Even with summer almost over, it seems like people are still rocking the summer romance angle. Some are figuring out whether to end it, some want it to go on forever, and some people are trying to get one last fling in before the start of Fall. Whatever you are doing, WSUM has another mix to soundtrack your activities. Here are WSUM’s Summer Lovin’ Songs:
“Summer Love” by Georgia Anne Muldrow (ft. Dudley Perkins) – At the center of this G-funk homage is a playful duet about falling hard for someone. In “Summer Love” that person is black. There’s a tradition of Afrocentric love songs, like Camille Yarbrough’s “Take Yo’ Praise” and India.Arie’s “Brown Skin.” Muldrow and Perkins gently rib its potential stridency–“Hey my beautiful black queen. I know that sounds corny, but anyways…” “Well I’m quite flattered, my African warrior king. I know that might sound corny too, but I got somethin’ to say to you”–while beaming that they found each other. Taking pride in someone is personal, which makes it political.
“Pollen” by Mirah – Easily one of the dirtiest songs about gardening. But anyone who paid attention in biology knows that plant reproduction is sexy.
“Summer (The First Time)” by Millie Jackson – As was a convention for black female soul singers of Jackson’s generation, the closer to 1974’s Caught Up was originally written and recorded by a white guy (in this case, Bobby Goldsboro). Frequently, the covers improved upon their source material (see also: Merry Clayton’s incendiary take on Neil Young’s “Southern Man”). Two things elevate Jackson’s interpretation. First, Jackson reclaims a carnal delight as a female protagonist that Goldsboro experiences as voyeurism. And the grain in her voice suggests that this experience was bittersweet. She savors that first thrill, but got wise to seduction’s empty promises.
“One & Only” by Anna Vogelzang – Fellow Girls Rock Camp Madison volunteer Anna Vogelzang is one of my favorite songwriters. She’s especially good at recognizing the weight of small moments. 2012’s Canary in a Coal Mine opens with “Undertow,” which includes the verse “I come home broken, bruised like a peach. You make a fruit pie and two whiskeys neat, like summertime.” But on “One & Only,” Vogelzang recognizes that girl groups knew how to fall in love, and they only needed two and a half minutes and a hook to do it. That’s why she put in those hand claps.
“Let ’em Say” by Lizzo and Caroline Smith – These frequent collaborators internalized RuPaul’s mantra, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Then they dusted off their synthesizers, pitched the sentiment to the roller rink, and gave the proceeds to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Amen.
“I’d Rather Dance with You” by Kings of Convenience – Some love starts with a simple dance without need of a conversation.
“The Best Days” by The Softies – I believe lots of lovers in Madison go down by the lake, hold hands each other, and watch the sky. And think those are their best days.
“Just Like Johnny Marr” by Alpaca Sports – When your love is in trouble, play guitar just like Johnny Marr, then you can fall in love again.
“Teenage” by Veronica Falls – The song contains the lyric: “Driving late at night, I’ll let you listen to the music you like, then I drop you home.” A total love buzz.
“Pineapple Princess” by Cristina Quesada – A girly dream of becoming a princess after meeting her Pineapple Prince.
“What’s That” by Elephant Revival – All aspects of this song – her voice, the lyrics, the band – make me think that if I met someone who loved this song as much as I do I might just kiss them.
“All I Want Is You” by Michael Franti & Spearhead – Off of All Rebel Rockers, this song always makes me wanna make out with someone.
“Because Of You” by Tim Buckley – This folky love song makes me wanna sing to someone I love.
“Winter Rose (Nicolas Jaar Remix)” by The Bees – This makes me happy remembering someone I used to love who made me happy one cold winter night!
“Come Here” by Kath Bloom – Another corny folky love song that is special because it plays during “Before Sunrise” when Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are in that listening booth and you can tell they like each other but they are shy!
“Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” by The Beatles – Your significant other likes it hot. Real hot. So hot that you want to do it where it’s hottest. So get outside and hit up that steaming strip of concrete, dirt, or pavement.
“Record Level Love” by Guided By Voices – This should last as long as your afternoon delight.
“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. – Move over, alto sax. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck shows that true summer sexiness comes with a little mandolin.
“Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt – Whoa there! This room just got steamy. This song has more sweltering summer heat in it than R. Kelly’s garage.
“Sesame Seeds” by Mitch Hedberg – Mmm. Just listen to that voice; so sultry. Those laughs will play as a perfect soundtrack to any and all summer romance you’re having.
“Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” by Barry White – Summer is the time when it seems that you have more time to spend with a significant other. Time spent together = a great time and you just can’t get enough.
“Keep Them Kisses Comin’” by Craig Campbell – In my opinion, almost all country songs sound like summer songs and this one is no different. It is the perfect way to spend a day off and it’s such a happy song.
“I Love That Girl So Much” by Tower of Power – It is just an overall great love song that is perfect anytime of the year.
