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The smoke dances up from the barbecue and fades into the electric blue sky; dominating the atmosphere with a cocktail of smells that feel as if they could be eaten. The only thing that can pull your focus away is the glistening of the sun in the corner of your eye, the light performing a seductive dance as it shimmers in the condensation building on your ice-cold beverage. It’s as if time were an issue of other people. You take a second to close your eyes and tilt your head back, basking in the glory of the moment. It seems like perfection but there’s something missing; you reach for your headphones and your copy of Mindful Melody Issue 12 in search of the last piece of the puzzle – the top ten songs for the Summer sun...
10. Kokomo - The Beach Boys
To be honest, the entire Beach Boys catalogue is pretty much one long summer playlist. I could’ve chosen any one of their hits, from the toe-tapping ‘Surfin’ USA’ to the feel-good wistfulness of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’. I opted for ‘Kokomo’, because when you listen you can’t help but be transported to one of the array of sunny destinations the band name-checks, from Aruba to Jamaica to Bermuda or the Bahamas. The other reason I picked this is because every time I hear it, it makes me think of Steve Carell’s hilarious acapella renditions of Kokomo in ‘Space Force’ whenever he’s feeling nervous. The classic Beach Boys vocal-layering is in full force on this track, and the rhythmic, harmonised chorus radiates summer warmth through your headphones. I’m convinced that The Beach Boys must’ve been paid by travel agents across America, because it’s impossible to get through the song without succumbing to the temptation to start scrolling through Expedia and planning your next getaway.
9. At Last - Etta James
I absolutely love this song, but who doesn’t? Released in 1960 the song falls within one of the most stylish periods in modern history. I can’t listen without being completely transported – the strings hit and all of a sudden I become James Bond driving a convertible along the Riviera with my shades on and Audrey Hepburn in the passenger seat. As usual Etta James' vocals are like smooth velvet and sit beautifully on top of the iconic gliding strings – it just oozes class. It isn’t one to blast out of your speakers as the backdrop to a sunny day pool party, but definitely to be utilised as the soundtrack for a romantic July getaway. The theme of the song is quite fitting too, possibly lending its title to the expression uttered by most Brits when the sun does actually decide to come out!
8. Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band Ft. Jimmy Buffet
With any summer playlist of mine, it might have a little Country, a little Hip-Hop, and a little EDM, but one thing is for sure - there are always going to be plenty of sun-soaked Zac Brown Band anthems. For me, ‘Knee Deep’ epitomises everything I love about the group - it’s light-hearted, uptempo and reflective without losing any of its verve or vitality. The central theme is a familiar one for us Brits - longing to be standing in the ocean, with “the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair/Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair”. This is my audio antidote whenever I’m feeling stressed or in need of some psychological Vitamin D on an otherwise rainy day. What makes it really hit the summertime sweet spot is the fact that it features the founder of the Gulf & Western genre - which is characterised by a tropical-meets-Country feel - the ever-smiling and ever-surfing Jimmy Buffett. If only life could always be as simple as these lines: “Wrote a note that said ‘Back in a minute’/Bought a boat and I sailed off in it/Don’t think anybody’s gonna miss me anyway”.
7. Summer Madness - Kool and the Gang
I always find it fascinating the way that songs can intrinsically sound like a season; the sentence ‘this sounds like Summer’ at its core is nonsense yet we all know exactly what it means. With that in mind, it was no surprise that Kool and the Gang decided this one should have Summer in the title. Whether given after writing as a fitting description or before writing as an artistic brief the song definitely gives off the right vibes. What’s even more amazing is that there aren’t any lyrics at all, meaning we aren’t being informed of this sunshine feeling through words but just through the pure sound. The song is so relaxed and is pretty versatile; it could easily accompany a relaxing sunbathe, an afternoon stroll or even a summer social gathering – but one thing is for sure, it can only be in Summer.
