Streams

The Mix: The Songs Of The Summer

Friday, June 20, 2014

People have funny ways of describing hit pop songs. A song is "infectious," an "earworm." It "gets under your skin." It's not summer without little annoyances — sunburn, mosquito bites, sweat — just as it's not summer without the Song of the Summer. We're talking about a song (or two, or three) that explodes and quickly permeates pop culture. It runs rampant up and down your radio dial, around your parties and deep in your brain. Perhaps this is why such pop music is described in terms usually reserved for the plague.

The songs that win the summer season spread so fast and far because they work. They're fun to sing. The hooks are catchy. They speak to something larger than our tastes, fulfilling a collective need for music that's as danceable as it is escapist as it is a shared experience. This happens every year. 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. What story would they tell us?

Billboard has compiled lists of the Top 10 charting Songs of the Summer since 1985, so figuring those was easy. For the summers of 1962 through 1984, we looked through the June-August Billboard charts, taking note of which songs were on the charts the longest, in any position, and which had staying power at No. 1. It wasn't a perfect science, but we made our best educated decisions about which songs once ruled the radio and the cash registers.

While this mix will not play in chronological order, some interesting patterns pop up when you consider the songs listed below. The sound of popular music has changed the most, as the top summer hits go from surf rock in the early 1960s through British and then American rock 'n' roll, disco, power ballads, R&B, boy bands and hip-hop. Recently, anthemic dance pop has taken over, with songs that seem louder and more bombastic than ever (even if hits today tend to be slower in tempo). And there's something in the songs' messages — be it that breakups suck, or that summer is the best time to be carefree, or that dancing is our path to freedom — that tells us what cultural values seeped into (or out of) music in a given year. Amid the songs in this mix, hear NPR hosts and reporters share their memories of hearing these songs when they were in their prime.


Songs In This Mix:

