The Best Summer Songs of All Time: 30 Top Hits to Keep You Cool
The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and there’s a summer vibe in the air. Whether you're barbecuing in the backyard, hitting the beach, or just lounging around with friends – what better way to celebrate than by listening to some of the best summer songs of all time?
These 30 iconic hits will keep you cool all season long! So put on your shades, crank up the air conditioning, and get ready to chill out with the best summer songs ever.
1: “A SUMMER SONG” – CHAD & JEREMY
This 1965 tune perfectly captures the carefree feeling of summer love. The lyrics paint a picture of two young lovers spending lazy days dancing in the moonlight and falling asleep in each other's arms.
The simple acoustic guitar and gentle harmonies create a warm and nostalgic atmosphere. It’s the perfect song to listen to on a long summer night.
2: “SUMMER NIGHTS” – OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AND JOHN TRAVOLTA
Released in 1978, the song was recorded by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta for the film Grease. It quickly became a summer anthem, thanks to its catchy melody and easy-to-sing lyrics.
For many people, "Summer Nights" conjures up memories of warm evenings spent with friends and loved ones. The song remains popular to this day and continues to be a staple of summer. Whether you're driving with the windows down or spending a lazy afternoon at the beach, this is the song to enjoy the days of summer.
3: “CALIFORNIA GIRLS” – THE BEACH BOYS
It's the sound of summertime...the Beach Boys’ "California Girls"! The sun, the sand, the surf...it’s all here in this classic song.
First released in 1965, this track became a must-have in any summertime playlist, and it's easy to see why. The song portrays the spirit of California living with a nice melody and laid-back vibe. And who can resist those iconic lines: “I wish they all could be California girls”?
A summer jam that'll get you in the mood for sunny days.
4: “SUMMER BREEZE” – SEALS & CROFTS
Summer Breeze was released in 1972 by Seals & Crofts. The lyrics evoke the feeling of summer.
Every time I listen to this song, I can't help but smile and think of all the happy memories I’ve made during the summer months. Whether I’m spending time at the beach or just enjoying a picnic in the park, this song always brings back warm summertime feelings.
5: “HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME” – SLY & THE FAMILY STONE
As soon as the weather starts to heat up, I always find myself reaching for “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone.
It's a happy-go-lucky vibe summer song for lazy days spent lounging by the pool or cruising around with the windows down. There’s something about the laid-back groove and sunny vocals that just make me feel happy – maybe it has something to do with the fact that it celebrates the simple pleasures of summertime.
6: “THAT SUMMER FEELING” – JONATHAN RICHMAN
Ah, summertime. That summer feeling, can't you just taste it? The cool of the pond, the smell of the lawn, your friends. It reminds me of simpler times when all that mattered was doing nothing and staying up late.
There’s something about summer that just makes you feel alive. Maybe it's the endless possibilities or the opportunity to relax and recharge.
Either way, I'm ready to soak it all in and just embrace Jonathan Richman's “That Summer Feeling”. Those days won't last forever.
7: “SUMMERTIME BLUES” – EDDIE COCHRAN
In the pantheon of summer songs, we have “Summertime Blues”. The 1958 track, written and recorded by Eddie Cochran, is a blend of rock and roll and teenage angst, propelled by his signature guitar licks and gravelly vocals.
It encapsulates the joys and tribulations of summertime, from wanting to go out with the person you like to working tedious jobs.
8: “SUMMER WIND” – FRANK SINATRA
“The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea” – these opening lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s classic tune “Summer Wind” superbly convey summertime’s sensual feeling.
The song itself is a mix of Sinatra's signature crooning style and traditional pop beat, and the result is nothing short of hypnotic. What else could be the soundtrack to your summer adventures?
9: “SUMMERTIME” – DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE
Even though it was released more than 30 years ago, “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince is still one of the best summer songs around. The old-school hip-hop groove and summertime vibes lyrics are just the right matches for chill days spent in the sun.
Plus, who can resist singing along to that iconic chorus? The 1991 track has the energy of the season, with its laid-back beats and easy-going rhymes. And it always gets everyone on their feet.
10: “SUNNY AFTERNOON” – THE KINKS
Give me a radio station during summer, and I'll give you “Sunny Afternoon”.
With its jangly guitars and easy-going vocal performance, this 1966 summer song written by Ray Davies (one of the brothers making up The Kinks) has a je ne sais quoi full of those hazy days when the sun is out, but there's a heat wave brewing – when the air is thick and sticky, and everyone is just trying to stay cool.
The instruments sound like they’re melting in the heat, and the lyrics flow together like melted ice cream on a hot day.
11: “SUMMER NIGHT CITY” – ABBA
When you hear the opening notes of “Summer Night City”, you can’t help but feel the excitement of a summer night out on the town.
The song nails the energy and buzz of a city in the heat of summer with its pulsing disco beat and Abba’s signature harmonies.