“North Side Gal” by JD McPherson – This song instantly drew me in with its catchy string base jam, and I love his singing style. That wail gets me every time. I love the lyrics, because who hasn’t chased a girl they that they are crazy about but just could care less about them?
“So Insane” by Discovery – I first got into these guys from a fellow DJ from Iowa State actually who told me this band featured the keyboardist from Vampire Weekend. I feel in love with the funky and experimental nature of this band, as well and the upbeat and cheery feel to the song. The hook gets stuck in your head. I love kind of those edgy love songs where someone has to work, and this falls right into that category.
“LMG” by SIMS – I am from the Twin Cities Area so I love my local acts, and SIMS is one of the very best. I Love the beat, but this song is just such a great song to bump with your windows down and a special someone on your mind. Also I think its not a super square depiction of what we normally see in love songs, SIMS talks about how you don’t always have to have a depressing feeling with love, it shows that happy side of the summer love. “Why has every girl song have to be some big, depressing mess”
“Stop the World I Wanna Get Off With You” by The Arctic Monkeys – First off The Arctic Monkeys are my love, so that should be reason enough. I just have always really resonated with the lyrics. This is a great summer love song because I always think of this song when you see that beautiful human across the street, or in the grocery store, and you never have the balls to go up to them. If only the world would stop and let you two connect.
“(What a) Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke – I mean lets face it, we all forgot everything we learned Spring semester. But damn do we know how to get tangled up in ourselves and our feelings, so when you know you love somebody, odds are its going to be a mess, but its the truth. Summer love always seems to be messy and impromptu, but what a wonderful world this could be if we all just paired up and got along.
“Your Body Is A Weapon” by The Wombats – Summer is meant to have an upbeat, fun-in-the-sun, carefree vibe. The drums, electric guitar, and bits of electronic keys in this indie rock track help achieve that vibe. With its brevity, mere romantic flings seem to be summer’s motifs. This song focuses on the surface level of a budding relationship, one’s appearance; perfect for any summer fling.
“Year Round Summer Of Love” by LOLO – LOLO, aka Lauren Pritchard, dominates at commanding attention with her vocals and lets her inner attitude shine out. The lyrics take the viewpoint of a woman who is headstrong yet completely smitten with her current man. This track is catchy with its old school hip-hop beats. There are also jazz undertones, which only contribute to this song being perfect for summertime.
“Woman” by South of Bloor – I had to add this track by South of Bloor for two reasons. First, these guys are one of my favorite bands. Second, it screams summer with its indie rock and pop notes. Off of their only EP titled “The Street” it’s only fitting that these lyrics talk about wanting a relationship yet having no clue in what direction it’s heading or if the feelings are truly reciprocated.
“I Need My Girl” by The National – This track is fitting especially this late in the season as summer romances are either fizzling out or preparing themselves for the dreaded long distance strain about to be faced. The rolling guitar riff that carries throughout the track helps put your mind into a contemplative state. Reminiscing is a definite theme to the lyrics, which is only natural as you reflect back on any passionate and significant relationship.
“Always Like This” by Bombay Bicycle Club – If this isn’t already a song linked to romance for you, then you’ve been missing out. This track is a classic, in my opinion. Right away from the opening, the echoing loop vocals grab your attention. Next the groovy bass line and lyrics will make you smile, even if you aren’t in a relationship. Then the jive-infused melody carries you through the rest of the track. This is a well-done indie track representing a romance that causes you to wear a beaming grin without necessarily realizing it.
“I Can’t Get Started” by Jamie Cullum – Smooth jazz with a contemporary voice is sure to cool off any hot summer day with it’s easy, yet engaging melodies. This song breathes a calm, romantic air.
“Regular Town” by New Navy – More upbeat with glistening guitar lines and catchy percussion lines with an easy voice. For a romantic evening with more “motion,” “Regular Town,” can certainly keep the sun shinning in a summer night.
“I Think, I Love” by Jamie Cullum – A bit more on the sweet, soft, and sexy pull to romance, this song makes great soft background music to the setting sun of summer.
“Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” by Frank Sinatra – Loose, calm, and relaxed, this classic Sinatra tune slips any mood into a romantic tone.
“A Summer Song” by Conner Youngblood – While the name is in the song, the song really emulates a calm summer evening while still maintaining clear motion and contemporary use of relaxing synths and guitar lines. A unique piece and great for relaxing by the waters edge contemplating summer.
“Or Nah (Remix)” by Ty Dolla $ign feat. Wiz Khalifa and The Weeknd- Any song using a recurring sample of a bed creaking means business.
– Key lyric: “You gon make them eggs cheesy with them grits or nah? / Can you do it like that on this dick or nah?”
“Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)” by Ashanti – My #1 summer slow jam going strong since 2003. The video shows Ashanti riding an elephant on a beach with her man, which is basically how I envision my perfect summer romance.
– Key lyric: “AWWW BABY.”
