So here's how posts get made:
Last week, my sister put up a Facebook status message saying something like "I need some good summer music right about now." Seeing as how southeastern Minnesota is currently in the midst of an ice storm, this is understandable.
So, based on that, I dropped everything I was doing (it wasn't much) and spent the rest of the week coming up with a two-disc mix of my favorite summer jams.
On the one hand, I feel sort of ridiculous about the amount of time I've spent on this mix.
But then again ...
Back in St. Cloud, where summer is actually a long weekend in July (don't miss it!), Ellard and I used to absolutely OBSESS about naming the Summer Jam of the Year, as if by doing so we could stave off winter for a few hours. We were like summer jam scientists. I'm sure he'd going to read this post foaming at the mouth and screaming, "How could you forget about _______?!?! So, on the other hand, I feel like maybe I should have spent more time on this mix.
Anyway, let's start by defining a summer jam. First, simply having a summer-y word in your title is not enough. "The Drama Summer" by The Starting Line is not a summer jam. It is an emo song. Nothing off of Summerteeth by Wilco qualifies either. Same goes for songs with the word "sun," "beach," or ... I dunno, "bikini." This is not a word find.
Secondly, these songs do not necessarily have to be summer releases. While Ellard and I were working so hard at nailing down the Summer Jam of the year, we were looking for the biggest hit of the summer, but, years later, that distinction doesn't mean all that much. "I Kissed a Girl" was probably the biggest song of last summer, but I doubt it will be playing at barbecues in twenty years. "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers was probably the biggest rock song of summer 2004, and that song sounds like someone's veins freezing. Timing is a factor for this playlist (songs aren't hurt by being actual summer jams), but not dispositive.
In the end, this should be a mix you can play at your barbecue, in the car on the way to the beach, or recovering from a nasty sunburn. Disc I has more of the radio hits that I hope everyone agrees qualify as summer jams, while Disc II mixes in a few more indie tunes that I think convey that good-time feeling. As always, CDs available on request. Or, thanks to the miracle of LaLa.com, just listen to them here on the site:
1) The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice?
I know I'm going to piss off Ferrario for saying this, but is there anything worse than hearing a Beach Boys song in the middle of winter? It's February, it's below zero, windy, dark, and "Surfin' Safari" comes on the radio. That's why people get Seasonal Affective Disorder.
2) DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince - Summertime
The all-time greatest song named "Summertime." Take that, Sublime and George Gershwin!
3) Notorious BIG - Mo Money Mo Problems
As a whole, I'd say West Coast hip-hop is more summer-y than East Coast, but this song is definitely the exception that proves the rule.
4) Santana f/ Rob Thomas - Smooth
Rob Thomas sneaks onto the list. I'm as confused as you are.
5) Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life
This right here is the one. If I had to pick one song and say, "Now this is a summer song," it would be this one. Best song ever about crystal meth. Also, somewhere Ellard is yelling, "Make sure it's the version with the 'And when the plane came in she said she was crashing ...' bridge thing!"
6) Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
I think this is the only song Ilana and I truly agreed on for this list. I HATED this song when it came out, and then it was the theme song for an MTV show that I hated, and now I love it. It's possible I don't really understand music.
7) Outkast - Hey Ya!
Yes, yes, I know that, technically, this song was released September 9, 2003, and yes, Ilana, I know that, had it come out in September, it might not be a summer jam. However, those of us who have the internet know this song leaked months earlier. Elliot, back me up on this. Three things about this song. One, it's probably the greatest pop song of our generation. Two, my buddy Sav always said that, whenever he heard this song, he imagined me skipping down the street with my hair flopping - I'm not sure why I'm telling you this. Three, this song is here representing all the great summer jams of 2003 - from Murphy Lee's "What the Hook Gon Be?" to P. Diddy's "Shake Ya Tailfeather." What a year it was.
8) Nelly - Ride Wit Me
It may be impossible to quantify exactly how important Country Grammar was to small-town Midwestern white kids in the summer of 2000. Nelly WAS rap music.
9) Beyonce f/ Jay-Z - Crazy in Love
Another one from that wonderful class of 2003. This might be the only song on the list that actually WAS the biggest hit in the summer it was released.
10) Jay-Z f/ UGK - Big Pimpin'
From a brief period in my life when I thought I was cool because I watched "Rap City: Da Bassment" on BET. Thanks for everything, Big Tigga!
11) Katrina and the Waves - Walkin' on Sunshine
Over Ilana's emphatic objections. Probably because every time I hear it, I imagine the Jack Black dance from High Fidelity.
12) Tim McGraw - Something Like That
My all-time favorite song about a county fair. Also, token country song for the list.
13) Paul Simon - Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
I have no idea what this song is about. So when I say that I think it could be the happiest song ever written, I'm scared of the lyrics about priests and police and spitting on the ground. If this song is really about child abuse or something, please let me know.
14) Snoop Dogg - From the Chuuuch to the Palace
Snoop, Neptunes ... that could really be the whole summer jam playlist. Could have saved me a lot of time.
