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Aloha, Summer! 15 essential classics to add to your summer music playlist

summer party music playlist hawaiian shirt

Sun's up and the vibes are good, so now is the time to start thinking about what tunes you want added to your summer '22 music playlist.

What is summer without some good music, right? Throw in some good food, good company and a Hawaiian shirt or two, and you've got yourself a summer bop.

Actually, make it a luau (Hawaiian party with music and dance for the initiated). That's the kind of atmosphere you want your summer music playlist to create.

Dancers at a Hawaiian luau (party)

If your summer music of choice is whatever happens to be in the charts through the months of June, July and August, this might not be the place for you. We're looking for songs that create a certain vibe, and meet a certain standard.

1. Bob Marley - Could You Be Loved

You've got to start things off on a sweet note, and there's no note to be found that's more sweet than those hit by Bob Marley & The Wailers. You can't help but move along to this reggae classic, and even in the depths of winter it brings out a feeling of sitting outside under the hot sun on a summer's day.

2. Bill Withers - Lovely Day

Actually, if you want to talk about notes you can't exactly overlook this undeniable classic. If anyone at your summer party is able to maintain their pitch throughout Bill's drawn-out "lovely daaaaaaay," they should receive... actually never mind, no one can avoid their voice breaking after about four seconds.

3. Rupert Holmes - Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

I mean, if your summer playlist doesn't include this song at least once (preferably multiple times), you're doing it wrong. It's absolutely got to be up there with one of the best summer tunes of all time, so it would be a crime to omit it.

if you have half a brain...

4. ABBA - Dancing Queen

Chances are that a percentage of people reading this article only clicked in to see if we had ABBA in here somewhere, and it really never was in doubt. If people's vocal chords are stretched after trying to impersonate Bill Withers, wait until they have a go at this!

5. Beach Boys - Surfin' USA

There's a good chance that any band that calls itself the "beach boys" have made at least one or two summer songs, but there's an even greater chance that this song will get people up dancing. If you're unsure of what moves are the best to pull off for this one, go ahead and stand in the middle of everyone and pretend to be on a surfboard.

Don't worry, everybody is going to think it's awesome. We promise.

6. Jimmy Buffett - Cheeseburger In Paradise

Alright, stay with me. If you want to break things down a little bit for a few minutes, it's time to bring out the Buffett, a man who was most likely born wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a sea captain's hat. His back catalogue is an outrageously easy listen, and think of this song as a cue for people to head over to the BBQ to refuel for some more time on the dance-floor.

7. Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street

You want this playlist to be a celebration, and that's exactly what this song is all about. Get everybody together, and just let loose. You deserve it.

8. Bananarama - Cruel Summer

There's nothing cruel about adding this to your summer playlist. You can be pretty sure that just about everybody will start moving along to it once that opening beat gets going.

9. Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime

You could be a mile away from this song, and recognise that iconic bouncy beat behind this summer classic. There's a good chance you only know about 10% of the lyrics, but it's the kind of song that's nearly better when you just "doo doo doo" along to it.

A special mention to Mungo Jerry's lead singer Ray Dorset's side burns. Spectacular.

10. The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

Science has proven that it is physically impossible to read the title of this classic from the Fab Four and not go "doo doo doo doo." As the title suggests, this playful summer song is exactly what you need when you're looking to enjoy a day in the sun.

11. Eddie Cochrane - Summertime Blues

The song is over 60 years old, but has lost absolutely none of its potency to get people clapping their hands. In fact, the fact that it spawned numerous covers from bands such as The Who proves how timeless a song it really is.

I guess there ain't no cure for the summertime blues.

12. Guns N' Roses - Paradise City

It's been a while since we added a song that is certain to push everyone's vocal chords to the limit, but here's a special one for you. You know a song is good when it doesn't take long for people to recognise it, and that opening guitar riff doesn't take long to register.

13. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama

Sticking with rock classics that have instantly recognisable guitar riffs, Sweet Home Alabama definitely fits the bill. You've just got to get up and have a good time when this song comes on and if that isn't what summer is all about, we don't know what is. 

14. Bryan Adams - Summer of '69

We have got a little bit of a trend going here, haven't we? Bryan Adams captured lightening in a bottle with this song, and even people born in 2003 are going to feel nostalgic for the summer of '69 once it starts blaring out at max volume.

15. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta - Summer Nights

If you want a song that will nicely tie up the party (that isn't a national anthem), this is exactly what you need. Pretty much everyone is going to sing along, and that crescendo is the perfect way to finish off the summer music playlist.

Until you hit repeat and go back from the start, of course. It is summer after all!