picnic

I dragged over an old “Five for Friday” just a couple weeks ago, but I knew this timely topic was somewhere amidst the two hundred editions of my former recurring exercise in participatory listing. Offering it as a rerun today was simple too tempting. As was the case last time, I created a YouTube playlist with (almost) all of the songs that I and my far-more-inspired commenters listed. It’s perfect accompaniment for your holiday weekend grilling.

Five Great Summer Songs

1. First Class, “Beach Baby.” It’s from 1974 and boy oh boy is it crammed with cheesy, from the piercing, poppy horns to the soaring “ahhhhhhh”s in the background. Name checking Chevrolet, the high school hop, soda pop and both the girl and the boy next door (“suntan crewcut All-American male”) within the first 45 seconds, the song is nostalgia-swirl ice cream with a sound as bright as the endless sun it covets. “Surfin’ was fun/We’d be out in the sun every day.”

2. Material Issue, “International Pop Overthrow.” There’s any number of power pop songs from the fabulous debut album by Chicago’s Material Issue that would suit this list. But this one opens with the lyrics “I was ridin’ around/with the radio up and the windows down” and that’s a trump card today.

3. Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance.” “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce the highhat.” Remember how everyone was flipping out over that Lauryn Hill record a couple years ago? I maintain there’s nothing she did there that Neneh Cherry didn’t pull off, and better, years earlier. The first single is as bold, fresh and astonishing now as it was over fifteen years ago (my god, can that be right?)–a statement of personal power and defiance wrapped in the most incredible rhythms. Made for car stereos and overheated street corners.

4. The Primitives, “Secrets.” Maybe it would make more sense to go with the more familiar “Crash” off their debut album, since it’s certainly a great “windows down shout along” song. But then this does tell us “Throw your troubles to the wind/Summertime is happening” and include the simple statement of pride “We walk in the sun” prominently in the chorus. It’s typical Primitives, quick, airy and built around a killer hook. Besides, picking a track from the second album allows me to make the controversial statment that I think lead singer Tracy Tracy is way more attractive with red hair than with the bottle blonde look she had for the first album. This may raise the ire of some fellow former 90FM music directors, but I’m feeling brave.

5. All Girl Summer Fun Band, “Down South, 10 Hours, I-5.” Come on, the answer to today’s riddle is right there in the name of the band. Zippy pop songs about road trips are an absolutely necessity during the summer. “Gettin’ there in style, just a few more miles, it’s a rock’n’roll weekend,” is as good of a battle cry as any.

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