Hot-weather hits and local favorites

-A A +A

A look at the songs of summer

By Becca Owsley

Listening to a song on the radio can instantly transport you to a summer of your youth. The windows immediately come down in the car and your hair blows in the wind as you drive. It’s that kind of song.


Throughout music history, songs released in the summer create memories that last a lifetime. There’s something about a goodtime summer song.

Just like DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince crooned, it’s “summer, summer, summertime; time to sit back and unwind.”

Disc jockey Les Cook of WAKY 103.5 said a good summer song evokes feelings of freedom, romance and fun. Children are out of school, romances are blooming and they start being rowdy, he said.

Songs like “My Sharona” are silly and fun, “Close to You” by the Carpenters is about romance, and “Born to be Wild” is about being rowdy, Cook said.

People of all generations have certain songs that take them back to their youth, he said.

All of these songs capture the “breezy, loopy feeling of the sun,” he said. It takes you back to pools, cookouts, camping and cruising as well as freedom and escape from indoors, he said.

It’s not just an escape for children out of school, but for adults who take weekend adventures and vacations, he added.

Hollie Sexton of WQXE 98.3 said Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” is the “official kick off to summer that transcends genres or formats.”

She heard it while listening to a radio station on a visit to Las Vegas in May.

“Everybody plays it,” she said.

“The most requested songs are the ones that make you want to roll the windows down,” Sexton said.

People also like music from Chicago, Shakira, Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas in the summer, she said.

Sexton’s personal favorites are “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys and “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO.

But some songs can get tiresome in the summer if they are overplayed. “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock is one of those songs for Sexton.

Area residents expressed their love for summer music on Facebook. The most popular suggestion was the kings of summer, The Beach Boys.

“The Beach Boys remind me of our family vacations to Florida growing up,” said Brittney Carl of Hodgenville.

“Can’t have summer without the Beach Boys,” said Tim Peace of Elizabethtown. “Anything by them covers it.”

Jessica Hundley of Elizabethtown likes “Summer Nights” by Rascal Flatts and “Sunshine and Summertime” by Faith Hill.

“It just makes me want to roll down the windows of my car, turn the music up and forget all the worries that go along with being a grown up,” she said. “Or sit in a float in cool water with a tropical drink in hand and a relaxing smile on my face.”

Michael Radford of Elizabethtown likes “Summer Nights” from the “Grease” soundtrack.

“It signifies what summer was for my generation, old people,” Radford said.

“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams was another popular suggestion.
“It came out when I was in high school and it would always make me want to sing at the top of my lungs,” said Tracey Duggins of Elizabethtown. “I still do that when it comes on today.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” is one of Kelly O’Brien’s favorites.

“It reminds me of high school and being young, especially with our reunion coming up,” said O’Brien, of Elizabethtown.

Others like a country sound. Dana Taylor of Elizabethtown likes Zac Brown Band’s “Free” and Eric Church’s “Springsteen.”

“When I think summer, I think country music,” Taylor said. “These songs make me think about summer love.”

“Old Alabama” by Brad Paisley is a favorite of Nanette Cross-Smallwood of Cecilia.

“Riding with the windows down and the wind bowing your hair definitely makes me think of summer,” she said.

But all summer songs aren’t from the distant past.

Middle school student Lane Ryan of Elizabethtown likes “Firework” by Katy Perry.

“I love listening to it because its meaning is very inspirational. It means to go out and to be yourself and to show your inner beauty and I think that everyone should be able to do that without people judging and it’s just a really fun song,” she said.

Lane might be on the right track. According to Billboard’s Top 30 Summer Hits, “California Gurls” by Katy Perry tops the list. The list includes songs that made it to No. 1 on the charts since the beginning of the Billboard rankings. The ranks are based on how long a song held the No. 1 spot.

Other songs that rounded out the top five are “Surf City” by Jan & Dean, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Bryan Hyland, “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris and “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The Beach Boys have five songs on the Top 30, making the true soundtrack of summer.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.

Billboard’s Top 30 Summer Hits
30. “Surfin' Safari” by The Beach Boys (1962)
29. “Summertime” by Billy Stewart (1966)
28. “Wipeout” by the Fat Boys and The Beach Boys (1987)
27. “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama (1983)
26. “Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran (1958)
25. “A Summer Song” by Chad & Jeremy (1964)
24. “Suddenly Last Summer” by The Motels (1983)
23. “Surfer Girl” by The Beach Boys (1963)
22. “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts (1972)
21. “School's Out” by Alice Cooper (1972)
20. “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer” by Nat King Cole (1963)
19. “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake (2007)
18. “Saturday In The Park” by Chicago (1972)
17. “Summer Girls” by LFO (1999)
16. “California Girls” by The Beach Boys (1965)
15. “Summer” by War (1976)
14. “Under The Boardwalk” by The Drifters (1964)
13. “Summer Of '69” by Bryan Adams (1985)
12. “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry (1970)
11. “The Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)
10. “Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (1978)
9. “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone (1969)
8. “Surfin' U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys (1963)
7. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1991)
6. “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx  (1988)
5. “Surf City” by Jan & Dean  (1963)
4. “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini” by Bryan Hyland
3. “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris (1962)
2. “Summer In The City” by The Lovin' Spoonful (1966)
1. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg (2010)