I can’t wait for summer! Dazzling beams of sunlight will shine across the land as the scent of barbecues, sun block and chlorinated pools waft through the air. My pasty, winterized complexion will glow like polished copper as I revel in the freedom of halter-tops and linen skirts rather than being confined by bulky sweaters.
Summer is perfect. Except for one thing: the radio.
Radio stations seem to condense their playlists to a handful of records come summertime. Once you’ve heard Buster Poindexter’s Hot, Hot, Hot for the fifteenth time in a week, you may start longing for the season of snowballs being hurled at your head.
Thus, I’m offering a partial list of summer’s most grating tunes. With any luck, the great DJ in the sky will command his minions to spare us these don’ts.
Don’t: Hot in the City, Billy Idol
To a pubescent Midwestern gal, Billy Idol was like the wrong-side-of-the-tracks hunk all the girls avoided in class but secretly liked. His badass snarl was almost enough to lure me away from the sleeker, more pristine desires stirred by Duran Duran. White Wedding was creepily sexy while Rebel Yell had me crying, “more, more, more” even though I was too young to have any idea what I wanted more of. But this Hot in the City baloney? Sounds like the banal workings of Neil Diamond being played by a Springsteen cover band. Barf.
Don’t: Kokomo, Beach Boys
I’m no Beach Boys fan. However, I do find myself wanting to strap on a bikini and sip Sunkist whenever I hear their faux tropical sounds. But Kokomo blows. With its slothy, cheesily flirtatious chorus, it’s the musical incarnation of a creepy, pina colada sipping grandpa sliming around a cruise ship hitting on barely legals. I bet the Beach Boys don’t even like this tune.
Don’t: Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
After the phenomenally goofy yet funky Parents Just Don’t Understand, Will Smith and his buddy had a tough act to follow. To this day, whenever someone starts a sentence with, “okay, here’s the situation,” I always reply, “your parents went away on a week’s vacation?” Summertime definitely has a lazy day vibe and didn’t bother me the first sixteen thousand times I heard it. But the song lacks pizzazz. When I hear it, I don’t want to sit back and unwind. I want to hear Parents Just Don’t Understand. Plus, the song just reminds us of how much it must suck to be DJ Jazzy Jeff watching the Fresh Prince become the megastar that is Will Smith.
Don’t: Cruel Summer, Bananarama
I must admit to having had Bananarama records in my youth and can tell you Cruel Summer was one of their least interesting hits, especially when you consider they had a tune called Robert DeNiro’s Waiting. But that song was about a victim of abuse escaping her fate by watching the actor’s films. Meanwhile, Cruel Summer is about a gal being abandoned for the summer by her best pals and boyfriend. For cripe’s sake, the word “cruel” is in the title. Not exactly what I call summertime fun.
Looking for some truly sunny tunes to beat the heat?
Do: (Love Is Like a) Heat Wave, Martha and the Vandellas
I dare you to listen to this song any time of year and not start waving your hands in the air like the lost member of the Supremes. Besides, I’d rather suffer a heat wave than cruelty during summer.
Do: Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone
Hot Fun in the Summertime is balmy and mellow the way a good summertime song should be. All you wanna do is drink iced tea, party with pals on the beach then slide out of your flip flops and fall asleep in a hammock. Man, is there better fun than “hot fun?”
Do: Boys of Summer, Don Henley
This tune gets more airplay than Hot, Hot, Hot during the warm months, but to me it screams summer. Maybe it’s because of images like, “your brown skin shining in the sun.” Plenty sluggish summer nights back in Ohio were spent eating hot dogs between slices of Wonder Bread and wading through creeks with friends. Seems Henley’s rustic tunes always made up the soundtrack. I doubt those wieners would’ve tasted so good if Kokomo was playing.
What summer tunes are your do’s and don’ts?