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Summum’s Summer Sounds

Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime

This golden oldie is actually an aria from Porgy and Bess. The song is performed several times during the opera, including as a lullaby. There exists over 25,000 recordings of Summertime, but the Ella Fitzgerald version is one of the loveliest.


Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto – The Girl from Ipanema

This famous bossa nova song is about Helô Pinheiro, a girl from Ipanema who walked to the beach every day and turned men’s heads as she passed by. Thanks to this hit, she became a celebrity. During the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazilian top model Gisele Bündchen strode across the stage during a rendition of the song.


Don Henley – The Boys of Summer

In this melancholy track, Henley reminisces about a past love: how good she looked in her sunglasses and with her tanned skin. But it is also an ode to lost ideals. In the last verse, Henley spots the sticker of a hippie band on an expensive Cadillac: the idealists have become elitists.


Bananarama – Cruel Summer

Summer can be cruel if you’re lonely and the city is sweltering. That’s the subject of Bananarama’s song. They set the video clip in New York simply because they wanted to visit the city, but fate was on their side: it was in the midst of a heat wave.


DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

This cheerful track from 1991 is still remembered: when Will Smith was a guest on The Late Show in 2016, he unexpectedly performed the number. The audience went wild and sang along.


Righeira – Vamos a la Playa

Everyone joined in singing this summer hit back in 1983. Most people knew that the title means “Let’s go to the beach”, but far fewer that the song is about a nuclear explosion out in the ocean.


Wham! – Club Tropicana

The clip for this song is unforgettable, with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as partying airline pilots hanging out in a swimming pool with trumpets and huge 1980s mobile phones. The shoot took place in Pikes in Ibiza, the hotel of a certain Tony Pike, who can be seen in the clip as a moustachioed barman. After the video release, the spot became so popular for wild parties that the police often had to intervene.

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A.

The Beach Boys were looking for an original subject for a song. Songwriter Brian Wilson explains: ‘One day, my brother Dennis came back from the beach and said: “Hey, surfing is becoming really popular. You should write a song about it.”’ Several songs resulted, but this one is the most famous.


The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City

Few songs evoke the city on a hot day as well as Summer in the City. It isn’t only the lyrics, which describe how high temperatures turn everyone into hotheads, but also the instrumental part, which uses distant city noises, like a pneumatic drill and honking cars, including a Volkswagen Beetle.


Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls

According to Katy Perry, California Gurls is the Californian answer to Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The latter praised New York, whereas Perry and Snoop Dogg sing a hymn to sunny California where they were both born and raised.


Discover more summer music on Spotify.

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