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100 Best Summer Songs: The Ultimate Summer Playlist

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Best Summer Songs - The Ultimate Summer Playlist

Summertime is our favorite time of year. The days are long, the grills get fired up, friends come to chill, and the beach calls our names.

And we all know that good summer playlists go along with summer like cold beer goes with a hot August night.

So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled not one, not two, but fifteen summer playlists featuring our top picks for the best summer songs of all time.

The result is our ultimate summer songs playlist! And we promise that no matter your age or your musical likes, we have good summer songs you’ll love!

Let’s get stuck in!

 

The Best Summer Songs of All Time

Songs about summer have always been popular and have been around for some time. The first popular tune was “Summertime,” written by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess.

Unlike today’s hits that delve into the fun aspects of the season, the lyrics of “Summertime” confront the harsh realities of poverty.

Beach music became popular during the 40s and 50s in North and South Carolina. Bands and artists were inspired by R&B and blues artists.

In the 60s, California set the stage for what would become an international sensation known as Surf Music. Dick Dale and the Del-Tones crafted the iconic sound of a picked electric guitar through amps thick with reverb.

One of the biggest hits of this era was “Wipeout” by the Surfaris which featured one of rock music’s first recorded drum solos.

These beach and surf pioneers set the stage for the summertime music we love today. They also helped to launch careers for supergroups like The Beach Boys. The result of all of this creative kinetic energy is the best summer music ever!

Today, artists from every musical style have crafted modern summer jams perfect for parties or chilling at the beach. Some tunes have become timeless treasures that contemporary artists rediscover and make their own.

For our playlists, we based our research on this rich history to select tunes from past eras and those that are topic-specific, like the best wedding summer songs.

So, without further ado, here’s our list of the best summer songs of all time:

  1. “Time to Pretend” – MGMT
  2. “Dancing in the Street” – Martha and the Vandellas
  3. “Crazy in Love” – Beyonce, Jay Z
  4. “Wipe Out” – Surfaris
  5. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer
  6. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
  7. “Music Sounds Better With You” – Stardust
  8. “Lovely Day” – Bill Withers
  9. “Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys
  10. “Summer Breeze” – Seals and Crofts

 

Best Summer Songs 2021

Nothing says summer jams like our song picks! These hits were perennial favorites on Spotify last year, which is why they’re on our list.

Everyone needs a good summer playlist when it’s time for sunbathing, cookouts with friends or chilling with toes in the sand.

Be sure to keep reading as we explore the summer music from past eras, starting with the 80s!

Now onward to the best summer songs of 2021:

  1. “Wild Blue” – John Mayer
  2. “Shivers” – Ed Sheeran
  3. “Need Your Love” – Alex Hosking, Majestic
  4. “Summer In Love” – THAT KIND
  5. “Risk It All” – Ella Henderson, House Gospel Choir, Just Kiddin
  6. “Don’t Be Shy” – Tiesto, KAROL G
  7. “One Night” – Griff
  8. “Levitating” – Dua Lipa, DaBaby
  9. “Peaches” – Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar, Giveon
  10. “Kiss Me More” – Doja Cat, SZA
  11. “Drive” – Clean Bandit, Topic, Wes Nelson
  12. “Summer 91 (Looking Back)” – Noizu
  13. “Summer Feeling” – Matoma, Jonah Kagen
  14. “Ready For My Love) – Kideko, Kudo Blue
  15. “Fly Away” – Tones And I
  16. “This Could Be Something” – Charles J
  17. “Heartbreak Anthem” – Galantis, David Guetta, Little Mix
  18. “Kiss Me (Uh Oh) – “Anne-Marie, Little Mix
  19. “Back To Life” – HUGEL
  20. “OUT OUT” – Joel Corry, Jaz Jones, Charli XCX, Saweetie

 

Our Favorite 2021 Summer Song

Our favorite summer song is “Summer Feeling” by Mantona and Jonah Kagen.

Having “summer” in the song title was a huge plus, but it’s the upbeat groove and swirling synth arpeggio that made us want to crank it up and blast it out our car windows.

Lyrical references to playing in the sand and the warm ocean capture the imagination. All of which combine to rekindle those wonderful summer feelings.

 

Best 80s Summer Songs

The 80s had amazing music that crisscrossed musical genres like jet planes over London’s Heathrow Airport. We love that many of these hits had “summer” in the title, making them golden for our list.