6. Summertime Magic - Childish Gambino
This song is taken from one of my all-time favourite films, ‘Guava Island’. Starring an all-singing, all-dancing Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) and a strangely non-singing, non-dancing Rihanna, it’s a poignant, island tale centred around pursuing your dreams, standing up to the establishment and living a life of freedom. More than the plot, I love it for the escapist, tropical aesthetic and the incredible music. Along with ‘Feels Like Summer’, ‘Summertime Magic’ was one of the main singles that the film spawned, and the repetitive, sparse track floats along in a haze of lyrics about summer lovin’ and romanticism. For those who were a little unsure what to make of Childish Gambino’s obtuse, mind-bending album, ‘3.15.20’, the easy-breezy ‘Summertime Magic’ will help you fall right back in love with him.
5. It Just Won't Do - Tim Deluxe, Sam Obernik
A real earworm that’s bound to get you moving; this dance track just screams summer. The use of trumpets gives it a real samba twist that means you just can’t help but to think of sunshine, beaches and holidays! Another that manages to sound intrinsically sunny, listening at any other time of the year would just feel plain wrong! Definitely one to get the pool party pumping and if you need proof go on YouTube! You’ll see it is the first song played by FatBoy Slim during his DJ set on Brighton Beach in 2002 to thousands of people whilst the sun is sinking – the perfect setting for a summer party anthem
4. COASTIN' - Niko Moon
This new track from one of the Gulf & Western genre’s newest stars, Niko Moon, combines a trap-inspired beat with uptempo Tropical-Country vocals. It’s an ode to the joys of driving around in the heat of summer with the windows down, shades on and a great CD loaded up. The lyrics are all about chilling and choosing relaxation over stress, but the Hip-Hop backing gives the track an undeniable sense of energy and vibrancy. I was always going to be biassed towards ‘COASTIN’’ because it contains a line that feels particularly pertinent to my own summers: “Yeah, laidback, ain't got nowhere to go/Kenny Chesney on the radio”. In an ideal world, I would’ve picked a Kenny Chesney song for each of my Top 10 choices, but David wouldn’t let me…
3. Malibu - Miley Cyrus
It’s becoming pretty common for me to bring Miley Cyrus into play even though I’m hardly her biggest fan, but that’s just a testament to how good this song is. Having based an article on it in the past it really has had an effect on me since I accidentally rediscovered it courtesy of my girlfriend. I think the thing with Summer music is that it is quite a broad umbrella, and whilst a lot of the songs will probably cater for a scenario much like the one described in the intro to this article, that’s not all we do during the summer. This song for me is the perfect anthem for sunset walks on the beach, or those late-night summer drives home; it’s not a raver or party anthem, but if you want to chill out, get lost in your thoughts or just take in a peaceful summer moment then this is the song you need.
2. Dance The Night Away - The Mavericks
This song is essentially three minutes of sheer joy. The lyrics aren’t overly summery, but the Latin impulses and euphoric horns that maintain the buoyancy of the track make you feel as though you’ve just woken up in Tijuana, Mexico. The easygoing vocals wash over you and compel you to get up and start dancing, making this the ideal BBQ garden-party-starter. The opening lyrics “Here comes my happiness again, right back to where it should have been” set the tone, and the musical journey The Mavericks take you on certainly delivers on its promise. Strangely, it’s technically a break-up track, but as the main character expresses his desire to dance his worries away, there’s no hint of lingering regret or sadness - this is positive, happy vibes through and through.
1. Club Tropicana Wham!
There’s a phrase that’s become popular in recent years; ‘If you don’t like (insert stereotypical cringe thing here) then I don’t trust you’. I hate it, however if you don’t like ‘Club Tropicana’ then I just do not trust you. It’s hard to call this absolute masterclass of cheesy pop a guilty pleasure anymore because everybody loves it and most people don’t even try to deny it. If this isn’t enough to get you singing, dancing and feeling generally summery then I don’t know what will. As much as I love this song already, there’s two things it reminds me of every time I listen: that it’s catchier than I remembered and that I’m in desperate need of a summer holiday! What this song does better than any other I can think of is to encapsulate that holiday-mode we all go into – worries fall by the wayside and the stresses stay at home whilst you enjoy a few glorious days of sea, sand and sun!
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