom he likens to warm sunshine. They spend the summer dancing in the sand while “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” plays in the background.

19. “Hot Fun In The Summertime” By Sly And The Family Stone

Who doesn’t love summer? A lot of people look forward to spending the summer having fun. That’s what Sly and the Family Stone says in “Hot Fun in the Summertime.”

The singer acknowledges the end of spring and the start of summer, which he looks forward to. It’s his most awaited season when he can have as much fun as he could despite the sweltering heat.

Summer also means school is out, which, for our singer, brings him to cloud nine. He can go to the country fair and have “hot fun in the summertime.”

20. “Constructive Summer” By The Hold Steady

If you’re looking for a good summer song, look no further than “Constructive Summer” by the rock band The Hold Steady. The song came from their 2008 album Stay Positive.

“Constructive Summer” is not only about this hot weather. It’s also an ode to friendship that everyone in the town seems to partake in. The singer talks about building something this summer “with love, and trust, and friends, and hammers.” He then finds himself and his friends climbing the old water tower to drink a beer. Or two.

We can imagine this group of friends drinking together and talking about the pop past and future. He wants to remind himself that their lust for life can help them become “something bigger.”

21. “Sunny Afternoon” By The Kinks

Up next, we have another oldie but goodie in The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.” Though the lyrics may appear simple enough, it draws pity for the narrator who’s having a tough time left and right.

To start off, the tax man arrives and takes “all my dough.” What’s left for him is his home, where he finds himself “lazin’ on a sunny afternoon in the summertime.”

To make matters worse, he fights with his girlfriend, who takes his car to go back to her parents and tells them lies about him. For a brief moment, he wonders consider. But then again, he’s used to living a life of luxury.

22. “Summertime” By Ella Fitzgerald

Up next is Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime.” This is one of the world’s most popular songs about this particular season of the year.

This slow-moving lullaby uses a jazzy sound and descriptive lyrics to paint a picture of a hot, lazy summer day in the South. Noticeably, the song’s lyrics talk mainly about positive things, such as having your parents by your side. However, an underlying sadness suggests that all may not be as perfect as it seems.

Many musical stars have covered the song throughout the years. Fitzgerald’s soulful voice, though, is just perfect for conveying the depth and emotion of the song.

23. “A Summer Song” By Chad & Jeremy

Some songs are giving us the feel of summer even when it’s not the season. Pop music duo Chad & Jeremy sing about a summer romance in their 1964 single “A Summer Song.”

The lyrics describe the singer’s recollection of a summer when he was with his lover. He remembered how the trees swayed, how they kissed, and just enjoyed being together. They spent the nights gazing at the stars in the sky.

They say that “good things must end.” As summer transitions to autumn, he finds her leaving him for some reason. Now the rain pattering against his window reminds him of those summer days they were together.

24. “Summer” By Calvin Harris

While “Summer” by Calvin Harris is mainly an electronic instrumental dance song, it has some lyrics similar to many songs about summer.

The song doesn’t have much lyrics-wise, but it talks about two people meeting in the summer and falling in love. The romance goes bad when the object of the narrator’s affection misleads him.

Despite the sad lyrics, the song has a happy, upbeat tune. “Summer” served as a party song for many young people during the summer of 2014 when it was first released. Now it’s a summer nostalgia song for many of them as they face adulthood.

25. “That Summer” By Garth Brooks

If one wants a song about looking back to the past, let’s go no further than “That Summer.” Nostalgia abounds in this Garth Brooks song.

“That Summer” describes the experience of a young man who is far from home and in need of a job. He goes to work for an older widow who has been operating her wheat farm alone since her husband died. They eventually develop a passionate relationship—the first the man has ever had.

The story gets told from the young man’s perspective as an adult as he looks back on this pivotal summer in his life. He talks about how the memories have stayed with him all these years.

26. “Cruel Summer” By Bananarama

When we hear the word summer, we automatically think of wonderful experiences. For young adults, this is the time to hang out with a crush or friends. But Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” is the dark side of this season.

The song captures the misery of a summer spent alone after a breakup. It talks about the oppressive heat that’s suffocating as well.

The singer also complains about being on his own, with his lover gone and his friends away, while summer passes by. That’s definitely a frustrating way to spend a supposedly fun season.

27. “Summertime Blues” By Eddie Cochran

When you’re a young adult, making a living is a bummer. More so when you have to balance youthful fun with responsibilities. That’s what rockabilly star Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” is all about.

The song is from a teenage guy’s perspective. He wants to complain about working all summer for a meager salary. He can’t even borrow his parents’ car or take a vacation. He is left wondering what he could do to cure the summertime blues.

As with many popular songs, this one has been covered by many artists, like Buck Owens, the Who, and Blue Cheer. However, Cochran’s version is memorable due to its tune and rocking guitars.

28. “Summer In The City” By Lovin’ Spoonful

Unlike other summer-related songs, Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” isn’t all about how wonderful summer is. Instead, it talks about the scorching heat and discomfort that comes with it. Surely, many can relate to the “neck getting dirty and gritty” due to sweat and dust.

According to the song, the city becomes different after the sun has gone down. The night brings relief and, with that, the urge to try something fun such as looking for a girl and dressing up.

The song’s chords reflect what the composers wanted their listeners to feel. Minor chords are used during the “daytime” portion of the song; however, the “night” portion shifts to an upbeat major key, signifying the joy the evening brings.

29. “In The Summertime” By Mungo Jerry

Released in 1970 by British band Mungo Jerry, “In the Summertime” has become a staple song for every summer playlist. It topped all charts in the UK, the US, and Canada.

The tune and lyrics were so catchy that producers asked songwriter Ray Dorset to repeat them just to make the song longer.

“In the Summertime” is a carefree diddy about letting loose with the summer heat. It’s about chasing women, taking joyrides, swimming, fishing, and enjoying life to the fullest. It’s a song that you’d want to play to lift your spirits and encourage you to go out and have fun.

Summing Up Our List Of Summer Songs

Long days, cool nights, and a certain carefree feeling … It makes sense that summer is an inspiration for many artists trying to evoke nostalgia. Whether happy or sad things happen in summer, it’s a season that one can always go back to.

Did you enjoy this list of summer songs? Surely you have recognized many of them. The next time you feel like bringing back summer memories, play one of these songs. Or two or three. Who knows? You might find your new favorites.

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.