For the ultimate summer playlist, add these chart-toppers. And if you’re old enough, think back to those days when wild hairdos and vivid fashions were the guilty pleasures of the day.

Here’s our list of the best 80s summer songs:

  1. “Walking On Sunshine” – Katrina and The Waves
  2. “Kokomo” – Beach Boys
  3. “Boys of Summer” – Don Henley
  4. “Vacation” – Go Go’s
  5. “Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams
  6. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince
  7. “Bette Davis Eyes” – Kim Carnes
  8. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel
  9. “Addicted to Love” – Robert Palmer
  10. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson

 

Our Favorite 80s Summer Song

Selecting one favorite was a tough decision because all these jams are fantastic! In the end, we settled on the 1983 smash “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves.

This pop song has an up-tempo bass line and drum groove that reminds us of Motown.

The melody is catchy and the lyrics uplifting, making it impossible not to smile and tap along with the beat. Plus, the band is British.

So what? Well, Brits know a thing or two about dreary weather, which in turn makes them appreciate sunny days more than most of us!

 

Best 90s Summer Songs

What an era this was for music! Country artists like Garth Brooks became international stars, and Alanis Morisette redefined the role of women with her hit-laden album, Jagged Little Pill.

Whitney Houston was crowned the Queen of Female Pop based upon her chart success.

It’s no wonder that our 90s summer playlist is going to be a musical potpourri. So tag along on this journey into our summer jams.

Here’s our list of the best 90s summer songs:

  1. “Whoomp! There it is” – Tag Team
  2. “U Can’t Touch This” – MC Hammer
  3. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” – Shania Twain
  4. “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff/The Fresh Prince
  5. “Vogue” – Madonna
  6. “Too Funky” – George Michael
  7. “All I Wanna Do” – Sheryl Crow
  8. “You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette
  9. “Wannabe” – Spice Girls
  10. “Life is A Highway” – Tom Cochran

 

Our Favorite 90s Summer Song

Once again, this was a tough decision! So many great tunes from various music genres. But we chose “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow.

The 90s was when female artists pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a woman, especially in the music biz.

This song exemplifies that. Musically, it morphs jazz with pop and country to create a fun, toe-tapping groove. Lyrically, Sheryl ditches talking about love by setting her song story in an LA bar and drinking beer at lunchtime.

Topping it off is the chorus! It’s musically intoxicating and will have you singing, “All I wanna do is have some fun…”. After all, isn’t this what we all want during the summer?

 

Best 2000s Summer Songs

After the world survived Y2K, we all got back to listening to our favorite songs. Country music’s international appeal was waning, but some artists cranked out some classics.

Rock acts were also beginning to fade as hip-hop, pop, and rap became more popular. Listed below are our top picks for what we believe are essentials for your summer songs playlist.

Here’s our list of the best 2000s summer songs:

  1. “Yeah!” – Usher
  2. “Bye Bye Bye” – NSYNC
  3. “Beautiful Day” – U2
  4. “Who Let the Dogs Out” – Baha Men
  5. “Breathe” – Faith Hill
  6. “Bent” – Matchbox Twenty
  7. “Smooth” – Santana, Rob Thomas
  8. “I Wanna Know” – Joe
  9. “Everything You Want” – Vertical Horizon
  10. “Oops!… I Did it Again” – Britney Spears

 

Our Favorite 2000s Summer Song

Our favorite summer jam from 2000 is “Yeah!” by Usher. The hip-hop smash hooks you instantly with the opening synth line.

The dance groove is subtle, allowing the keyboard riff to function more as a percussion instrument than a melodic one.

Usher’s voice is as smooth as top-shelf liquor, which is ultimately why “Yeah!” made our list.

 

Best 2010s Summer Songs

2010 was filled with unforgettable songs written by a diverse group of artists. We assembled a sampling of this phenomenon by including rockers like Kings of Leon to the quirky yet oh-so-fun musical styling of Owl City.

We also focused on tunes that had lyrical content or a title that conjured summertime feelings and dreams and love.

Here’s our list of the best 2010s summer songs:

  1. “Tik Tok” – Kesha
  2. “California Gurls” – Katy Perry, Snoop Dog
  3. “OMG” – Usher, Will.I.Am
  4. “King of Anything” – Sara Bareilles
  5. “I Gotta Feeling”- Black Eyed Peas
  6. “Use Somebody”- Kings of Leon
  7. “Party in the USA” – Miley Cyrus
  8. “All the Right Moves” – OneRepublic
  9. “Fireflies” – Owl City
  10. “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga

 

Our Favorite 2010 Summer Song

Our favorite of all 2010 summer songs is “California Gurls” by Katy Perry. We love the bouncy beat, the funky bassline, and the catchy melody in the chorus.

