Summer Solstice

On this, the first official day of summer, I think it’s nice to consider some summer-oriented tracks.  Some of these songs feature commentary on summer, but others are just the sort of catchy stuff that summer anthems are made of.

Steal My Sunshine” by Len

Seemingly known for nothing else, Len’s hit song came in 1999 and is still infectious today.  Built on a solid beat (boom, cha-ka) the whole thing hits its stride when the female vocals chime in “if you steal my sunshine.”  It’s such an effective tool and makes the song difficult to ignore, even 10 years later.

“Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne

I know.  It’s so dumb.  The video is also dumb, albeit in a very funny stupid way.  But you cannot ignore this song.  Starting with that riff right from The Cars, adding the little cymbal fill from The Cars and building on some synth (also from The Cars), you’re quickly drawn in.

Yes, Fountains of Wayne totally took the tools, the structure of the song, and the hooks from The Cars.  But if you’re going to steal, why not steal from one of the catchiest bands out there?  “Stacy’s Mom” is a modern-day “Just What I Needed,” and mostly because it is the same song.  However, you won’t forget it (the lyrics make you laugh, even after the song is over), and it’s a great summer tune.

Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran

No summer list would be complete without some version of this song.  Originally recorded by Eddie Cochran, this version is arguably the purest, addressing voting rights while lamenting about long summer days.  Even removed from the political background, “Summertime Blues” is a still a catchy song and seemingly respected throughout the musical community; the number of covers of for this song is staggering, further providing evidence to its universal nature.

Opiate Summer” by Vendetta Red

Mostly remembered for their minor hit “Shatterday,” Vendetta Red offered a slightly different look at the boring world of early-decade punk rock.  The difference here was their singer – one with a Robert Plant style of delivery.  Focus was more on the falsetto than other vocal aspects.

The best song of their 2003 release (Between the Never and the Now) was “Opiate Summer.”  Dark verses full of self-deprecation were offset by the bright, anthemic choruses.  This balance ended up being the selling point and really brought out the best in the band.