By Eric Alper
Is it Summer that keeps us coming back to the fun rock and roll, or is it the other way around? With less than 3 weeks to go until the best season (sorry, snowshoers), we thought let’s take a look at our Top 5 Summer Songs – ever. Sunglasses and lotion at the ready, and here we go.
Summer In The City
The Lovin’ Spoonful
Probably the only song to feature a series of car horns (spot the classic Volkswagen Beetle beep), and ending up with a jackhammer sound in order to give the impressions of the sounds of the summer in the city, this former #1 song back in 1966 is a stone-cold classic. It’s been heard in The Simpsons, and covered by B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Quincy Jones and even Styx. All around, people lookin’ half dead… But at night, it’s a different world,” sings John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Indeed.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
The stunning transformation from feelgood rapper to serious movie star (he
is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100
million in the domestic box) literally started here. Using Kool & The Gang’s 1974 hit “Summer Madness”, as the base (or was it bass?) this joyous hit #1 on the Billboard R&B and Rap chart, and number 29 in Canada, where obviously Canadians were too busy dancing to the song to actually go out and buy it.
Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson. errr…John Travolta and Olivia Newton–John
I was 8 when this came out and only recently found out none of the cast members, except for John and Olivia, actually provided vocals to the song. The soundtrack, Grease, ended up selling 56 bazillion copies around the world, and I’m still in possession of a few vinyl copies. I always thought Olivia was uncool before this, John was funny and slick being a Sweathog, and still do, in a way. Only in a Hollywood tale could they ever be together – do they kiss and tell about their love? Will they ever get together again? With impassioned vocals, the answer is only 90 minutes away. Everybody! Bu–ut oh, those su–ummer niiiiiiights!
You might scoff at the notion of The Archies as “just” a cartoon band (may I introduce to you, Exhibit A, Gorrilaz) but in the height of 1969»s psychedelia, Woodstock, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women this song was everywhere, becoming the biggest–selling song of the year. One of the writers of the song, Andy Kim, once told me since radio stations wouldn’t play The Archies, music directors were only told who it was after they promised to play it on the radio. Pure summer, pure camp memories for me, it’s still mentioned as a favorite among strange bedfellows – R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, George W. Bush, and members of Broken Social Scene.
We Got The Beat
2 minutes, 32 seconds. That’s it. That’s all you need. By the time the intro of the drums kicks into the bass, there’s a sonic revelation for many teenagers – this was our time to dance. Deceptively simple on first or the 10,000th listen, the girl group perfectly captures an modern ode to getting your groove on the floor, hanging out, and looking cool, even as it gives a wink to the past by mentioning various early 60s dances, such as the Pony and the Watusi. It’s one of those songs that just comes from the sun. The Go–Gos were never able to make another song full of sustained joyness ever again – but then again, very few bands ever did.