And we all know that the word “California” is synonymous with summertime fun!

Katy Perry leaned heavily on this notion when crafting imagery-filled lyrics like “sun-kissed skin” and “Daisy Dukes bikinis on top.” This song is a “must” for your 2010 summer jam playlist!

 

Best 2020 Summer Songs

By the time 2020 arrived, rap and hip-hop artists were the dominant musical forces, making waves on the charts and in the clubs.

We also saw an influx of solo artists like Selena Gomez and Billie Eilish, who composed music uniquely.

Our choice of songs for 2020 may not have titles or lyrics oozing summer references but were major dance or chart-toppers.

And since summer is a time for late-night dancing and the ups and downs of romance, these ten songs are worthy of being on your playlist.

Here’s our list of the best 2020s summer songs:

  1. “Blinding Lights”-The Weeknd
  2. “Rockstar”-DaBaby
  3. “Adore Your”-Harry Styles
  4. “Rain On Me”-Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande
  5. “Say So”-Doja Cat
  6. “Don’t Start Now”-Dua Lipa
  7. “The Bones”-Maren Morris
  8. “10,000 Hours”-Dan + Shay, Justin Bieber
  9. “Go Crazy”-Chris Brown, Young Thug
  10. “Intentions”-Justin Bieber

 

Our Favorite 2020 Summer Song

“Blinding Lights” hit #1 on Billboard’s 2020 Year-End Hot 100 chart, but that’s not why we chose it. Okay, it helped, but the song’s title made us think of those blinking lights in a club or late at night in a major city.

The electronic pop groove and energetic tempo are the perfect combinations for dancing or partying poolside with friends.

We also love the smooth-sounding vocals and lyrics about love that can mesmerize the heart like blinding lights.

 

Best Wedding Summer Songs

Summer is not only the time for beaches and cookouts but also weddings. We focused on reception music for this section when everyone will be dancing.

We’ll reserve discussing the best songs for key wedding events like the “father-daughter dance” and “walking down the aisle” for another time.

And because weddings have a mixture of people whose musical interests are just as varied, we’ve broadened our list to include hits from many musical eras and genres.

Here’s our list of the best wedding summer songs:

  1. “Uptown Funk” – Bruno Mars
  2. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson
  3. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
  4. “Cha Cha Slide” – DJ Casper
  5. “Mambo No. 5” – Lou Bega
  6. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  7. “Country Girl” – Luke Bryan
  8. “Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
  9. “Unforgettable” – Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole
  10. “I Gotta Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

 

Our Favorite Wedding Summer Song

Choosing this song was like spinning the prize wheel on a game show. No matter where the wheel stopped, you’d have a killer summer song! We opted to go with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

This timeless smash captures the spirit and heart of weddings and life. Musically, the tune has the mystical ability to draw people from all walks of life out onto the dance floor.

 

Best Country Summer Songs

Country music covers many decades, starting with legends like Patsy Cline and bringing us to today’s hit-makers like Eric Church.

Our Best Country Summer Songs list will feature more of today’s superstars, but we’ll sprinkle in classics from the 80s and 90s to mix it up.

We think you’ll enjoy this cross-section of country jams. They’re perfect for playing on those hot summer nights with a cold one in your hand.

Here’s our list of the best country summer songs:

  1. “Pontoon” – Little Big Town
  2. “House Party” – Sam Hunt
  3. “Springsteen” – Eric Church
  4. “Strawberry Wine” – Deana Carter
  5. “Fishin’ in the Dark” – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  6. “I Like It, I Love It” – Tim McGraw
  7. “Some Beach” – Blake Shelton
  8. “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” – Jake Owen
  9. “Chattahoochee” – Alan Jackson
  10. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” – Kenny Chesney

 

Our Favorite Country Summer Song

We love country music because the artists know how to craft hits about the joys of summertime, especially some of the best country singers with deep voices.

The lyrics are filled with images of parties on the beach, summer love, cruising with friends, and having good times. Because of these traits, we chose “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen.

We love the background singers chiming in with their larger-than-life “Ooh!” The groove is deep, and the dobro and banjo add the perfect amount of “country” to the modern-sounding production.

“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” will have you thinking about summer days even when there’s snow on the ground!

