It’s about that time, people. The sun is starting to shine, the temperature’s beginning to warm up (ever so slightly, but still), and it’s time to start curating that perfect playlist to get you in the mood for bikini season. What’s better than a summer playlist? Every summer is full of certified bangers, and this summer will likely be the same.
But because we can’t look forward without looking back, we’re here to remember the throwback summer jams that are still probably essentials on your summertime playlist. These are the ones that everyone knows every word to, and will overwhelm you with nostalgia as soon as they start playing. These songs are perfect for everything from laying on the beach to raging until dawn at a club or a party. So grab a hold of the aux, because here are 18 throwback summer jams that never get old.
“Angel” by Shaggy
If you’re looking for the ultimate summer playlist, you obviously have to have at least one song by Shaggy. While he has a few classic hits, most notably “Wasn’t Me,” we think that “Angel” is his most summer-friendly song. It’s got such a laid-back vibe to it; it’s perfect for heading out on a boat or lounging by the pool. Basically, it’s impossible not to relax while this song is playing. The drumbeat alone makes you feel like you’re away on a tropical island.
“Waterfalls” by TLC
First of all, TLC is not only perfect for every summer playlist but for pretty much any playlist ever. Their chill, laid-back vibe will make you want to hang out in the sun or get ready for a night out with some friends on a warm night. Plus, “Waterfalls” is a totally classic song that will get everyone to belt their hearts out. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls or hanging out in the air-conditioning, this song is sure to get you amped for summer.
“California Love” by 2Pac
No song is more representative of the summer than “California Love” by 2Pac. Even if you’re not in Cali, this song will most definitely make you feel like you’re soaking up the sun on the West Coast. The production of this song is super chill, but still enough of a banger to get everyone ready to rage. This is the perfect song for cruising around with your windows down, looking for things to do on a summer night.
“When You Were Young” by The Killers
Talk about nostalgia. “When You Were Young” by The Killers is not only a throwback of its own, the lyrics will definitely have you reminiscing on summers past. This song is really fun and upbeat, but still intense enough to inspire a passionate sing-along. You’ll be jumping around and violently shaking your head to the beat of this song before you know it. Plus, the guitar solo is sure to bring out the air-guitarist in everyone.
“California Gurls” by Katy Perry
This is basically the go-to bubble-gum pop, summer anthem for everyone’s summer playlist. First of all, you have Snoop Dogg, one of the most well-known California icons. Plus, this song is so catchy, it’s almost annoying. You’ll be ready for “freaking in Jeeps” and “sipping gin and juice” in one minute flat. Even if you can’t make it to the golden coast, this song will make any place feel like a beach party before you know it. While people may deny that they know every single word, everyone will be singing along.
“Hot In Herre” by Nelly
I mean, aside from the obvious “summer is hot” connection, this song gives serious summer vibes. “Hot In Herre” by Nelly is such a fun, and definitely a ridiculous song, it almost became a meme in its time. Sure the lyrics aren’t super deep, but everyone will lose their minds when they hear the first few notes of this song. It’s basically perfect song for blasting at a late-night, summer party when everyone’s feeling a little rowdy.
“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
When you’re ready to slow things down a bit, there’s no song more perfect than “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. Sure, it’s a super-cheesy love song, but this song is just so sweet that no one can deny how great it is. Something about the acoustic guitar and Jason Mraz’s voice screams summer. His entire discography could basically be one, giant summer playlist. Warning: this song my inspire some unwarranted ukulele playing from audience members.
“Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg
“Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg is a certified, summer playlist banger. It pretty much describes having a ridiculously-rowdy, day-long summer rager. While you should enjoy your gin and juice responsibly, this song is absolutely going to get people in the mood to party. Whether it’s a huge house party, or just hanging out by the pool getting silly with a few friends — make sure you play this song at least once. Don’t forget the tiny drink umbrellas!
