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Hello, friends! We’re back with another playlist rundown (after humbly wiping the floor with our opposition in the last competition). This time, Ghosts of the Stratosphere asked us for our top 10 summertime jams and we were happy to oblige.
It’s true, most of our picks are from the golden era of pop – the 1990s. Can you blame us? It was our coming of age and Santana was ON FIRE. We tried pretty hard to expand beyond the 90s and we also appreciate ourselves some unconventional covers, so hopefully our list satisfies the weirdos and the normies alike.
To Ghosts of the Stratosphere: much appreciation for having us! Balls out, thank you!
Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran
We’re starting things off with an oldie but a goodie. Despite the fact that this song was released in 1958, it has stood the test of time to become one of the most ultimate of summer songs. Eddie Cochran comes off incredibly relatable here – every Millennial on this planet knows what it’s like to work a shit job with a shit boss that makes you work late. We’ve all worked retail. We feel you, Eddie.
Rockaway Beach – Ramones
What summertime song list wouldn’t be complete without a surfey song? Cue the Ramones, who went through a curious surf rock stage when they released “Rockaway Beach.” This song was written by Dee Dee Ramone, known to his mom as Doug Colvin. Story goes that young Doug and his mother, who were living in Germany at the time, escaped from an alcoholic, abusive father and fled to New York City. Rockaway Beach in the borough of Queens served as a safe haven for Doug, reveling in the amusement park and hanging out in the sand. Even after he became Dee Dee Ramone, he still loved the beach; apparently the only member of the band that did not mind sand in his butt crack.
Kiss On My List – Hall & Oates
A summertime playlist wouldn’t be complete without some yacht rock, and Hall & Oates are here to get the job done with class. Frankly, any of their songs can and should be played all year round, but “Kiss On My List” just screams “crushing White Claws on the lake wearing boat shoes.” We’re already daydreaming of Pontoon Sundays with Daryl Hall and John Oates and their fabulous hair, head and facial.
Summer Breeze – Type O Negative
Do not be mistaken, Goths sometimes like summer, too. And when the Goths are baking on the beach, they whip out the Type O Negative. Even Peter Steele himself indulged in yacht rock, which explains his love of making industrial goth metal versions of songs like “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts. Gone are the soft, soothing vocals of the 70s. Instead, Peter Steele’s formidable bass vocals give this classic the dreamy darkness it clearly needed. Who knew a 70s classic tune could flood so many basements?
And just for good measure, this song was on the soundtrack to I Know What You Did Last Summer. Cooooooincidence????!
Rock Lobster – B52s
What’s more summer than wanting to have a good time? That’s exactly how the B-52s wrote “Rock Lobster.” Inspired by a disco in Atlanta, Georgia, that featured a slideshow of puppies, babies, and lobsters on a grill (no, we didn’t fuck up the commas there. All of these things were on the grill), the band got real drunk one night in 1978 and wrote this banger, cracking each other up the entire night. It makes sense, even if the lyrics don’t. But who cares? Just shake your butt like you’re in a surf movie from the 1950s. We dare you to try and stop yourself.
Dancing in the Street – David Bowie & Mick Jagger
This is the cover song that should have ended all cover songs. Originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas as their breakout hit in 1964, Bowie and Jagger took a feel good song of celebration and much like a Coney Island hot dog, they loaded on the cheese. That shit gives you heartburn, but it’s SO GOOD.
As if the excessive dairy wasn’t enough, they piled on some chili and onions with a truly ridiculous music video. Just mutter the words “dancing in the streets” and any Gen-Xer/Millennial becomes paralyzed with fear, reliving three full minutes of Bowie and Jagger big-mouthing their way through a run down building. Despite the PTSD (Pretty Terrible Street Dancing), it was all made up for when someone posted the Silent Music Video for this song on YouTube. In lieu of the actual music video, we present the following:
Paper Planes – M.I.A.
Shout out to the Clash for providing possibly the best song for sampling ever. “Straight to Hell” is a languid jam about layered injustices: unemployment running rampant in Northern England and the rejection of immigrants after the Vietnam War. No wonder M.I.A. integrated the song into “Paper Planes.” Her version echoes the same sentiments; M.I.A. herself had a hard time keeping a work visa after moving to the US, so this song was the perfect opportunity for satire.
After much contemplation, we’re not entirely sure why this song is such a perfect summer jam. It’s perfect for those dog days of summer when it’s too hot to do anything but grab a tall boy and some cheap street meat, bum on the beach, and listen to some low-key hip hop. ‘Cause that’s probably all you can afford to do until next pay day, anyway.
Miami – Will Smith
If you’re looking for entry #1 in your Hot Jams of Every 90s Summer I’ve Ever Lived Through, well, sirs and madams, you’ve found it. Before we had Big Dick Energy, we had Big Willie Style. “Miami” may have been one of the last singles off of Will Smith’s seminal album, but it left no less of an impact. It was released 22 years ago, but doesn’t it kinda seem timeless? That’s the thing with Will Smith. He doesn’t age and neither do his summer jams. Bienvenido a Miami, bitches.
Electric Feel – MGMT
If you’re anything like Ashleigh who worked at H&M for an entire year between 2008 and 2009 and was subjected to the same indie-pop songs in a 2-hour rotation, then you know this song VERY well. Despite the overload, this song still slaps. It’s great for a night time get together at the end of August, complete with fairy lights and plenty of cold ones to go around. But please don’t take cues from their music video, which basically says the only people allowed in this jam are skinny white chicks wearing paper headdresses. A couple points for highlighting yet under-utilizing the Rock-afire Explosion, though.
Smooth – Santana ft Rob Thomas
Well … it IS a hot one, and don’t you even try to deny it! This mega earworm starts out as the bane of your existence but by the time the first chorus drops, you’re hooked. Carlos Santana’s iconic guitar playing brings the heat, creating an atmosphere of pre-AC days on the street when you prayed for a stray breeze to cool you down. That breeze comes in the form of Rob Thomas, who metaphorically dabs the sweat off your brow, cradles you in his arms, and serenades you in white boy Spanish. You can’t deny it – this song is the most boppin’ summertime ditty that ever graced your ears. Frankly, all of Santana’s hits will elevate your playlist to new levels, except for that one with Michelle Branch … or is it Vanessa Carlton? They’re the same person, right? Help us, Rob Thomas!