Sade – “Is It a Crime” – (1985)

Sade’s second album, Promises, had big shoes to fill because Diamond Life was incredible. This album had three singles and “Is It a Crime” was the third and final one. It was also the least successful of the three – and while that’s understandable considering the other two, it’s still a great song with soulful vocals, roaring sax, and haunting music. Sade is truly one of the greatest musical acts ever.

B.B. King – “Chains and Things” – (1970)

Let’s start by all agreeing that a guitar made out of a watermelon would be delicious. Indianola Mississippi Seeds was B.B. King’s 18th (!) studio album and it’s some of his finest work. The album only had eight tracks, and this was one of three charting singles. It reached #45 on the Pop Singles chart and #6 on the even-racist-for-1970 Black Singles chart (the highest position of any song on the album). Another reason this album is amazing? The people who played on it: B.B. King, Leon Russell, Carole King, and Joe Walsh, among others.

John Mayer – “Bigger Than My Body” – (2003)

Look at how young John Mayer looks in this video. This was the first single from his second studio album, Heavier Things. The album title is John being snarky at his critics that said he only wrote light, poppy songs. In a different way, this song has much more electric guitar (a heavier sound) and was his first post-9/11 album (and light, poppy songs sort of disappeared for a bit). Yet this song is still upbeat and happy and very radio friendly (something Mayer seems to be grasping for at this point, but at the same time, I don’t think he cares).

Godsmack – “Whatever” – (1998)

This was Godsmack’s first single – and it remains one of their best-remembered songs. You can tell it was the first single but an up-and-coming rock band because the video is terrible: it’s the band playing a show at some outdoor venue. It’s quite typical of late-90s rock videos. This song was a top ten hit on the Mainstream Rock chart back in 1998.

Animotion – “Obsession” – (1985)

Animotion was a new wave band from San Francisco that came together in 1983. This was their best-known song and it was actually a synthpop cover of a little known duet by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. The Animotion version has become a staple of 1980s new wave and in 1984, it was a top ten hit on the Hot 100.

Michael Buble – “Nice ‘n’ Easy” – (2005)

Nice ‘n’ Easy was the title of a 1960 Sinatra album with this as the title track. It’s one of Sinatra’s signature songs (one of his many, anyway) and while I think Buble does a pretty decent cover of it, it takes either a certain arrogance or balls to even cover Sinatra and think you can do it over and over again. Like him or not, he pulls this one off.

The Who – “Going Mobile” – (1971)

Who’s Next is the greatest album by The Who and I’d call this the fifth-best song on the entire album. What I can’t understand however, is how this song has not been licensed for a cell phone commercial. It’s like that’s what it was written for! Fun fact: Roger Daltrey (whose name I just typed as Doger Raltry before correcting it) was not present for the recording of this song – the guy singing is actually Pete Townshend, who wrote it.

Sammy Davis Jr. – “The Birth of the Blues” – (1955)

Sammy Davis Jr. was one of the most famous members of the “Rat Pack” – after Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. But I don’t think he was nearly as talented as those two. This standard was released on his debut studio album in 1955. The song was first published in 1926 and recorded by a number of people over the years. In 1965, Davis, Sinatra, and Dean Martin performed this together on a live TV special. That’s probably the song’s most famous moment (not that anyone knows it anyway).

Klingande – “Jubel” – (2013)

This is one of my favorite songs from the past 12 months. “Jubel” (which is some kind of Scandinavian language for “jubilance” or something) is a wonderful tune from Klingande, a French deep house duo. If you like saxophone, check this out! It was a #1 in 10 European countries and, like the song from Monday, a top ten in the rest of them (more or less). I love it. Hope you had/are having a great summer.

Don Omar – “Hasta Que Salga El Sol” – (2012)

Latin music is some of the best summertime music. I’ve included a link to the lyric video – which is worthless unless you’re fluent in Spanish. The song’s title translates to “Until Sunrise,” in case you wanted to try and follow along. Don Omar put out some solid singles from this album that came out two years ago. Fun fact: this was the theme for the 2012 Miss Universe pageant – which is the most presumptuous of all beauty pageants (you don’t know how beautiful people are on other plants in the universe!).

Mr Probz feat. Robin Schulz – “Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)” – (2014)

Mr Probz is a Dutch singer/rapper and his song “Waves,” which was originally released in the Netherlands in November 2013, was remixed by German DJ Robin Schulz – catapulting this version of the song up the charts in more than a few countries. It was a #1 in more than 10 European countries and a top ten in nearly all of them. It never charted in the U.S. on the Hot 100 (or even the dance chart). That said, it was one of the biggest European hits in the early part of 2014. It’s good for summer because it’s laid back and about waves (and the beach is a very summer thing).

Boy Tedson – “Kylie” – (2013)

Here’s a song that came out last summer that still carries enough freshness every time I hear it that it makes it to this summer. Boy Tedson is from Germany and, appropriately, they list their type of music as “chillout” – which is exactly what this song is. If you don’t like techno, you might still like this song. When I hear this I just picture being outside on a late, arm evening when the sun is about set, just relaxing and having fun.

Marc Anthony – “Vivir Mi Vida” – (2013)

This song is a Spanish cover of a French song. Both are super catchy, but I like the Spanish one better because Marc Anthony added a salsa element to it that the French one obviously lacked. This was a big hit, topping the charts in Colombia (I didn’t even know they had a chart) and doing quite well in Mexico and Spain. It also topped three Billboard charts: Hot Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs, and Tropical Airplay. It also won the Latin Grammy for Record of the Year.

