Summer Anthems

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

In case you haven’t noticed the swimming, the sweating and the shorts mulling about town, or if you have been locked inside your nice air conditioned bubble for the past month and didn’t know it: Summer has arrived. It’s the season no one can agree on whether it’s the best or the worst. Personally, the humidity puts this season in last place for me. 

Some take summer jobs, others take summer school and some find the time to take trips and basically do whatever the hell they want for three months. One thing is certain, though. Summer brings along music anthems that want to make you put the top back, throw on some shades and drive down the highway singing the catchiest chorus from that year’s summer anthem. In retrospect, let’s take a look at some of the best summer anthems perfect for that situation. And no, no Beach Boys will be included on this list, sorry. 

1. “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. Sure, Don Henley got his start with a bunch of talented musicians writing songs that all sounded similar. Yes, he was an Eagle. But it was this jam that really sets the tone of summer and makes your brown skin shine in the sun, with your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby. Even though, technically, this song is about loving someone after the boys and summer are “gone,” it still is a summer sing along destined for the summer anthem hall of fame. First ballot hall of fame. 

2. “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett. Yes, this song should be the greatest summer anthem of all time. But relentless karaoke wannabes and the overplayed syndrome have left Margaritaville second on my list of all time summer anthems. This is not to say it’s not a great song, especially when you are lying on a beach in July, having just downed your third margarita and suddenly have the urge to sing that it is in fact, your own damn fault. 

3. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. It is a bit cliche to put Cooper’s ode to trashing books, papers and pencils for the summer, but this column is all about the summer. And guess what? The most important thing about summer is no school. Therefore, Cooper’s anthem to telling every teacher, principal and high school to shove it is the best when you roll down your windows, blast this song on your car stereo and speed your way out of the school parking lot on the last day of the school year. See, told you it was going to be a bit cliche and cheesy. 

4. “California Love” by 2 Pac. Rap these days might be all about the glitz and the glamour and hittin’ up the clubs, but Tupac Shakur hit it on the head when he proclaimed that California knows how to party. With a few tanks of gas, some beach clothes and a pair of sunglasses, I’m sure summer in Cali would be one hell of a party. 

5. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. There you go. You really didn’t think I would leave off the South’s summer version of the Star Spangled Banner, did you? Overplayed (yes). Written about a not-so appealing state (yes). But God help us, whenever this song comes on during the summer, I have never met a person who doesn’t have the urge to at least nod their head to the beat, much less sing at the top of their lungs. 

Final Thought: Runners-up: “Umbrella” by Rihanna, “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind, “Pina Colada Song” by Rupert Holmes, “Island” by The Starting Line and what says summer more than “Doin’ Time” by Sublime.

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