Top Songs on Our Summertime Soundtrack

Whether you're kicking back at the beach or lounging around the office, we've got a list of songs to help get your summer started off on the right foot.

By Jamilah King, Jorge Rivas Jun 22, 2011

Summer has officially begun. And what better way to ring it in than with some of our favorite summer jams? After all, there are beaches to be conquered and outfits to be flaunted. So we’re asking you — our surveyed readers — to dig yourselves out of those unseemly winter funks (the Universe skipped over Spring for some of us) and join our team in a collective effort to chill out. Surely, the news won’t stop and the struggles won’t cease, but for a moment — or however long it takes you get through this — you can smile.

This list is by no means definitive, and we encourage you to jump in with your own suggestions in the comments below. But to start things off, we gathered up the contemporary and the classic, and tried to throw in a little of what’s in between.

Strawberry Swing
Frank Ocean

Twenty-three year old Frank Ocean left New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina and made his way to Los Angeles. He was only supposed to stay for six weeks but soon started working odd jobs, including a stint at Kinko’s, to help get his music career of the ground. These days he’s writing songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend and Beyonce Knowles. In Strawberry Swing Ocean samples Coldplay’s song by the same name and reminds us to tell the people we care about that, "we’ve loved the good times here." It’s perfect for summer.



Super Bass
Nicki Minaj

Love her or hate her, Nicki Minaj has hustled her way to the top of this summer’s party playlist. Her brash aesthetic style and witty punch lines have made her one of the most sought after emcees in the industry. And her politics aren’t too bad, either: the New York-born rapper has openly embraced her devoted core of queer fans.



Summertime in the LBC
The Dove Shack

While the California nationalists in our office would have it no other way, we think this is one summer jam that spans geographic regions. And now, decades. There’s an easygoing timelessness in both the song and video that can either send you down memory lane or be the soundtrack to your lazy afternoon. So whether you’re lounging out on the block or kicking back at the office, this one’s a keeper.




Doo-Wop (That Thing)
Lauryn Hill

Classic. Hands down. We actually forgot how stunning this 1997 video was until we revisited it for this story. It’s everything we love and sometimes miss about the ex-Fugee singer:  timeless beats and incisive lyricism. And the ’60’s vs. ’90’s visual backdrop? Priceless.


Wouldn’t It Be Nice
The Beach Boys

It’s the Beach Boys. Their sounds are summer. Their lyrics scream classic beach anthem. Don’t believe us? Look:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through.

It’s no coincidence that this feel-good song has been sampled by a range of artists, including a Jamaican dancehall DJ I bumped into years ago in downtown Kingston. And for the record: the crowd loved it.



Genius of Love
Tom Tom Club

This song has been sampled by everyone–2pac, Mariah Carey, Grandmaster Flash and even 50 Cent. Not only is this a great summer soundtrack. But 30 years after it first hit the radio, it’s still guaranteed dance party.



What’s on your summertime soundtrack? Let’s hear more suggestions in the comments.