artworks-000124861296-s21ron-t500x500Boiler x Lvndscape – “Ragga” – (2015)

We’ve discussed the shelf life if electronica and how it is relatively short. This is a song that will likely feel quite dated in about two years – especially the beginning. It you can make it to the one minute mark, it picks up a very chill vibe that carries through most of the rest of the song.

bloodsweat3yearsCash Cash and Digital Farm Animals feat. Nelly – “Millionaire” – (2016)

This song deserved to be a hit. It combines the new thing: radio-friendly electronica – with something great: Nelly. Any song that can get Nelly to quote one of his most famous lines is worth listening to. Cash Cash is an American electronic group and Digital Farm Animals is the name of a British DJ. And you obviously know Nelly… it’s a great combo.

homepage_large-4d7c4e3fBomba Estereo – “Soy Yo” – (2015)

Colombian band Bomba Estereo pulled a brilliant move to get this album big attention: get Will Smith to rap on your lead single. This song was used in a FIFA video game and has (obviously) a great Latin flair. Most of the songs featured for the summer are one-off singles, but here’s one that’s actually from a full album – a Grammy-nominated one at that!

imaAaron Smith feat. Luvli – “Dancin’ (KRONO Remix)” – (2013)

This song actually came out in 2005 and there was a remixed version of it at the time that was the popular version. This is a new (okay, four years old… so… newer) remix. Even though the remix is more modern than the track itself, you can still tell it was written more than a decade ago. Electronica does not have a long shelf life.

artworks-000150524350-s0nj93-originalLost Kings – “Something Good” – (2016)

To be fair, our Songs for Summer list each year is usually dominated by European acts, or at least it has been for a while. But the Lost Kings are an American DJ duo from L.A. and this song is extremely catchy and has the exact feel we are looking for when we assemble this list.

32054256_800_800Mahmut Orhan feat. Sena Sener – “Feel” – (2016)

Turkish DJ Mahmut Orhan manages to combine some traditional Turkish sounds into this smooth track. Vocals are by fellow Turk Sena Sener and the overall sound was good enough that this became a top ten hit in a few Eastern European countries such as Poland, Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and even Kazakhstan. The Kazakh music chart has to be an interesting list.

cs3062229-02a-bigStelartronic & Anduze – “Press My Luck” – (2016)

This has a more atmospheric feel to it than most of the stuff we’re “featuring for summer.” Stelartronic is a duo fronted by the man also known as Parov Stelar, the electro-swing king. The vocals come from American singer Anduze

cover600x600Imany – “Don’t Be So Shy (Filatov & Karas Remix)” – (2015)

Imany is a French singer and she released this song in late 2015. But it was the Filatov & Karas Remix that garnered all of the attention. The remix went to #1 in a number of European countries, including Slovenia, Serbia, Russia, Romania, Poland, Germany, France, Bulgaria, and Austria.

artworks-000124711578-17mdft-t500x500Tieks feat. Dan Harkna – “Sunshine” – (2016)

Well if an album cover ever said “Summer” I think this one would be it. Not only is the song catchy and well-sung, it’s actually about summer’s best quality (other than warmth): sunshine. Oh, and the singing sounds like something from the 90s, which is awesome.

33870237_350_350Manuel Riva & Eneli – “Mhm Mhm” – (2016)

“Mhm Mhm” starts off kind of slow and with more lyrical creativity than its title. But then it sort of descends into what I can only describe as glorified humming. The video was shot in Venice. Where I was last summer. And I want to be back.

layers_kungsKungs feat. Jamie N Commons – “Don’t You Know” – (2016)

This was the second single from Kungs’ 2016 album Layers, with the first one having been “This Girl” which we are saving for our Top 100 Songs of the 2010s count down in, um, four years. This song is also catchy and very well done and is about one banjo strum from being classified as “folktronica.”

spdeep-lucas-steve-make-it-rightLucas & Steve – “Make It Right” – (2016)

Sampling older songs has been around a while now and it’s also becoming popular to just take an older song and do an electronic cover. This song samples Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – lyrically anyway. The beat doesn’t seem to rip off any of Jackson’s stuff.

artworks-000180309371-u9w4q2-t500x500Pretty Sister & Dragonette feat. Tobtok – “Galactic Appeal” – (2015)

Sort of light on the roof-bumping bass and hard electro bits, this song angles itself as a sort of house pop song. Unlike many songs featured this summer, this one is pretty much North American, with Pretty Sister being from L.A. and Dragonette being a Canadian band.

cs2914045-02a-bigFerreck Dawn vs. Franky Rizardo feat. Torica – “Baby Slow Down” – (2015)

This is sort of classic techno with a deep house vibe. The deep house part is what brings out that summery feel you get from it. And the video of people surfing, which is just torture because, again, I’m writing this in February.