“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
If for one second you think you’re too good to get down to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus then it’s time to put your pride aside. The first few seconds of the guitar riff and the crowd will go wild. Because let’s be real, the summer is the perfect time to have a party in the USA. So put your hands up, they’re playing your song! The butterflies fly away. Just nod your head like yeah, and move your hips like yeah – because this song is sure to make your summer playlist a crowd-pleaser.
“Beverly Hills” by Weezer
This song is definitely kind of silly, and you may not associate Weezer with ~summer jams~. However, “Beverly Hills” was one of their biggest hits, so it’s sure to get a crowd of people excited. It’s also super relatable! Not all of us can get down at the Playboy mansion in Beverly Hills (where the music video takes place), but it’s definitely easier to imagine you can while at the perfect summer party accompanied by the perfect summer playlist. You and your crew will be rolling like celebrities for the rest of the summer.
“Temperature” by Sean Paul
If you’re ready to turn the temperature up this summer, may we suggest playing “Temperature” by Sean Paul? The beat of this song is unbelievably catchy, and impossible not to dance to. If you need to motivate a crowd, make sure this is one your party playlist. While the words may be nearly-impossible to sing along with, you don’t need to sing to get way down to this song – or at least you don’t need to sing the words correctly.
“Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield
Can you think of anything more adorably-sunny than a “Pocketful of Sunshine”? We sure can’t. This song is so overwhelmingly positive, it’s sure to put everyone in an amazing mood. Lame summer job? No worries! Blast this song on the way home from work and you’ll be ready to relax and lounge around with your closest pals for the rest of the day. Or, it may inspire you to violently sing along. Either way — it’s guaranteed fun. This song’s perfect for the beginning of spring when the sun’s just starting to shine.
“Take You There” by Sean Kingston
It doesn’t get more summery than Sean Kingston, especially his summer anthem, “Take You There.” It quite literally is a song about going to the tropics and sipping piña coladas. Can you imagine any better way to enjoy the warm weather? True, not everyone can just jet off for some glamorous vacay, but you can make your backyard a makeshift paradise when the time comes. Right now, we’re just dreaming of the tropics while we wait for the summer to get really hot.
“Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard
“Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard is pretty much everyone’s go-to punk rock power ballad. This song is good for any occasion. Driving to work? Hanging out with friends? Lounging in the sand? Dancing like a sweaty lunatic at a party? Play this song! No one will be able to resist screaming along to the chorus with the passion of an emotional high school freshman. Maybe it will inspire a trip through a few of your own Ocean Avenue-esque memories.
“TiK ToK” by Kesha
TBT. Remember when Kesha was simply known as “that girl who talks instead of sings”? And now she’s basically pop royalty. Okay, she is pop royalty. “Tik Tok” may not be her best song – but it’s definitely remnicent of that time of year when spring’s turning into summer and school almost certainly didn’t matter anymore.
“Turn Me On” by Kevin Lyttle
It seems like this song isn’t even a throwback because it never really fell off the map. In our totally objective opinion, “Turn Me On” by Kevin Lyttle is one of the most timeless summer songs of our generation. Quite frankly, Kevil Lyttle really redefines what it means to be a One-Hit-Wonder with this massive success. The feel of this song is perfect for clubbing or partying when it’s nice and warm outside, but it’s honestly great year-round.
“Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, TBH. Justin Timberlake is known for writing iconic love songs, but “Summer Love” is perfect to get you ready for the warmer months. Whether you’re thinking about ~the one that got away~ last summer or just chilling with your friends, this song will get you super pumped for all of your upcoming summer adventures. Every ridiculously-catchy song from FutureSex/LoveSounds is guaranteed to bring up some serious nostalgia.
“Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow
We had to finish with a classic. This song just might be the most iconic summer anthem of all time. Seriously, does it get more summery than a song called “Soak Up the Sun”? It definitely does not. This is a great song to play right after the semester ends, and summer begins. Hop in the car and head to the beach ASAP, because when Sheryl says it’s time to soak up some sun, you best do it. Of course, after you apply your SPF 50!