15) Kanye West f/ T-Pain - The Good Life
Years from now, we'll remember this as the song that killed Kanye's career. You know how people credit Bob Dylan for turning the Beatles on to drugs and making them awesome? I think T-Pain had the exact opposite effect on Kanye. "Hey, instead of making awesome soul-influenced beats, how bout you just sing off-key and we'll run it through a machine, and all your songs can sound the same."
16) Simple Plan - I'd Do Anything
As I've said many times, an absolutely perfect pop song.
17) Trick Daddy f/ Cee-Lo and Big Boi - In Da Wind
Cee-Lo's promise to "disconnect your line" is one of my all-time favorite hip hop threats.
18) Cam'Ron - Hey Ma
Best dance ever.
19) Styles P - Good Times
Soundtrack to Schoeb and I driving around the South Side of Chicago and fearing for our lives.
20) Ice Cube - It Was a Good Day
Please consult this handy flowchart.
1) Lamont Cranston Blues Band - Upper Mississippi Shakedown
Though I doubt Branny and Schoeb read the blog, they would know this song as the one that played after every St. Cloud River Bats win. "Goin' to a party / Down by the river tonight!"
2) Toots and the Maytals - Pressure Drop
Reggae's great at the BBQ, but can we all agree that Bob Marley is played out? Instead, consider Toots and the Maytals: great even when you're NOT mind-blowingly high.
3) Stevie Wonder - Sir Duke
Stevie is another BBQ staple. I had a roommate in San Jose who said that, if she had to listen to only one artist for the rest of her life, it would be Stevie. I don't know who I'd go with. Rolling Stones? I'll have to think about it.
4) Beck - Tropicalia
I was thinking about putting an actual tropicalia song in this spot (because everyone needs more Brazillian psychedelica), but then Os Mutantes sold out and let McDonald's use "A Minha Menina" in that youth soccer commercial, so they're out. This blog has integrity!
5) Len - Steal My Sunshine
Go into any used music store in the country, and you will find twenty copies of this album selling for a dollar apiece. That seems like an unfair legacy for any band who could make a song as great as this one. It's the Canadian summertime version of Weezer's "Undone (The Sweater Song)"
6) Ash - Walking Barefoot
I remember it being like fifteen below zero when I bought this album, living in a run-down house with basically no heat. Walking barefoot? Yeah. I was wearing two pairs of socks in the shower.
7) Beulah - Gene Autry
"And when I get to California / Gonna write my name in the sand"
8) The Delays - Hey Girl
Mmmm ... harmonies.
9) Rooney - Blueside
Remember, they were the band that the O.C. gang was going to see during one of the horrible Oliver episodes? Well ... they were.
10) Those Dancing Days - Home Sweet Home
I might just be making this connection because they're fake surfing in the music video.
11) DJ Quik - Summer Breeze
I didn't really know who DJ Quik was, and the JD brought this CD with us to the LA Marathon one year, and we just drove around listening to it and eating those olives he's obsessed with and ... I forget where this story was going.
12) Nine Days - Story of a Girl
Nine Days played St. Cloud State one year. My friends and I knew the band that was opening for them, and we tried to convince them to go on, open with a cover of "Story of a Girl," and then just say "Alright, everybody, we just saved you three hours. You can all go home now." They did not do this.
13) Snoop Dogg f/ Justin Timberlake - Signs
Why was this song not the absolute biggest hit of all time? It's got Timberlake saying the F-word!
14) Reel Big Fish - Sell Out
I forget why Drew used to play this song to piss of Elliot, but I remember it being funny.
15) The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love
I'll remember them for two things. One, they got up and left in the middle of an episode of the "Loveline" radio show for no reason. Two, they used their guitars to battle a space monster in this music video. That's a pretty good legacy for any band.
16) Shade Sheist f/ Nate Dogg - Where I Wanna Be
Any summer mix needs some Nate Dogg.
17) Long Beach Dub All-Stars - My Own Life
I'm done with Sublime. I'm also done with 311. And yet they have a very summer-y quality about them. So we're cheating and going with this song off of the album that the band made after Bradley died.
18) Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way
Reminds me of watering sod and dreaming of moving to California. And now here I am.
19) The Decemberists - July, July!
July is in the summer, right?
20) 213 - Another Summer
The least Kanye West-like beat Kanye West has ever made.
Honorable Mentions: Aaliyah - "Are You That Somebody?"; Architecture in Helsinki - "Do the Whirlwind"; Blur - "Country House"; The Broken West - "Down in the Valley"; CSS - "Music is My Hot Hot Sex"; The Cars - "You Might Think"; De La Soul - "Ooohh"; Dogs Die in Hot Cars - "Godhopping"; Earth, Wind, and Fire - "September"; First Class - "Beach Baby"; Fountains of Wayne - "Radiation Vibe"; James - "Laid"; The Kooks - "She Moves in Her Own Way"; Mungo Jerry - "In the Summertime"; Oasis - "Acquiesce"; Scarface - "On My Block"; Silver Sun - "Golden Skin"; Super Furry Animals - "Northern Lites"; Tom Tom Club - "Genius of Love"; Turtles - "Elenore"; Weezer - "Keep Fishin'"; Wilco - "Monday"; Zombies - "Time of the Season"; 2Pac - "California Love"
Anyway, tell me about your summer jams.