artworks-000156562569-bi8upi-t500x500Don Diablo feat. Dave Thomas Jr. – “Silence” – (2016)

Don Diablo is another Dutch DJ and “Silence” was a single released in 2016. It’s got an upbeat feel with brooding lyrics, which is a strange combo that pulls the track in different directions.

artworks-000201924178-rskkid-t500x500Mike Williams – “Bambini” – (2017)

This song feels like the Kidz Bop version of instrumental electronica. It’s a relatively simple, but catchy, track that lacks lyrics but does have some weird child-like shouting or something in it. Anyway, this is one of the newest songs we are going to feature – it came out in 2017 and I’m writing these in February.

artworks-000143244006-1d95gu-t500x500Fedde Le Grand – “Keep on Believing” – (2016)

Summer! We’ll go through a month or two of good stuff for poolside/seaside (which sounds like rival gangs). Fedde Le Grand (of the Netherlands) seems to put out a lot of music, most of which I skip over. This one caught my ear because it’s more than just a pumping beat – there are also well-delivered lyrics… and a pumping beat.

bob_dylan_-_highway_61_revisited#1 – Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” – (1965)

Well if Rolling Stone magazine rates a song as the greatest song of all time, it’s hard to argue that it shouldn’t at least be the top song from the year in which it was released. But part of me thinks they just did that because it has the title of their magazine in the song title. I will say, when I came up with the rankings for 1965, I did not know that Rolling Stone had ranked this #1. This is Dylan’s signature song – and probably the best thing he ever recorded himself (let’s be honest, sometimes his songs are best covered). This song sort of encapsulated an era – it was the beginning of the unrest that was channeled through America’s radio and record players. Music before this was much… happier, and simple. This was the start of the turbulence – and you can hear it in his voice (even though the song isn’t about Vietnam or any of the social upheaval of the era, but a woman).

220px-do_you_believe_in_magic#2 – The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Do You Believe in Magic” – (1965)

So why is this the second-best song of 1965? Because it’s simple and sweet. John Sebastian wrote a near-perfect song here. It’s one of only a handful of songs I can think of where I know every lyric and can sing it upon command without even having the tune in my head. This band is highly underrated today and this song was in 1965, when it peaked at only #9 on the Hot 100.

summerdaysandsummernights-album-cover#3 – The Beach Boys – “California Girls” – (1965)

Who said drugs are bad? Brian Wilson came up with this song while tripping on acid – and it’s one of the best songs they ever recorded. Peaking at #3 on the Hot 100, “California Girls” is one of their best-known songs and it really holds up. Listen to those backing vocals – they’re like an instrument unto themselves. Every time I really listen to a Beach Boys song, I appreciate Brian Wilson just a little more…

220px-marthadanceparty#4 – Martha & the Vandellas – “Dancing in the Street” – (1965)

Man, this song is fun. Martha Reeves doesn’t get the credit that she deserves. As the leader of a successful girl group of the 1960s, she’s always overshadowed by Diana Ross. But this song (which was co-written by Marvin Gaye and later covered successfully by Van Halen) is awfully good. Somehow it only reached #2 on the Hot 100, which seems like a crime.

220px-turnturnturncover#5 – The Byrds – “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” – (1965)

So the thing with The Byrds is, Roger McGuinn is decades older than I am, but the music that this band put out always seemed so… old. McGuinn might be in his mid-70s now, but he wasn’t always. It just seems like a member of the Byrds has always been older than you. Roger was only 23 when they recorded this song. If I think of 23-year-old musicians today, I think Justin Bieber. Who could never in a million years record a song like this. Even if he had Pete Seeger writing for him! Makes me feel like a failure, really. Some of the lyrics are straight from the bible, giving this song the weird distinction of being the #1 hit with the oldest lyrics.

220px-tempts-sing-smokey#6 – The Temptations – “My Girl” – (1965)

“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day” just might be the signature line from any Motown song ever. Co-written by Smokey Robinson, this was The Temptatons’ first U.S. #1 hit. And it remains their best.

r-2808425-1386532393-7201-jpeg#7 – Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders – “The Game of Love” – (1965)

Originally, this was much farther down the list, but I’ve been hearing it on the radio a lot recently (that’s right, on an AM oldies station) and discovered that it is in fact an awesome tune. Fontana (whose real name is Glyn Ellis) is from England and this song, with really cool vocal delivery, was a #1 in the U.S.

secondalbum#8 – The Four Tops – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” – (1965)

Who doesn’t love this song? Another Motown classic from Holland-Dozier-Holland, this was a #1 hit for The Four Tops. 1965 was a great year for Motown – they had really hit their stride and were releasing great record after great record. The Four Tops stand as one of the best male vocal groups of all time with hits like this.