 

Best Summer Rap Songs

Hip-hop and rap artists love crafting songs about the hot summer months. Some argue that rappers reserve their most robust material for a summertime release. And who could blame them?

These artists know the warmer months usher in block parties, soaking up the sun, or turning up the heat dancing in clubs.

These topics are treasure fields for artists to write summertime-inspired raps. We selected hip-hop and rap songs that encapsulate the joys and freedoms experienced during the summer for our playlist.

We feature slow-moving tempos ideal for cruising the beach with friends to mid-tempo funky beats ideal for clubbing.

Here’s our list of the best summer rap songs:

  1. “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
  2. “Summer Sixteen” – Drake
  3. “Hot Girl Summer” – Megan Three Stallion
  4. “Feels Like Summer” – Childish Gambino
  5. “Summer Wit Miami” – Jim Jones, Trey Songz
  6. “It Was A Good Day” – Ice Cube
  7. “Middle of Da Summer” – Meek Mill
  8. “Summer Friends” – Chance The Rapper
  9. “Trap Queen” – Fetty Wap
  10. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” – Lil Nas X

 

Our Favorite Summer Rap Song

Our hands-down pick was “Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino. The groove is easy as a warm sunny day, and the melody and vocals are as chill as a starry night.

The lightly strummed acoustic guitar gives the song the initial push instead of relying solely on drum beats.

We also like that the tune is over four minutes long, which allows you to groove that much more with the song. “Feels Like Summer” is the perfect summer jam for relaxing with friends, grilling burgers, or cruising town with the windows down.

 

Best Summer Party Songs

For this category, we hand-picked songs that not only reference summer and partying but have stood the test of time as a summer party song. We dug deep into our oldies but goodies bin to find these treasures.

We’ve also added some newer hits that we feel will one day be summer classics themselves. So grab that cooler and sunscreen and check out these essential jams!

Here’s our list of the best summer party songs:

  1. “Surfin’ USA” – The Beach Boys
  2. “Summer Breeze” – Seals and Crofts
  3. “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO
  4. “Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles
  5. “Summer Nights” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
  6. “Cheeseburger in Paradise” – Jimmy Buffet
  7. “Summertime Blues” – The Who
  8. “Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj
  9. “Dancing in the Streets” – Martha and the Vandellas
  10. “Soak Up the Sun” – Cheryl Crow

 

Our Favorite Summer Party Song

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Our pick exemplifies this mantra. “Dancing in the Streets” debuted in 1964 and has that classic Motown groove and energy.

Add Martha’s R&B vocals and the lyrics about partying in the streets, and it’s an easy pick for our favorite summer party song.

What clinched the deal was that this song has stood the test of time and has been covered by many artists like David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and even Van Halen.

If you’re into your party songs, then check out our list of the best party songs of all time.

 

Best Summer Rock Songs

Although the rock genre isn’t as popular as it was in the 70s and 80s, we still wanted to include a smoking rock and roll playlist. These tunes will be a sure-fire way to crank up your party or your evening out on the town.

We included hits that best matched our summer theme lyrically and had a great groove and feel. Go ahead, crank it up! For those about to rock, we salute you!

Here’s our list of the best summer rock songs:

  1. “Summer in the City” – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  2. “School’s Out” – Alice Cooper
  3. “Saturday in the Park” – Chicago
  4. “Suddenly Last Summer” – The Motels
  5. “California Sun” – The Ramones
  6. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” – Sly & The Family Stone
  7. “Dani California” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. “Holiday” – Green Day
  9. “All Summer Long” – Kid Rock
  10. “Paradise City” – Guns N’ Roses

 

Our Favorite Summer Rock Song

At the heart of rock and roll is teen rebellion. And who doesn’t remember that feeling of school ending and summer beginning?

If you were like us as kids, it made us shout the “F” word: freedom! So, naturally, we went with shock-rocker Alice Cooper and his anthemic “School’s Out.”

The opening guitar lick has become legendary, and the band’s energy is palpable. Cooper’s lyrics, often tongue-in-cheek, capture the essence of teenagers everywhere who can’t wait until “school’s out forever.”

 

Best Summer Beach Songs

Before you roll your eyes thinking this list will be nothing but Beach Boys hits, think again! Yes, they’ll be included, but we’ve found a wide selection of jams that will please any musical palate.

We focused only on songs that referenced the beach or conjured ocean images. Our playlist for the Best Summer Beach Songs will make you long for summers by the surf with your toes in the sand. Enjoy!

