It’s a scientific fact that music sounds better in the summer. Sunshine and blue skies make the most chilled out mood, loved-up party, loneliness of heartbreak that bit more soulful. Whether, you’re stuck in the city or chilling at the beach, let this mixture of hazy, bittersweet party vibes ease you through the rest of the season.
These are our favourite summer songs, let us know yours.
Lately – Massive Attack
Blue Lines was the effortlessly cool debut album from Massive Attack that seemed to come out out of nowhere, sounded like nothing else, and, for many, it soundtracked the summer of 1991. The signature mash-up of soul, dub, reggae and hip hop has never sounded more fresh. Lately features cool crackling beats and the plaintive soul vocals of Shara Nelson. Her yearning opening lines ‘Summertime always gives me the blues / thinking about the things we used to do’ epitomise a moody, melancholy urban summer more than anything else we’ve heard.
Girl From Ipanema – Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto
João Gilberto’s smooth bossa nova intro is filled with a smoky jazz vibe that gives way to one of the subtlest, most charming vocals of all time. Despite being one of the most often recorded songs, the original has never been bettered, and it’s hard not to crack a smile when you hear it. We recommend listening to it while lying in a hammock with the sun on your face and a caipirinha near to hand.
Do You Believe In Magic? – The Lovin’ Spoonful
John Sebastian sped up the opening chords of Motown classic Heatwave – which only just failed to make this list – to make for an unashamedly happy intro that’s almost impossible to resist. The magic in the title alludes to the power of music, and the impassioned vocals from John Sebastian put this just on the right side of cheesy. It’s hard not to see the song epitomising the optimism of the ‘60s.
Shawty Is A 10 – The-Dream
In another life we’d be cruising through LA with our homies, windows down, this playing and everyone nodding in time as the lights change to green. The-Dream was previously responsible for co-writing Rihanna’s Umbrella and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (put a ring on it) among many others, so it’s no surprise that this chilled-out ode to the fittest girl in the neighbourhood has such great production, catchy hooks and a perfect pop sensibility.
Love Survive – Michael Nau
Lovely insistent piano chords underpin the wonderfully warm vocals of Michael Nau on this, his first solo single. Nau manages to take a simple, uplifting message and create an instant, hazy, folk-tinged classic. His debut album, Mowing, is scheduled for release in November (and we can’t wait).
Long Hot Summer – The Style Council
Freed from the song-writing restrictions of The Jam, The Style Council allowed Paul Weller to explore broader musical interests and aesthetics: shunning his working-class mod image and replacing it with Italian loafers, ‘60s French stylings and full length raincoats. The slicked back hair and smooth jazz-tinged vocals may not have gone down well with hardcore Jam fans, but this has stood the test of time exceptionally well. Mixing contemporary synth sounds with the classic sound of the Hammond makes for a sultry electro-pop classic.
Party Time – The Heptones
The sweetness of Leroy Sibble’s vocals and Jackie Mittoo’s distinctive piano lines perfectly capture the anticipation of the beginning of an evening, ready for the fun to start. Although the Heptones revisited this track a number of times in later years and recorded another amazing version with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry for their album of the same name, we prefer this lighter production for putting on our dancing shoes.
Strawberry Letter 23 – Shuggie Otis
In our opinion, far superior to the better known version by The Brothers Johnson. Swathed in ‘70s warm fuzziness, Shuggie Otis’s self-produced ode to his girlfriend’s strawberry-scented letters is genuinely enchanting. Despite a reissue of his classic 1971 psychedelic soul masterpiece, Inspiration Information, by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop in 2001, Otis seems unable to shake his cult status. He was always way ahead of his time and deserves to be far better known today.
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) – Jamie xx
One of many tracks we could have chosen from last year’s In Colour album from Jamie xx. The hugely talented producer and DJ has always had impeccable taste and from the opening click of the needle on the record and woozy vocals, it’s clear this nostalgia-drenched record is also firmly facing the future with its optimistic chant of ‘I know there’s gonna be good times. It’s a perfect mixture of raucous abandon and yearning. Best listened to blasting out of a car window.