Released over 40 years ago, it still feels fresh and relevant today. This is the track to get you in the mood for a night of dancing and fun. So put on your dancing shoes and enjoy the city nights this summer!
12: “HOT GIRL SUMMER” – MEGAN THEE STALLION FEATURING NICKI MINAJ & TY DOLLA SIGN
It’s official, summer is here. So is this modern summer classic – “Hot Girl Summer” by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign.
The track is sure to get everyone moving with its catchy hook and dance-worthy beats. But it’s not just the music that makes “Hot Girl Summer” so special – it's also the message. The song encourages listeners to unapologetically embrace their own uniqueness and have fun without giving too much thought to what others say.
13: “ENDLESS SUMMER NIGHTS” – RICHARD MARX
One of the things I love most about summer is the way the days seem to last forever, especially the nights of love. There's something magical about those endless summer nights when the sun hangs low in the sky, and the world seems bathed in warm, golden light, then transforms into long nights dancing under the stars full of love.
“Endless Summer Nights” is a song that makes me feel like anything is possible, like I can conquer the world. And isn't that what summer is all about?
14: “CRUEL SUMMER” – BANANARAMA
The song, released in 1984, is about the end of a summer romance and the heartbreak that comes with it. The lyrics are sad and nostalgic, but the bouncy synth-pop melody gives the song an upbeat feel.
“Cruel Summer” is for anyone who has ever experienced a summer fling gone wrong. It’s catchy, relatable and will make you want to dance.
Now go ahead and blast this song at full volume. It’s time to let go of that summer love and move on to better things.
15: “SURF CITY” – JAN & DEAN
Written by rock duo Jan & Dean, this song defined the sound of the surf music genre.
The track’s melody and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies make it instantly recognisable, and its lighthearted lyrics convey the summer vibes. The Beach Boys may have put California on the map as the ultimate surf destination, but Jan & Dean’s ode to Huntington Beach took things to the next level.
Not to mention the opening line: “Two girls for every boy”.
Pure summertime bliss. Grab your board and head for the waves in Surf City.
16: “HOT STUFF” – DONNA SUMMER
This is a disco emblem penned by English songwriter Pete Bellotte and produced by Italian musician Giorgio Moroder. It was then released as the lead single from Donna Summer’s seventh studio album, Bad Girls, becoming one of the singer's most iconic hits in the process.
The song is an ode to the thrill of a new romance, with Summer’s sultry vocals painting a picture of a passionate relationship. The up-tempo beat and flagrant use of synthesisers are indicative of disco’s heyday in the late 1970s, making “Hot Stuff” a timeless classic of the genre.
17: “SUMMER RAIN” – JOHNNY RIVERS
In my opinion, what really makes “Summer Rain” stand out is how Johnny Rivers use the rain as a metaphor for the feeling of love.
The verses go: “Summer rain taps at my window... Sittin’ here by me, she's here by me. She stepped out of the rainbow... Sittin’ here by me, yeah, she's here by me”.
And that’s exactly how it feels when you finally find that special someone. The heat and the sweat, and the stress of everyday life just melt away, and all that’s left is the pure, blissful feeling of being in love. You might just find yourself falling in love all over again.
18: “SUMMER GIRLS” – LFO
Every summer has a song that seems to capture the carefree spirit of the season. For many people, that song is “Summer Girls” by LFO.
The tune and easy-to-sing-along-to lyrics have plenty of references like Larry Bird, Shakespeare, Willie Whistle, Home Alone and more. But in essence, the lyrics reminisce about young love and first crushes, things that everyone can relate to.
Whether you’re listening to “Summer Girls” for the first time or the hundredth time, it’s sure to put give you a welcome dose of summertime nostalgia.
19: “SUMMERTIME SADNESS” – LANA DEL REY
This is a trip-hop pop ballad with a retro sound and an air of melancholy by Lana Del Rey from her second studio album, Born To Die. It was released in 2012 and written by Del Rey and her producer, Rick Nowels.
This summer song talks about a relationship that didn’t quite work out, but rather than wallowing in misery, Del Rey looks at the situation with a sense of detachment and understanding. She sings as if she’s looking down at the situation from above.
It’s a sad song, no doubt, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that sadness isn’t part of the season, either.
20: “YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH (HOT SUMMER NIGHT)” – MEAT LOAF
As the temperatures start to rise, “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” is one of those pieces with theatrical touches that not only feel, but narrate the story of a hot summer night as well.
There's something about the combination of the sultry guitar riff and Meat Loaf’s powerful vocals that just screams summer. Whether you’re sitting around a bonfire or just cruising down the highway with the windows down, this song is guaranteed to get you in the summer spirit.
21: “SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER” – THE MOTELS
The breezy, up-tempo tune of “Suddenly Last Summer” delineates the easy-going feeling of hitting the open road with the windows down and the sun shining.
