Winter is a fact of life for us in Canada. It’s long, harsh and hangs by its fingernails on the coattails of March, only to be finally dragged away by the wind and rain of April.
We’re finally in spring territory now. This first day of spring occurred earlier this week, the days are getting longer and the sun seems just a little higher in the sky.
Don’t get me wrong, I like living in a place that has four seasons – it makes you more appreciative of agreeable weather when we have it. It’s just that there are days when spring and summer are merely distant memories and not the very near future.
If you, like us, need a little post-winter, pre-summer music pick-me-up, we’ve got recommendations for you of sun-soaked tracks to take you into the lighter time of year.
Kings of Leon – “Back Down South”
Come Around Sundown is one of my all-time favourite summer albums, and “Back Down South” is one of my favourite tracks off of it. Due in part to their deep southern roots, Kings Of Leon always bring a summery, sweaty sound to the table, and this track is all of that, but tapped with a bit of nostalgia, for those warm nights when you’re thinking about home.
Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”
I inherently associate Frank Ocean’s first album Channel Orange with warm weather because that’s when I first heard it. “Sweet Life” in particular is a slow, sultry jam begging to be played while lounging poolside or kicking back on a street curb with soft sunlight kissing your cheeks.
Geowulf – “Saltwater”
“Saltwater” is a track that absolutely needs to be played on a sunny day (despite the music video taking place at night.) From the dreamy guitar riffs to the melancholic lyrics, it brings you right back to days at the beach, where it’s nothing but you, the sun and the waves.
Tinashe – “Flame”
Let me be clear: any Tinashe song is a good bet to play any day in the year. But I’ve got a feeling that “Flame” is going to be a real banger this spring, and what better way to welcome in the warmer weather than a hot track by the hottest of the hot herself.
Hinds – “San Diego”
Girl-band Hinds brings the perfect blend of youth-powered garage rock and beach boardwalk tunes to the scene. Their song “San Diego” has an unstoppable energy and all the attitude when you need to start wearing shorts again after going six months without.
Janet Jackson – “Escapade”
I mean. I MEAN. Do I even need to say anything else about the ultimate vacation jam from the ultimate dance-pop diva?
Lower Dens – “To Die in L.A.”
This is actually a sad song. It’s not about happy, spring-y feels. But sometimes the warmer seasons aren’t about running in a field or cuddling on a ferris wheel. Sometimes they’re about riding around downtown L.A. in your convertible moaning about the one that broke your heart. The lyrics are heart-wrenching, the vibe is ridiculously cool.
Alabama Shakes – “Hang Loose”
Alabama Shakes is a fantastic group. Brittany Howard’s voice alone could wake me from my wintery grave and have me born anew. “Hang Loose” is a loud, boisterous call to life, to hang on and hope. As Howard belts out in the chorus, “We’re gonna be alright.”
Khalid – “American Teen”
This entire album is AMAZING. And the entire album is summer vibes for sure. Khalid’s jams are simultaneously smooth and cocky, fresh and shy, much like the actual experience of being a teenager. The title track off of American Teen to me, gives the ultimate throwback to teenage summers, when there was nothing to do but cause trouble.
Empire of the Sun – “Half Mast”
This song is a ridiculous, ridiculously catchy pop ride through space. That is exactly how I would describe it. Empire of the Sun take you through the trials and tribulations of love with an electro beat and punchy vocals. (This is another track that I absolutely need to listen to on sunny days.)
On June x KEVI – “Sunrise”
“Sunrise” is one of those essential tropical house tracks for parties on the beach and long, warm nights in good company. The whole song is just screaming “summer.”
Girlhood – “Say It”
The fact this video has so few views on YouTube is insane. This track is so good! It gives a sick throwback to the 90s while touching on the current mood and vibe of young women. It’s a slow and easy track, easy to get lost in when you close your eyes and just listen.
Sublime – “Doin’ Time”
Sublime is a bit of a strange group, but they make some awesome music. This offbeat track is a great companion to help get you into the mood for the carefree mood of the summertime.
Vampire Weekend – “Walcott”
There’s something about this song, maybe it’s the piano riff, maybe it’s Ezra Koenig’s voice, or maybe it’s the fact the song mentions Cape Cod; either way, there’s something about this song that makes it sound just like summer.
Swim Deep – “Honey”
“Honey” sounds like a trip to the beach. Do you know what I mean? And if the line “Don’t just dream in your sleep/it’s just lazy” doesn’t inspire you to daydream the day away, then I don’t know what will.
Real Estate – “Easy”
Every Real Estate song ever is about summer. Trust me. Any song from the album Days could’ve worked for this list. “Easy” was chosen because 1) it’s one of the beach-iest and 2) I just really like it.
RAC – “Hollywood” feat. Penguin Prison
I don’t consider this a warm-weather song per say, but it does make me think of L.A. an awful lot, which in turn makes me think of warm weather. And honestly, this tune is just so catchy and pop-y. It’s easy to listen to, easy to get stuck in your head, easy to bop around to.
Only Real – “Get It On”
This definitely isn’t a song for everyone. It’s a British, white boy rapping with 90s-sounding instrumentals. I love it, and for me, it’s brazen and weird enough to make it into my essential summer tracks playlist. I’ll warn you though: it may make you want to steal a shopping cart and ride it down a hill. For no reason at all.
The Marvelettes – “Playboy”
If you like girl groups, or specifically, if you like girl groups from the 60s, then The Marvelettes are your gals for chirpy songs about beautiful-yet-terrible boys. This is a good one to play whilst sitting outside in the sun with your friends, complaining about every person you know.
Yolanda B Cool & DCUP – “From Me to You”
Okay, so the music video for this song features palm trees and girls in bikinis. Even aside from that, this is another song that is the embodiment of summer parties, either on a beach, on a rooftop or in someone’s basement. You don’t need to actually be in paradise. Let the music take you there.