  • 2014: Nico & Vinz, "Am I Wrong"
  • 2014: Popcaan, "Everything Nice"
  • 2014: Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX, "Fancy"
  • 2014: Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea, "Problem"
  • 2014: Jason Derulo, "Wiggle"
  • 2013: Bruno Mars, "Treasure"
  • 2013: Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, "Get Lucky"
  • 2013: Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, "Blurred Line"
  • 2013: Mariah Carey featuring Miguel, "#Beautiful"
  • 2012: Maroon 5, "Payphone"
  • 2012: fun. featuring Janelle Monae, "We Are Young"
  • 2012: Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
  • 2012: Psy, "Gangnam Style"
  • 2011: Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, "Give Me Everything"
  • 2011: Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
  • 2011: LMFAO, "Party Rock Anthem"
  • 2011: Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
  • 2010: Mike Posner, "Cooler Than Me"
  • 2010: Drake, "Find Your Love"
  • 2010: Eminem featuring Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"
  • 2010: Katy Perry, "California Gurls"
  • 2010: Taio Cruz, "Dynamite"
  • 2009: Drake, "Best I Ever Had"
  • 2009: Pitbull, "I Know You Want Me"
  • 2009: Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody"
  • 2009: Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling"
  • 2009: Taylor Swift, "You Belong With Me"
  • 2008: Rihanna, "Disturbia"
  • 2008: Natasha Bedingdfield, "Pocketful Of Sunshine"
  • 2008: Coldplay, "Viva La Vida"
  • 2008: Katy Perry, "I Kissed A Girl"
  • 2008: Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, "Lollipop"
  • 2007: Sean Kingston, "Beautiful Girls"
  • 2007: Fergie, "Big Girls Don't Cry"
  • 2007: Plain White T's, "Hey There Delilah"
  • 2007: Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, "Umbrella"
  • 2007: T-Pain featuring Yung Joc, "Buy U A Drank"
  • 2006: Yung Joc, "It's Goin' Down"
  • 2006: Cassie, "Me & U"
  • 2006: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
  • 2006: Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland, "Promiscuous"
  • 2006: Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie"
  • 2005: Black Eyed Peas, "Don't Phunk With My Heart"
  • 2005: Rihanna, "Pon De Replay"
  • 2005: Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
  • 2005: Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
  • 2005: The Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes, "Don't Cha"
  • 2004: Nina Sky, "Move Ya Body"
  • 2004: Lil' Flip, "Sunshine"
  • 2004: Juvenile featuring Soulja Slim, "Slow Motion"
  • 2004: Usher, "Confessions Part II"
  • 2003: Lumidee, "Never Leave You- Uh Ooh, Uh Ooh"
  • 2003: Matchbox Twenty, "Unwell"
  • 2003: Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, "Crazy In Love"
  • 2003: Chingy, "Right Thurr"
  • 2003: Sean Paul, "Get Busy"
  • 2002: Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland, "Dilemma"
  • 2002: P. Diddy & Ginuwine, "I Need A Girl (Part Two)"
  • 2002: Avril Lavigne, "Complicated"
  • 2002: Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle"
  • 2002: Eminem, "Without Me"
  • 2002: Nelly, "Hot In Herre"
  • 2001: Alicia Keys, "Fallin'"
  • 2001: 112, "Peaches & Cream"
  • 2001: Destiny's Child, "Bootylicious"
  • 2001: Eve featuring Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
  • 2000: Vertical Horizon, "Everything You Want"
  • 2000: Joe, "I Wanna Know"
  • 2000: Aaliyah, "Try Again"
  • 2000: 'NSYNC, "It's Gonna Be Me"
  • 1999: Destiny's Child, "Bills, Bills, Bills"
  • 1999: Backstreet Boys, "I Want It That Way"
  • 1999: Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca"
  • 1999: Christina Aguilera, "Genie In A Bottle"
  • 1999: Jennifer Lopez, "If You Had My Love"
  • 1999: Len, "Steal My Sunshine"
  • 1999: Smash Mouth, "All Star"
  • 1998: Shania Twain, "You're Still The One"
  • 1998: Brandy & Monica, "The Boy Is Mine"
  • 1998: Next, "Too Close"
  • 1998: Vengaboys, "We Like To Party"
  • 1998: The Backstreet Boys, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
  • 1997: Spice Girls, "Say You'll Be There"
  • 1997: Third Eye Blind: "Semi-Charmed Life"
  • 1997: Hanson, "MMMBop"
  • 1997: Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy & Ma$e, "Mo Money Mo Problems"
  • 1997: Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans & 112, "I'll Be Missing You"
  • 1996: Celine Dion, "Because You Loved Me"
  • 1996: 2Pac, "How Do U Want It/California Love"
  • 1996: Toni Braxton, "You're Making Me High/Let It Flow"
  • 1996: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Tha Crossroads"
  • 1996: Los Del Rio, "Macarena"
  • 1996: Mariah Carey, "Always Be My Baby"
  • 1995: Shaggy, "Boombastic/In The Summertime"
  • 1995: Monica, "Don't Take It Personal/One Of Dem Days"
  • 1995: The Notorious B.I.G, "One More Chance/Stay With Me"
  • 1995: Seal, "Kiss From A Rose"
  • 1995: TLC, "Waterfalls"