“Pull My Hair Back” by Jessy Lanza – If twinkly summer nights spent with your person in a room without air conditioning were encapsulated into a song.
– Key lyric: “I don’t give a fuck what you do / If you want my love, baby pull my hair back.”
“Pendulum” by FKA twigs – For your sad summer days spent only thinking about that person and knowing they don’t like you at all but at least you have this song to make you feel like there’s someone with you. Because isn’t THAT love as told by a bunch of college radio nerds?
– Key lyric: “So lonely trying to be yours.”
“Fuck U All The Time (Shlohmo Remix)” by Jeremih – Self-explanatory.
– Key lyric: You can figure it out.
The Heavy Petting Zoo is all about romance– specifically, bringing you make-out music (and more) from the 1930s-1950s. To whittle this list down to just a few songs was so hard! But here goes…
“Stardust” by Nat King Cole – Picture yourself lying outside looking up at the night sky just as dusk is setting in. Okay, NOW turn on this song. There are so many reasons to love it. I could write an entire essay about why it’s amazing, but I don’t want to get all “music theorist” on you, and I inevitably will. The most important thing to know is this is the only version of “Stardust” you really ever need. The strings draw you in, then, before too long, Nat King Cole’s voice chimes in sweetly but in command (“And now the purple dusk of twilight time / Steals across the meadows of my heart…”). Throughout the song, there’s a subtle dance between the voice and the orchestra– a perfect, although almost mismatched pairing. I haven’t heard all 1000+ recordings (seriously) of “Stardust,” but I’ll go on a limb and tell you that there isn’t one quite like this. To experience the full richness of it, I highly recommend you find it on vinyl.
“My Cup Runneth Over” by Perry Como – Most who are familiar with this song would attribute it to singer and actor Ed Ames. But I happened to find a version by Perry Como in a boxed set of many other hits by him (up to and including a cover of David Cassidy’s “I Think I Love You”). Como’s voice has a warmth to it that is unmatched by Ames, in my opinion, which is why I single it out as my favorite. This isn’t just a song about romance– it’s about something bigger and better: Adoration.
“My One and Only Love” by Dean Martin – This song closed out the first Dean Martin album I ever owned, and while my nay-saying friends steadfastly argued Dean Martin was not a real singer, I presented this track as evidence to the contrary. Although he’s most known for his gooney antics with Jerry Lewis in those horrible ’60s comedies, and for his drunken escapades with the Rat Pack, this track proves he can be a tender crooner when he wants to be.
“Stranger On the Shore” by Acker Bilk – When WSUM solicited these song recommendations, it started out as “summer romance songs,” and then it evolved to “dinner romance songs.” So here you go– a strictly instrumental tune with solo clarinet by Acker Bilk. Movie buffs will recognize it as the song that Gertrude Lang was trying to master on her clarinet and ultimately debuted at the big school concert in Mr. Holland’s Opus. Equal parts romantic and schmaltzy, it should be a nice accompaniment to your dinner on a warm summer’s eve.
“Stay With You” by John Legend – This song is amazing. On a warm summer night, layin in a hammock, with a special lady or fella, play this song. That’s bliss.
“Sweetest Thing” by Lauryn Hill – This is more of a sentimental love song, that you wanna listen to at the end of a summer when you got bitten up by the love bug.
“I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher – Okay. I had to put at least one duet on here. Straight up, this song exudes lust and love with EV-ER-AY line. This also a song I like to listen to drivin’ with the windows down (I.E. a warm weather JAM).
“Hey Ma” by Cam’ron – This is a song about findin’ a new lil’ boo. Its nothin’ serious, just a casual friends ‘n’ lovers type of relationship, perfect for summer time.
There is nothing quite like a summer day spent with a lover (new or old). Here is a rough soundtrack of how a day on summer vacation should go…
“This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads – Quite possibly the greatest love song ever, surely the greatest summer love song purely on it’s sonic merits. Bright and happy, with lots of fun sounds all over the place, this one is a summer walk through a busy park with your significant other.
“Make it Wit Chu” by Queens of the Stone Age – Moving a bit away from the pure love angle, this is a perfect song for some laid back summer lovin’ (notice the dropped “g”). Just a perfect mix of swagger, seduction, and sultriness. Like a bit of nighttime shenanigans with your lover after some day drinking.
“Arabella” by Arctic Monkeys – A song about driving in your car with your lover? What could be more summer than that? Plus, like ubiquitous summer fireworks, it explodes between a quiet groove and bombastic rock.
“Skin on Skin” by Queens of the Stone Age – And the Queens take us deep into lust territory here. The exquisite grime of getting down is in full effect here. This is for those hot summer night, “I want to lick you too much”, indeed.
“Light of the Morning” by Band of Skulls – Once the dust settles (you’re not doing it right if you’re not kicking up dust), this is where we all end up: wanting to do it all again. Nothing is like waking up next to the one you love, because you get to be with them all over again. I’ve never understood why people insist love songs should be quiet.