Tom Novy feat. Amadeas – “Dancing in the Sun” – (2013)

Well what’s better to do in the summer than dance in the sun? Nothing. Tom Novy (from Germany) is mostly behind the scenes today, producing for other artists. But this single from last year is kinda nice (high praise, right?).

Nora En Pure – “You Are My Pride” – (2014)

Nora En Pure is musician/band (as according to the official Facebook page. I’m not sure how you can be a singular musician and a band at the same time. Facebook had dozens of options for gender and they can’t separate these two?)… from Zurich, Switzerland. Folktronica is a strange new combination of folk music and electronica. This isn’t the best example and only hints at it with a little bit of harmonica. The song is nice and relaxing, though.

Shy FX feat. Liam Bailey – “Soon Come” – (2013)

Summer usually comes with a dose of warm weather (sorry, Southern Hemisphere-ers). And nothing says warm weather like music with a tropical tint. And reggae about defines tropical music when it comes to popular music. Shy FX is a London-born-and-based DJ that specializes in this type of music. Liam Bailey is an English vocalist that also specializes in this type of music. This song is perfect for any Songs of Summer list because it is “light reggae” and really nice.

Kris Menace feat. Black Hills – “Waiting for You” – (2013)

Kris Menace is the stage name of German DJ Christoph Hoeffel. This song is pure electronica, but the beats aren’t pounding. But it’s not quite a super-relaxed trance song either. The lyrics are soft and it sounds like it could’ve easily crossed over into the pop music realm. It didn’t, and it remains a pretty much unknown song among the masses. But it isn’t bad.

Michael Mind Project feat. Dante Thomas – “Feeling So Blue” – (2012)

Not everything here will be brand new. And despite the rather somber title, this song is a very upbeat update on Eiffel 65’s 1999 smash “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” It’s not a cover – it just samples the chorus. “Blue” was always a favorite of mine and one of the legendary songs of the Eurodance genre, so it’s no wonder I like this too. It was a top 40 hit in a few European countries but went mostly unnoticed in the U.S.

Bondax – “Giving It All” – (2013)

As you may notice (perhaps, annoyingly) during this rundown, I think relaxing electronic music like this is perfect for summer. This song came out in October of last year and is super smooth and is a great chill out song. And this was a super short post. Oh well.

Calvin Harris – “Summer” – (2014)

The general rule around here is “no featuring songs within the past five years.” That goes out the window when we do our “Songs for Summer.” And what’s a better way to kick off a multi-week list of songs that are perfect for the poolside and beach during this all-too-short summer, than with a song called, well, “Summer.” Calvin Harris is known primarily as a DJ, but he performs the vocals on this track as well. It was a #1 in a few European countries (debuting there in the U.K.) and peaked at #9 in the U.S.

Juvenile feat. Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne – “Back That Thang Up” – (1998)

C’mon, you have to admit: that’s one of the work album covers you’ve ever seen. “Back That Thang Up” was the edited (and MTV-friendly) version of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” (which we’ll feature at a later date). Notice that no matter what you are backing up, it is spelled incorrectly. This only made it to #15 on the Hot 100 (Juvenile would late have a #1) but this is definitely his signature song. This was actually a decent hit on TRL in 1999 and it marks an early appearance of Lil Wayne before he really got famous about five years later. His rap sort of marks the first major appearance of “drop it like it’s hot” – which I guess makes this a cultural landmark? Just kidding. Happy 4th of July.

The Doobie Brothers – “Real Love” – (1980)

This was one of the Doobie Brothers last big hits – reaching #5 on the Hot 100. It’s classic Michael McDonald vocals and classic soft rock. I love this sound from the Doobie Brothers – sort of late-70s/early-80s soft rock with a touch of synth and the definitive voice of this kind of music from McDonald.

Teresa Brewer – “Music! Music! Music!” – (1949)

“Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon” is the opening line to this #1 hit from 1950. It was released in December of 1949 and other than that catchy hook of a chorus, the song is just okay. It could be construed as kind of annoying. It was Brewer’s biggest hit and signature song. Teresa Brewer was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1931 and died in New York state in 2007.

Philip Bailey & Phil Collins – “Easy Lover” – (1984)

Phil Collins was a pretty big deal circa 1984. So when Philip Bailey teamed up with him to record and release this song, there was a good chance it was going to be a big hit. And it was – hitting #2 on the Hot 100. Bailey’s high-pitched vocals are the perfect complement to Collins’ unique voice. It sounds very 80s but it holds up today whenever I hear it. I said last week we were saving the best for last and this is it, the final duet from our months-long run. Hope you enjoyed it.

Ike & Tina Turner – “Proud Mary” – (1971)

“Proud Mary” is one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best songs. And it’s one of the most-famous. This 1971 cover is a big part of the song’s fame. In fact, it’s become one of Tina Turner’s signature songs as well as one of her biggest hits – it hit #5 in the U.S. (CCR made it to #2). What’s great about this version is that it’s their own take on the song and not a direct cover. It starts off real slow and soulful and then at like the 2:20 mark if goes crazy. It’s wild. And a legitimately awesome song.

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