  • 1994: Elton John, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight"
  • 1994: Boyz II Men, "I'll Make Love To You"
  • 1994: Ace of Base, "Don't Turn Around"
  • 1994: All-4-One, "I Swear"
  • 1994: Lisa Loeb, "Stay"
  • 1994: Warren G & Nate Dogg, "Regulate"
  • 1993: H-Town, "Knockin' Da Boots"
  • 1993: Onyx, "Slam"
  • 1993: SWV, "Weak"
  • 1993: Tag Team, "Whoomp! (There It Is)"
  • 1993: UB40, "Can't Help Falling In Love"
  • 1992: TLC, "Baby-Baby-Baby"
  • 1992: Guns N' Roses, "November Rain"
  • 1992: Boys II Men, "End of the Road"
  • 1992: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Under the Bridge"
  • 1992: Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
  • 1991: Amy Grant, "Every Heartbeat"
  • 1991: Color Me Badd, "I Wanna Sex You Up"
  • 1991: Bryan Adams, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"
  • 1991: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, "Summertime"
  • 1991: EMF, "Unbelievable"
  • 1990: En Vogue, "Hold On"
  • 1990: Glen Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown, "She Ain't Worth It"
  • 1990: Mariah Carey, "Vision Of Love"
  • 1990: New Kids on the Block, "Step By Step"
  • 1989: Paula Abdul, "Cold Hearted"
  • 1989: Simply Red, "If You Don't Know Me By Now"
  • 1989: Martika, "Toy Soldiers"
  • 1989: Richard Marx, "Right Here Waiting"
  • 1988: Richard Marx, "Hold On To The Nights"
  • 1988: George Michael, "Monkey"
  • 1988: Cheap Trick, "The Flame"
  • 1988: Steve Winwood, "Roll With It"
  • 1987: U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
  • 1987: Los Lobos, "La Bamba"
  • 1987: Heart, "Alone"
  • 1987: U2, "With Or Without You"
  • 1987: Whitney Houston, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
  • 1986: Genesis, "Invisible Touch"
  • 1986: Bananarama, "Venus"
  • 1986: Madonna, "Papa Don't Preach"
  • 1986: Peter Cetera, "Glory Of Love"
  • 1985: Prince and The Revolution, "Raspberry Beret"
  • 1985: John Parr, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)"
  • 1985: Huey Lewis & The News, "The Power of Love"
  • 1985: Tears For Fears, "Shout"
  • 1984: Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"
  • 1984: Prince & The Revolution, "When Doves Cry"
  • 1983: The Police, "Every Breath You Take"
  • 1983: Irene Cara, "Flashdance...What a Feeling"
  • 1982: Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder, "Ebony & Ivory"
  • 1982: Human League, "Don't You Want Me"
  • 1982: Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger"
  • 1981: Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"
  • 1981: Kim Carnes, "Bette Davis Eyes"
  • 1980: Lipps, Inc., "Funkytown"
  • 1980: Billy Joel, "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me"
  • 1979: Donna Summer, "Bad Girls"
  • 1979: Anita Ward, "Ring My Bell"
  • 1978: Andy Gibb, "Shadow Dancing"
  • 1978: Frankie Valli, "Grease"
  • 1977: Shaun Cassidy, "Da Doo Ron Ron"
  • 1977: Fleetwood Mac, "Dreams"
  • 1976: Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight"
  • 1976: Elton John & Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
  • 1976: Wings, "Silly Love Songs"
  • 1975: The Captain & Tennille, "Love Will Keep Us Together"
  • 1974: Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, "Billy, Don't Be A Hero"
  • 1974: George McCrae, "Rock Your Baby"
  • 1973: Diana Ross, "Touch Me In The Morning"
  • 1973: Jim Croce, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"
  • 1972: Bill Withers, "Lean On Me"
  • 1972: Sammy Davis, Jr., "The Candy Man"
  • 1971: Bee Gees, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?"
  • 1971: Carole King, "It's Too Late"
  • 1970: The Carpenters, "(They Long To Be) Close To You"
  • 1970: The Jackson 5, "The Love You Save"
  • 1970: Edwin Starr, "War"
  • 1969: The Beatles, "Get Back"
  • 1969: The Rolling Stones, "Honky Tonk Woman"
  • 1968: Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"
  • 1968: The Rascals, "People Got To Be Free"
  • 1967: Aretha Franklin, "Respect"
  • 1967: The Doors, "Light My Fire"
  • 1966: Tommy James & The Shondells, "Hanky Panky"
  • 1966: The Troggs, "Wild Thing"
  • 1966: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer In The City"
  • 1965: The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"
  • 1965: The Beatles, "Help!"
  • 1965: The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  • 1965: Sonny & Cher, "I Got You Babe"
  • 1964: Dean Martin, "Everybody Loves Somebody"
  • 1964: The Animals, "House of the Rising Sun"
  • 1964: The Beach Boys, "I Get Around"
  • 1963: Lesley Gore, "It's My Party"
  • 1963: Jan & Dean, "Surf City"
  • 1962: Ray Charles, "I Can't Stop Loving You"
  • 1962: Neil Sedaka, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
  • 1962: Little Eva, "The Loco-Motion"
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

Tags:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.