The lyrics describe a summer romance that suddenly came to an end, but there’s still a sense of hope and nostalgia in the singer’s voice. This is the type of song that will put you in a proper summer state of mind.
22: “THOSE LAZY HAZY CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER” – NAT KING COLE
If there’s one song that epitomises summer vibes, it’s “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer”. Nat King Cole’s signature vocal style is like honey, smooth and sweet with just a hint of rasp.
The lyrics paint a picture of those days spent lounging in the sun, enjoying the simple pleasures of life. In a world that often feels like it’s moving too fast, this timeless song is a reminder to slow down and take a break.
23: “ROCK LOBSTER” – THE B-52’S
The B-52’s scored their first big hit with “Rock Lobster”, a quirky new wave song about, well, a rock lobster. It was originally written as a spoof of a disco song, but it caught on with audiences and became a dance floor favourite.
The guitar-driven tune features some memorable yet absurdist lyrics, and the band’s avant-garde vocal delivery helped to make the song a classic.
It has also been used in a number of films and television shows, cementing its place in pop culture history. Despite its seemingly silly subject matter, there’s no denying the staying power of "”Rock Lobster”. And I think that’s what I love about it the most.
24: “SUMMER MADNESS” – KOOL & THE GANG
Released in 1974 as the lead instrumental single from their album, Light Of Worlds, the song features a hypnotic groove inspired by jazz-funk rhythms.
“Summer Madness” has been sampled numerous times, most notably by Will Smith on his hit single “Summertime”. The song has also been used in television commercials and other films like Rocky.
It remains one of the band’s most well-known tracks and a staple of hot night summertime listening.
25: “TOES” – ZAC BROWN BAND
This is one of those feel-good songs about living life to the fullest and enjoying the simple things in life.
The lyrics paint a picture of someone content with just sitting back and letting the good times roll. The “toe” references in the song are meant to symbolise taking a break from all the hustle and bustle and just enjoying the moment.
Whether it’s digging your toes in the sand or kicking back with a cold beer, “Toes” is all about taking it easy and savouring the moment.
26: “ALL SUMMER LONG” – KID ROCK
Released in 2008 as the lead single from Kid Rock’s seventh studio album, Rock N Roll Jesus, the song is a mash-up of two hit songs: Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”.
It was a massive commercial success, reaching the top 10 in several countries, including Australia, Europe, the US and the UK.
27: “SUMMER BABE” – PAVEMENT
Pavement’s “Summer Babe” is a perfect example of the band’s lo-fi, slacker rock sound. It features simple, repetitive guitar riffs overlaid with singer Stephen Malkmus’ cool, detached vocals.
The lyrics are seemingly nonsensical, but they embody the feeling of summertime boredom in a very indie way.
This is the perfect soundtrack for a lazy summer day. It’s not too heavy or complex, but just good enough to keep you coming back for more.
28: “DANCING IN THE STREET” – MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS
As soon as the opening notes of “Dancing In The Street” come on, you can’t help but start moving. The infectious beat and soulful vocals are impossible to resist.
Martha & The Vandellas released this song in 1964, and it rapidly became an irresistible hit, reaching the top of the charts. The song has since been covered by countless artistes, and its legacy continues to grow.
29: “ROCKAWAY BEACH” – RAMONES
The energetic opening riff, chorus, and simple lyrics make “Rockaway Beach” an instant punk rock classic.
It was released in 1977 and is notable for its humorous take on the Beach Boys-esque sound, as it tells the story of one of the worst beaches in New York City. Despite its less than favourable reputation, this place has become a beloved spot for city residents and visitors alike.
The beach is home to a number of popular events throughout the year. In a way, the song’s namesake is an accurate embodiment of the Ramones’ sound: fast, loud and simple.
30: “SUMMER IN THE CITY” – THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL
This Lovin’ Spoonful’s song wonderfully encapsulates a city’s heat, energy, and restlessness during those long, hot days.
“Summer In The City” starts with the sound of a busy street, and then the drums come in, giving the song an urgent pulse. The bassline and jangly guitar create a bright, infectious sound that is impossible to resist. And then there are the lyrics, which reaffirm that even though the heat in the city is horrible, the nights are a different world.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SUMMER SONG?
Well, that's it for our list of the best summer songs of all time! Did your favourite song make the cut? We hope you have as much fun listening to these tunes as we did compiling them.
So put on your sunglasses, fire up the grill, and enjoy some good old-fashioned summertime music.
Cover Credit: Toni Cuenca/Unsplash
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Writer| Manuel Torrece
Manuel (or Manu) is a Gen-Z Latino writer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When he's not researching and pushing all the buttons on the keyboard, he loves playing his Taylor acoustic guitar, writing Latin Indie songs in Spanish, and exploring/supporting different projects around the world, mainly related to arts, business and education. manueltorrece.com @manueltorrece