Here’s our list of the best summer beach songs:

  1. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” – Otis Redding
  2. “Margaritaville” – Jimmy Buffet
  3. “Toes” – Zac Brown Band
  4. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer
  5. “Under the Boardwalk” – The Drifters
  6. “California Girls” – The Beach Boys
  7. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” – Kenny Chesney
  8. “Surf City” – Jan & Jean
  9. “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” – Rupert Holmes
  10. “Beachin’” – Jake Owen

 

Our Favorite Summer Beach Song

We went with the Kings of Surf Songs, The Beach Boys. “California Girls” is not only a classic lyrically but showcases Brian Wilson’s genius as a composer.

The group’s glass-like harmonies work perfectly with the words that describe the winning qualities of girls worldwide. The orchestral intro is quirky and was almost left off the final mix.

Thankfully, it wasn’t because somehow it works with the Western movie-sounding bass line. The drums enter and launch the song into the stratosphere. And when the chorus hits, we’re all singing along and dreaming of California summers.

 

Best Happy Summer Songs

Life is upbeat and cheery in the summertime, so why not have a playlist of the happy songs that exude such happiness? For this section, we selected positive, life-giving, and downright fun songs.

Like many of our lists, we’ve included a diverse musical selection. These songs are perfect for chilling on the beach, flipping burgers, or hanging out with friends.

Here’s our list of the best happy summer songs:

  1. “Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen
  2. “What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction
  3. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin
  4. “September” – Earth, Wind & Fire
  5. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham
  6. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
  7. “Hey Ya!” – OutKast
  8. “I Got You (I Feel Good” – James Brown
  9. “I’m A Believer” – The Monkees
  10. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye

 

Our Favorite Happy Summer Song

For us, this was a no-brainer. How could we not go with “Happy” by Pharrell Williams? Yes, the title alone was the giveaway, but it’s much more than that.

We love the Motown-inspired groove and simplistic production that allows the vocals to breathe and shine.

Pharrell’s voice is silky smooth like Smoky Robinson’s and floats with the music like a dream. When Pharrell belts out the chorus, we believe even the staunchest Scrooge will smile and sing along.

 

Best Summer Songs Ever

Yeah, you read that correctly: Best Summers Songs E-V-E-R! Many of our choices are songs we’ve already noted, with some new ones sprinkled in as well.

And naturally, as new summer songs chart in the following years, we’ll update our summer playlist, so you always have the best source. But for now, and in no particular order, here are our picks for the greatest summer songs ever!

Here’s our list of the best summer songs ever:

  1. “Walking on Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves
  2. “Dancing in the Street” – Martha and the Vandellas
  3. “California Gurls” – Katy Perry
  4. “Wipe Out” – Surfaris
  5. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” – Kenny Chesney
  6. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
  7. “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff, Fresh Prince
  8. “Lovely Day” – Bill Withers
  9. “Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys
  10. “Summer Breeze” – Seals and Crofts

 

Best Summer Songs Playlist 2022

We gazed into our crystal ball to predict this playlist. Okay, not really, but we did go with our “gut” instincts as well as chart trends we’ve tracked over the years.

We’ve included classics from various music markets and included some surprise selections, too. So cue the drum roll!

Here’s our best summer songs playlist 2022:

  1. “Summer In Love” – THAT KIND
  2. “Summer Feeling” – Matoma, Jonah Kagen
  3. “Stay” – The Kid LAROI, Justin Bieber
  4. “Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams
  5. “Hot Girl Summer” – Megan Three Stallion
  6. “Soak Up the Sun” – Cheryl Crow
  7. “Shivers” – Ed Sheeran
  8. “Good 4 U” – Olivia Rodrigo
  9. “Dancing In the Street” – Martha and the Vandellas
  10. “Summertime” – Kenny Chesney

 

Summary

Thanks for tagging along on our journey through the greatest summer songs playlists.

You now have a plethora of cool summer songs to keep you partying until the leaves start to fall! And to top it all off, you have playlists for every musical genre under the sun while enjoying the sun.

 

What’s your favorite summer song? Leave a comment below.

Jay is a professional bass player who spent years chasing Nashville’s neon rainbow performing with Shania Twain and other high-profile artists. As a musician, he's produced scores for videos and jingles using Pro Tools, vintage synths, and various plug-ins. When he’s not writing, he’s debating whether to ride his Italian racing bike, get funky on one of his many basses, or chill with the family.

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